Sunday, September 12, 2010

Arrival in Jakarta

I arrived in Jakarta on September 11 - 10 back in the states.  We had mechanical difficulties that delayed the flight for two days and resulted in an overnight in Hong Kong.  As I stepped off of the plane, I reminded myself, I needed to observe with an open mind.  My prior knowledge of Jakarta is based solely on news casts in the U.S. - mostly in relation to 9/11.  I was in D.C. the day the Pentagon was hit and I carry that experience with me.  The sadness is overwhelming - personal.
Following is a journal of my trip.  I will try to post daily.

  1. The wait at immigration was lengthy, but pleasant.  There was a noticeable lack of a military presence.  Immigration officials all spoke English and were personable.  Signs were written using the Dutch (same as ours) alphabet, with a minimum of what appeared to be Arabic?  
  2. Bruce met the plane with his driver.  In general, people appeared happy - and met us in a polite manner, appearing glad to see us.  
  3. The security began as we left the airport and drove to the hotel.  Everywhere we have gone in the last few days - including Giant (AKA Walmart in the states) - there has been security to examine the car.  All parking lots and communities are gated.  Everyone appears to accept this - the process is smooth and efficient.
  4. The utter poverty and incredible affluence live side by side.  
  5. Traffic is the same as China.  No police - everyone for himself - including pedestrians.  I have heart failure at least once every 5 minutes, but everyone else seems casual about this.  Motor bikes, very common here, zip in and out with no fear - whole families on board (2 adults and 1 or 2 small children0 - and sometimes (I think) no vision!
  6. Street vendors are interspersed between huge malls - some have stalls and some work the meager traffic lights.
  7. This is a country of religions.  The population is mixed - Muslims being dominant and Christian and Catholic (these two are separated) being the two runner ups.  You are greeted with what is your religion, not what is your job. 
  8. The population's dress reflects this mix of religions - mostly among the women.  So far, the Muslim dress for women I have seen consists of a head - not face - covering, trousers, and long sleeve tunics.  The material varies.  The majority of the population I have seen so far, dresses with a western influence - jeans, shorts, t-shirts, etc. - men, women, and children.
  9. Almost everyone speaks 2 languages - some three.  Even the children.
  10. Families are everywhere.  Men appear to take a role in child care.
  11. Morning prayer is broadcast throughout the city about 4:30 AM.  Here in the hotel, I listen as devotees rise and join in.
  12. I have not heard evening prayer.  Jet lag?
  13. Muslims have just finished Ramadan.  Everywhere you go, you see green and yellow decorations to celebrate.  The schools have been on break for a week.-More Tomorrow!

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