Readers' Submissions

Indonesia Update – Change of Location



I needed to live in the area of the capitol, Jakarta, for a month or so. I needed close proximity to government offices, which are all located in Jakarta. That being the case, I took the 1-hour plane ride from Yogyakarta to Jakarta. What the hell else was I going to do, as the other choices were a bus ride ~12 hours, or train ride ~9 hours…yeah, easy choice. The plane ticket cost me $70, not bad but not dissimilar to a one-hour domestic flight back home in the States.

When I exited the airport I immediately remembered why I really don't like Jakarta, pollution that will make your eyes burn. In Jakarta, at times, you cannot even see the tops of skyscrapers, the smog is that bad. Traffic jams that defy logic. Overcrowding that you just never see in the west. Rats the size of a watermelon…you get the picture.

I had alerted 2 friends of my impending arrival in the capitol, and asked both if they could have a few apartments picked out for me when I touched down. One friend was based in Jakarta, the other in an adjacent suburb. I called my friend in Jakarta first and in about an hour's time my taxi managed to deposit me at my friend's residence some 20 km from the airport.

My friend took me first to a brand new development of semi detached bungalows, so new that some of the units were still under construction. While the bungalow was fantastic, complete with marble floors, marble counter tops, modern kitchen and bath, central A/C and very spacious at 200 sqm, still the cost was too much for me to bear. $1,000. OMG a thousand dollars to live in Jakarta, of all places for one month. I passed on that one.

The next place he took me to was the polar opposite. Located on a narrow street filled with buildings far too large to be accommodated properly. This building was old. Derelict. Filthy. Teeming with residents from the fringes of society, namely:

Phenotype #1 : young-looking, low class prostitutes of the sort prone to wearing filthy neon colored flip flops of the cheapest variety, knee-length tight shorts and a dirty T-shirt with some retarded phrase in English that they don't even understand such as…"100% BITCH"…"I'm with Stupid"…or my favorite…"You can't afford me" etc.

Phenotype #2 : Prostitutes of a somewhat higher quality, if you will, replete with their own customary attire – tight designer imitation jeans, high heeled designer knock off shoes, cut off negligee style shirt with spaghetti straps and finished off with a mid-riff exposing jacket. This model comes complete with her own late model motorcycle.

Phenotype #3 : assorted college age drunks / drug addicts / drug dealers.

Phenotype #4 and finally lazy, dirty extended families of 7 or 8, living in a room big enough for 2 people, simply for their imagined status of living in the capital instead of their village in the provinces.

The rooms I was shown were all filthy, equipped with a bed, mattress and small table and chair. No TV. No kitchen. Most basic bathroom imaginable. Price $150 per month. I passed on this also, although I was thinking as I left "Mongers would LOVE this place!"

As I was leaving, my phone rang and it was my friend from the adjacent suburbs, informing me she found me a nice place for $35 per month. I bid my Jakarta friend au revoir. The apartment was surprisingly big and clean for Indonesian standards. 60 sqm featuring a living room, bedroom, kitchen and bathroom. Typical SEA construction. Double brick walls inside and out. All brick surfaces covered with smoothed concrete and painted flat white. White ceramic tile floors. The kitchen had no appliances. Bathroom is just a toilet and a faucet and large bucket. I bought a single burner stove for $15, a mattress for $45 and my friend let me borrow pillows, blanket, sheets, area rug and kitchen supplies. The bad thing is there is no A/C so I have 2 fans but it's hot as hell here. The prices for food are the same as in Yogya and all the modern grocery stores, malls and fast food places are all represented and within walking distance.

One good thing about living here is transportation. They have minibuses running routes and they take you everywhere in the city limits. Basically they run a straight line and back. If you come to a main road, you need to stop them and get off to board the minibuses on that road. Every time you get on the minibus it costs 20 cents. To the places I go I usually have to use 2 or 3 minibuses so round trip is like 80c to 1 dollar. Very economical. The girls here are really friendly and approachable, and quite often they approach me, but no-one speaks any English here. All in all, it's not a bad place to live for a month, although I wouldn't consider living here permanently as the air quality is bad and it's pretty crowded with traffic. Also it's very hot here, and not in a good way. I met a lot of people through my friend and her family. The girls here are very pretty and they actually have very strict families, but they are open to foreigners. It's not uncommon for single girls in their 30s to still have curfews. I think if you are single its a good place to meet that elusive good "girl that", from what I have gathered from posts here, is so elusive in Thailand.


Stickman's thoughts:

That sure is super cheap living. In far flung corners of Bangkok you can find a room for not much more than 1,000 baht, but it would be a rat hole, a small space in a shophouse which has been divided up into small rooms. The bathroom would be shared, there'd be zero security and the comfort level is only a few steps above the local monkey house.