About Jakarta and my time there

As soon as you get off the plane in Jakarta, you instantly smell something. That's the smog, cigarette smoke, un-MOT'd vehicle emissions that come out of the exhausts like the black monster from LOST, and cut-open fruit in the air of the Big Durian, all mixed in to give you a warm, musty welcome.

Over the past four years, I've seen the corruption at the base level fall a lot. For instance, when I arrived, a man at the immigration office wanted my boarding pass for leaving the country ON ARRIVAL, and said he would charge me $30 if I didn't produce it. I said to him, "you get that on the way out" and he said "that's not my problem. What a dick. But these days, it's much better, you can expect to be through Imigrasi instantly.

The people of Jakarta are the poorest yet the happiest people I have ever met, as a whole. The richer ones are extremely westernised and integrate with westerners in school, usually going to Australia, the US or the UK for university. They're bot the ones that are interesting to talk about; it's the poor that make that place interesting. It's the parking attendant that TELLS me to get him a beer every time I go to the Circle K (local convenience store) EVERY TIME. That is so tenacious, that when I eventually get some money together and go visit my parents, I'll buy him a crate. I'll make his day, but I severely doubt that he'll handle the booze very well.

Then we have the ojek (scooter taxi) drivers, who live under some corrugated plastic sheets and sleep on their scooters with their baseball caps over their eyes. I'm not kidding here, these are the friendliest, happiest people you will ever meet. They simply don't give two shits. They are happy to smoke, drink beer and attempt to overcharge for rides across town. Especially for white people, when it comes to their own they tend to offer a better deal. But the way I see it: white people are heavier, use more fuel so fair enough.

At the bottom of my street there was Agus, and I forget the other names. They would applaud me ehen I was walking a girl home, shout OKAY to say hello, and they never frowned. But they were poor as fuck. Shoddy clothing, brown teeth, body odour. They didn't care! They simply slept, drank beer, smoked and rode a scooter with someone on the back. What a life.

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