UPDATE: I decided to walk home from the office yesterday – this is no small undertaking. What makes it difficult is how very different Jakarta is from most cities in the US. Most cities in the US are laid out in a grid (at least the downtown areas), and for the most past, you can walk or drive so many blocks in one direction, turn and walk so many blocks in the other, and pretty much get to where you are going. Or if you’re going the street and you see where you want is on your your right, you can make a couple turns and be there. Absolutely NOT the case here – with construction everywhere, few sidewalks, sidewalks that end, one way streets (major streets), very few stop lights (so no left or right turns), and NO grid – it makes getting anywhere very difficult. To get home, at one point, ourtaxi has to make two cloverleafs to make a U-turn to cut through the mall parking lot to get to our apartment. You can see where you want to go, but the saying ‘you can’t get there from here’ is never so true. For example, today, we were going to a meeting less than 1 mile from the office and it took 20 minutes by taxi, and we finally had to get out and walk the rest of the way (and then got lost), because there was a one-way street where we needed to go and no way to get where we wanted to go. Most cities, if you want to turn left, but it’s one-way to the right, no problem, you just go to the next street because it goes the other way, right? Not here. There’s no grid, so it doesn’t wok. They threw a bowl of spaghetti onto a table, and made streets where the spaghetti landed. And what makes this all so incredible is that the taxi drivers know how to navigate this mess!!
Another note about traffic – I’ve said before, it’s crazy with cars and bike, buses all maneuvering in a jam. But it works. The difference is in the States, there are right-of-ways – you have the right of way in certain situations and you expect it and if someone encroaches, you get mad and want to know what in the world they were thinking. Here, everyone has the right-of-way. So if you need to cut across traffic, you just pull out. And if a car or bikes are approaching, they slow down, pull over or get out of the way and go on their way, as do you. Everyone keeps moving and if you’re going to get hit, you slow down or get out of the way or both. Common sense – it works.
So with that, I asked Elder Baird (Public Affairs) to show me how to walk home.
The sidewalk you see on the right will end, and we will have to turn up the street where you see cars entering the main road – but there is no sidewalk so you either dodge the cars or cut through a mall and back out on the street. As the crow flies, it’s not very far – but a full 30 minute walk, crossing two VERY busy streets with no crosswalks, and making our over pretty rough sidewalks when there are some. Not for the faint of heart – DeeAnn wouldn’t do it. But I survived and it wasn’t so bad.
On a humorous note, we went to the market and saw this: