Tired Travelers Flood Back Into Jakarta as Holiday Winds Up

The Jakarta Globe

Florentina Sri Lestari arrived back in Jakarta on Sunday from her hometown of Yogyakarta, after more than 15 hours in the car.

“I wanted to fly or take the train, but unfortunately the train tickets were sold out, and the plane tickets were unreasonably costly,” the 23-year-old told the Jakarta Globe.

“So I decided to take a chartered car that would drop me off right at my boarding house.”

It turned out to be an excruciatingly slow drive.

“We were on the road for more than 15 hours because of the heavy traffic, mostly near Kebumen [in Central Java], and because we had to stop so often,” she said.

Florentina was one of the almost one million Jakarta residents who returned to the capital over the weekend after spending the Idul Fitri holidays in their hometowns across the country.

Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo said on Sunday that of the estimated 1.8 million people who left the city this year by plane, train, car, bus and ferry, about 911,000 had returned as of Saturday.

He added that almost all the travelers were expected back in the capital by Wednesday, a week after Idul Fitri.

“We predicted that the peak of the return wave would be this weekend,” he said during an inspection of the Pulogadung bus terminal in East Jakarta, one of the main hubs for holiday travel.

“On Monday, the traffic to the capital should have thinned out significantly because workers are expected to be back on the job by then.”

Udar Pristono, the head of the Jakarta Transportation Office, said the figure of 1.8 million holiday travelers did not include those who made the trip by motorcycle.

“We’re still trying to calculate how many of them went by motorcycle, but it’s likely to be more than two million,” he said.

Of the other forms of transport, flying proved the most popular, with 811,000 people going by air, up a third from last year.

Cars and buses accounted for 467,000 travelers, down slightly from last year, while trains accounted for 445,000 passengers, also down from the 2010 figure.

Udar said that his office had readied a fleet of buses and minibuses to cater to those arriving back in the capital in the middle of the night.

“I guarantee that no traveler will be stranded at any train station or bus terminal in the city at night,” he said.

“We’ve got buses on standby until late.”

Among the rare few avoiding both the out-of-town exodus and the return crush was Bandiman, who finally left Jakarta to celebrate the holidays in his hometown on Sunday — five days after Idul Fitri.

“It’s no secret that it’s very hard to get a train ticket ahead of Idul Fitri, so instead of getting caught up in the crowd, I prefer to travel after the holiday,” he told the Globe.

“Plus I don’t want my daughter not to have a seat on the long journey from Jakarta to Malang [in East Java].”

The 43-year-old taxi driver said he had been doing this delayed mudik for the past few years. Apart from finding it easier to get tickets, he also does not want his daughter to suffer in the crush of the pre-Idul Fitri crowd.

“In the past I always went back to Malang one or two days before Idul Fitri so I could celebrate the holiday with my extended family,” he said.

“But now I prefer to stay longer in Jakarta and celebrate Idul Fitri here.”

Outdoor Funtime for Families Staying in Jakarta

The Jakarta Globe
Outdoor Funtime for Families Staying in Jakarta

For the millions of people who had to remain in the capital during Idul Fitri festivities, recreational spots were the favorite destination on Friday.

The seaside Ancol park and South Jakarta’s Ragunan Zoo and theme park Taman Mini Indonesia Indah topped the list of affordable destinations, but pricier recreational venues, such as Kidzania, were equally packed.

Wibiono Santoso, a Pasar Baru resident, had been at Ragunan Zoo with his family since 9 a.m.

“This is the best time of the year to spend time with my family because I can take my children to see animals that they have never seen themselves,” he said, adding that the zoo was more fun, and cheaper to visit, than a restaurant or shopping mall.

Wibiono said he and his family had visited a number of recreation spots in Jakarta during this year’s holiday.

“One holiday destination that we have not visited is Setu Babakan, and we plan to continue on to there later this afternoon,” he said, referring to a traditional Betawi area in South Jakarta.

Rumiani, 32, said the zoo was a regular destination for her and her family during the extended holiday.

“For us, Ragunan Zoo is the best place to celebrate Idul Fitri as well as to have a family gathering. It is a cheap recreation place,” she said, although she added the venue tended to be packed during the celebration.

She said Taman Safari in Bogor was possibly a better alternative, but it was beyond her family’s price range.

Ragunan Zoo spokesperson Enny Pudjiwati said the venue had more than doubled its normal 22 ticket booths this year, and it had recruited 750 seasonal personnel to help the zoo’s 436 permanent employees deal with the holiday season.

She said the holidays could bring up to 750,000 visitors.

At Kidzania, long queues also developed at the ticket booth. Edi Sutedi, a shopkeeper from Pulo Gadung, was there with his two daughters.

“Taking my children to Kidzania is a very unusual activity for us to do during Eid, because we usually just go to Ragunan Zoo or Ancol beach,” Edi said.

He complained that the entrance fee was too expensive for his budget.

“But as I promised my girls to bring them here on Eid as they demanded, I am glad to be able to bring them here,” he said.

“This trip is a special gift for them.” Edi added.

‘Remarkable’ Showing for Indonesian Footballers at Homeless World Cup

The Jakarta Globe

In a country bombarded daily by bad news, a group of former drug addicts and people living with HIV/AIDS did Indonesia proud in its first-ever appearance in the Homeless World Cup.

Indonesia finished in sixth place overall in the competition — essentially street football involving four players per side and a smaller field than conventional football — and was named best new team. The event was held last week in Paris.

The country was represented by a team from Rumah Cemara, a Bandung-based rehabilitation center for former drug addicts and people with HIV/AIDS. Its members spent months raising money to buy plane tickets.

Ginan Koesmayadi, the center’s co-founder, who fulfilled a pledge to walk more than 150 kilometers from Bandung to Jakarta after they raised 80 percent of the funds needed to finance the trip, was named best male player of the tournament. Koesmayadi is a former drug addict and is HIV positive.

“Winning in this tournament is a big deal,” said Rumah Cemara director Ikbal Rakhman. “It can be used to educate and show people that although we are former drug users or people with HIV, we can do something positive such as winning this Homeless World Cup.

“We just hope that with this, society will stop stigmatizing us and give us a chance to positively contribute both to society and the country.”

The Homeless World Cup is a Britain-based movement aimed at ending homelessness. A total of 64 teams consisting of homeless and socially marginalized people from around the world participated in the event, which is now in its eighth year. This year the tournament took place from Aug. 21-28.

In the early stages, Indonesia surprised many people by beating three top-ranked squads, Romania (7-4), Kyrgyzstan (9-4) and Germany (5-4).

After going undefeated to top Group G in the opening round, Indonesia finished second in round two’s Group D with three wins and two losses, a respectable result considering its opponents consisted of three former champions.

Later, the team defeated Ireland 8-7 and played Scotland to an 8-8 draw.

In the final stage, Indonesia had the chance to go all the way to the final, but lost 7-4 to Brazil. The Indonesians then edged Nigeria 4-3 to earn a spot in the fifth place game, where they lost to Chile.

The tournament’s official Web site called Indonesia’s debut “remarkable,” singling out players like Koesmayadi, Sandy Gempur Purnama and Gimgim Sofyan Nurdin as players who raised “plenty of eyebrows” with their skills.

Scotland won the men’s trophy after beating Mexico 4-3, while Kenya triumphed in the women’s competition after a 4-3 win over Mexico.

In 2009, Rumah Cemara won the international “Changing Lives Through Football” award, presented by Ashoka, a group that encourages social entrepreneurs, and Nike to a team that uses the game for social change.

3 Nusa Tenggara Volcanoes Start Rumbling to Life

The Jakarta Globe
3 Nusa Tenggara Volcanoes Start Rumbling to Life

Volcanoes in the Nusa Tenggara chain of islands are rumbling awake, prompting authorities to raise the alert level on three of them over the past six days.

Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), said on Thursday that the three volcanoes had been placed on the second-highest alert status. They include the infamous Mount Tambora, on Sumbawa Island, whose 1815 eruption was one of the worst in Indonesia’s history.

A total of 16 volcanoes across the country are now at the same status.

“We haven’t confirmed what’s causing the increased volcanic activity in Nusa Tenggara because it will require a long and comprehensive study,” Sutopo said.

The status of Tambora, located between Bima and Dompu districts in West Nusa Tenggara, was raised at 11 a.m. on Tuesday. It first started showing signs of increased activity in April. In early August its Doro Api Toi crater spewed thick white smoke 20 meters into the sky.

The volcano’s April 10, 1815, eruption claimed the lives of at least 90,000 people, including those who died in the aftermath of the eruption from famine and disease. The eruption is estimated to have had a Volcanic Explosivity Index ranking of 7 — a supercolossal event that ejected immense amounts of volcanic dust into the upper atmosphere, significantly impacting the global climate for many years afterward.

On Wednesday, the status of Mount Lewotobi-Perempuan, on Flores Island in East Nusa Tenggara, was raised after volcanologists registered an average of 24 earthquakes a day, far higher than its usual five a day.

Mount Anak Ranakah, in Manggarai district in East Nusa Tenggara, had its status raised on Friday. Volcanologists noted an increase in the number of deep and shallow volcanic earthquakes since June. When it last erupted on Jan. 11, 1988, the mountain spewed smoke as high as 8,000 meters into the sky.

But Sutopo said there was not yet a need to order evacuations. “We just want the local governments and communities to increase their awareness,” he said.

“We also strongly suggest that climbing activities be stopped,” he added.

Aside from the 16 volcanoes on the second-highest alert status, another 21 volcanoes in the archipelago are on heightened alert.