According to the American Women’s Association these are the ‘musts’ to see and do in Jakarta. Surely in a city of this size there’s more to do than this?!
In many ways the Indonesian perspective of jam karet is a small reminder that we a living in a country with many different customs, habits, norms and values than those of home. It should be noted that there is no real normal when discussing Indonesian culture due to the vast number of cultures within Indonesian society itself!
Time is flexible in Indonesia. This cultural norm of life and time being flexible has been something I have grappled with during our time in Indonesia. In the western world, being late to appointments or even simple catch ups with friends or family is considered tardy or rude – not so here. Many times, people are late for appointments or do not show up at all (other times they may show up early) and the reasons given can be quite amusing – tired, hungry, traffic, rain, flat tyre, whatever. These excuses are deemed acceptable and it is rude to take issue with the person who is ‘late’ which is difficult for expats to deal with.
To cope, we have taken the approach that we wait for an hour or so for repairmen or deliveries and if we need to head out, we do. Arrangements will be made for besok (tomorrow or thereafter) and the job will get done – eventually. Fortunately employing a pembantu helps greatly, as she can liaise with these people should they show up in our absence. No stress, no problem (tidak apa apa).
Jam karet is also about building and maintaining relationships. Life’s hiccups allow people to stop and connect with others. If it’s raining why not stop and share a story over coffee with a stranger? Most homes and shopfronts have chairs out front where people sit and chat to pass the time. Time and patience are a way of life and there’s a beauty to the mindset that we are all connected. Not such a familiar concept in the West these days.
The idea of time being elastic brings with it a lovely approach in many ways to dealing with life in general. Why not just go with the flow and make life easy? Let it go and let it be. Whilst I will continue to be punctual, my take away from this experience is to not sweat the small stuff and that has to be a valuable life lesson.
Below are just a few apps that have been useful for us during our time in Jakarta. You’ll find many more of your own.
WhatsApp – used by most expats
XE Currency Converter – easy to use & no explanation required
Go-Jek – for all manner of deliveries, cleaning and beauty services
HappyFresh – online groceries and delivery
Uber – similar to taxi service
Eztable – online restaurant and cafe reservations
Google Maps/Waze – handy for travel times and online directions
TripAdvisior – helps to plan things to see and do, recommendations for hotels, restaurants etc
Facebook – connect with other expats and community groups
My first experience of minor flooding here in Jakarta. This was after less than 20 minutes of heavy rain and the impact on traffic is utterly ridiculous and incredibly frustrating.
The first two photos were taken on Jalan Sudirman, Setiabudi which is a block or two from our apartment. The last few were taken around the back streets near our apartment.
As you can see, the water is well above street level. What you can’t see is the rubbish and God knows what else that is swirling around in the water. The smell isn’t too pretty either.
Must be time to invest in some Princess gumboots!
thesmult- life is what you decide
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Recently, I read a Facebook post from Expat Housewife of Jakarta, a fellow trailing/expat spouse, who posted a photo showing her enjoying a visit to a hair salon. The salon was located within her apartment complex, which is not uncommon, and in the photo was the stylist and a therapist doing a pedicure. To misguided outsiders this image encapsulates the wonderful lifestyle of the trailing spouse. Spa days, boozy lunches, more pampering, maids, drivers etc.
Delve deeper. Firstly, remember that Facebook profiles show only the highlight reel of all users. Rarely do we catch a glimpse beyond the shiny, happy facade. The woman (most supporting spouses are) continued that while she enjoyed these pampering sessions they actually fill a void. It was here that things become very familiar to expat spouses. She states “..the reality is, I’m lonely and I need to do these kind of things to get through the loneliness.” And there it is, the true expat spouse experience. Many of our partners travel away a lot for work and must also fulfil week night work commitments – all of which takes them away from the family.
On top of this, in places like Jakarta, the notorious traffic makes spontaneous catch ups with friends virtually impossible; this limits your ability to socialise and impacts your mental health. And this leads us to the topic of taxis..
Expat Housewife continued that even the myriad of entertainment options on offer in this vibrant city, she felt trapped as she hadn’t asked her driver to work late that night and she didn’t want to take a taxi alone at night. Another very familiar situation for expat wives. Female expats, including myself, have experienced uncomfortable and down right unsafe taxi rides when traveling alone and so I refuse to go anywhere alone in a cab especially at night. Another inhibitor of spontaneity.
Don’t go feeling too sorry for us, just keep in mind that all is not as it seems on social media pages. Delve a bit deeper..
This blog had to be shared; the photos of this wedding are beautiful and offer an insight into the world of weddings for the upper class of Indonesia.
Translated from bahasa Indonesia:
“Wedding of Ganesha and Ganisya divided into two different sessions the day. The marriage ceremony was held on 15 March 2015 and the reception took place in Puri Ardhya Garini on 20 March 2015. To add to the impression they are important, they were in the presence of the special invited guests of Vice President of the Republic of Indonesia, Mr. Jusuf Kalla.”
Image and description of wedding courtesy of:
@aubergine_jelly : life is what you decide
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