Thursday, September 13, 2007

Notes from Abroad

Just thought I'd share a couple of observations from my time in Indonesia. Since I've largely been shuttling between meetings, hotels, and restaurants, I don't think I have the best impression of the country, but - with that major caveat - here goes:
  1. I've never seen worse traffic in my life. My coworker here gave an excellent piece of advice: always use the bathroom right before you go somewhere else. You never know when you'll get another chance. It took us 15 minutes to get to one meeting prior to rush hour. It took an hour and 15 to get back. That's happened EVERY DAY, without fail, on almost all the streets.
  2. That said, aside from cars, Jakarta is nowhere near as crowded as I had thought. Like LA, there's no city center, so you don't get that crush of people in particular areas.
  3. Also, the streets are very clean. The air is often terrible, but I have seen very little litter on the ground.
  4. There's something of an identity crisis going on, despite the fact that everyone keeps talking about (and I'm going to butcher this spelling) panchasila - which is kind of like a national philosophy. Even so, I don't know how many people have really embraced the ideas of pluralism and diversity, enough so that they can celebrate their commonalities amid a strikingly diverse range of people, cultures, and languages.
  5. And finally, there's a crapload of malls over here.

I take off for Java's cultural center tomorrow, so I'll hopefully have more insight later.

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