Friday, December 12, 2008

Jakarta's Efficient Bus Transportation System

After staying in Jakarta for three days, with my colleague's help, I have learned to use the city's bus transportation system. I must say that for a city of 8.5 million, their bus transportation system is pretty efficient and I am suitably impressed.

Jakarta does not have any sophisticated light rail or monorail transportation system to shout about. But their super efficient bus transportation system seemed to outclass the former. This particular bus transportation system I am referring to is operated by Transjakarta.

Dedicated bus lanes criss-crossed the city. These bus lanes are demarcated by low barriers that prevented vehicles other than buses to use the lane. Due to this simple use of barriers, the buses are able to travel their routes extremely efficiently. Passengers do not need to worry if the buses will arrive on time or not. A bus will stop by the bus stop almost every 5-10 minutes. In fact, I dare say that I will get to the destination faster using the bus than a car... LOL.

Another unique feature of the Jakarta's bus transportation system is that the bus lanes are located in the middle of the road or highway. Thus, all the bus stops are along the center serving both sides of the road.

Personally, I think the city planners in Malaysia have a lot of valuable lessons they can learn from their counter part in Jakarta!

The overhead walkway that led down to the bus stop in between the roads.

Walking down to the bus stop.

Video showing the arrival at a bus stop during extreme rush hour. Check out the number of people queuing up to board the bus.

In the video, don't I look like a pro knowing exactly where to go when I got down the bus? LOL... actually my colleague, Tien Soon, was behind guiding me... LOL...

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Wandering Wirelessly in Jakarta

Left for the Kuala Lumpur LCCT (Low Cost Carrier Terminal) airport at 4:30am this morning. It had been raining the whole month and it was no surprise that this morning it was raining cats and dogs. I was worried about my wife whom had to send me to the airport and then driving back alone in this crappy weather. I was relieved when she called me 40 minutes later and told me that she was back home safely.

I decided to eat breakfast at the Asian Kitchen restaurant in LCCT before proceeding to the departure area. Lets just say that I will never ever eat there again. Should have just stuck to McDonalds!

Was the AirAsia flight to Jakarta delayed?

After getting through the immigration and then waiting for some 30 minutes, we boarded the plane right on time. BUT the bloody plane was sitting at the airport parking bay under the rain for an hour if not more, before taking off. So do we consider the flight to be delayed? In any case, we arrived in Jakarta 45 minutes after the scheduled time of arrival at 9:45 am (local time). Anyway, I am thankful that we arrived safely... :)

Blue Bird and Only Blue Bird Taxi

After getting my luggage, I passed through custom and headed to the Taxi area. A man asked me if I wanted Blue Bird Taxi, and I replied yes. He guided me through the door and wanted me to cross the road to his "taxi". I told the man, I wanted Blue Bird Taxi, and he replied that he was taking me there. My spider sense was tingling and this chap seemed highly suspicious to me. I told him I was not interested in my broken Bahasa Indonesia/Malaysia and went back inside the airport lobby. I checked with the airport information counter and they pointed me to the right direction and before I knew it, I arrived at Aston Rasuna Residences through the shortest route (according on my GPS software at least... LOL). Three cheers for Blue Bird Taxi. I was a very satisfied customer!!! Yeah!

Not All Starbucks are Created Equal

In front of the Aston Rasuna Residence.

View of the Aston Rasuna Residence apartments from the Bridge Restaurant.

The dissapointing Starbucks at Setiabudi 1 along Jalan Rasuna Said.

After registering at Aston Rasuna apartments, I had to wait until 2:00pm before I get the room. So I had about 4 hours to kill. I decided to look for a Starbucks to get online. I learnt a valuable lesson! Not all Starbucks are created equal! I don't know about the rest of the Starbucks in Jakarta, but this one does not have free WiFi coverage. All the available WiFi requires subscriptions. Crap!

Jalan Rasuna Said, one of the main road of South Jakarta, was almost completely devoid of traffic due to the Hari Raya Haji holiday.

Jalan Rasuna Said from another view, almost devoid of traffic.

After about an hour of time wasted there, I decided to walk back to the apartment. On the back, I came across a cultural market of sorts, called Pasar Festival. There was a giant banner saying, "Free Telkom WiFi at the food court". Cool! I thought. So I went in and wasted time finding the food court. This time, I did not break out my notebook, instead, I used my D810 phone and tried connecting to the WiFi there. Again, I could connect to the WiFi but could not access anywhere at all.

Pasar Festival, where there were supposed to be free WiFi.

Finally, I made my way back to the apartment entrance, and that was when I noticed across the road, another giant banner stating, "Free WiFi at the Bridge Food Center". I decided to give it one last try. I used my D810 again and this time, I hit the jackpot!!! I was connected and I could surf!!! It was about 12:30 pm.

The Bridge Food Center with free WiFi.

Inside the Bridge Food Center.

And now I am eating my Fried Chicken Rice while updating this blog. Heck, now I am running out of battery power... and the electrical sockets are different. I NEED an power ADAPTER!!!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Two Mango Trees in Batu Gajah

A couple of weeks back, I took the family back to Ipoh for the weekend. Since my wife's parents have not been staying in their house in Batu Gajah (about a half hour drive from Ipoh), she told me to go there and pluck some mangoes before they all get rotten.

Everyone in the family loves mango, whether the mangoes are sweet, sour or even unripe, my wife will find a way to make them into something really tasty. The favourite being sliced mangoes in "rojak" sauce.

I took my eight years old son, Joel and we spent the afternoon plucking mangoes from two mango trees planted by my wife's grandma. She passed away a couple of years ago and everyone really misses her, including my kids, whom till today, always refer to Batu Gajah as "Tai-po" place.

Joel plucking mangoes.

In the end, we plucked about 30 mangoes.

Joel looking for mangoes.

Finally, he spotted some mangoes and managed to pluck one.

While I was plucking the mangoes with my eldest son, I remembered thinking that, we all get to enjoy these mangoes simply because Tai-po had planted them. At that moment, I asked myself, what will I leave behind for my children when the time comes for me to go? Will it be something as simple and as enjoyable as a mango tree, where every so often they will come by and enjoy the fruits? And perhaps tell stories to one another underneath the shade of the mango tree?

I have no answer for myself now, but I think I roughly know, where the spiders are.

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