Indonesia

My faith in humanity

On days when chaotic people around me seem overwhelming, in that place called life and the real world, I always seek the solace in what I know to be universally true. And that is the goodness in others.

I ignore the emotional tornadoes who suck energy from others, and I bring back memories of people I have met everywhere in the world. Today, on a day when the whirlwind people were a bit too much, I got a jolt of the “rest of humanity” through some friendly old smiles. Here are a few of their faces, taken from my travels in Bali and Java, in Indonesia, in February 2009.

(Click on each photo to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.)

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Indonesian traffic jam

 

The traffic on Bali and Java were among the most congested I can recall anywhere in the world. You can read another article I wrote describing exactly how dangerous it can be to use public transportation in Indonesia as well. I shot this, in February 2009, from inside a long haul bus that took me from Denpesar, Bali, to the island of Java. (Click on the photo to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.)

Getting around in Indonesia: trains, planes, bemos, buses, kecaks, and ferries

I posted this video online five years ago to highlight the often chaotic world of public transportation in Indonesia. As worried as I was about the large number of jet crashes and ferry sinkings there, the hazards of riding local public transportation gave me more concern. And, these concerns are well-justified.

Road injuries are ranked 10th of all contributors to the global burden of disease–more so in developing nations. In Indonesia, approximately 49,000 people die annually on the roads. Having seen in person several fatal road accidents there, usually involving small motorcycles and larger vehicles, I can say unequivocally that these are horrific ways to die. In fact, the United States Department of State offers this warning to would-be American visitors to my very much beloved Indonesia: “Air, ferry, and road accidents resulting in fatalities, injuries, and significant damage are common. … While all forms of transportation are ostensibly regulated in Indonesia, oversight is spotty, equipment tends to be less well maintained than that operated in the United States, amenities do not typically meet Western standards, and rescue/emergency response is notably lacking.”

However, it is cheap to move around. Train travel was super easy, as was hopping on a bus, or the smaller bemos. I just would not advise getting in a taxi late at night during the seasonal typhoons and have the driver then tell you that his headlights are not working, in broken English, as you navigate back roads in a city you know nothing about. Ah, the memories of travel. Priceless.

By all means, please do visit Indonesia, support the local businesses there with your money, and use a bit of common sense. Or your can stay at home, thinking you are safe and cozy, and never really understand how things work in places as dynamic and important as the largest Moslem-majority country in the entire world. For that is what corporate greenwashing campaigns like the Rainforest Alliance’s Follow the Frog want us to do: never ever leave home and never ever learn about the world first-hand. The choice is truly yours. I say, be curious, be friendly, and definitely be mobile.

See my picture gallery of Indonesia photos on my web site. (Ed. Note: I legally changed my name to Rudy Owens from Rudy Brueggemann after I had produced this film, so that is why you will see that name on the video.)