In Indonesia’s capital, a usual 20-minute journey can turn into a horrific 2-hour trip during rush hour. So on a recent visit to the Big Durian, I had to experience the chaos for myself to see how bad it can really get. Needless to say, I survived, and came back with these tips:
1. Pee before hitting the road
This is the soundest and most practical advice I can give, because there is nothing like holding your pee in a massive traffic jam in downtown Jakarta which can last for hours. If you’re a man, you could still scurry off into a street corner, but it’s tougher luck for the ladies.
2. Don’t drink water during the journey
No matter how thirsty you are or how hot the weather is outside, do not touch that bottle of water or even be tempted to grab an iced tea from the drinksman by the curb. Unless you’re going to pass out, simply take a few sips.
3. Make sure your phone is fully charged
For techies who like to tinker with their phones while waiting, this is important for making a few phone calls, finishing that email or playing a game or two during the journey. I was also told by an Indonesian friend that many locals carry a portable phone charger with them.
4. Fall asleep if you can
This is easier said than done, but fortunately for me I can snooze just about anywhere. I have slept through many traffic jams, from Kuala Lumpur to Naples to Bogor (they call me the sleeping tourist). I used to play a trick with my body where I would starve myself of sleep a day before a 14-hour flight so I could crash out in the plane – try it!
5. Use it as an opportunity to sightsee
Sleeping jokes aside, one of the best things to do in heavy traffic is to watch the city! If you learn to look, you’ll see the real Jakarta in the faces of fellow commuters and passersby. So much life happens by the curbside, from the street food sellers, to the teenage buskers with guitars to the family on the motorbike.
Have you ever experienced a huge traffic jam? Let us know your comment below.