The trip to and from Kumamoto-Jakarta is not too bad; we can fly to Haneda and then direct to Jakarta. The trip to Fukuoka and then flight to Narita to leave Japan can sometimes add several hours to trips abroad. We had to leave a day early in order to catch the early flight to Jakarta, but there are several hotels along the monorail route from Haneda to Hamamatsu.
There was some confusion after getting off the plane at Jakarta airport. All of the signs for foreign visitors said the same thing, but one line had a clearly different purpose. If you arrive with no visa, you will need to pay the entry tax as you arrive. For us, that meant getting in the first line as we entered the terminal. The other lines were for immigration and processing your passport, visa and whatever other paperwork you have to do. One tip: the visa charge in U.S. dollars was $35; the charge in yen was ¥4,000. Clearly it was the better deal to buy your visa stamp in dollars on the day I arrived.
I was surprised at Haneda airport when the money exchange person said I would get a better deal on the rate in Indonesia. The shot above is of the last exchange point before leaving Jakarta airport. Each of the four people rapped hard on their windows as I walked by.
People get around Jakarta the way most do around the world: anyway that gets them where they want to go the fastest. Because there are so many people in Jakarta, that works out to be motorbikes and motorcycles. The video above shows a sample drive through the streets and exemplifies how much quicker a bike is than a car. You may notice also that there is often no sidewalk; people make due with the space available on the side of the road when they need to go somewhere close.
All those bikes on the road make for some interesting views; the one above is from morning rush hour (which lasts all morning). To tell you the truth, I just noticed from this shot that bikes all have license plates on the front, too. I've never seen that before.
Another reason for the prevalence of motorbikes is the population density. Homes by necessity are close together, separated only by walls or narrow pathways. I often saw bikes go past me on these paths, with people going to and from work.
It goes without saying that with tight space comes innovation. I saw some bikes parked in living rooms. You gotta do what you gotta do.
Going anywhere requires some planning. A taxi ride to the suburbs of Jakarta during the week took between one and a half and two hours. The same ride on a Saturday morning took 30 minutes. I will say, though, if you attempt a lifestyle as close to the Indonesians as you can, your industrialized nation's currency will take you a long way. The starting charge for a Blue Bird taxi (the recommended company to use) fare was $.70/¥70.