New Years Eve in Jakarta

Old Jan 3rd 2014, 7:16 am
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Default New Years Eve in Jakarta

New Years Eve is the same in Jakarta as any other major city…….insomuch that it entails fireworks!
The rest of the celebrations, I’m not so sure, as Jakarta is different from just about any other Asian city as it doesn’t enjoy a mass transit system. The standard method of travel is car, motor cycle, clapped out buses, backs of trucks…oh! I nearly forgot….the Transjakarta Busway, the biggest joke! Consequently, New Years Eve is an event to ‘not be caught on the road’….indeed, the police even close some arterial roads so people can congregate to see the celebrations…..it is managed chaos, as imo, the way most of how Indonesia works!
The main events are held at the Monas in N. Jakarta and around the circular fountain in front of the original Hotel Indonesia (now Kempinski), Hyatt and Mandarin hotels. Most, with money, book rooms in those places to secure a grandstand seat…the poor sit on the sidewalks.

We are therefore considered lucky. Our apartment is in the city but we view panoramically south and west away from the hi-rises……we should see the mountains on the horizon but, because of pollution, it is rarely seen! However, we do see the tops of the millions of kampong (village) rooftops and hear dozens of mosque loudspeakers.
So, it is on our verandah that we celebrated our Old/New Year’s end/beginning…this year. Our friends arrived earlier and we all dined in a restaurant in the mall under our tower block. This was followed by moving up to our apartment for dessert and booze…..as a Scot.…I like to start early! When the twitching hour approached we went to the balcony and settled down to what I explained would be sensational. No-one believed me because our view is away from the organized firework action but, they didn’t care, as they were all pretty buzzed by now.
Some pathetic isolated fireworks were seen in the distance until about 11:30 when, suddenly, the whole of S. Jakarta seemed to explode. This is the result of millions of local street houses and simple hut people putting on a display….it was like WW2 when I was a kid in UK! The panorama of sparkling fireworks, the rockets flying so high, the sheer colour and brilliance in the night-sky and the volume of the thunderous noise continued for about an hour and the view, from our vantage, was spectacular….it brought tears to some of our guests knowing we were witnessing generally, the poorest of the poor, spontaneously and independently giving their all! I’ve had the pleasure of personally seeing many fireworks around the world….Hong Kong, Vancouver, Las Vegas, Seattle and others……but none as emotional as this.
The show being over we continued our imbibe in air conditioned comfort and talked about the poor people and how they had wasted so much money on fireworks…there was two schools of debate…one was about therapeutic happiness and the other about cynical extravagance…..I cannot recall any outcome…I was happily drunk and went to bed!
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