29 Juni 2012

Pendapat Orang Asing tentang Indonesian Driving-Style

jalan-jalan ke advrider.com menemukan catatan perjalanan bule Amerika Rusia yang sedang touring bersama pasangannya Dari Papua Nugini ke Nepal melewati Indonesia.

Dalam salah satu postingannya beliau menceritakan unek-uneknya tentang perilaku berkendara di Indonesia.

About the driving
Driving in Indoesia is a special sort of hell. I've ridden in Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam. It's worse here. Magnitudes worse. It's stressful, dangerous, uncomfortable, and slow. If I had known just how bad it would be I would have made a trip somewhere else.

On a decent day, with aggresive passing, we manage an average speed of 33km/h (20mph). If it's not a decent day and no good opportunities for passing then it can be much slower. Sure you can go faster at times. But never for a sustained period. You might burst to 50 or even a screaming 70km/h but then you'll get stuck behind an uphill mammoth truck at 15km/h. Or a train. Or an accident.

No amount of description or video or pictures could accurately describe it. But I'll try.

First, imagine a place like England or Germany or a crowded US state.
Now remove all the interstates, autobahns, two lane, and divied highways. There is none of that here. Just a narrow single lane in each direction. No dedicated entries or exits. No turning lanes. No road shoulder. So a narrow street lines with businesses and houses for miles. There is no special place for pulling over to pick up passengers or fixing a flat, or making a turn across traffic. Because there are no highways, all the traffic that belongs there is on these secondary roads instead. Hurtling busses. Mammoth size trucks, people trying to drive as fast as possible between cities.

Just to make it a little more spicy, picture traffic that you've never seen in your country. A 10 year old transporting his younger brother on a scooter while yacking on cell phone. Sprinting and darting in who knows what directions. A grandfather peddling a wide and incredibly slow becek bicycle taxi. Three generations of family in one horse drawn cart. Someone walking and pushing a snack wagon. Trucks so lumberous and overloaded on the sides and top that they have to drive in the middle of the road or run in to the tops and sides of trees. Agricultural vehicles bristling with pointy metal things. And people just carelessly walking.

None of these things are where they should be. Slow things don't stay to the side where they are easily avoided.
Mix all these things, big and small, fast and slow, in to one narrow road.
And everyone seems to drive without any awarness of the vehicles around them. Someone stuck at 10km/h thinks nothing of pulling in front of 50km/h traffic. Large slow trucks will occupy the oncoming lane (your lane) to pass another large slow truck. They flash their lights to say "I know it's you're lane but I'm coming so you better move". Nobody is TRYING to injure you or themselves but they're definitely putting very little effort in to avoiding it.

So you've pictured (ex Germany). Removed the interstates, put all the large trucks on secondary roads, added in horses and children on motorcycles and pedestrians. Removed driver education. Removed turns lanes and shoulders.

And finally but crucially, increase the population density 500%. So crowded that there is no room for error.

But things do happen. You come around a corner at speed (and by speed I mean 30mph) and suddenly grandpa and his becek are in the middle of the road. You slam on the brakes to avoid rolling over his antique tin cycle and he doesn't even notice. You are stuck behind a ginormous truck grinding along at 20km/h. You can't see anything in the front or to the side. Just this huge truck posterior. You cautiously edge out to pass. You accelerate. Then mid way through the pass this monster suddenly swerves to avoid a pothole or scooter or horse. He swerves without ever looking beside him, and you're forced in to the ditch. You are stuck behind a slow moving vehicle. The minvian behind you is therefore stuck behind you. He attempts to pass, even though it's obviouly not clear. He's just accelerating and hoping there's nothing around the corner. He's parallel with you now. But there is something, a hurtling oncoming buss, so he weaves back, forcing himself in to the space you were occupying. Running you over or forcing you to the side.

There's a thousand different permutations. All come from the same origins. A maddening cocktail. Too many people, not enough space, bad infrastructure, traffic types that should never mix.

It was the second week here. The first time (in all my miles travelled and 60 countries visited) I've ever seen a fresh body on the road. And what I thought was "huh, I'm surprised we didn't see this sooner".

I hate driving here. I dread it. It's a chore, not a pleasure. I wouldn't recommend self drive here to anyone. You're damn near the smallest dog in the yard and those big boys will think nothing of squashing you. Car and driver are so cheap to hire here anyway. I dream of returning with a freight train of a truck. Hundreds of tons and steel and motor. Annihilating all those busses and trucks and vans and cars that carelessly tried to kill me. Seriosuly, I dream of it.

The best solution is to drive at night. You miss the scenery and you might bleed for awhile after an accident (like when you hit that dark 50lb bag of rice on the road ) before someone else comes along, but god it's smooth sailing. 99% less traffic and cool air. Double the speeds you can make during the day. You have the road and all those glorious curves to yourself.

I hope it gets better. It has to. I'm too stubborn to quit and the only way out of Indonesia is to continue through Indonesia.

I hate driving here.

The view often looks like this for extended periods of time. Can't see anything to the front or the other lane. If you try to back off a bit to leave some safety space or get a better view, the [$%^!@#] behind you will quickly pass then wedge in in front of you. Thus leaving you one car further back and still not safety zone. Notice also that the truck is well over the center line. You could maybe pass on the right but not if he swerves to avoid something in his lane. It's not so bad though. Sometimes they are loaded a few feet taller and drive exactly in the center.

We also spend a lot of time viewing this. The one advantage of being behind a large truck is that at least it acts like a shield and you can be sure not to have a problem with oncoming traffic in your lane.
 terjemahkan sendiri yah :p

Memang beginilah keadaan Indonesia, kita tidak bisa menyangkalnya.

Tapi di ride report juragan di atas dia banyak menyanjung keindahan alam Indonesia juga jalan-jalan di pedesaan.

Bahkan dia mengakui keramah tamahan, keringan-tangan-an dan kebaikan orang Indonesia.
Lovely Indonesian People
A note is needed about the Indonesian people we've met.

They've been pretty damn wonderful. Helpful, kind, friendly, and honest beyond all my expectations. It extends from the security officer at the airport to people you ask for directions on the street. If we broke down or got lost I have NO doubt that help would come quickly and we'd get whatever we needed or a bed for the night.

I have to take my tank bag off to fill the gas. I set it aside at a gas station and forgot to put it back on. It had about $800 of fancy camera, sunglasses, keys, cash, and other do dads in there. About 5km down the road two boys on a scooter passed us smiling, clutching our tank bag, and waved us over. I would have been really upset if we'd lost it and it may have been hours before I realized it was missing. They didn't just hold it for us at the station, they hopped on their bike and tracked us down. That's super!

Numerous people who don't know us at all have volunteered their time, tools and garage to help with the bike.
We've been treated like visiting dignitaries by damn near everyone.
They've taken us out to dinner.

If the bike is about to tip over on a hill (that was fun) or is stuck in the mud, people swarm in like magic to help.

Someone drove us an hour to an ATM and back.

Restaurant strangers often offer us their business card and say to call if we have any problems while we are here or need translation help.

The people are so kind in fact that I sometimes feel guilty about accepting favours and not being able to repay them.

All of our tour guides really go "above and beyond".

If we have a low tire, dragging luggage, light left on, something left unlocked, or funny noise coming from our bike, someone will definitely let us know and offer to help.

At least once a day I'm amazed and the kindness we receive.

To be honest I'm sure some of this comes from travelling with a girl and an interesting bike. It makes us more approachable. But it seems there would be plenty of kindness for anyone that comes through.

Basic English is fairly widespread. Far more so than anywhere else I was in South East Asia. On par with Malaysia at least. And they use the Latin alphabet so you can read the signs and menus and try some of their words pretty easily. The language (to me) seems grammatically simple so it's not hard to communciate with basic words. All these things make it much easier to relate and communicate with people.

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