Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by indohoyindohoy on 23 September 2011 • Tips
It’s not disco, it’s obviously not milkshake. It’s a 3-wheeler vehicle popular in the streets of Jakarta. It was formerly imported from a manufacturer in India as a development of Vespa, now built in Indonesia as well. Surprisingly, I saw a bajaj in Banjarmasin once!
A bajaj is usually bright orange, some with colorful hillbilly stickers on the body, it’s loud and it makes turns like an easily distracted sanguine person: spontaneously without warnings ahead. There’s a saying that only God and a bajaj driver know where the vehicle is going to go. No reversing lights on, you just gotta be anticipative when you’re driving behind a bajaj. And why don’t they get tickets? Only God and the police know.
Most of you must have been to Thailand and know what a tuktuk is, right? Well, bajaj is quite similar to tuktuk.
Anyhoo. The pricing system of a bajaj is similar to ojek, where it’s best when you know how far the distance you’re going, so you can estimate how much the price that suites it, based on the usual pricing to common places. Confused? Well, basically, just ask the locals around the area, they can give you some advice. And that’s important because a bajaj driver would certainly mark up the prices to give room for you to haggle. To give you an idea, today I just went on a bajaj from Gambir train station to the Istiqlal mosque, costing me IDR 10,000 (I could’ve haggled down to IDR 5,000 or 7,000 but I was feeling kinda generous) and the ride took less than 5 minutes with almost no traffic.
There are some areas, usually the main avenues, where bajajs are forbidden to enter. But they’re easily found at places where you backpackers often hang out in Jakarta, around the Jalan Jaksa, and of course in many other areas. There are now some blue bajajs, the ones with different kind of fuels, but the pricing is I think similar to the orange ones. And don’t get mistaken with a Kancil, which is also orange but they’re sort of like a mini car with glass windows and overall looking more modern.
Bajajs are great for short distances. You’re welcome to use it for long distance, but be ready to hop off it shaking like Shakira (hey that might not be bad after all!). When it rains, Mr. Driver will pull down the rolled-up window flaps for you. But they would only protect you from drizzles or when it’s not raining with heavy wind. Why choose a bajaj over a taxi? It’s smaller in size (only seats 2 people comfortably), so it can squeeze in amongst bigger vehicles in traffic, it’s slightly cheaper than taxi fare, and it’s cheerful orange! ‘Nuff said.