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EINDHOVEN - As more things in Indonesia, things are different than in Holland. A warnet (warung internet, internet cafe) is something that we donít know in Holland, in the way is exsists here. But over the last four years, five holidays, I have learned how to cope with several hardships which I have encountered in different warnets in different places. This story will give you a look in several different Ďkindsí of internet cafeís as they excist and how it could be.

In the years that I have spent my holidays in Indonesia, sometimes in a house in South Jakarta, sometimes on Bali in a luxury hotel, and sometimes with people of the same age in Jogja, I have noticed quite some things while reading my email in a warnet. Most of Jakartaís warnets I visited were located in malls, small or big, that doesnít really matter. Those places are generally clean and well-maintained. The number of computers ranges from several to several dozen, if you take a warnet (often called cyber-cafe in malls) in a Blok M Plaza, they have more than 20.
That specific one can best be described as strange. They have installed Linux on their computers, and they tell you when you enter. Like itís very strange to have Linux installed. In fact itís very strange, because itís the only warnet I know that doesnít have Windows installed on their public computers, but well... The computers are pushed in a not too big space, originally meant to be a shop or boutique. Lighting is barely sufficient, and if there is a problem with the network or the central server, all computers freeze and have to be rebooted with a floppy, all not-saved data is lost, because they just reboot like itís the most normal thing in the world. Probably it is for them, but I was slightly upset by the fact that they didnít inform me about anything, but just pushed in the floppy disk and pressed the reboot button.


Warnets are run by a big variety of people, which bring their distinctive atmosphere to the warnet as well. If you see a polite Indonesian girl with veil, you can expect that the warnet itself is somewhat quiet, people behave themselves, and there is some slow music, not played at a high volume. The same goes for the school-boy like Ďgate-keepersí. A drink can be ordered if you like, but you have to ask for it.
Something totally different can be expected when you are looking through the window and you see a big guy, probably wearing tatoos on several places of his body. Usually some popular girls are around him, which will welcome you when you come in. These places are almost like the most popular pub in the street, but they only offer supermi, Aqua and some other refreshing, American drinks. The music volume is clearly too high, but the people inside seem not to bother that. They prefer trying to hang around with the tough guys of the warnet. They will sometimes try to sell you a drink when you are just settling for an hour of internet.
Lighting can be a problem as well. Most feature the bright white light of energy-saving lighting, some donít use engery-saving lighting and just use the Indonesian-produces Philips lightbulbs. No problem, because I can still see where I have to go when I need to go to the toilet. Sometimes they donít use the 100 Watt Philips lightbulbs, but only 50 Watt ones, that makes quite a difference. Of course itís cheaper to use, but if itís more comfortable for the guests? I doubt it. I donít like to look around where my wireless mouse has gone, or where the special keys are placed on my keyboard. The most bad situation is if the warnet features high separations between the computers, and no individual lighting per computer. Luckily this is hard to find, and most warnets offer abundant lighting from those so-called energy-saving lights.
There is nothing what you can place Ďin betweení. Itís either the rough way with the tough guys inside, or the quiet way with the little muslem girl. But prices donít differ a lot, you pay a little more in the big malls. You pay much more on tourist centers in Bali en Lombok. If you are looking for cheaper places, get off the main roads, out of the malls and away from the tourist areas. You can find internet for as cheap as Rp 3000 per hour in Jakarta, Jogja as well as on Bali and Lombok. And donít be afraid to walk into a small alley at night, there are the places where you can find cheaper internet, even in Kuta (if you are there).

Personal choise

I personally get a horrifying feeling when I hear a warnet. Warnets should not be heard, but you should see them first. Maybe there can be some nice music inside, quiet music, and for sure not too loud. Loud music and loud tv is a general Indonesian problem, by the way. A warnet which announces itself with loud music, is a warnet without the atmosphere of a true cosy and friendly place where people meet to access the internet. When Iím at home I hardly play any music when Iím working on my computer, most of the time the tv is on as background filling, but thatís all. Something like that is what Iím usually looking for in Indonesia as well, nothing less, but certainly nothing more.
In Jogja, during my time there in last august, I was happy to find such a place close to my hotel where I spend most of my time in Jogja. Along Jalan Pasar Kembang, you will find just one warnet, Queen. Itís not cheap, but with Rp 7000 an hour, itís not expensife for tourists as well. The interrior is open and features some 15 computers, each with the screen to the outside wall, most of them in private Ďboxesí. Itís somewhat dark inside, but because there is a big open place in the middle, sometimes decorated with plants, which are only inside during the hottest hours of the day.
If you happen to be on Lombok, in the neighborhood of Mataram, you can find some cosy but busy warnets near the only mall on Lombok, Mataram Mal. The warnets are not located in the mall, but along a road to the mall. They all have about the same prices ( Rp.3000 to Rp.5000 per hour, and if you want to have somewhat fast internet like in Jogja and Jakarta, you will have to bring a visit to them between 1 and 5 in the afternoon. Outside these times the internet is completely jammed with locals trying to get access to their overseas Yahoo! and Hotmail email accounts.

Posted in Culture @ 09 September 2003 by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink

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