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Wet feet in North Jakarta, 2 YOGYAKARTA - All of a sudden I got a rush that I would be able to find a bajaj - a terrible orange noise factory on three wheels - driver who was to drive me around through these 'floods', the water was less than 30 centimeters high, so it didn't seem that terrible through my untrained eyes. My girlfriend wanted to join me as well, but not directly because she wanted to see it, but mainly because I had a stupid idea like this once again. Safety was the main reason I guess, however I would be able to save myself here. If water levels would reach high enough which was pretty unlikely given the fact that the sea was less than a kilometer away with a flat landscape - I would be able to swim home as well. That is the worse-case-scenario however, I prefer to stay as dry as possible.

The search for a bajaj was relatively easy given the fact that it was now raining pretty intense. The driver managed to park his orange three-wheeled wreck just on the pavement, so we could both board without getting really wet. I wanted to close the plastic in order to keep myself dry. Unfortunately it didn't work like that. There was a pretty strong wind as well, which caused the plastic to open and close so I got a wet feeling in my pants pretty soon. I did wear a jacket however, so I didn't have to worry yet about getting cold. My sandals were of too good quality for this type of weather and the fabric directly soaked all the water from the floor of the bajaj which didn't flow out of it directly through one of the many holes in the floor.

A few bright orange bajaj lined up, waitinf for passengers near the main train station of Jakarta, Jakartakota.
A few bright orange bajaj lined up, waitinf for passengers near the main train station of Jakarta, Jakartakota.

Where we wanted to go. That didn't really matter as long as we could see water. As much as possible. That was no problem at all for him, since it still rained intense enough and the amount of water in the streets in the direct environment of the boarding house was still increasing. In the news there was a report about flooding in Muara Baru - the sea water - which were continuing into today. I would like to have a look there, in the hope that it was high tide so there would be more than enough water. The driver hit the gas and with a shock we smashed through the first pool of water. The water that had just drained away through the holes in the floor now came back inside as well. Unfortunately my sandals would not stay dry today as well.

The coffee grinder drove out of the street. We were on our way to Muara Baru. The main street in front of the door of the boarding house, Jalan Pluit Raya Timur, was wet and every once in a while we drove through a pool of muddy water. No big volumes however and the traffic was able to squeeze itself over that one lane that was still high enough not to be flooded. With confidence we went on to search for more water. If we were not able to find that, then I had to take pictures of this pool, because water is what I wanted to see. And as much as possible. I was quite honest about it, because I had sacrificed myself to get wet in the evening hours, to I wanted something in return for it. Towards the west the buildings are higher and more luxury. This should be the neighborhood where the rich had to drive their cars though floodwaters to be able to enter their condo's.

High water at one of the sluice gates near the sea in Pluit, North Jakarta.
High water at one of the sluice gates near the sea in Pluit, North Jakarta.

The entrance gate to the housing complex was open. The security guard didn't do any effort to check who was going in and out in this pouring rain, so we aimed directly for the sea here. Much water in these streets as well, but not the flooding I was reading about earlier. Not one meter of water in the streets. That would be way too much as well, because a bajaj can not go through such an amount of water without being flooded itself. The engine failed. Still too much water on the road I assumed. The exhaust of these things is just some twenty centimeters above the ground, so a little bit too much water and it will fail directly. The driver had to clean the engine first before we could continue our trip. On his bare feet in waters that reached twenty centimeters he was cleaning the engine of that orange thing in the pouring rain. Amazingly he was able to clean is very quickly and after that it ran perfect - as perfect as an engine of a bajaj can run - so we could continue our trip.

No high tide. Not one meter of water in the streets, so after a bumpy half-hour drive in that orange machine it was time to head back to the boarding house. That was more than enough for today. I felt that my underwear had become wet already and since there still was a lot of wind and rain, it seemed a better idea to me to take a hot shower so I could spend the evening with other things than looking at water and rain. Back home was no problem the driver said and on we went. We had to queue up several times because there were many cars on the road now. Rush-hour had really started. I already got the suspicion that it would take a while before we would be back again. The bajaj became less comfortable over time, but we had to live with that for the time being.

A view from inside a bajaj in heavy traffic in the area of the old town of Jakarta, also known as Kota Tua.
A view from inside a bajaj in heavy traffic in the area of the old town of Jakarta, also known as Kota Tua.

When the bajaj queued up at a line of cars for the third time I noticed that there was much more water in the streets than just fifteen minutes ago, when we took the same route. The drains at both sides of the road were full now and water flowed on the road instead of into the drains. And it went fast as well. Every time when we moved forward a little, I got a view on a crossing with a layer of water which reached some thirty centimeters. That is the reason why we didn't make much progress going home. However modern cars don't have any problem handling with water, most drivers took the safe route around the deepest part of the pools. This is only to avoid any surprises below the water because a possible - not visible - pothole is a potential disaster here. The bajaj followed the row of cars while motorbikes with their drivers paddled by. Not too fast fortunately, otherwise I would end up very wet every time a motorbike passed the bajaj.

Read the other parts! Wet feet in North Jakarta, 1
Wet feet in North Jakarta, 3



Posted in Flooding @ 13 January 2008 by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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