Tag Archives: traffic

Five Stages of Grief: Bangkok Traffic Edition

After landing in Bangkok, I breezed through immigration, and having traveled with only a carry on, I was chuffed with myself that I wouldn’t have to waste precious time waiting on my luggage. Ready to get to Callie’s, I made my way down to the taxi queue. What in the world are all these people doing just sitting around? Maybe they’re waiting on people to come pick them up, I thought.

Making a bee line for the booth, I asked the attendant for a taxi, showing them Callie’s address in Thai. She gestured for my ticket indicating it was my turn in line. Thoroughly confused by this new system, I grabbed a ticket from the machine. Number 614. Ah crap! The number on the screen was 567. The realization hits me that this is why all these people are waiting around.

Surprisingly, the wait only took 20 minutes, after which I was loaded into a taxi on my way to Callie’s. Since it’s Bangkok, I know I’m in for about an hour’s worth of traffic. As anyone who’s lived in Bangkok or Jakarta can tell you, travel time has nothing to do with distance. ‘How far away are you?’ is never a question met with 5 km. It’s always explained in time. Being 5 km away could be anywhere from 10 minutes to 2 hours depending on traffic.

Cruising along the toll road, we were making good time. The sun was out, so I picked up my book, diving back into the stories of Jack and Libby. As the sun started to set, I switched my book for some tunes, happily lip syncing along while I smiled at the city passing by outside my window. We’re making good time. I should make it by 7:00, just in time to go to dinner at one of my favorite restaurants in the area.

No sooner had the thought passed through my mind, we came to a complete standstill. Red lights as far as the eye can see. Feeling myself getting frustrated, I tried to think happy thoughts, but the stop-go-stop-go wasn’t doing anything to calm me down. In fact, it only made it worse.

Well, maybe we just need to get past this one jam. We’ll pick up speed again, making up lost time. As the minutes ticked by, I kept making deals with myself, guessing what time we would arrive, adjusting the time frequently. Unsuccessful attempts to communicate with my taxi driver only fueled the frustration. How far away? “Close,” he said, whether he really believed it or not.

The maximum speed of 10 km per hour was taking its toll. I became antsy and resentful. Frustration built up in my chest. My jaw clenched. Looking at my watch only increased my anxiety. Staring at the red light we’d been stopped at for what felt like eternity, I willed it to change. Of course, it didn’t. Finally, I gave in.

I’ll get there when I get there. We’ll miss dinner. Callie’s probably wondering what happened to me. She’s probably starving and ready for a meal, too. Maybe she’ll have given up and eaten at home by the time I arrive.

After my driver missed the turn to Callie’s, I refused to let him make the u-turn and try again, knowing that would add even more time to the journey. Directing him with hand signals, I led him through the back streets and we eventually made it. Two hours after getting in the taxi, I was finally able to give Callie a hug! And, we made it for dinner.

Rain Preparations #sol18

Jakarta ranks as one of the worst cities for traffic in the world. No joke. With an estimated 25 million people, no metro or subway, few sidewalks, and even fewer highways, that means a lot of vehicles on the road. When it rains, the traffic is ten times worse, so a 5 km journey goes from 20 minutes to an hour. Yes, you read that correctly. It can take an hour or more to go 5 km (roughly 2.2 miles). Now you see why I use Go-Jek for delivery so much.

Anyhow, tonight I had plans to meet my boss and his wife, along with a colleague who is in town, for dinner in Kemang, a trendy area in South Jakarta. After a busy day at IKEA, I dozed off on the couch this afternoon, lulled to sleep by the steady rain outside my window. When I awoke, I only had 30 minutes before I was meant to meet them. Thirty minutes to get somewhere in Jakarta is not very long, so I was a bit worried I’d be late. After changing, I realized the rain had momentarily stopped, although the sky was still grey and ominous. If I get a taxi now, I’ll for sure be at least half an hour late. I’ll have to Go-Jek it. But that means there’s a high chance I’ll be stuck in the rain on the back of the bike.

With little choice, I decided to order a Go-Jek and take my chances, knowing that even then I was going to be late. Having been caught in the rain on a Go-Jek in the past, I knew I had to come prepared. I quickly changed out of the clothes I intended to wear for dinner, opting for a pair of running shorts, a singlet, and a rain jacket. Stuffing my dinner clothes, a hand towel, and extra pair of undies in my purse, I was ready to go. You might be wondering why the extra undies. Well, one time I got stuck in the rain during a torrential downpour and I was soaked right through to my knickers. I wasn’t going to risk it tonight!

Hopping on the back of the bike, it had started to drizzle again. About 5 minutes later, the rain started coming down in sheets. At this point, I was unhappy with my footwear choice as my shoes became soggy. Oh well, I’ll have to live with it. As we wove through the cars lined up at the traffic lights, I was glad I’d gone with the Go-Jek instead of the taxi. I may be wet, but at least I’ll get there at a reasonable time. Pulling into the parking lot, I made my way through the winding hallways to the inside of the mall.

Dripping wet from the ride, I thanked myself for packing dry clothes. I slipped into the restroom to quickly change before dinner. The line for the toilets was so long! I’m not waiting in that line. Sneaking over to a corner near the sinks, I toweled off my legs before removing my rain jacket and pulling my shirt over my singlet, then as quickly as possible, I changed my shorts. If anyone even noticed the bule (foreigner) in the corner changing her clothes, they didn’t bat an eye. Luckily I wasn’t soaked through and still had dry undies. I’m a risk-taker, but not that much of a risk-taker! Dry, apart from my squishy shoes, I made my way to the restaurant where I enjoyed a delicious Thai dinner.

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