Protests in Jakarta

jakarta protests

9th May

We have watched some diplomat enter and leave our hotel. I have not made mention of it because I don’t know why the security detail was so large and I didn’t want to jeopardise their safety. Not that there are huge amounts of people reading my blog and those that do aren’t the dangerous type. I just didn’t want to be the person who put it out there.

When we arrived at the hotel, our taxi was told to drive away as the police about 25 vehicles; cars, bikes and those big crowd movers, were at the entrance along with a diplomatic vehicle. I don’t know if they were coming or going but our taxi man was sent away. He circled to the parking area and then peaked forward a little, they waved him over, obviously annoyed. Then he said we were checking in so they found him a spot to park at the entrance.

We weren’t sure if we were allowed to get out of the car or had to wait but we jumped out and tried to get inside quickly. It wasn’t an ordeal as much as it was interesting and entertaining. We did arrive early in the morning so without looking properly the guard had thought the taxi was waiting for a pickup. This was deemed unsafe and he was told to leave. When they saw he circled back around they wanted words with him but he got in first – drop off, check in, just arrived from the airport. WHAT – oh ok park here, quick. Well I don’t speak much Indonesian but that was the gist of their exchange.

Whenever this person arrives or leaves there is a huge escort and the sirens go. We have a good view from our room to watch it all unfold. I don’t mind it. Everyone deserves to be safe right. But today I noticed slowly a huge police presence growing at the roundabout police station. I don’t know what it is called but there is a police station on the roundabout. Buses, trucks, really random vehicles were being parked there during the day and slowly a whole battalion, it seemed like, were standing there.

The below video shows how just how closed the roads were for said person.

Then all of a sudden they deployed – mostly on foot from that spot. They all went in different directions. I watched on as men walked around the roundabout, the wrong way, some with riot shields, from what I could tell all had their standard issue weapon (which is much larger than police in Australia but at this stage I wasn’t sure if they were police, riot squad or military).

While watching the roundabout, there was an extraordinary number of police cars coming and going in every direction. I watched for ages, recorded some, timelapse recorded on others but generally just looked down wondering what was going on.

Was it an exercise or is something happening in Jakarta.

Well. A quick search of Google, and then a switch from Safari to google chrome for the auto-translate, I found out.

It is essentially election drama and protests. This protest was announced a few days ago to be held this afternoon. Oh, that will do it. They are a riot squad. They are preparing for some kind of showdown. We are right near the command centre for the police I guess. So got to see it all going on.

The funny thing is, no matter what news we get at home and what people have been trying to tell us about Jakarta. I feel much safer and happier here then I did in Bali. Even though there is apparently huge protests and unrest in Jakarta at the moment.

Media is one thing, reality is another.

And then, at about 5:10pm it started to rain and all I could think was – don’t let it rain on my parade. Whoever is staying here arrived back at 5:17pm and some of the big amoured vehiles with police in them came back, from a complete different direction around the same time. They went the wrong way around the round about – for a tiny section but it was all just so interesting. So so very interesting to watch. Not unsettling, not making me fear for my safety, just interesting.

Then again, watching any of the shenanigans going on around the round about is very interesting.

10th May

There were more protests on the 10th with the protest/speaker being on the move. Streets were again filled with police and the road was closed as the vehicle in question made its way through the city.

You can kind of see, though I moved my phone and it was set to time lapse so everything moves in hyper speed, in the video above the police and military walking to their transport and stations.

In front of the orange bus at the bottom of the screen is the vehicle carrying the speaker.

You had to be there, really, to understand how interesting it was.

Nothing felt unsafe though. I left the hotel alone as did TW during these protests and preparations. It was Ramadan so I actually stayed inside. The hotel is connected to Plaza Indonesia meaning there is no need to go outside. But I didn’t feel unsafe to do it. I just went to the supermarket at the bottom of the mall to get lunch and gifts, couldn’t decide on what I wanted so bought nothing and returned to the room.

All these words might make it sound scary or unsafe but Melbourne has protests all the time. I would be slightly offended if I turned on the news and someone was saying how terrible and unsafe Melbourne was and thus Australia should be avoided except for maybe Hamilton Island which is the only safe place, but still keep your wits about you because the locals are out for your money. Yet, the reality is, what we see and what we hear about Jakarta, Indonesia and Bali are exactly that. Avoid Jakarta, avoid Indonesia but if you have to go just stick to Bali.

Meh, Bali isn’t that nice and Jakarta is lovely. I loved the trip and can’t wait for the Park Hyatt to open because that is likely the next time I will go back. Then, I would need to go back again so I can stay at the Grand Hyatt and go see a movie at the CGV Gold Class. I am pretty excited that this is an easy to get to city for us now and to understand the difference in population, traffic, and feel when it isn’t Ramadan.

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