News / Asia

Indonesians Begin Annual Trek to Celebrate Ramadan's End

Crowds of people wait for trains to arrive before they can make hour-long journeys back to their hometowns.
Crowds of people wait for trains to arrive before they can make hour-long journeys back to their hometowns.

Traffic snarls are plaguing Jakarta as millions of residents hop in cars, buses and trains to journey back to their hometowns for Muslim Idul Fitri celebrations, marking the end of Ramadan. The exodus is one of the world's largest, and long waits are just part of the problem.

Heading home

"Ayo Mudik," or "let us go home," is the popular term for the exodus that marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.  For Jakarta dwellers, traffic jams, long lines and inflated ticket prices are just part of the holiday period, which also is called Lebaran.

The celebration, known as Eid al-Fitr in many countries, begins Friday, September 10.

On Wednesday, two days before the holiday starts, Andrik Eko, a factory worker Jakarta, says he bought his ticket early to avoid long delays and higher prices.

He says ticket prices go up nearly 200 percent around Idul Fitri.  But this kind of thing only happens once a year, so it is better to just accept it.

What is the trip like?

Around a quarter of Jakarta's nine million residents are expected to return to their hometowns in the coming days.  Most of them will go by road, but for those who have the time, and a bit of extra cash, the train is a safer alternative.

Eko, who will travel 18 hours to his home in East Java, says buses still get stuck in traffic and human error is a big concern because people have to depend on the driver.

Last year more than 450 people were killed in accidents during the holiday, many of them motorbike passengers packed four-deep on bikes built for two.

Costly voyage

The Transportation Ministry asks people not to use motorbikes for long journeys.  The government is providing trucks and special rail cars to help those using public transportation get their motorcycles home.  

At the Senen train station in northeast Jakarta, ticket lines snake around departure areas.  Families sit on floor mats, waiting hours or days to begin their journeys.

Two women packed between bags of chocolate milk and treats they will give away have been waiting seven hours for their train to leave.

Sumini says she tried to buy a bus ticket in the morning, but the only ones left were being sold by scalpers.

She says it is much easier to take the bus, but they have to book the tickets two weeks before they plan to leave.  Just now there was a ticket, but it is too expensive so she gave up.

Souvenirs

At the station, vendors sell knick-knacks and crisp new rupiah notes to travelers who will give them out as gifts.  Idul Fitri is a time of spiritual renewal and togetherness, but it also provides an opportunity for people to show off their accomplishments in the big city.

Wahyudi, a food vendor, will have to spend the night at the station with the boxes of clothes he plans to give to his children.
Wahyudi, a food vendor, will have to spend the night at the station with the boxes of clothes he plans to give to his children.

Many travelers say the cost of the trip home is not a problem, but they worry about having enough money to buy gifts for those still living in their villages.

Some companies help their employees by providing free transportation.  Cement giant Holcim sent 5,000 masons back to their villages Sunday.  Company spokesman Budi Primawan says the service is a sign of thanks.

"It is just a bit of appreciation and also a way to show that we have a very good understanding of the situation," Budi said, "you know, because during Lebaran people are coming back and it is quite difficult to find transportation, so we thought we could help the masons to celebrate Idul Fitri at their hometowns."

Safety measures


To ease the gridlock, and reduce the number of traffic accidents and robberies that happen each year, the Transportation Ministry monitors security cameras around the archipelago to pinpoint areas of danger.

Security officers at the Senen train station say their job is to make sure people are safe, do not lose things and are not bothered by others.  A health station monitors people's blood pressure and makes sure they receive assistance if they feel faint.

Having to wait in long lines and cramped conditions can take a toll on passengers, particularly since many are fasting during daylight hours.

With tickets going fast, scores of travelers prepare to spend the night in the station.  Wahyudi, who sells chicken porridge, has just found out he can not get a train home until the next morning.  He smiles and lays his head on a box of second-hand clothes he plans to give to his four children.

He might as well wait, he says.  He is in Jakarta to earn a living, and decided to go home because business will be slow during the holiday.

You May Like

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the US are seeing gas prices dip below $3 a gallon More

Afghan Women's Soccer Team Building for the Future

A four-team female league was recently set up in Kabul; It will help identify players for the national team More

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

Pyongyang threatens nuclear test as joint US, S. Korean exercises show forces’ capabilities More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid