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

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed 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.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs