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 Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.