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

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor 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.
Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisisi
X
March 06, 2015 12:28 AM
There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisis

There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Growing Concerns Over Whether Myanmar’s Next Elections Will Be Fair

Myanmar has scheduled national elections for November that are also expected to include a landmark referendum on the country's constitution. But there are growing concerns over whether the government is taking the necessary steps to prepare for a free and fair vote. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman was recently in Myanmar and files this report from our Southeast Asia bureau in Bangkok.
Video

Video Nigeria’s Ogonis Divided Over Resuming Oil Production

More than two decades ago, Nigeria’s Ogoni people forced Shell oil company to cease drilling on their land, saying it was polluting the environment. Now, some Ogonis say it’s time for the oil to flow once again. Chris Stein reports from Kegbara Dere, Nigeria.
Video

Video Winter Weather Strikes Eastern US...Again!

A new wintry blast has hit more than 20 states in the U.S. Midwest and Mid-Atlantic region, adding more snow to the piles from previous storms. Tired of shoveling snow, breaking the ice and dealing with accidents, flight delays and property damage, most Americans hope this is the last bout of cold for the season. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Myanmar's Traditional Fashion Choices Endure

The sartorial choices of Myanmar’s men and women quickly catch the eye of any visitor to the tropical Southeast Asian country. But at a time when Myanmar’s political and economic opening is bringing affordable western fashions to the masses, will the country’s unique fashion trends endure? VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Yangon explores that question.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More