and hello, Jakarta

“I’ll never go to Jakarta for work,” I said that, back then

valentina citra
4 min readAug 9, 2023
Photo by Abdulloh Fauzan on Unsplash

On the day I arrived in this city, I was not shocked by the hot temperature in Jakarta. It’s not much different from Semarang anyway and I’ve visited this town twice for a concert, so, already experienced it. But the difference is, I barely walk in Semarang. Always use my motorbike everywhere. And here in Jakarta, I have to walk and (finally, be able to use) public transportation.

For me, moving to Jakarta is such a huge decision. Moving to the bigger city, leaving my friends behind as well as my comfort zone, being far away from home, and starting a new life in a bigger city where I barely know anyone; all those things aren’t easy. But the cruel life gave me no choice but to make this big move — to move to Jakarta.

Jakarta never sleep, yet they start their day early

I’m pretty sure that Jakarta never sleeps. Maybe it is not the same as New York but in some corners of this city, they’re awake 24/7. Yet, this city starts its business early. It’s like that employee in zombie mode who got barely any sleep and have to go to work in the morning.

When I heard that a student must go to school at 5 AM so that they won’t be late, I said ‘what the fuck’ out loud. It is no surprise to see people flock together at the bus stop or train station at 5 AM. Two hours later, you’ll find horrible traffic on almost every road in Jakarta. It’s getting worse at around 5–6 PM.

I’m getting old on the road

Photo by Revan Pratama on Unsplash

It’s no longer a secret that the traffic in Jakarta is a pain in the ass. Can you imagine that a 10 km distance takes about two hours of commuting in the rush hour? I think that’s just crazy. Back in my home, you can go through (more or less) 80 km in two hours.

Working for 8–9 hours, and spending time commuting back and forth for 4 hours, I feel like I’m wasting my time just. for. commuting. Again, that's crazy. And even crazier when I read this tweet of someone who said something about not normalizing commuting for hours for a short distance and people attacked them. Saying all the bad words, telling them to accept it as it is, and even telling them to get out of this town if they do not want to commute for hours.

Okay, I get it. It’s been happening for a long time that now people normalizing it but come on, this is not right. It makes me angry but all I can do is sigh. This is the price I have to pay.

Jakarta’s sky is dystopian

In Jakarta, the sky is never in bright blue color. It is always in blue-greyish color. A gloomy sky that welcomes you in the hustle-bustle of this city. What a perfect company to start your day along with the honks and the traffic jams.

When you see those high buildings in the distance, you’ll see this ‘fog’ surrounding them. Let me tell you, that is not a fog. The thing that you think of as fog or clouds is, actually, air pollution. Yeah, the air pollution here is no joke and it seems like the government does not bats an eye. Throw it under the rug like it’s nothing. Seems like our safety is just a toy for them. And, it makes me angrier that the solution that they offer to overcome it is by moving the capital city to another town.

Again, this is the price I have to pay. Breathing in polluted air every day just to loot some bucks in order to survive in this broken-boiling world. It’s like buying a ticket to our death and illness to come sooner.

The traffic? It’s hella MAD

Traffic jams everywhere, honks everywhere, stupid people who disobey the rule for their own benefit but harm other people, the jaywalkers, the chaotic urban planning; the traffic in Jakarta is beyond mad. If you’re lucky, you’ll be witnessing some little fight on the street or some stupid antic from the riders and/or drivers.

In Jakarta, please include ‘patient’ as one of your meals. You’ll need this. There are too many angry or heated people here already. Be the chill one but don’t be too chill or you’ll get stomped.

Jakarta is overloaded. But despite those hustles, traffics, and polluted air, even the pricey rent fee, there are still a lot of people who come here and try their luck. Because somehow, Jakarta still holds and always offers a lot of opportunities for almost anything; working and networking especially. It’s a town where the governance and business are centralized. Along with entertainment. You can find anything, literally, here. And that’s what makes a lot of people move to Jakarta.

Jakarta is a tough city and I don’t know if I’ll ever like or dislike it.

I do not wish Jakarta to friendly welcome me since it is a tough city. I doubt it to being nice. Well, if you cannot be nice, then at least please be bearable, Jakarta.



valentina citra

a living mayhem with wandering mind | write in ina / eng | @aleviannt_