Cops And Comparisons


This blog entry about the events of Tuesday, February 22, 2005 was originally posted on February 27, 2005.

DAY 493:  If there’s anything I got out of my short stay in Jakarta with Henricus Linggawidjaja thus far, it’s that I was definitely finding comparisons between Indonesia and the Philippines:  both are archipelago nations inhabited by Christians and Muslims; both have resort islands (Indonesia has Bali, the Philippines has Boracay); and the urban capitals are similar — Jakarta and Manila both have legendary traffic pile-ups, extravagant big shopping malls, and similar-looking people.  The two countries are very similar, although perhaps surnames in the Philippines are a bit easier pronounce.  Go ahead, try and say, “Linggawidjaja” three times faster than saying “Trinidad” three times.

Both Indonesia and the Philippines get the bad reputation of being dangerously swarming with Muslim extremists bent on kidnapping tourists — but for the most part, both are inhabited with a much higher majority of friendly people — albeit a couple of bad seeds that is.

“They’re crooks!” said Henricus.  “It’s terrible.”

We had been driving down one of Jakarta’s main highways, only to be pulled over by a cop (picture above).  The reason to pull us over was that we had crossed over a painted divider line pattern used between two merging lanes — a common thing that you’ve probably done yourself. 

“[Driver’s license,]” the cop asked in Indonesian (a language very similar to Malay with just slight tweaks and different slang).  His name patch told us he was Officer Sukarimin of the Jakarta Polisi.  (Go ahead, try saying “Sukarimin” three times fast.)

Henricus knew what the guy was up to, but complied with the request.  It checked out of course, but the cop started to write up a ticket anyway.  Linda sat up front looking concerned and a little angry; Henricus was just angry.  “What’s he doing?” I asked her.

“He’s trying to get money.”  Apparently the bribe trap was a common thing in Indonesia.

Henricus popped his head into the car to ask for some cash from his wife to pay off the cop.  In one swift move, he slipped the old and ugly-looking cop the bills and was handed his license back scott free.  Henricus got back in the driver’s seat and drove off into the regular traffic, feeling quite pissed off.

“How much did you give him?” I asked.

“Twenty thousand.”

“How much is that?”

“About two [American] dollars.”

“He wanted a hundred thousand,” he said.  “[Make sure when you write about this], you say he was old and ugly-looking.”


HENRICUS HAD A QUICK FREELANCE MEETING that afternoon back at the ad agency; Linda and I hung around the area to get the car washed and check out the nearby food stalls to sample more authentic Indonesian food:  mie baro, batagor, and es cendol.  It wasn’t long before we saw Henricus again; he used the fact that it was his guest’s last day in town to skip out and soon we were off to explore a more touristy area of the city, one they had not been to before.

ANOTHER PARALLEL BETWEEN THE PHILIPPINES AND INDONESIA is the fact that, like many developing nations in the world, they had succumbed to European colonialists in their quest for trading port in southeast Asia.  Manila fell under the rule of the Spanish while Jakarta fell under the rule of the Dutch.  Like Intramuros in Manila, remnants of European colonialism still stand in Fatahillah Square, the old plaza surrounded by many Dutch colonial government and residential buildings, all re-purposed in post-colonial Jakarta for museum or commercial space. 

Although all the museums were closed by the time we got there, one “freelance guide” approached us with an offer to sneak into the museums anyway.  I thought it was pretty sketchy.

“Is it open?” I asked Henricus as we snuck through a gate that led into the inner courtyard of the Jakarta History Museum, the former State House of the Dutch governor.

“He’s just an outsider.  We’re helping him out.”

“[But] are we breaking and entering?”

“He’s going to ask to borrow the key.  I think it’s common.”

Nothing happened when we toured around the dark and closed mansion — no old and ugly-looking cops around — although it did feel a bit spooky being there when the lights weren’t on, like something out of an episode of Scooby-Doo.  Maruwei the guide turned out to be legit after all, although he spoke mostly in Indonesian — Henricus translated for me.  He led us through the different rooms of the house, each with Dutch colonial furniture, most carved out of teakwood in the 19th century in Batavia (Jakarta’s former name).  A balcony looked out to the main square where the governor once announced public executions.

Our guide led us across the street to “break into” another museum, the Wayang Museum, which was primarily full of different kinds of puppets.  Puppets had become an art form and political tool during the development of the country; most puppet shows were of a satirical subject, taking on political issues with puppets made in the likeness of figures in history.  The museum also showcased puppets from around the world, from life-sized freaky looking ones, to smaller freaky-looking ones; familiar Vietnamese water puppets and one French one that reminded me of Lady Elaine Fairchild from Mister Rogers’ Land of Make Believe.

Before leaving Fatahillah Square, we entered an old colonial building in the plaza that we didn’t have to break into, the Cafe Batavia, an old 19th-century residential house made of teakwood revamped to be a jazz club that emitted a vibe of 1930s Hollywood.  Rated one of “the world’s best bars” by Newsweek in 1994 and 1996, the place was a total ex-pat hangout — but not exclusively — a place where you could look like a high-roller by talking on your mobile phone, a place where the drinks were served at Western prices.  Luckily for us, it was happy hour.

FOR MY LAST NIGHT IN JAKARTA — my last night with my “Indonesian brother” Henricus for that matter — we went out for sushi as a bit of nostalgia; it was something we had done in New York frequently.  One time in New York we went out to this place that had made-to-order all-you-can-eat sushi for about twenty bucks and we completely gorged ourselves on handrolls until we couldn’t move.  Seriously, I felt my stomach was so full, it had been backed up and clumps of rice and fish were piling up my esophagus. 

We didn’t have nearly as much sushi and sashimi that final night in Jakarta — to save more room for sake — and to be able to move at least our fingers on a game controller.  My visit with Henricus ended nostalgically with about two straight hours of Soul Caliber II on his PlayStation 2.

“You have to stay longer next time.  See more of Indonesia,” Henricus told me.

“Yeah, I know.  I’ll be back.  I only just came [for a few days] because I’d hate myself if I was in the area and didn’t come to visit.”

“Yeah, I’d be mad too.”

LIKE MY DEPARTURE FROM THE PHILIPPINES, I was up the next morning at “stupid o’clock” (5 a.m.) for Henricus to beat the morning rush hour on the way to the airport.  There was no traffic on the roads, which was a good thing, and we arrived at Soekarno-Hatta International way ahead of schedule. 

“Thanks for everything,” I said.  “Tell Linda I said goodbye and thanks.”

“Okay.  Send my regards to everyone in New York.”


I entered the terminal and eventually got on my plane bound back to Singapore while Henricus drove home in the darkness of the pre-dawn morning.  I assumed he got home bribe-free since on the way to the airport I saw not a cop in sight, not one old, ugly-looking or otherwise.


Next entry: The Beginning Of The End

Previous entry: All Work And No Play Makes Erik A Dull Boy

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Comments for “Cops And Comparisons”

  • FINALLY the end of The Jakarta Episodes…  Hope to get up to Canada before I leave…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/27  at  06:56 AM

  • hahahah…lady elaine fairchild, oh how she freaked me out when i was younger!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/27  at  11:59 AM

  • Phew!  All caught up.  My hard drive died and I lost everything!  Thank heavens I know this blog off by heart LOL
    Enjoyed the Singapore pics - reminded me of when I went there.  Can’t believe TGT is almost over :(  This means I won’t have a way to waste time any more!

    Posted by Liz  on  02/27  at  12:30 PM

  • Thanks for the Monday Morning REad….

    Erik, btw….couldn’t you hear the sarcasm in the Canadian Accent?  We’re not offended….just pullin’ your holey leg!

    Erik, your mission if you choose to accept… last picture of the wound, and one last picture of poo before this blog is finished!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/27  at  12:31 PM

  • that made to order all you can eat sushi is soo soo good…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/27  at  12:55 PM

  • We were just joking with ya’ eh… No Dout Aboout’ it!

    I can understand why Henricus was pissed, but really… if you could get out of a speeding ticket here by tossing a cop a twonie (Canadian $2 coin… yes we have weird names for coins, but what would you expect from the country ‘exported’ Mike Myers and Jim Carey?) that would be such a terrible thing.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/27  at  12:57 PM

  • Damn, I wish you could correct typo’s after posting… Erik, write that down for TGT3!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/27  at  01:01 PM

  • TDOT - that’s giving users too much control, and i can’t allow for that…only i can fix my comments!  hahaha…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/27  at  01:27 PM

  • Pfft… That’s so Bourgois!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/27  at  01:42 PM

  • Erik when you get home maybe you going to wake up in a panic in the middle of the night - for a few weeks/months, thinking “I have to update the blog!.... Oh wait, no I don’t!”

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/27  at  01:51 PM

  • Lisa: I’m starting to worry about you…....requesting poo shots…......

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/27  at  02:01 PM

  • TDOT - granting users more access than needed is dangerous… (yes, this is the info security nerd coming out in me)...

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/27  at  02:05 PM

  • DAY 503 PARTIERS - As the countdown to Day 503 ticks closer, here is some information to aid you:

    304 Bowery (Bowery and E 1st St)
    New York, NY 10012
    (212) 253-7030

    I can provide my mobile number via email request only for anyone that might need it (or AIM/Yahoo at markyt1030) if there are further questions…

    See you soon….

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/27  at  02:12 PM

  • ... I know… It’s just my bad Canadian sarcasm rearing its ugly head… again.

    I was just thinking… this is the WHMMR of the trip!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/27  at  02:12 PM

  • Td0t, you mean “last” WHMMR of the trip… really should preview before your post wink

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/27  at  04:01 PM

  • I know eh… It’s too late to change now.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/27  at  06:09 PM

  • Unfortunately, I will not be able to make it up to NY for Day 503. I wish I could be there, but have a beer for me. I will miss hearing about your awesome adventures, but I hope you will keep us all updated on your post-TGT life. By the way, did you know that the Blue Pumpkin was recently listed as a recommended restaurant in an article on Siem Reap in Conde Nest? Good thing you discovered it before the hordes did!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/27  at  06:56 PM

  • Erik-

    Are you going to continue to blog once you return home?

    The Global Trip 2 is coming to an end… this is saddening.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/27  at  10:50 PM

  • The Blue Pumpkin is listed in something other than this blog and my blog? WOOHOO! And yes, we did get there before the hordes.

    But then again, the hordes of tourists who read Conde Nast, for the most part, won’t venture out of their schwanky hotel lobby to “downtown” Siem Reap…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/28  at  02:40 AM

  • I cannot believe you were able to remember Lady Elaine Fairchild from Mister Rogers’ Land of Make Believe off the top of your head! No WAY!!! Yes, she’s a freaky little chick, ain’t she?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/01  at  09:12 PM

  • Erik

    I have absoloutely loved your site and enjoyed all abut your travels.  I am doing my first RTW trip in October and you have been an inspiration.  I loved your day 503 trailer - and hope I can ask a favour.  I love the edited version of the Pompeii music, and was hoping (if not to much trouble) if you could email me this shorter version.  its one of my favourite pieces of music.

    Well done on the website and journal


    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/14  at  12:58 AM

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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

Praised and recommended by USA Today,, and readers of BootsnAll and Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree, The Global Trip blog was selected by the editors of PC Magazine for the "Top 100 Sites You Didn't Know You Couldn't Live Without" (in the travel category) in 2005.

Next entry:
The Beginning Of The End

Previous entry:
All Work And No Play Makes Erik A Dull Boy


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