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Flying Kites at MONAS

June 5, 2011

One of my favorite things to do in Jakarta is sit in the grass and fly kites in the park around MONAS, Indonesia’s national monument.

I woke up early this morning and took the busway down. Watching out the window I saw large groups of young bicyclists riding the fixed gear bikes that are even more popular here than in the US. I saw groups of people in matching T-shirts cleaning litter out of a fountain in a roundabout. It’s a very active Sunday morning and by the time I reach the monument I can tell it will  be a good day. All the gates around the park seem to be perpetually locked so I just squeeze between the bars like everyone else and I am inside.

The park is always full of people, but today literally thousands of people showed up to relax on their Sunday off. There were families with their children, crowds of school children, lovers, as well as communities that traveled from out of town together and sat in the shade beneath banners stating where they come from. People could be seen doing just about anything: playing badminton, flying kites, or riding around on rented tandem bicycles.

There were karate classes throwing kicks and punches, and areas where masseuses had laid out tarps and were giving massages for a small price in the shade. A two piece Gamelan orchestra performed for a crowd with a monkey wearing a doll’s mask and holding a toy rifle. Vendors occuppied every inch of the sidewalk selling bottle water and snacks.

I found a nice place to seat in the grass, bought a packet of fried tofu from a man walking by and watched the children play, smiling. Babies stared at me and I waved, school girls walked by giggling and I blushed, old women cracked jokes about me in Bahasa and I just smiled, agreeing with them. Two kids kicked a ball back and forth, two others pulled a cardboard Bajaj behind them on a string, replicating the loud noise the real ones make and they peal down the streets free of a muffler.

Two guys in their twenties sit down with me and we talk, switching between English and my limited Bahasa. They say that the park is always this crowded on Sunday and agree with me that the citizens of Jakarta strive to live an active life style. I ask him why he came to MONAS today and he says that he just likes to walk around and that he enjoys the atmosphere. It seems like everyone does. There have been several recent policy initiatives in Jakarta to encourage a healthier lifestyle and cleaner environment, such as car-free Sundays, which I hope to write about next week. What I am really curious to know is how much of this activity is due to policy and how much is just due to a personal desire to have a healthier life.


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  1. Albert permalink

    Nice dude — you are a gifted writer so keep experiencing and writing!

  2. Mama permalink

    I went kite flying yesterday, too!

  3. Akhwan permalink

    nice experience. Welcome to Indonesia. would you like come to Pekalongan City ?

  4. loved reading this! (I love Kites!)

    My favorite line: “a monkey wearing a doll’s mask and holding a toy rifle” HAHAHA

    Can’t wait to read more about your experiences – Indonesia seems like a very interesting place! car-free Sundays??? That’s awesome! Also, nice use of the word “Bahasa” 😉

    “how much of this activity is due to policy and how much is just due to a personal desire to have a healthier life. ” – I wonder the same too!

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