Chinese New Year in Jakarta

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Today was Chinese New Year in Jakarta.  It was also Australia Day.  So yesterday, my mate Mike and I headed up to Glodok in North Jakarta.  Glodok is Jakarta’s Chinatown, and it’s messy and busy, especially on Chinese New Years Eve.  I have TONS of photos, but I will upload them bit by bit.

These ones were taken at the oldest Buddhist temple in Jakarta, Vihara Dharma Bhakti.  The temple itself was very beautiful, filled with people making prayers.  The incense was so overpowering though!  It was unbelievably strong.

But what was more unbelievable was the amount of beggars crammed into the tiny forecourt of the temple, waiting all day.  A security guard at the temple collected donations.  He told us that the beggars and poor people were waiting until the end of the day, when the donations from those making prayers would be equally distributed among the beggars and they would probably get about Rp 1000 each, which is equivalent to 10 cents.

It was so dangerous.  The elderly, babies, young children, pregnant women packed in like sardines.  If there had been a rush people could have so easily been killed, and that has happened before at charity handouts in Indonesia.

It was a sobering reminder of the extreme poverty in this city… when you are flitting around day-to-day in your middle class sphere, it’s easy to block it out.  When you are pushing through a disquieted crowd, stepping over the willowy limbs of small children sprawled on the concrete and watching baton-wielding security grunts trying to keep order as people mill for a maximum handout of $1, you can’t ignore it.

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But some of the kids were still smiling and wanted to ham it up for the bule with a camera.

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