Ojek Ride

Dec 11th, 2007, in News, Opinion, by

An ojek ride from hell.

Honesty Story – Part II

Is it not the usual case that good deeds tend to be forgotten rather easily but the bad ones remain lucid?

Also, the tongue wags much easier when something is not acceptable; it must have a rant and be given additional colour.

Here is Part Two of my “Honesty Story” to disprove the above.

Ojek Ride From Hell

Much alike “Calamity James” (U.K publication of Beano), I suffered a fracture in my left Tibia, just below the kneecap.

It happened while riding pillion with an ojek. My stupidity? I did not listen to my inner voice.

Calamity time line? – this happened 8 months after being sutured from an earlier mishap when I boarded a public transport van in Indonesia.

For this calamitous incident, it started when I made a judgemental error in allowing the youthful ojek to take me to the Ferry Terminal. I was making a return to my motherland.

Moments after I sat pillion on his motorbike, I realized that he did not offer me a crash helmet. He was not wearing one himself. My inner voice told me that this did not look right at all. I was too dumb and dull that early morning to react to my inner voice.

As we made our way towards the main road, a few of my regular ojeks waved their hands and hollered at me, “Pak, pulang kah?” I suppose it was the bag that hung from my shoulder that prompted them to ask me so.

Ojek drivers at the ready. (Image credit – Kompas/Agung Yuniadhi)

My inner voice spoke up again. It said I could change my mind, stop this ojek and switch ride with any one of those ojeks who waved their hands and with whom I am more familiar. There was plenty of time to spare and I was not in any hurry.

Again, I did not react. I suppose that after two consecutive rejections, my inner voice decided to stop speaking to me.

Hey inner voice! How to could I possibly react? Things happened too fast for me to react.
In future I shall be more attentive to you.

I continued the ride with this youthful ojek. It was uneventful until we had to make a mandatory stop at the first traffic light in the city.

While waiting, a policeman rode up to our right. I looked at him and smiled. The police smiled back. It did not seem to matter to him that neither the ojek nor I wore a crash helmet.

As we waited for the lights to turn green, the ojek looked to his right and noticed the policeman beside us. From the ojek’s immediate reaction I felt that he saw a ghost. He scrambled away in such a furious manner to be out of sight and reach of the policeman.

It was a horrifying and reckless ride as the ojek sped away. I almost fell off the motorbike on two occasions. The ojek refused to stop and allow let me alight. What made him literally run for his life still remains unknown to me till this day.

Flashes of Indonesia’s daily TV series Sergap instantly went through my mind with the policeman in hot pursuit.

Being the pillion rider, I imagined that I would be the first to be hit should the policeman decide to shoot at us. Oh my God! as my mind raced; this Policeman might not shoot at my legs, my back would be an easy target and as it were I am a perfect shield for this ojek.

I decided I must jump off the motorbike at the first possible opportunity. I believed that I would be a hapless gunshot victim in this escape bid. Well, either that or I might end up in a ditch, dead, together with the ojek if he lost control of his machine.

There came this one and only chance to jump off the motorbike. It was when the ojek had nowhere else to go except to ride up a steep road. That road is one way traffic and the ojek rode against the flow of traffic. That made the timing to jump more crucial. I must jump only when there is no oncoming vehicle.

When it looked safe to do so, with both my palms pressed downwards on the seat, I heaved my body and jumped off while the motorbike lost its speed during the climb. I landed on both feet. The ojek took a fleeting glance at me, did not seem bothered and he sped away.

The landing impact was too much for my legs. Awkwardly, my body swerved to the left, and then I went through a few backward somersaults until I lay motionless on the road.

Several nearby Indonesians rushed towards me. They tried to get me to stand. When they noticed that I grimaced with pain as they lifted me up on my feet, they decided next to carry me to the grass.

As a result of that Jackie Chan stunt, my shoulder bag was flung a few meters away. One of my shoes came off and was nowhere to be seen.

Honesty, Helpfulness & Resourcefulness

An Indonesian returned my shoulder bag intact. My Z740 Kodak Digital Camera was in the bag. It was not stolen.

Another Indonesian searched for my missing shoe, found it and returned it to me.

The policeman pulled up to ask me a few questions. After he learned that I was leaving Indonesia and on my way home, he stopped a transport vehicle and instructed the driver to take me to the Hospital for treatment.

I refused because I was not aware that I had fractured my left leg.
I felt that all I suffered was a bad sprain and some bruises. Instead, I chartered a transport van to hastily take me back to my Indonesian home. By then the group of Indonesians grew larger. They helped me board the chartered van. Although I never saw them again I am proud of their behaviour.

After reaching my Indonesian home, news about my mishap travelled fast. My Indonesian friends and neighbours soon arrived at the house. They nursed and assisted me throughout the 3 days that I extended my stay to recover. It was unbelievable the way organized themselves in order to keep a vigil over me.

During that time I found how resourceful the Indonesians are in times of expediency.

  • A guy made a harness (is that the correct word for it? I am not sure) from plywood to hold my left leg taut. He made bandages from rags to tie the wood to my leg.
  • They used a plastic trash bin at home to serve as a urinal container in my bedroom.
  • They assigned the strongest amongst them to carry me to the toilet to empty my bowels during the 3 days.
  • The person who purchased pain sedatives and antibiotics for me never in his life entered a pharmacy. What a guy!
  • Someone was always in the bedroom. 24 hours x 3 days.
  • They called for an elderly person to massage me.
  • On the day that I had to make my homebound trip, they had someone from the Ferry Terminal to fetch me from the house in a van complete with a wheel chair.
  • A part of their concern for my speedy recovery included Jamu which I declined because I am not adventurous, particularly about medicines that I am not familiar with.

Did their care and concern end there? No, it did not. They had an Indonesian who possessed an International Passport to accompany me in the Ferry all the way back till I reached home. They even collected money from amongst themselves to pay for his Ferry fare, to and fro.

From the Indonesian wharf and into the Ferry, the Indonesians carried me seated in the wheel chair!

Half an hour before reaching motherland, the Ferry Captain (an Indonesian) radioed the Authorities at the Port of Arrival to render assistance to Calamity IamIsaid.

Before my good Indonesian Samaritan returned, I gave him a large amount of money to reimburse, to thank and to reward those who helped me unselfishly and with such humanity.

The Indonesians who helped me are neither rich nor considered middle class folk. They remind me of the Biblical parable about the Widow’s mite.

It is only after my family doctor had my left leg x-rayed that I knew how serious the injury was.

Once again,
Salute to Indonesia
You have humaneness.

12 Comments on “Ojek Ride”

  1. Achmad Sudarsono says:


    Many thanks for this story. My ojek drivers always laugh when I tell them about the dangers, doubly laughing when I said they should invest in flourescent vests if they want to ber-Ojek at night.

    Ojeks in many ways epitomizes choices in Indonesia. Ojeks are an amazing service, incredibly convenient, like the hawker that brings Bubur Ayam to your door. But they’re incredibly dangerous and risky. Like the bowl washed in the Got at the warung.

    Here’s what I do, albeit only suitable for short rides:

    * Try to always take back streets where traffic isn’t going much more than 20 kms an hour. and never go that much faster than a bicycle. Jalan Tikus are great.

    * Try to maintain a “safety zone” around you, a big 12-foot oval.

    * Ditch the helmets — they’re plastic, crap, and only purpose is to keep the money-grubbing cops away.

    * Stay away from the two-stroke exhaust pipes, or indeed any exhaust pipes. Ojeks seem to love stopping just behind the Bajaj, so you can maximise inhalation of carbon monoxide, lead, and other crap

    * Finally and most important, be assertive, be rude if you have to, but don’t worry about being bossy with the Ojek rider. Your life is at stake.

    All my regular ojek guys say I am a pussy, wimp, stupid, and “kecelakaan hanya kalau nasibnya gitu,” for taking my routes.

  2. Aluang Anak Bayang says:

    haha .. it should be aptly titled “Bule adventure in the Wild Wild East”. Can’t wait for part III.

  3. iamisaid says:

    Thanks for your tips and comments Achmad.

    After that incident, it took me a few months to regain my confidence riding on an ojek.

  4. iamisaid says:

    Hi Aluang Anak Bayang,

    I know you would not be able to tell but I am not a Bule.

    Although I am of mixed parentage, I take after my mother who is Asian. Hence, I could even pass off as an Indonesian. 😉

  5. Achmad Sudarsono says:

    Pak IamIsaid,

    Was just sharing what I do, not offering advice & tips. Everyone has to find their own path. Mine is, yes, the Ukuele…etc.

  6. dewaratugedeanom says:

    Achmad said

    Stay away from the two-stroke exhaust pipes, or indeed any exhaust pipes.

    Here they call it the ‘Bali Kiss’. It usually leaves a nice souvenir.

  7. Aluang Anak Bayang says:

    iamisaid, I assume you are a bule or foreigner because you don’t seem familiar with our surroundings, and thus accident prone. Stunt like getting bumped on your head and jumping out of moving bike are just alien to us. lol

  8. iamisaid says:

    Welcome back, Aluang Anak Bayang,

    Yes, a foreigner that I am.

    There is still a lot to learn even though I have been visiting various parts of Indonesia for the past 7 years. At least a visit once a month, sometimes more than that in a month.

    Accident prone? Hope it is not the case. But hell! it is sure makes the learning that much harder. LOL !

  9. Marisa says:

    Heheheh… @ Aluang Anak Bayang
    Check this article out:
    And this video: http://www.youtube.com/v/KB_GoQ-h9Zg&rel=1

    It isn’t about Indonesian ojek rides, but the thought just crossed my mind when I read Aluang Anak Bayang’s comment.

    @ iamisaid

    Feel sorry for your misfortunate ojek trip. But, you know, if you happened to live in Jakarta, ojeks can be useful ..they really have skills driving through tight gaps between those jammed cars. Daredevil act you might say, but we Jakartans need punctuality THAT bad.

    Get well soon! 🙂

  10. iamisaid says:

    Hi Marisa,

    Thanks for your good wishes. I am totally healed and back on my feet now like nothing happened to it. 🙂

    I do not live in Jakarta. I have been there several times and travelled by taxi. The volume and nature of the traffic jams are in itself discouraging to even think of riding on an ojek. Perhaps if I am much younger and more stupid I would ride on an ojek in Jakarta. LOL !

  11. Dragonwall says:

    Most ojek operator are usually those crooks.. They are good for nothing sideliners of those that were always ready for hire in time of propaganda and demonstrasi. They first eveole trying to break the rice bowl of becak (I find becak much better than ojek as they were actually traditional in almost every Asian countries from north to south of the Pacific Rim. The first thing they did when fuel price gone up, per ride cost between 5,000 to 15,000. The danger they pose to public transport and personal safety were grossly neglected. During the time of reform, they simply park their bike at home and off they go to an easy day’s pay with all expenses paid for. They menace in front of departmental stores. They gang up, team up fight one another. They evict any outside threat (not fair competition) Only those that are their cliques are entitled to dominated those areas. At thimes they also gang up with outsiders to rob those who use their service. Indonesian government should rid them of the service being public road menace. Money first personal safety last.. That’s it.

  12. eden says:

    During my working months in Jakarta, I used to take ojek from my house to the main road – it was always Rp 4,000. One day I found out my bule housemate has always been charged Rp 5,000 by ojek drivers (because she’s white, she can afford to pay more right?) for the same route. Out of curiosity, I asked her pembantu, how much does she pay for ojek to go to the main road? It’s apparently Rp 3,000.

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