Tim Richardson

Melbourne, Australia

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I lived in Jakarta for three years, from 1996 to 1999. At the beginning, it was still the crazy boom times of the New Order regime, although political tensions were clearly visible. When the Thai currency stumbled, it lead to a catastrophic loss of confidence in the Indonesian Rupiah (which devalued by 17000% at the worst). Protest became a mass movement. The crisis approach a climax when student protesters from an elite private univeristy were shot and killed by the army, and Soeharto lost too much support. Around a week later he was gone. The riots and destruction during this period was incredible; our house had the ash of ransacked banks falling from the smokey sky, and the streets were a mess of broken glass, motorbikes abandoned in the middle of the road, and burning tyres.

Postcard from Jakarta 3

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Another postcard from Tim.

October 1996.

There are hundreds of cities in Indonesia, and I’ve been to almost none. But I have been to Surabaya, the Melbourne of Java. Compared to Jakarta, it is more industrial, more serious, more settled and more out of the way. No city would be worthy of comparison to Melbourne if it wasn’t hosting events of enormous global significance, such as Queensland/NSW rugby league matches. Just as Melbourne has snatched the Grand Prix from Adelaide, Surabaya too has its towering victories, stolen events of earthshaking significance. When I arrived, the Surabaya airport was displaying a large, prominent banner proclaiming the current show-stopper. Yes, folks, Surabaya was hosting, at that very time, the "Technical Workshop on Conservation Priorities and Actions of Edible Birdnest". I tell you, the town was buzzing. I was lucky to get a hotel room. I have photos to prove this, you know.

Last Updated on Thursday, 06 March 2008 22:39

Postcard from Jakarta 2: q3 1996

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Jakarta 2 August/September 96 

I'm flying back into Jakarta, into the "worst riots" in 20 years. I found out about this just before I left. It’s a good thing for Philips I’m not the Australian cricket team, or I’d be forfeiting (historical note: Cricket World Cup, Sri Lanka, when Australia forfeited matches in Colombo due to mild possibility of terrorist activity).


Postcard from Jakarta 1: mid 1996

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June-July 1996

Tim Richardson

My room lights don’t work. A road crew of hotel staff is trying to fix the situation, one person lighting the way with candles, and the others looking on. Not a flashlight among them. I almost offered my Maglight, but in the end I thought they all looked happy in the flickering gloom, and left them to it. My first stop was the bar, where I heard yet another awful cover of "I did it my way" by yet another awful Filipino troupe of electronic minstrels. They are the blight of South East Asian hotel lobbies, where entertainment requirements are classic pop, English vocals, and short skirts. This is to appeal to the average member of the audience, who tends to be fat, forty and male. More likely to be Dutch or German than anglophone, but the band must approximate English, here the lingua franca of throwaway music and commercial sex.

Last Updated on Thursday, 06 March 2008 22:46

Living in Jakarta Pt 2

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A follow on from the the first article. This one is also out of date, as I mention money for rent and salaries, you will need to be very cautious.
Last Updated on Saturday, 07 May 2005 03:31

Living in Jakarta

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I'm Tim Richardson, and I lived in Jakarta between June 1996 and May 1999 (I now live in the Netherlands, after two years in Singapore). I am an Australia male; I was in my late twenties when I moved to Jakarta (now in my thirties, as happens). These notes will give you an idea of what it is like to live there (in the expatriate's privileged position).Visit my home page while you're here. A lot of this is quite out of date.
Last Updated on Saturday, 07 May 2005 03:12