Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Amazing Big Durian Race

This weekend Tim and I joined forces with our friends Zhenyi and Gladys, entering a team in the third annual Amazing Big Durian Race here in Jakarta.  The race, which is loosely modeled on the Amazing Race concept, is organized by the American Chamber of Commerce Indonesia's Young Professionals Committee and sponsored by a bunch of local businesses, with proceeds and book donations going to various local charities.  Basically it's a four hour long Jakarta-wide scavenger hunt in which teams compete by earning points taking photos with certain people, locations, activities across the city, gathering specified items and generally exploring/being goofy while wearing matching t-shirts:

We had a blast doing the race.  Our team didn't win, but we had a good time tooling around Jakarta in a taxi.  We lucked out with our driver, who was totally game for helping us get points, taking short cuts when necessary, making random roadside stops when we yelled out and generally being amenable to our bizarre requests over the course of the 4 hour race.  I'm bummed that we forgot to take a photo with him...

PS: MVP award goes to Zhenyi for her superior Bahasa Indonesia communication skills... we would still be sitting in the Amigos parking lot were it not for her.

Anywho, here's a sampling of some of the tasks we had to do and photos we had to take as we wove our way across Jakarta:

A photo of our team stuffed in a bajaj:

A drink and a photo in front of the eponymous statue at Aphrodite, one of the race's sponsors:

Cooking our own street food:

A photo with the statue of little 10-year-old Barack "Barry" Obama at his elementary school in Mentang (interestingly, the statue was originally erected in a public park on the eve of Obama's Nobel Peace Prize, but was moved to the school grounds after outcry). 

Us, with a baseball bat (not a common sight in Jakarta):

Looking like idiots jumping in front of the fountain at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle (bundaran HI)... how we failed to coordinate our jump three separate times is beyond me, but the resulting photos are pretty hilarious.  Scuba Steve, we may need a lesson in jumping photos when you arrive in Indonesia in a few weeks!!

In front of a burnt out building in kota tua, Jakarta's old city (you may remember it from when I visited with Liz and Meghan last year).  We were able to tick off several items on our list in the old city, particularly at Fatahillah Square:

Operating a pedal-powered kampung amusement park ride (which looks like a rickety tetanus delivery machine to me!), also in kota tua/Taman Fatahillah:

With one of the vintage cars in Fatahillah Square: 

In front of the Wayang Museum (Javanese shadow puppet museum):


With some (quite creepy) marionettes:

Playing chess with a local:

Taking a photo of someone else taking a photo of food:

 At Sunda Kelapa, Jakarta's old port, in front of the old-school wooden boats that are still hand loaded and used for inter-island shipping:

With an entrepreneur and his "micro business on a bike," selling instant coffee (packs of coffee on the handlebars, thermos of hot water on the back...:

In front of an empty fountain (I can't say I know the significance of this task, but here it is):

My favorite (although the jumping photos are a close second): with a snake blood salesman on the side of the road... we assured him he did not need to take the cobra out of the box for the photo opp, but he insisted and the cobra was not happy.  You'll notice how far we are standing from the cobra:

In front of one of Jakarta's many Lamborghinis...  how is it that there are multiple Lamborghinis in a city notorious for its crippling traffic, a city where it is virtually impossible to reach speeds of over 15 miles/hour, a city with roads rife with potholes...?  I have never seen one of these cars actually driving anywhere, but strangely I can tell you where at least 4 Lamborghinis are regularly parked in Jakarta.  This one is front of Plaza Indonesia mall:

In front of Monas, the national monument:

With a cat with a full tail (Lincoln!!)... most of the street cats in Jakarta have stubby and/or broken tails, so a cat with a full tail is somewhat of a novelty:

Eating rice at an American fast food joint (McDonald's in this case)... we were also supposed to wear Burger King crowns while ordering food at McDonald's, but the Burger King we chose was habis on crowns, sadly:

At a TransJakarta bus station:

Drinking under a pedestrian foot bridge:

On an elevator that has a fourth floor button... many buildings in Jakarta don't have fourth floors, only floors 3, 3A and 5.  The Chinese word for "four" apparently sounds similar to the word for "death," so it's considered an unlucky number (tetraphobia!!):

And, our last task before heading into Eastern Promise for the post-race happy hour, ye olde human pyramid:

Some of the tasks we didn't get to, but wish we did (although some of them we've done before!):

And finally, tired and sweaty, but enjoying post-race beers:


  1. While I love everything about this post, my 2 favorite things might be your bangs and Lincoln's cameo for his beautiful tail. We can work on the jumping NEXT WEEK!

    1. Thanks! I am just remembering now what is annoying about bangs: they need to be cut way before the rest of my hairs. Only a few weeks and I already need a trim.

      Re: next week.... Yesssssssssssss!


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