The second day in Jakarta started with a company visit to the University of Indonesia, which meant a very early rise for most of the participants and a slightly later wake up time for the clever group of participants that had the foresight to book a hotel closer to the university. The university welcomed us warmly and the visit was opened with a presentation held by the head of the computer science faculty followed by a short introduction of the study tour and the University of Twente. Before we were escorted round the university some time was reserved for a discussion between the participants and the professors of the computer science faculty to discuss the research done by the professors and differences between both the universities.
The next planned visit was planned to be smart city and would fit perfectly in our theme of intelligent and secure cities. However we received the news that the visit was cancelled due to a giant demonstration by radical Muslims which took place in the main park. We heard that the demonstration would start at the main mosque and end at the city hall. The reason for this demonstration were not really clear to us and the people at the university that warned us not to go and see it for ourselves. It came down to a frustration between the Christian Mayor who had cited a portion of the Quran and the radical Muslims who would rather see a Muslim on that position.
Of course the warning to stay away from the demonstration instantly incited the desire to do exactly the opposite in some of the participants. Upon which the committee, Geert from his personal experience and Rudy as a representative of the University also explicitly warned us not to go. Even the locals met on Tinder informed us not to go there. They repeated these warnings so many times that most of the students were indeed scared off and decided to go to a shopping mall instead. However Remco and I (Julik) were too curious to stay away from such a culturally important event.
We decided to walk to the demonstration since it was only a kilometer away from our hotel and getting a taxi there would be virtually impossible. Which meant traversing the Jakarta traffic on foot, an adventure on its own. Since the Jakarta streets are filled with a constant stream of cars and suicidal motor drivers, road crossing and traffic lights are hardly enforced and crossing one of these five lane roads consists of waiting for the traffic to get congested, sticking up your hand and praying that you don’t get hit by one of the kamikaze motor drivers. This caused for our walk to take quite a while. Along the way the people on the streets changed from the normal mixed variety of ethnicities to a sea of Muslims dressed in all white clothes and topi’s. Far away from the demonstration still smiling and laughing at us as we passed but upon approaching the park becoming more and more grim, not even paying attention to the two foreigners walking between the huge amount of motor bikes parked on two of the four lanes of the road around the park.
As we reached the edge of the park we were greeted by a long line of military trucks and armored vehicles enforcing the lockdown of the park with concrete blocks and barbed wire. By now the traffic around the park was a standstill and groups of protesters were walking among the cars with 3 meter high flags that read texts like “For a Muslim Jakarta”. Upon reaching the barrier we decided we had seen enough of the stressed and grim atmosphere and went to get some dinner.
After dinner a group met in one of the many beer gardens in Jakarta and when deciding where the night should take them they found out another Dutchman would be in Jakarta that night, namely Willem Rebergen, better known as Head Hunterz. So the day would end in a very expensive club with our group jumping and dancing to some of the best songs Dutch music has to offer.