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Sunday, April 8, 2012

A Good Night Sleep in Jakarta ? Quiet Peaceful Enjoyment in Jakarta ?

If you like to be awaken to the sound of loud community broadcasts between the very beginning of dawn and sunrise (around 4:45 a.m.) every day, and at other times throughout the day; then Indonesia is just the place for you !!

                                        Alarm Clock                                  Alarm Clock 2

Before you sign a lease on a rental property or try to "buy" a property here in Indonesia (actually a foreigner can only have a leasehold estate or "Hak Pakai" interest in real property and a foreigner  cannot truly own real property here in Indonesia in a freehold estate or "Hak Milik") make sure you do "due diligence" in selecting the site of your residence or home or conduct your own "environmental impact assessment" as the NOISE levels from local mosques can be most disruptive and disturbing if you are a person or family who has been accustomed to having "quiet peaceful enjoyment of the premises".  "Caveat Emptor" - Let the Buyer Beware !!

Go to the site of your intended new home or residence at various times throughout the day when Islamic "call to prayer" is broadcast over loud speakers and see or "test" whether the noise level or "nuisance" is an acceptable one to you and your family or not.  Those times are generally at:

  • 4:45 a.m. - (when "Fajr" prayer is done between the beginning of dawn and sunrise)
  • 6:00 a.m. - (sunrise prayer time)
  • 12:00 noon - ("Dhuhr" prayer time between declining of the sun and sunset)
  • 4:30 p.m. - ("Asr" before sunset prayer time)
  • 6:00 p.m. - ("Maghrib" prayer at sunset)
  • 7:00 p.m. - ("Isha" prayer after disappearance of twilight)  

As you can clearly see, this is literally a 'round the clock and daily [ear] "bombing" campaign or barrage that is most invasive and disruptive if you are non-Muslim.  The 6:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. times can be "tolerable" as the duration of each of the Call to Prayer times last for several minutes in duration; however, the 4:45 a.m. blasting is the most aggravating of all.

(the "reporter's" language in the video clip below is rather "colorful" - but it is clearly demonstrative of the point made in this article and the noise decibel levels being "broadcast" from a distance that nearly drown out the "reporter's" own camera audio mic input - this clip from YouTube was sent to me by an anonymous contributor and appears to be shot from a housing development area in Bogor)


It can be like the Chinese water torture or waterboarding in its insidious nature and can wear on you after sometime.  It gets even worse during Ramadan and Idul Fitri.  Some expats I know actually LEAVE Indonesia during this time and return afterwards as the local scene here is anything but quiet and peaceful. 

Just imagine if Christians (or people of other faiths) were to get on their bull horns or loud speakers too in "Praise & Worship."   How would the Muslim community feel if I was to set up a Marshall stack amplifier outside my house or in front of a Mosque at 4:00 a.m. in either "Praise & Worship" or break into playing the Star Spangled Banner a la Jimi Hendrix on my Fender Stratocaster?  Or how about blasting "God Gave Rock-n-Roll To You" by KISS on load speakers throughout the day?  Would my freedom of expression and "Praise & Worship" by honored and upheld?

Noise nuisance or noise pollution is something that Indonesians are not particularly concerned with.  If you go to a shopping mall or grocery market you will also hear promotions or specials being LOUDLY broadcast over the stores public address or "PA" system in such a garbled or obnoxious manner that you can hardly think what you came there to shop for in the first place! Or if you're walking through a shopping mall you'll hear girls almost "yodeling" loudly and obnoxiously outside a restaurant trying to get you to come in and eat there; not to mention marketing staff being very pushy trying to hand you some flyer or promotion.   

It is also common for street peddlers, hawkers, or hucksters to be either walking up and down streets or throughout communities LOUDLY and OBNOXIOUSLY clinking and clanging on plates, bottles or anything they can to make noise and get your attention (in the wrong way!) or by calling out LOUDLY with an ANNOYING tonal sing-song of the wares they are selling. The pedestrian peddlers or hawkers who can afford or equip their motorbikes with their wares, or make a "mobile food cart" out of it, will also ride up and down streets or throughout a community attempting to sell their food or wares by using a siren, horn or a loudspeaker attached to their motorbike that plays a "jingle" as they ride slowly up and down each street.  They get their start at this at first crack of dawn before it gets too hot during mid morning; so between call to prayer during the wee hours of the morning and the street hawkers in the early morning you're in for a rude awakening (literally) - "Good Morning Indonesia !!" 

If you like to enjoy the quiet peaceful enjoyment of the premises and are accustomed to being in a law abiding and orderly society, Indonesia is NOT for you and you are facing one of The Four (4) Stages of Culture Shock upon arriving here or living here.... 

Good luck trying to get a good night (or pre-dawn) sleep here in Jakarta if you are a new visitor.  Don't forget to pack your noise cancelling headphones!

                                                        Counting Sheep

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