Incredible India, Malaysia, Truly Asia and Incapacitated Indonesia

In April 2005, after flying from Hong Kong, the first thing that I noticed on my inaugural visit to Jakarta, Indonesia was the plume of of kretek, or clove-cigarette, smoke idling right outside of the arrivals hall of Soekarno-Hatta Airport.  Whoops, no that’s not right.  The FIRST thing I noticed was the impenetrable quality of the visa-on-arrival (VOA) lines, followed by similarly styled passport control lines and lastly the “seriously, we don’t care” customs lines.  Then came the touts, those wily scabs trying to get you to take their meter-less taxi/bus/ferris wheel downtown.

After all of that though, while waiting for a taxi, I took a minute to digest this:

Jakarta - No Narkoba Sign
Great to be here!  What’s even more telling is that these days, I think the sign has been replaced by a less harmful (ie, we’re glad that you made it as opposed to we know why you’re here and that’s all we’ve got) greeting. For those of you who have visited Jakarta before, you might then be wondering what kind of message the government is sending.  Sarcasm aside, what’s common in Southeast Asia is, if you check the customs declaration for Indonesia, the old immigration slip for Malaysia and Singapore’s immigration card, you’ll soon realize that you’re not in Guatemala anymore.  I’m fascinated by the blunt message, so much so that I’m reminded of the screen that popped up whenever you played a game at a video arcade in the US in the early 1990s.

A question remains: Is this more reassuring than my country’s current slogan, “Welcome to the USA/Enjoy it With No Government?”  Debatable, but Indonesia gets my vote for having a year-round supply of calamansi juice.


On your travels, have you seen any signage that causes tourism officials to have sleepless nights?

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About buildingmybento

Bread, olive oil Waking up in Nakagin Sure does sound like me
This entry was posted in East & Southeast Asia, Human Nature, Indonesia, Languages and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Incredible India, Malaysia, Truly Asia and Incapacitated Indonesia

  1. Welcome to the USA/Enjoy it With No Government?” – I laughed so badly I got a stomach ache 🙂

  2. expatlingo says:

    I’ve always wondered about Hong Kong’s tourist tag-line: “Hong Kong: Asia’s World City.” Why not: the greatest city in the world or even *the* world city?

    This also reminds of a slogan cooked up by my own home state in the 1980s: “Utah: a pretty, great state!” (careful about the comma placement!).

  3. mayaestefas says:

    enjoy the trafficjam 🙂

  4. Haha! Just arrived in Jakarta day before and clearly was oblivious and sleep deprived as totally missed this sign. 🙂 However the numbers to report human trafficking in Bangkok airport earlier in the day were hard to miss…. Good post!

    • Terima kasih! There’s a chance the sign isn’t there anymore (it would only be by the older international terminal, because having it on the domestic side would be confusing!), so if that’s the case, there’s one by Bank Indonesia on Jl. Thamrin saying “you’re entering an area free from corruption.” Sure…

      Did you find pleasant accommodations?

  5. The Tongzhi says:

    Welcome to Atlanta, Enjoy It With No Space Needle !

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