Tuesday, August 21, 2007


I took a lot of pictures of becak (BEH-chahk) drivers last time I was in Yogyakarta. (Becaks are banned in most of Jakarta now because they allegedly mess up the traffic.)

These are pretty tough guys, and a lot of them aren't so young. Often they'll come into Yogya from the surrounding villages and stay for a few days at a time. They'll sleep in their becaks to save money.

Becaks face a lot of competition from ojeks (motorcycle taxis) these days. The drivers say sometimes they go all day without getting a passenger. On a good day they make four or five dollars.

Even though they're all vying for passengers, they seem to get along pretty well. They play chess, chat, and bum the inevitable cigarettes off each other while they're waiting.

Some have their vehicles painted up with pretty scenes of mountains and rivers. They name them after characters from the Ramayana (the Hindu epic that the shadow puppet plays are based on), or after their wives or kids. Some have expressions of appreciation or happiness on them, like "Sumber Rejeki" (Source of Livelihood) or this one: "Satisfied" (Puas).


Bakhrian syah said...

So.. have you tried to get into Becak? What do you think?

kopisusu2 said...

I have! I like them. I always thought I would feel guilty having someone pedal me around, but actually it didn't seem that different from a taxi ... and arguably, it's healthier for the driver. I do feel bad when they get out and push, though.