Indonesia Expat

Top 10 Technological Woes in Jakarta

1. “The internet has stopped working.”
This shouldn’t even surprise me anymore. I arrive at the office in the morning, switch my computer on and can’t get online. To my horror the modem is doing the flashing lights of doom dance. As usual, after a loud fit of hysteria, I call my service provider and they tell me, “Maaf Bu, ada gangguan jaliran,” (there’s a problem with the network). I could’ve told myself that. So emails are answered on the BlackBerry and a few cups of coffee are had. The internet comes back on and off throughout the day and I just grin and bear it.

2. “I can’t get on my own website because my service provider thinks I’m a hacker.”
This is a great one. You spend months preparing your nifty website that you can’t even access (the rest of the world can, mind you) because you once upon a time inserted the wrong password more than three times. Why it takes the service provider more than three days to fix the problem is beyond me.

3. “The phone died. I’m sorry, what were you saying?”
How many times have you been in the middle of an important business call or an argument with your boyfriend or girlfriend and the phone just dies? You then have to restart the phone, wait, type in your password, wait, approve the date and time, wait, then call the client back and deal with the formalities of apologising or call your loved one back and answer to, “You hung up on me?!”

4. “Your website looks nice, but I can’t find any info on it!”
It seems people misunderstand the point of a website – it should provide the user with information about the company, not take you on a tour of ‘How cool our pictures look and if you roll over this image, this will pop up. Oooooh… Aaaaaaah!’ (Standing ovation from the crowd).

5. “I can’t view your Flash website on my BlackBerry…”
Many websites in Indonesia are built in Flash which looks nice but isn’t practical. Firstly, most internet connections outside of the capital are slower than a speeding snail and some people still use dial-up. Secondly, Flash isn’t visible on BlackBerry (which is most of the population’s chosen brand) and you can’t view Flash on the iPad either! If Toshiba was able to make this happen on their tablet, why did Mac cop out? Or are they going to make it happen for the iPad3 and leave the rest of us impatient mugs in the dark?

6. “I was in the shower and the lights cut out!”
Age old problem here and there can be two kinds; a blackout from the electricity company or that damn switch in the fuse box has flipped down again because it can’t hand the hair dryer that your flatmate has just put on. Scream, fumble around in the dark waiting for eyes to adjust, grab towel, and slowly stomp through the house with arms outstretched like a scene out of MJ’s ‘Thriller’ video towards the fuse box or just merely sit dripping like a wet dog while you wait for PLN to fix the problem at the source.

7. “iTunes Indonesia sucks.”
What is this all about? Why is it if I create a UK account I can download music, apps, movies, TV programmes and more, but if I create an Indonesian account all I get is apps and music? Surely the same should be available no matter where your account is registered? Jobs, could you kindly haunt me with the answer?

8. “My iPad isn’t working because the wifi is too slow!”
I bought my boyfriend an iPad2 (WiFi only but at least I got the 32GB and not the 16GB!) for Christmas and after the initial excitement, I was faced with anxiety and distress when it turned out none of the apps that he downloaded would work. You should’ve seen his face, he was mortified. It was a complete anticlimax. We tried all kinds of things and as soon as we managed to connect to a high speed wireless connection, bam, like magic everything worked.

9. “I downloaded a free app but now I have to pay for it?”
So you browse for ages looking for cool apps and spot an awesome guitar tab app that reads, “Free! Access thousands of tabs!” After downloading, it turns out it should have read, “Nothing is free! This is a scam, don’t download me!” What a waste of time.

10. “The phone number listed on the internet doesn’t work.”
Last but definitely not least, the reason why my work phone has dents all over it. You browse the web in search of a company’s phone number and after ponsing around on the site, you eventually find it. You ring the number and it rings… and it rings… and it rings. You hang up and try the other listed number and it rings… and it rings… and it rings. You try the first number again and just when you’re about to give up, someone answers the phone with a loud and unprofessional, “YA?”

At this point you’re holding back the frustration and ask as nicely as you can, “Ini toko kabinet?” (Is this the cabinet shop?).


“Pak, ini toko kabinet bukan?” (Is this the cabinet shop or not?)

“Hah? Oh, sebentar,” proceeded by, “TUTI! ADA YANG TELFON!” which he has kindly screamed away from the mouthpiece for your sake, thank you very much.

Tuti comes to the phone and sounds like she’s just awoken from a month-long slumber. “Iya..?”

Anyway, you get the picture. In the end you realise that the toko kabinet was relocated a year ago and you’ve just spent 15 minutes talking to Tweedledee and Tweedledum in an almost incoherent dialect of Bahasa. You hang up and start the whole process over again.

Let me know if you’ve experienced the same or other technology-related frustrations while living here. One extra point I have to make is no matter how much the above may drive you crazy, it does make you laugh and they say that laughter is the best medicine!

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