Archive for May, 2009

Price of Apple iPhones drop in Indonesia

Telkomsel is celebrating its 14th anniversary this month and they are launching a new promotion for the Apple iPhone, cutting the price of the handset by 1 million rupiah. The 8GB model will sell for around 3 million and the 16GB for 4 million, with a 12-month contract.

I just bought an unlocked Nokia E63 here for 3 million. I would have loved to have an iPhone, but I would expect the 12-month contract you have to sign up for, would not be a cheap proposition. The iPhone originally went on sale here for around 10 million, without out a contract.

I think most people here in Indonesia just buy the handset and then a SIM card and top up their phone whenever they need it. I don’t make a lot of calls, so it suits me well and the price of sending local SMS messages is very cheap.

I haven’t seen any sales figures, but the Blackberry seems to be popular here as well as Nokia’s range of phones. I haven’t met anyone with an iPhone yet and haven’t seen much marketing of the phone here in Medan.

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Ten days of no sex for presidential candidate Megawati

You can’t help coming across some interesting stories in Indonesian newspapers. It’s getting closer now to the presidential elections and all presidential candidates and their running mates are required to undertake a medical examination.

For female candidates which will likely just be Megawati, they must abstain from sex ten days before their examination.

From the Jakarta Post:

The requirement for a female candidate to avoid having sex is to prevent the outcome of her medical checkup from showing “biased” results, IDI chairman Fachmi Idris said without elaborating.

I wonder how having sex would influence results of a medical exam and why its ok for the male candidates not to have to abstain.

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Muslim clerics want rules to be made for Facebook

While I am sure some Muslim clerics in Indonesia would like to see a total ban of the social networking site Facebook, at recent meeting of clerics or imams, they are proposing a set of guidelines and rules for muslims using the site.

Facebook has seen a surge of users in Indonesia using the website since 2008, with around 831,000 users.

From the Jakarta Post:

The clerics think it is necessary to set an edict on virtual networking, because this online relationship could lead to lust, which is forbidden in Islam,” said Nabil Haroen, a spokesman for the Lirboyo Islamic boarding school, which is hosting the event.

Can’t any relationship online or offline lead to lust? I agree that people should act responsibly on the internet just as they would in real life. I wonder if you really need a different or separate set of rules.

“People using Facebook can be driven to engage in distasteful, pornographic chatting,” said Amidan, who was monitoring the two-day conference in the town of Kediri, in eastern Java.

I think because Facebook requires you to register using your real name, I think Facebook is less likely to be used in a “distasteful” way than other sites which allow you to register anonymously.

Organized religions can only benefit from using social networks for attracting young people. They can also be good for organizing events and online discussions.

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After catching our flight to Padang and a bus the next day to Bukittinggi, due to an illness in my girlfriend’s family we had to go back to Medan.

We only had about a half-day sightseeing in in Bukittinggi. All of the flights were full back to Medan so we had to take the economy bus. It was about an 18-hour trip, which was a little painful at times, but an interesting experience.

If you look at a map the distance isn’t so great, but the roads are very windy and hilly and in parts they have been washed away. I can’t believe we didn’t even have one breakdown.

They seem to be suffering an even bigger downturn in tourism in West Sumatra than North Sumatra, with only a handful of tourists spotted in Bukittinggi. One tour guide complained to me, “It just hasn’t been the same since the Bali bombings”.

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The start of a journey

With a fresh new visa stamp in my passport I am starting another mini-adventure in Indonesia. The first leg of the trip will be from Medan to Padang. I checked my Lonely Planet and it said the bus takes around 20 hours. I don’t mind traveling by bus or train, but I have a tolerance level of around 10 hours. So I decided it would be better to fly.

Indonesia Matters has a great article on the pros and cons of booking airline tickets in Indonesia. Where available, I will go with Air Asia, which is a Malaysian based airline and are usually cheap and I have a bit more confidence flying with them than Indonesian airlines.

Unfortunately AirAsia don’t fly Medan-Padang, so I checked Mandala Air. I don’t have an Indonesian credit card I needed to pay and pick up the tickets at the sales office at Medan airport. Since I wasn’t actually sure what we would do, I didn’t make the booking on the website. At the airport the staff asked us how much the prices were on the website. Isn’t it their job to tell us the price?! I think they just wanted to try and get more money out me being a foreigner.

I know traveling by bus has its dangers but I couldn’t help typing in “Mandala Air Safety” in Google. Wikipedia reports just one fatal accident after taking off in Medan in 2005. They are also on the European Union’s airline blacklist and is currently forbidden to fly into the European Union.

Although now they have been placed in Safety Category 1 by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). How reassuring!

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