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Idul Fitri mass exodus season kicks off in Indonesia

updated: 2009-09-15

Despite the absence of government's affirmation on the exact day of Idul Fitri festivity this year, the mass public traveling period out of the capital city has commenced on Monday.

Hundreds of people were seen swarming to Indonesia's airports, train stations and bus stations, seeking chances to go out of Jakarta earlier in a more comfortable traveling on the first day of what the government recognized as D+7.

Like in the previous Idul Fitri holiday seasons, the transportation ministry set seven days before and after Idul Fitriin providing particular transportation management for the public who travel to their hometowns in celebrating of the festival.

Involving tens of millions of people, the Idul Fitri's massive exodus in Indonesia is recognized as the largest in Southeast Asia. The government has estimated that more than 27 million travelers would take part in the massive exodus this year.

Most of the executive train and plane tickets were already sold out since the beginning of Ramadan. The remaining tickets were sold at high prices during the period of D+7 up until the Idul Fitri day.

For those who were unable to buy tickets for executive transports, the government provides the economy-class trains that charge extra low ticket fares for its passengers.

The family of Sukarno was among hundreds who flocked to Senen railway station in central Jakarta and wanted to leave the capital city on Monday.

"I brought the tickets for my wife, my three children and a brother-in-law for just 160,000 rupiah (about 16 U.S. dollars)," the vendor who stays in Jonggol, southern part of Jakarta said.

Sukarno and his family would leave for Surabaya with Kertajaya train. It was his first time after not traveling to his hometown for three years.

"My business is a bit down lately, but I have to go home this year. Thank God, the government does not hike the fare of Kertajaya train. The ticket I paid was for four adult people with one free for my toddler," he said.

The railway station is more organized than it was three years ago, the man said.

"Many ticket scalpers insist passengers to buy tickets from them with unreasonable prices. It once made my wife afraid. But now, I got the tickets effortless at the ticket booth with only three people standing before me," he said.

He was also surprised to notice that large tents and benches were available on the yard of the station, saying that he never thought passengers of economy-class trains would receive such a service.

Meanwhile, at Rawamangun bus terminal in East Jakarta, the number of passengers was increasing with many of them carrying heavy luggage and boxes. The bus terminal departs executive-class buses to cities in Sumatra and Java.

The terminal administration recruits boy scouts to lead passengers who were confused with the schedule of buses they were supposed to ride. The scouts were placed in a makeshift tents functioned as a passenger service booth.

Indra was one of the travelers who want to go home earlier to celebrate Idul Fitri. He was scheduled to leave for Yogyakarta at dusk.

"I ordered the bus ticket since long ago. If I buy the ticket now, I must pay higher price for the similar ticket. This is the season the bus firm garnered more profits from the passengers," he said.

The man who runs his own business in Jakarta said that he was lucky to have the chance of returning home earlier compared to his friends in his dormitory.

"Lucky for me to have flexible working days. Some of my friends who are yet to buy the tickets still don't have ideas on how they would return to their hometowns," he added.

Indra always carefully sets his traveling plan for Idul Fitri.

"Idul Fitri travelling requires certain plans for the sake of our traveling comfort. With the correct plan, I always get the lowest ticket fare and spent my holiday well," he said.

(Xinhua News Agency September 15, 2009)

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