Friday 11 May 2012: Hawthorne shieldbug
Definitely not bug safari weather today, very cold, windy, cloudy and a touch of drizzle in the air, so I was very surprised when the blip monster delivered this little gem to my doorstep. It was sitting on the roof of a parked car and offered me a unique opportunity to capture a reflection, but I just wish the owner of the car had washed it more recently.
The bug looked very familiar to one that I had blipped in Indonesia 10th January and so was not difficult to narrow down the identification. Like most UK flies and bugs, their exotic beauty would largely go unnoticed in our hectic daily lives. I feel I could have posted this true bug from Indonesia and people would have commented that they wished UK had bugs like that.
Traffic and roads are the difference topic today. Actually, I fear that this might just become a lengthy write-up, as I have so much to say on the subject, but will try to limit to differences.
Both countries have quite similar sets of rules for road usage but unless there is a high probability of being stopped by the police or dying, Indonesians choose to ignore these rules and even write a few of their own, for example:
If all the lanes are blocked, start a fresh one, even if it is on the sidewalk or on the opposite side of the road. If all possible lane opportunities are blocked, honk your horn.
Going through a red light is allowed providing you are closely following another car. This frequently results in gridlock with hundreds of cars honking their horns for some unknown reason.
When overtaking, once the front of your vehicle is in front, it is safe to pull in. This rule is generally applicable to busses and articulated lorries, so if one of those big boys gets its nose in front, you better hit the brakes hard.
The Indonesian right turn - twenty yards before the turn, move to the opposite side of the road, ignoring the oncoming traffic. Sneak around the corner, making sure that all the traffic is forced to a halt before moving to the correct side of the road. This manoeuvre is greatly simplified if a car up front is performing the right turn, then you simply follow close to his tail.
Policing the Indonesian road system is overwhelmingly impossible so the police simply do nothing. It is far more profitable to set up a random stop and check point. Bikes are randomly pulled over, documents checked and spot fines are issued. When they see me coming down the road, I swear I can hear them singing happy birthday!
The courts are not jammed up with traffic cases, everything is sorted out at the roadside. There is no tedious paperwork to clog the system, you simply negotiate the fine value and pay in cash. Simples!
Overall the Indonesian traffic system works and there are very few serious accidents, largely because the traffic moves so slow in the jammed up streets. Also because no one is following the set rules, all road users have to be concentrating hard all the time, you cannot assume a single thing. Consequently I am tempted to say that the British roads are more dangerous due to drivers simply not concentrating and therefore unable to cope when someone breaks the rules in front of them. There is no question that I would take the UK system every day and twice on Sundays though.