Published: July 13th 2012July 13th 2012
The many meanings of honking your horn on the streets of Indonesia.
With the many different modes of transportation and lack of road rules, there is a whole lot of horn blowing that goes on around here. There are usually two sides to the street (keep left) with a doted line down the middle indicating a separation. That apparently doesn't mean you actually have to stay on your side though. You can pass another vehicle whenever and wherever. Going uphill on a highway, no big deal! Obvious traffic coming at you from the other direction, no probs - they will go around you! The majority of people get around on motorcycles or scooters. However, there are a lot of minibuses, trucks and a few cars. I'm getting the impression that the bigger you are the more respected you are, but that certainly doesn't stop motorcycles and scooters from weaving in and out of traffic like they own the road.
Sometimes a honk can be a simple reminder that “I'm behind you”. Other times, it can mean “get the eff out of my way!!”
Here are a few other meanings of the extremely versatile HONK:
Thank you – for letting me turn, letting me pass, etc.
You're welcome – for the above mentioned gestures
I want to pass you
I'm going to pass you
A friendly hello as you drive by a friend
Of course there are also the more hostile HONK's:
Hey Buster, I've got the green light!
Move over you tiny motorcycle or I will crush you!
Go! - enticing someone who hasn't realized they now have the right of way to push the pedal or throttle or whatever.
In order to fully understand the HONK, you should also know how it is used. A short quiet honk can be used for polite purposes such as saying “hello” or “thank you”, a double or triple honk tends to be used for passing and the louder more numerous honks are the “get out of my way” types.
My personal favourite is the completely unnecessary, no one is around to hear it, honk. Just because the driver misses hearing the sound of his own horn.
And that concludes my lesson on honking in Indonesia.
I originally wrote this blog on our way to Pacitan. Our drive was amazing through the luscious green mountains! The blog is intended to be kinda funny because I like to smile and stuff. But on our drive from Pacitan to Malang, we came across a pretty serious accident. While driving through the mountains, the roads are narrow and hilly with very sharp turns. On one of these dangerous corners a couple of motorcyclists must have collided. Our minibus was the first vehicle on the scene and it was really scary! We drove up and there are just two dudes lying on the street with their bikes nearby or on them. Some people that lived on the same corner helped get them off the road and call for help. Thank goodness they were both okay! One of them seemed to have a dislocated shoulder and the other maybe a sprained ankle. The moral of that story is that I can now see why honking is so important and I'm so happy both of those guys were wearing helmets! I don't think we will be renting motorcycles any time soon...