All throughout Indonesia, the end of the Ramadhan fasting month, which fell on 10 September, was celebrated with communal prayers in mosques, continued with visits to family and friends. From the Presidential Palace to remote villages, the entire nation was in a joyous mood. Each year, months before Ied, or popularly known here as ‘Lebaran’ the government is kept busy repaving roads, adding extra flights, trains and ferries to carry the millions of travelers anticipated to make the yearly trek to celebrate Ied with families in their home towns and villages. Fuel stations are prepared along major routes, companies arrange buses to carry staff to villages. And not least important, Police are on standby to unravel traffic snarls, as well as guard residential areas that have been left empty by their inhabitants. This year, the government estimated that more than 5 million people have taken to the road from Jakarta alone, starting 5 days prior to Idul Fitri on 10 September,reaching its peak 2 days prior to D-day, when thousands of passengers jammed airports and train stations, and cars snaked for kilometers out of big cities. The same ritual is expected for the return journey at the close of the one-week public holidays. Since over 50 percent of Indonesia’s 238 million population lives on Java and Bali, densest traffic is found on these islands, reaching over to Sumatra and Lombok. The religious part of the festival over, people flocked to tourist attractions, recreation parks and malls, spending days with family and friends, before making the trek back to the city to start work afresh. From Jakarta’s Ancol Dreamland and Ragunan Zoo to the Muara Takus temple in Jambi, the Borobudur and Prambanan temples in Central Java, to Bali’s beaches and Makassar’s Trans Studio, all reported thousands of visitors jamming the sites over the weekend. Yogyakarta’s and Bali hotels were reported 100% fully booked.
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