So I know that this goes against all the math principles I learned in school, but numbers are not sequential…at least not in regards to building numbers in Jakarta. When trying to find a house in any other part of the world I’ve visited, you find the street name and the house numbers go in order–either up or down depending on which direction you walk or drive. Well, in Indonesia it doesn’t quite work that way.
Wednesday I was on my way to the sub district health office for a meeting with the director of maternal and child health for the north Jakarta sub district and was trying to find her building. In general it is difficult to find a new location, but streets signs are more of an option rather than a necessity here. But even once you find the correct street, it’s hard to find the actual building you are looking for. So on Wednesday, we got on what we thought was the right street but we couldn’t find #29. We passed #2, #98, #17 (in that order), but could not find 29. I was so confused as to why the numbers were in no particular sequence–there weren’t even odd numbers on one side and even numbers on the other–it just seemed completely random.
However, I learned from my boss that there actually is a reason for the un-sequential house numbers. Apparently when roads change names, the numbering of the houses starts over for the new houses, but if you are a current resident of a house on the street you have the option of keeping your previous house number–even though the name of your street changes. That is why you end up with houses next to each other numbered 4, 25, 7, 240, 10.
I find it quite confusing, but it certainly makes for an adventure any time you try to find a building you’ve never been to before!