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Merah Putih — Red and White

IN DO NE SIA…clap, clap, clap. The chant echoed in the stadium. Little kids pumped their horns which produced an incredibly loud honking noise. We were surrounded by a sea of red. I was wearing green, which is close enough to the Thai blue that I felt the need to buy a red Indonesia scarf. Indonesia is hosting the Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) in Jakarta and Palembang this year. On Saturday night Indonesia played Thailand in football (soccer). An Indonesian friend invited my co-worker and friend Christi and myself and we thought it would be fun to go and for about $5 a ticket, why not? The Princeton in Asia rep was in town and she had done the program in Indonesia herself, so it was fun to go and to cheer for Indonesia. Boo Thailand!

The stadium, Gelora Bung Karno, is in central Jakarta and it is huge. There were thousands of Indonesian soccer fans decked out in red and white. The team is referred to as merah (red) putih (white).

The match was exciting and Indonesia ended up winning 3-1. The Thais played a bit dirty. One Indonesian player had his back turned to a Thai player and the Thai player completely knocked him over. Thousands of people booing makes for a very loud sound.

Thousands of people cheering when the Indonesian team scored also made for a very loud sound. It was a lot of fun to be at the match — doing the wave was especially amusing, because it exists here too and because it looked so cool with thousands of people participating. It was also the first time I had been at an event and heard the Indonesian national anthem. Everyone stood and seemed to know the words.

My ears echoed after the match and I had the Indonesia chant stuck in my head for hours after. If you’re interested in the play by play action, we ran a story about it here. So I can happily say I checked another to-do off my list: go to a sporting event and cheer for the home team.

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