Millions of Indonesians travel home in annual Eid exodus

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JAKARTA: Public transportation hubs and thoroughfares across Indonesia were clogged with people traveling to their hometowns on Thursday, as almost half of the country’s population is expected to commute across the archipelago to spend Eid Al-Fitr with their families.More than 123 million people in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation are taking part in the annual exodus locally known as “mudik” this year — nearly 40 million more than in 2022 — according to estimates by the transportation ministry.With all COVID-19 restrictions lifted in December, travelers crowded airports, train stations, and bus terminals throughout the week, brimming with excitement as they left big cities to reach their hometowns to celebrate the religious holiday.”I am so happy to be going back to my hometown, even though it was really tiring and I felt sore all over during the trip,” Imel, a 19-year-old student based in Jakarta, told Arab News, after spending 16 hours driving 260 km from Jakarta to Brebes in Central Java.”I would sometimes go back to my hometown outside of the Eid holiday season, and it usually took me seven hours at most.”But the trip was all worth it, she said, because she will be able to spend time with her relatives: “What makes me happy is getting to hang out with my extended family, going around our village to offer our wishes, and all the culinary delights.”Aerial footage showed long lines of cars crawling on either side of toll booths on some of the main routes out of the Greater Jakarta area, from where some 18 million people are expected to leave.Indonesia’s state-owned railway operator PT KAI said there were no more seats on trains departing from the two main stations in central Jakarta since Tuesday.”In this time period, from April 18 to 21, the occupancy is at 100 percent. All seats in all the departing trains are filled with tickets purchased by the public,” KAI spokesperson Eva Chairunisa said.Most Indonesians traveling this Eid season are using their private cars, according to a survey conducted by the Transportation Ministry, followed by motorcycles and buses.This year’s exodus is expected to peak on Friday, when people will hit the road last minute to reach their hometowns for the first day of Eid.