Published: April 14th 2011March 15th 2011
It took less than three hours for us to become millionaires. Arriving into Indonesia we excitedly withdrew 1.5 million rupiah from the ATM (just over £100) just to see what it felt like! Obviously we then had to spend most of it purchasing our visas, but they came as a cute sticker in our passports which was a first. After filling in more forms we got our bags and were herded out into transport cartel madness. Taxi drivers were trying to charge us 300,000 rupiah for the fifteen minute ride into the centre, which we knew was ridiculous. It was gone midnight and there were no public buses running, so we were at their mercy. Eventually a kind guy agreed to 100,000 so we were on our way. Our driver was really nice, he was actually from Timor which is the only Roman Catholic part of Indonesia, and we spent the ride with him updating us on the British Royal Family's latest affairs. He was clearly a fan which we found really impressive. He took us to our hostel which we had made a telephone reservation at earlier on in the day, and waited while we went in and checked the
room. The hostel was at the end of an alley which had a LOT of rats running around. When Luke had returned with the bags we got onto the subject of price, and it appeared the room was more than twice what it had been advertised for on the internet. Despite it being gone 2am they were unwilling to shift on the price, so we headed out into the night (and rat alley) to see what else was on offer. After a good hour of searching we came up with nothing so returned, agreeing to pay. We attempted to negotiate price again, maybe without breakfast, but it was still a no-go. Eventually we managed to negotiate on check-out time by an hour; not much but a small victory none-the-less.
Our plans were to get our of Jakarta as soon as possible and make our way towards Bali. On the map it doesn't look that far, but we had read that it was not an easy ride. The following morning we walked to the local train station where we could buy tickets to Yogyakarta. The station only ran a first class train at an astonishing price of £17 each. We
were told that the second class train was £11 each but did not have air-con. The heat was unbearable as it was so the decision was made- we booked onto the first class train for that evening.
We spent the afternoon caught in torrential rain storms, and immediately saw why Jakarta is one of the three most polluted cities in the world (the other two being Mexico City and Bangkok). The air felt thick to breathe and we both felt pretty light headed for most of the day. We didn't really want to do a lot with ourselves as we had not slept much for the past 4 nights, and we couldn't see ourselves sleeping on the night train. So we headed to a local mall using the local transport of a trike. The traffic was pretty bad and we literally had our eyes shut for most of the way as our driver pulled out on T junctions in front of fast moving traffic.
The first mall we visited had a Manchester United Cafe which was all very bizarre, but it also had a Pizza Hut where they sold soup for a bargain price of 8,000 rupiah (14,000
to the £1). After lunch we made our way to a very exclusive mall indeed where they had an open plaza with a live jazz band and businessmen and women drinking expensive cocktails. We peered through the banisters like naughty schoolboys. Jakarta turned out to be nothing like how it seemed in the 'Ultimate Traveller' series back at home. That show portrayed it to be like a one horse shanty town, when in reality it has some very modern districts.
After our day of waiting around was up, we made our way back to the train station. After watching a few trains zip through with multiple people sleeping and standing on the roof, we were becoming apprehensive as to what to expect. When it did arrive we were so pleased we had booked first class. We wouldn't have wanted to know what second class must have been like. First class was possibly the same standard as cattle class back at home (if we have that). However, we managed to get some sleep and were in Yogya by 6.30am the next day.
Yogyakarta is apparently the cultural centre of Java (the island which it is situated on) and is the
closest city to Borobodour- one of the most famous temples in Indonesia. We really wanted to see this but exhaustion prevailed so we decided to continue our travels and see it on the way back over to Malaysia.
From Yogya we still needed to get to Surabaya, where we could take a cheaper bus directly to Denpasar in Bali. So we took a taxi from Yogya train station to the local terminal where we were literally hounded by men trying to get us on their buses. It was both annoying and a little intimidating. The only bus they had direct to Denpasar was 210,000 rupiah, which we refused to pay (looking back on this figure now whilst sitting in Bali we cannot believe how incredibly good value that is and how we turned it down) and was not running until 1pm. It was just gone 7am and we were not in the mood to sit around in a terminal, so decided to take a local bus to Surabaya which was really cheap at around £2.50 each. The bus journey took 10 gruelling hours, but we were finally in Surabaya terminal and looking for transport. As we sat down to
take a rest we saw all over the news that a bomb had been found in Jakarta, but from what we understood luckily they had found it (hidden in a book casing) and it had been detonated without causing harm (apart from to the passed by who pryed it open). We ate fries from a place called Chicken N Donuts, and after eating and paying we saw rats running around in the kitchen. Gross.
After a lot of deliberating and eventually having to tell the transport men to stop crowding us and give us some space, we decided on our favourite bus to Denpasar. All of the companies were willing to sell their tickets for 100,000 each but the difference in standard of bus was startling. We were on our way at 7pm which also coincidentally marked the beginning of a torrential downpour and electric storm. The bus stopped around 9pm for us to have dinner which was included in the price (not bad!) then we continued towards the ferry crossing.
When getting on the bus we had bagsied the front seats as they had the most legroom. No one had wanted to fight us for them, which,
looking back we should have realised straight away was a sign. The driving here in Indonesia is the craziest we have ever experienced. At one point (on a standard road) we were overtaking a juggernaut, whist another juggernaut was overtaking another juggernaut oncoming. At speed. As in 4 big wagons heading towards each other. It was terrifying. The bus nipped in just in the nick of time, as did the oncoming juggernaut, but the whole ride we were kept on edge.
Having had barely a wink of sleep we arrived into Denpasar terminal, which despite being only around 10km from Kuta, we were informed it was not possible to get direct public transport there. We then went through the standard lies and overpricing before we finally agreed on a price of 5,000 each for a bemo to take us to Tegal terminal where we could get another bemo to Kuta. Cue another confrontation regarding pricing. Wow this was tiring. Finally we were dropped on the side of a road in Kuta- two days unwashed, 31 hours spent on the buses. We had barely covered any ground and were really beginning to see the differences in transport systems here in
Asia compared to Latin America.
There are more photos below