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Getting around

Part 2: Bandung, Jakarta

8.8: Singapore -> Bandung
9.8: Bandung -> Kawah Putih -> Bandung
10.8: Bandung -> Jakarta
14.8: Jakarta -> Kuala Lumpur

8.8: Singapore -> Bandung
de JAVA Hotel Bandung. 858000 IDR for a nice big room with furniture (table, chair, fridge, couch), tea/coffee making equipment, digital safe, adjustable A/C, big attached bath with shower. Breakfast included (not too impressive). Friendly staff, but they are unable to help when I ask if there is a way to buy a train ticket other than getting to the train station.
Weather: mostly overcast in Singapore, no rain, not too hot. More fresh in the evening in Bandung.

After a week in Singapore, shortly before 7pm I fetch my bags at the Bay hotel and take a taxi to the airport. The taxi costs 30 SGD due to the call and rush hour surcharges.

The Airasia flight to Bandung takes off with just 5 minutes delay at 9:55pm and lands in Bandung on time.

The airport in Bandung is quite small and quite old. There I get a visa on arrival for 35 USD, then proceed through immigration. Taxis to the hotel cost 50000 IDR, even if the distance is just 4km. If I want to book a driver for the next day (whole day), it's 550000 IDR, 50000 more than reported in the Lonely Planet Thorntree forum.

I get some money at an ATM, then fetch the taxi. I reach the hotel before midnight. There I check for car+driver packages and am quoted higher prices (675000 IDR for six hours + 90000 IDR for each additional hour). Later I receive another quote for 700000 IDR.

9.8: Bandung -> Kawah Putih -> Bandung
de JAVA Hotel Bandung
Weather: dry the whole day, sunny with many clouds, fresh and especially fresh at higher altitudes.

After breakfast I ask the reception to call the airport guy who yesterday offered the car trip for 550000 IDR. They do that and around 10:20am I leave for Kawah Putih, which is sort of a crater lake with sulphur emissions at an altitude of 2200m.

Because I need an Indonesian SIM card with a mobile data package, (in the Indomart next to the hotel they didn't have the micro SIM, only the standard SIM), we stop in a couple of places before finding one place selling micro SIMs.

I get a Telkomsel/SimPATI SIM card, paying 152000 IDR. This contains a 50000 IDR mobile data package with 1.5GB of data and about 100000 IDR of airtime. With the 01017 prefix international calls are quite inexpensive.

We continue driving towards Kawah Putih. Driving is really painful, as these are narrow roads with many turns and very heavy traffic. Countless motorbikes, many very slow trucks, hard to overtake. Out of Bandung (takes a while to get out of town), the scenery is very nice.

There is no clear border between the city and the rural area. It all looks like a huge urban area, as for a long time there are houses everywhere. This looks like poor urban planning, as probably people just build houses wherever they like.

We reach the Kawah Putih parking shortly after 1pm. This is at about 1700m of altitude and is full of orange minibuses and food stalls. Continuing from this point to the Kawah Putih lake by car would cost a whopping 180000 IDR. So I opt to take one of those orange minibuses and the cost drops to 43000 IDR (BTW, Indonesians pay much less).

It's almost 1:30pm when we reach the upper Kawah Putih parking. From there it's a short walk to the lake. Today this is full of people, almost all of them Asian, probably all Indonesian. There is no strong sulphur smell. The air is quite cool up there.

At 2:15pm I start getting back to the car. Back down at the parking I have some basic lunch (noodle cup with hot water). There are no real restaurants in this place.

We then drive to the Situ Patenggeng lake. On the way we briefly stop at the Rancabali tea plantation for some photos. Beautiful tea hills scenery. At 3:10pm we are at the lake (52000 IDR entrance fee).

The Situ Patenggeng lake is kind of cute, but not overwhelmingly gorgeous. It's mostly an attraction for Indonesians, and in fact the entire site is set up for them. You can rent boats with which to go on the lake.

We don't spend too much time at the lake and around 3:30pm we drive to the Sindang Reret restaurant. This is not far from the lake and lies in a quite scenic setting.

The restaurant makes initially a good impression, because of its layout, decorations, overall setting etc. The food however turns out to be a disappointment. Never mind that the entire menu is in Bahasa Indonesia with only the headlines in English.

I order a soup as a starter, some rice with chicken and vegetables as a main dish and ice-cream as a dessert (and fruit juice for a drink). But these brainy people bring everything at once, and even bring the ice-cream before the main dish.

So I have to start my meal with the dessert, otherwise the ice-cream will melt by the time I finish the courses.

The soup is very salty and looks very much like it has been taken from a frozen bag. The big disappointment is with the main course. They bring a big bowl of steamed rice and one tiny piece of deep-fried chicken. It's a tiny little chicken wing with som small piece of meat attached. Almost all skin and bones, very little meat.

I explain that I would like to have some meat, and not only skin and bones (and BTW, where are the vegetables - the whole thing is very dry). They explain that they have no chicken meat, but if I want to have some meat they could bring some beef. I'm not exactly a big fan of beef, but I accept that.

The beef turns out to be uneatable. It's a small piece of very deep fried beef, which tastes as bad as it looks. It's as if they had dropped one piece of beef into a pot of honey and then fried it in a pot of hot oil.

It's poinless to continue complaining. I pay the bill and go. The food quality in Indonesia is really a problem. Food is ok if you are in the big (international) tourist centres auch as Bali for instance, but once you go off the beaten track, the food quality drops markedly.

We drive back from the restaurant around 5:40pm. Huge traffic jam in Bandung. We only reach the hotel around 8pm.

10.8: Bandung -> Jakarta
Hotel favehotel Gatot Subroto, Jakarta. 473000 IDR (~30) for a smallish but nice room. Modern budget hotel, but with good rooms with everything that is needed: comfortable bed, phone, adjustable A/C, table+chair, LCD TV, slippers, free fast WLAN, electronic safe, place where to hang the clothes, bathroom with shower (good shower with plenty of water). No unnecessary extras. Breakfast included (not as good as the breakfast in the previous hotels however). The location is perfect for my purposes, but is actually 8km south of the centre of Jakarta. An Indomart is a five minutes walk away, a bit further there are two large malls, one very high end, one with cheao goods.
Weather: sunny, blueish sky with some clouds; not too hot, comfortable temperature when the sun doesn't shine. More clouds in the early afternoon, some rain around 4pm.

After breakfast I check out at 10:30am, leaving the bags in the hotel. Friendly hotel staff offers to bring me to the train station at no charge with their car, a Daihatsu minivan.

We reach the train station at 11am (not a big distance, but some traffic). There I pick up a number and wait for my turn (almost 40 numbers in front of me). It's good that they have a ticket number system, so you don't have to queue up or fight for your position in the queue.

The Bandung train station is small, but cute and well set up. Efficient operation, clean, a number of convenience stores. Access to the tracks only with a valid train ticket.

By 12pm I finally have the train ticket. It's for the 4:15pm train to Jakarta, business class, 90000 IDR.

I walk out of the station, looking for a taxi with which to go to Museum Geologi, which is supposed to be interesting according to the Lonely Planet guide. Some people offer to bring me there for a fixed price, 60000 IDR, then 50000 IDR. Finally I find a metered taxi and take that.

The taxi trip takes about 10 minutes and costs 25000 IDR. On the way, close to the museum, I spot an interesting building which I decide to check out later.

The museum ticket (foreigner price) costs 10000 IDR. The musuem itself is actually relatively small, with two halls with exhibits on the ground floor and two on the first floor. Exhibits are about animal and human fossiles and the geology of Java. Kind of cute, moderately interesting (suitable place where to go with kids, as some of the demos are interesting). Nothing too overwhelming however.

After I'm done with the museum I check out that building I spotted along the way. It's name is Gedung Sate, and it seems to be the governor's office of the West Java province.

It's good having a amartphone which allows you to immediately retrieve information from the Internet about a place youare currently visiting. This way you don't have to depend on a local guide to get information about places you visit.

This Gedung Sate building can only be visited from the outside, i.e. it's not open for visitors. I could walk to the other side (which seems to lie in a park), but it's a long walk and I don't have so much time.

So I decide to take a taxi to the Rumah Mode factory outlet, which receives high grades from a female Singaporean blogger (alexischeong.com; found her blog looking for Bandung trip reports in the web). Alexis gives it five stars out of five, so it shoul be interesting.

The problem is that it's not that easy to wave down a taxi along this street. After  a few minutes of waiting some kind of shared taxi (kind of a minivan) stops and tells me he is going to Rumah Mode and can bring me there for 5000 IDR. As I have no other option, I get into this vehicle.

Well, this minibus will start driving very slowly, stopping everywhere trying to get additional passengers. Then we are stuck in the traffic jam. Finally, when Rumah Mode is just 700m away according to Google Maps, I'm tired of waiting in this hot vehicle without A/C and decide to walk the last stretch of road on my own.

I'll finally reach Rumah Mode at 1:50pm - had I walked all these 3km I would have arrived earlier. The traffic in Bandung is sometimes so bad, that you are faster if you walk.

Rumah Mode is one of the many factory outlets in Bandung, where you can buy branded stuff at heavy discounts. I see lots of branded T-shirts in the 150000-200000 IDR price range, a fraction of what they would cost in Germany.

The problem however is that either I cannot find my size (even the largest XL size they have is still a bit too small), or the designs and colours are all a bit odd. In addition, the quality of the materials is poor. These T-shirts may be branded, but the quality of the fabric is really bad. The no-brand T-shirt from Germany which I'm wearing now has a much better quality fabric.

These things are cheap, but in the end you get what you pay for. There is more selection for women, actuallly much more selection, and the sizes are more tuned to the smaller Asiam bodies, so I guess an Asian female tourist will likely have a better shopping experience.

After some fruitless shopping, at 2:30pm I walk to the adjacent restaurant where I have some meal. The food here isn't bad and in fact their Margherita pizza is quite good.

Then, around 3pm I leave the place and try to fetch a taxi to the hotel. After a few minutes waiting, I realise that I'm just 1.3km away from the hotel. So I decide to walk back. Better walking back than waiting another 10 minutes and then being in a taxi stuck in the traffic jam for another 20 minutes before reaching the hotel.

Around 3:15pm I'm in the hotel. There I retrieve the bags and ask the hotel staff to get a taxi for me. At 3:25pm the taxi is here and we drive to the train station, arriving at 3:45pm. This time there is not too much traffic.

Once at the station I get adopted by a local guy who wants to carry my bag and accompany me to the train. A bit difficult to get rid of him. He grabs my ticket and I end up walking with my bags behind him. He escorts me until my place in the train and is then disappointed when he gets no tip.

The train leaves on time at 4:15pm. The carriage where I'm in is about 2/3 full. It's a comfortable train with A/C. Not all carriages seem to have A/C. On board there is a food ordering service, i.e. a young girl passing by and picking up orders and delivering meals and food. 220V AC power sockets next to every seat in this carriage.

The train passes across the West Javanese landscape. Mountaineous terrain, many valleys and mountains. Lots of railway bridges, great scenery views. It appears that the land is intensively cultivated, crops, banana plantations, rice paddies everywhere.

The train arrives in Gambir station in Jakarta shortly before 8pm, with almost an hour of delay.

I walk out of the station looking for a taxi. Some guys in yellow taxis offer to bring me to the hotel for 100000 IDR and refuse to use the meter. So I walk 50 m further to the blue taxis, where I soon find a driver willing to use the meter. The trip takes about 25 minutes and costs 45000 IDR.

14.8: Jakarta -> Kuala Lumpur
Tune Hotel, KLIA2 terminal of KL airport. 206 RM for a very small room with attached bath with shower. Basic, but clean room containing all essentials, but not a phone (i.e. you can't call the reception if there is a problem). The room has an LCD TV which is on when I arrive, but no remote control. There is no way to switch off the TV, as I can't find a switch or a plug to pull. Finally I find the box with all the A/C power switches and manage to switch off the TV. Hair dryer in the toilet. Free WLAN included in the room price.
Weather: sunny the whole day in Jakarta, some haze. Tropically warm, but not too hot.

After four days in Jakarta, at 3:15pm I catch a taxi to the airport. Due to the traffic the trip to the airport takes one hour. Cost is 1230000 IDR + 4000 IDR (airport parking) + 13500 IDR (road tolls). When checking in, Airasia charges 150000 IDR airport tax (luckily I have enough Indonesian cash left). Damned airline, they should include the airport tax in the ticket price.

Then I proceed through the passport and security checks to the gate. The airport is quite clean and modern. However there are no cafes or restaurants after the security check.

The Airasia flight to KL leaves with some delay. The plane is quite full - 80-90% of the seats are taken.

We land in KL at 10pm. This is KLIA2, the new terminal of Airasia. The terminal is modern, clean and functional, but also huge. It takes almost 20 minutes of fast walking to reach the immigration counter. After that I retrieve the luggage. The KLIA2 terminal is like a huge shopping mall with plenty of shops and restaurants. The good thing compared to the LCCT terminal is that now the entire area is air-conditioned.

After a lot more walking I finally reach the Tune hotel at 10:45pm and check in there.

Copyright 2014 Alfred Molon