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Terima Kasih, Jakarta, Indonesia
Part 1: August 16-17, 2013
Part 2: August 22-24, 2013

Overall planned itinerary for Indonesia holiday:
Aug 16 in the evening: Arrival in Jakarta
Aug 17 early morning: Train to Jogjakarta
Aug 19 afternoon: Bus to Bali
Aug 22 midnight: Fly back to Jakarta
Aug 24 midnight: Fly back to Manila

Itinerary Part 1: August 16-17, 2013
Aug 16:

  • Departure flight, MNL-CGK
  • Arrival at the Jakarta airport (CGK). I’ve read about how expensive the taxi is and how tricky the taxi drivers are in Jakarta so I resorted to a much more practical way of getting to Jakarta city Center — by Damri Bus. The problem is that there aren’t much information online about the schedule of the bus, and since my flight is arriving at almost midnight, I had no choice but to gamble.
    So I arrived at the airport and there were two important things in my list: get a local SIM card to contact my CouchSurfing hosts, and find the bus to the city. Fortunately, I found one CGK staff member who speaks English (God knows how hard it is to find Indonesians who understand English), and asked her right away about the operating hours of the Damri Bus. Twenty four hours, she said. BINGO!

Aug 17:

  • Took the Damri Bus. I headed outside the airport and walked to the left (very) far side where the bus terminal is located. Everyone was waiting for the Gambir bus. I got in and paid Rp30,000 (3USD). Pretty cheap compared to Rp15,000-17,000 (15-17USD) taxi fare. The travel from the terminal to the city center was roughly 30-40 minutes long without traffic. With traffic, it will take you more than an hour to two. My initial plan was to go straight to Gambir Train Station and take the first train to Yogyakara (JOG).
  • Getting in Gambir Station. I got off the bus and met a local guy, Aris, who understands English and helped me sort things out. Aris even bought me coffee and stayed a little longer with me at the station to chat. Apparently, I found out that 1) Gambir Station is not  24-hour operational, 2) The station is full of mosquitoes, AND 3) that the ticket for the first trip to JOG is sold out. So I had to think quick because I had no Plan B. I ended up contacting a Jakarta CS host, Rifki, and asked if I could stay the day at his place since I had no hotel booking. Et voila, problem solved. I waited for the Station to open at 5AM, bought the overnight train to JOG, walked outside to see the Monas (Monument Nasional) nearby, and headed to Mall Kelapa Gading via taxi to meet Rifki.
  • Couchsurfing! I met with Rifky’s family, left my huge backpack in his room, and headed out for breakfast. First authentic Nasi Goreng, CHECK! Rifki said there isn’t much to do in Jakarta besides going to the malls, just like Makati City. It was also Independence Day in Indonesia that day, and Rifki said there should be games for residents nearby. We checked but there were no special events or ceremonies happening around, so we decided to go home instead after breakfast. for a nap. Rifky’s family owns two adorable fluffy cats at home and right then, I realized that I chose Jakarta’s best CS host! We had late lunch at the nearby mall (Jakarta has so many malls!), then I headed to Gambir at around 7PM.
    Tip: Announcement of train arrivals and departures are in Bahasa Indonesian, so you’ll have to make friends with locals at the station and ask them to tell you when the JOG train arrives.
  • First part of Jakarta, DONE!

Itinerary Part 2: August 22-24, 2013
August 22:

  • Another change of plan. The plan was to stay with another host in Jakarta when I arrive at 11PM, Jakarta time. But my flight was delayed for an hour and  the host had to sleep early because he had to go to work the following day, so he had to cancel and I had to resort to a nonexisting Plan B again. But it was too late to hunt for a hostel.
  • Rented a locker. I met a kind-hearted Bagladeshi lady at the airport, Zeba, who apparently had been working in Indonesia for quite a while and helped me ask the security personnel at the airport if there are any lockers around. With no hostel booking in the city, I figured I should get rid of the 15Kg backpack so I can go back to the city and go to other interesting places (even without sleep). Locker fee was Rp25,000 (2.50USD) for a day for bags weighing 10kg or less.
  • Reuniting with the city. At around 6AM, I left the airport and took another Damri bus to Gambir. I was reunited with the Monas, and walked to the Masjid Istiqlal, the biggest mosque in Southeast Asia. The Istiqlal was hug and I find it unfair that visits are only limited to just ten minutes. On the other side of the street, right in front of the Istiqlal, is a Christian Cathedral, and I find it rather fascinating to see two giant structures  facing one another.
  • The best part of Jakarta: The Museum Nasional. At around noon, I went to the National Museum by bus at Rp35,000 (3.50USD). But at 11:30AM, they closed for the Muslim Prayer. So while waiting, I decided to make friends with another local, Agung, and exchanged stories about life in Jakarta, and Indonesia in general, while waiting for the National Museum to resume at 1PM.
    The National Museum was my favorite part of Jakarta. Four floors of rich national Indonesian history and heritage, and impressive building and artifacts I would have not seen an equivalent of anywhere in the Philippines. The ticket was cheap, too — Rp50,000 (.5USD).
    At around two, Agung and I headed to a nearby mall to have lunch, chatted some more, and at 3PM, went on separate ways — I, to Gambir Station, to the airport, and he, to pick up some wedding invites for his own. I also found out that it was his birthday the following day. What a great guy!
  • Took a nap at Gambir. I stayed at Gambir for another hour and found myself sleeping on a table in one of the convenience stores around. When I woke up beside taxi drivers who were smoking heavily on Gudang Garam, I decided that it was time to take the Damri bus to the airport. After a heavy traffic (which was quite useful because I got to sleep more) I picked up my backpack, grabbed my “last supper” in Indonesia, waited for my check-in counter to open, and finished the usual immigration procedure.

Jakarta Panorama 3Jakarta Panorama 2Jakarta Panorama 1Jakarta Panorama 4

Other Tips:

  • If you’re planning to go to JOG or to any point in Indonesia by train, you can reserve your tickets on the Kereta Api page.
  • As an observation, both bus and train terminals are full of mosquitoes so bring insect repellent lotion/spray. I used insect repellent stickers but they didn’t seem to work. Only to find out that they were made in China. Haha!
  • The main mode of transportation in Jakarta is the TransJakarta bus system which has an impressive system compared to the Philippines. Going from one point to another, regardless of the distance is just Rp3,500 (0.35USD).
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