Monday, 8 November 2010

Trains to Bogor

***Hello, there has been some changes with the trains to Bogor, please click Here to go to the post which explain this, thank you***

After a most challenging and frustrating week, I fancied a trip away to anywhere, anywhere not in Jakarta as I needed a break from the heat in the city and so after consulting the map, the bank balance and the choices, I settled for a day trip to sunny Bogor. 

Ah Bogor, a 'mountain resort' (not my words click here to find out who's), 60km south of Jakarta and about 230 meters above sea level. Yes its an exciting almost dry city. Almost dry as in it rains almost every day and it is almost impossible to find beer openly being sold like you can in Jakarta.

So getting up far too early on a Sunday (6.30) I headed off to Gambir railway station to meet my gf for a trip away. The taxi driver was very helpful, offering to drive me to Bogor for a princely sum and then looked and acted rather annoyed when I explained the train was 13000 rupiah and he wanted 150,000 so why go with him? 
Gambir railway station is next to the Monas and is a 4 track station which serves as the main station in the city although most trains originate from Kota. It is not hard to spot, it is lime green in colour and on 3 levels with the trains on the top level. 
Gambir is a lively place and always busy. It is both old and new with dark smokey corners and the look of a run down government building whilst being fresh and new with restaurants and bright signs help sell you things not tell you things. 
The tickets for the train are 13,000 idr or $1.30 or 70p one way on the Pakuan Express fully A/C train which is good enough for me. However finding train times are again a little hard to come by., the Indonesia railway website does not list the service and  provides lots of information but the times are out of date but the prices are correct. 
However I can assure you that there is a 7.45am and then 11am train. 
The next best thing about Indonesian railway stations is the updated customer information boards. Through out the busiest railway station in the country there are at least 0 boards telling you anything. Only some dodgy microphone announcer telling you the next train and where it is going to.
Buying the ticket easy. Being told the train will leave from platform 3 easy. Standing with 300 other people departing Jakarta for Java in all directions easy. Not knowing which train is yours and on what platform, hard.
Ours arrived on 4 not 3.

The mountains to the south seen from Gambir railway station
A train rumbling in from Surabaya 

The train to Bogor
The wire mesh is to protect the driver from stones, axes, tigers whatever is thrown at them

The trip to Bogor takes an hour and its quite a nice trip except you cant really look out the windows as the blinds are down and you face into the carriage so you can stare at each other and watch each other sleep, but apart from that, the trains are clean and bright and the A/C works.
The inside is much like a Tube train and they have female carriages only and to make you know the trains are well built and not new, original Japanese signs are still visible and in use in the carriages!!!

Bogor railway station or shed was opened in 1881 and it feels like a railway building. The other train shed is from my home town in England (Frome) and the station opened in 1850. How similar are they considering they are so far away from each other

The orange train is the ekonomi train for 2 hours and for about 20 English pence or 30 cents you can endure the same trip in window and door less carriages full of people, animals, vendors, guitar players or you can sit on the roof for free. 
Hmmm the agony of choice. 

I like Bogor railway station as it is one of the only places I have yet to encounter in Indonesia that makes me feel like I am truly in another country because as you walk out of the railway station you are met with noise, bustle, stalls, people, bemos, becaks, sounds, smells and it is a little breath taking really but I love it. 

The main entrance, and then stalls selling everything, inside the blue tarpaulin are more stalls and to walk through it is like walking through an oven.
The street is full of carts, becak (bike taxi), mini vans and motorbikes and it is almost impossible to walk through it all. 
The becaks are really scary to sit in as you are thrust in to the traffic and in the hands of a very fit cyclist who for next to nothing will pedal you to where ever you want to go. 
The bit in the middle where we actually did something is in a separate blog as I want to include photos. 
The journey back was  just as eventful really. We got back to the station got the tickets and went into the station. There was an express train waiting to leave so we get on it. The vendors who sell you everything spotted the token 'bule' and started not only selling me food and drink but also started explaining this was the AC ekonomi train and not the express. My gf eventually listened as you have to ignore them as they think you want something, which normally you dont and so we got off that train as the real express arrived and so we could go back.
Again the complete lack of signs and help from anyone frustrated everyone there, not just me but I suspect the Indonesians and the vendors as they provided all the information for free without a thank you. 
I like trains and travelling on them and despite the tardiness, lack of information and speed of the trains here, they are fun and cheap and fairly reliable and you get to see amazing things from them.                          

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