Thursday, 31 March 2016

Grab Car in Jakarta

Last week to highlight the fact that Taxi drivers and small bus drivers and many other transportation drivers across the city are unhappy, they all went on strike and created general chaos over Jakarta because Uber and Grab online transport apps are cheaper and therefore making traditional drivers lose money and business.

The strike looked like this (The Jakarta Post)
The demonstration involved around 10,000 people and vehicles resulting in many roads being blocked or shut by these demonstrators. So much so that I decided not to ride as it would take me too long to get to work and back.

Close down Uber and Grab Car (The Jakarta Post)

So to support the taxi drivers reasons to stop work I booked a grab car and went to work. Had I managed to find a taxi and then convinced him to drive me through the streets, there would had been a chance he would have been attacked and hurt by others who disagree with someone trying to earn a living instead of asserting their right to demonstrate.  I wont discuss the appalling behaviours of some of the drivers and the violence that came with it as there is no point.

So,  whats all the big fuss about? Well Money.

Very Simply.

If I book a Blue Bird Taxi from my house to Work the average costs are these:

Booked Taxi Fee minimum payment        40,000 idr or 2 pounds   (this is not extra just a rule)
Toll through the city                                    11,500 idr  or   75 pence
Total Taxi fare                                               85,000 idr  or around 5 pounds

So just over 5 pounds in British money or 96,500 in rupiah but its metered so this amount can be more or sometimes slightly less.

I would have to wait at least 20 minutes and provide directions to my house and then to the tollway and to work. The car is fairly clean on the inside. The odd insect or cockroach might wander in and the last passengers tissues can sometimes be found, also depending on the driver also means different driving styles and speeds and levels of danger.

If I book a Grab Car through my phone then these are the costs

Minimum booking fee                                  Nil
Toll through the city                                     11,500 idr  or     75 pence
Total Agreed before booking fare              65,000 idr  or  just over 3 Pounds

A total of 76,500 rupiah or 4 pounds.  A saving of say my lunch money.

And whilst its not a lot if you compare it to English Money buts that just to help. In Indonesian it soon adds up. The trip on the way home in a taxi costs over 100,000 rupiah every time and in a Grab Car around 75,000.  So eventually it is expensive.  (200k in a taxi minimum vs around 150,00 in a grab car. If daily that's 50,000 rupiah a day saved).

When I book a Grab Car, it arrives within 20 minutes,  so far in less than 10 minutes. The car is spotlessly clean inside because it is a private vehicle, often new or nearly new. The driver can speak some English and is polite and knows his way to the Toll and where I need to go without hardly any directions. If I tip then he is surprised. And its a nice trip.

Screen Shot of how to track a booked car

Quite simply I save money vs taxis if I use Grab Car. If I use Uber it is even cheaper and the service is just as good. The cost is estimated at the start within a price range so you have a good idea what to pay.

The argument is that the transportation groups want Uber and Grab to pay more tax and to increase their fares because the vehicles are unlicensed. This will happen in some sort of fashion. However like the rest of the world, when fuel goes up in price so does the price of a taxi. That happened here. But the price fell through 2015 and will be decreased again in April. But Taxi companies have not reduced their fares. So now they have been told to so that they can be more competitive and perhaps they might.

The pros and cons of it all make you dizzy but the ultimate fact has yet to realised by Taxi companies and drivers and that is a simple one. People wont pay for something that is mediocre because that is all there is when you can pay for something that is cheaper and better to do the same thing such as Grab Car or Uber.

I have almost entirely switched from Taxis now as Uber and Grab are less expensive and nicer and less hassle. I will still use Taxis if I have no other choice but that's about it.

Here are some other I can get to work

GoJek         - Motor Bike Taxi - 36k
Grab Bike -  Motor Bike Taxi - 25k
Buses                                           14k (takes forever and is pointless)
My own bike                               I have no idea of the basic daily cost but very little I'm sure.

I normally take my own bike unless Gojek or Grab bike have promotions then I am happy to sit on the back and watch the world go by.


Friday, 18 March 2016

Busy Week Part 2

After returning from Singapore and cracking open the gin, it was time to pack for the next trip. We were going to Bandung by train in the morning and with Jeremy in tow it could only be tiring fun.

The tickets were booked a couple of weeks ago and we paid for the Executive class seat for less than 10 pounds (around 120,000 rupiah) one way and so all we had to do was collect them at the railway station. The name of the train is the 'argo parahyangan'
You really need to book ahead now in Jakarta for trains to other cities as there is a big demand for them as they are comfortable and reliable and if you are going to Bandung there is no traffic to get in the way and it is also a lovely trip there. When I say collect, I mean you tap in your reservation number and a machine prints them out, you then have to show them to a security guard as well as your ID and then you can enter the platform. We were travelling from Gambir Railway station which is the main station for going out of the city. Most commuter trains do not stop there now as it is too busy.
Gambir is a fairly big station, and is busy. The good thing about trains in Asia is that you are always facing the direction of the journey you take because the seats in the carriages turn can be turned around and I like that.

On the platform at Gambir

Typical Engine for intercity trains. Mesh over the windows
to prevent stones, bottles etc from getting in 

The trip to Bandung takes around 3.5 hours and you roll through Jakarta and then into the flat rice fields for a while before the route starts to go a little south and you climb into the hills. The trip is really very scenic and on a clear day like it was on Saturday, the views are amazing.
Jeremy for his part was far too excited and wouldn't sit still and wanted to see everything and talk or rather shout out everything he saw. For 3.5 hours it was hard work. 


Climbing over mum


Part of the Journey as we go past one of the big valley bridges

On arriving into Bandung it was very hot and once we had a taxi we went straight to the hotel we were staying at, the Ibis Styles in Braga, which is a part of Bandung and it has bars and lots of older buildings. The hotel itself was nice and the room was fairly big, well enough for everyone staying. 

Looking out 

Huge bathroom area

Panoramic view from the window

Everyone was hungry so we walked to restaurant, ate and then went back for while with the intention to go back out in the evening because the roads are closed to traffic then so can wander around without fear of being hit by a car. But it rained. It rained from 4.30pm until at least Midnight, so I just chilled out with Jeremy and read while he played and tried to break the room. Yovita braved the elements and came back with food which was nice and so we settled down for a quiet night and it was. Well no, it wasn't that quiet. Jeremy woke at 3am and wouldn't go back to sleep so we played and I kept him company as he would sleep so nor could I. 

In the morning after breakfast we joined in the car free day and had a look about for a while. This let Jeremy run around and get rid of some of his energy he has before the train ride home. There was not really much happening unless you wanted to do keep fit but it was better without cars in the way. 

Views around the hotel

Our train was leaving before midday so we had enough time to pack and change before going home.

The view of the mountains int he back from the room, just before we left.

Jeremy causing trouble in the hotel

This thing has upset Jeremy.

The picture of the scooter in lava is a piece of art in the lobby of the hotel. Jeremy was so intrigued by this that he has yet to stop talking about it and if he sees a photo he will just look at it and keep saying the scooter is on fire. He was so concerned in the hotel he wanted to use a phone to get a crane to save the bike and it was sad the bike was on fire. Seriously! he was upset by this.

But we left for the station to get on the train and it was forgotten until we got home.

Walking to the train

They come so close the driver waves you across the tracks

It was a beautiful day

Happily Jeremy fell asleep 20 minutes into the trip as so it seems everyone else on the train and so I enjoyed the trip back to the city in relative silence. We arrived back in Jakarta on time and without delay. It was a nice family weekend away that for once never broke the bank and gave everyone a little time to relax. 

Jeremy is already asking for the next time we are going on a train so I better sort that out soon.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Busy Week Part 1

It's been a while since I have written anything and to be honest I have been busy with work or at home with Jeremy. He is a handful now and full of life and movement and everyday he never fails to impress me through his ability to do or say something new and his never ending happiness which is something I am keen to preserve for as long as I can.

Last Sunday we went for an afternoon stroll as he was wanting to go out to see a bus or train and he knows near where we live in the Naval housing area there are some buses that park up over the weekend so off we went. He was happy because we saw several buses, a tower crane, a digger and then we ended up on the Aviation schools playing fields where he could run around on the grass. If I had taken a ball with me I am sure he would have kicked at it for while but instead he was happy to run around. For me I was happy not only because he was running around but there was a surface to air missile launcher on the back of an Army Land Rover parked up. It was there because in the city there were some heads of state so the military was out in force all over the place ready to protect everyone. How safe I felt.

The missile launcher is in the middle of the picture. I would
 get any closer just in case the soldiers came out running,
which wouldn't be a good thing.

Running about

Playing with the flag pole

Wednesday there was the rare event of a Full Eclipse and so I was up early in the morning ready to observe it. The total eclipse was not happening in Jakarta but it would be a partial Eclipse only, however the sun was so bright as there was not a cloud in the sky that you couldn't see anything although it was there. It did cool down and became slightly darker for a while but that was about it. In some parts of Indonesia there was complete darkness which I still have to experience and I am sure I can wait another 23 years or so. There are no photos as  I don' t have any filters for my camera that could  produce good pictures. Ah well. It was also the major Hindu holiday of Nyepi or the day of silence or Saka New year, whatever it was, I had a day off because of it and that was nice.

Then on Friday, I went out of country and flew to Singapore. This time I actually left the airport and travelled into the city in search of things I wanted to buy. I ended up only buying toys in Toys R Us for Jeremy before getting bored of the heat and getting back on the MRT and waiting for my flight back to Jakarta. Singapore is truly an amazing city but to be honest it not really inspiring at the moment although I do enjoy flying there and back and the airport is nice and always something to do.

These 3 were on Orchard Road at the Ion Mall

Sky train

T3 Gate area A, there are frogs in a band

Its a 10 minute walk at least from here to my 
departure gate.

The flights were on time almost early and they were not full. However we arrived and left from departure gate 18 in Singapore which is about 15 minutes from the Immigration desks, the airport is that big. In Jakarta, flying with Lion Air meant getting on a bus to the plane and back again as the airport is over full. It will be good when the new terminal opens because hopefully that will stop that, or Lion completely move all their flights to Jakarta's other Airport at Halim.

For me, that was a busy week. With only 3 days work and holiday and a trip to Singapore, all that made a refreshing change.