Got a cab (20,000 Ruppiah, 10 minutes ride) to the airport at 5.30am in the morning.
I was joking with the air ticket seller yesterday to give me a morning call and she really did, I never expected it and that gave me a good impression about Indonesians. There is an airport tax of 75,000 Ruppiah which must be paid in Ruppiah.
So far in my trip, this is my 10th flights. Usually I avoid flying, but because flying is inexpensive in Indonesia and the road transportation is bad, I flew 3 times in Indonesia and that saved a lot of time.
On the plane, noticed that many Indonesians were flying to Penang for medical treatment, Penang is trying to attract medical tourism money from Medan since it’s just 40 minutes flight away. Taxied down at Penang at 9.20am Malaysian time (an hour ahead of Indonesia time) and my parents picked me up. I just have a few hours to kill before the 2.20pm train to Bangkok.
There is a daily train from Butterworth to Bangkok at 2.20pm (112 Ringgit.~USD$33, 20 hours ride). The train station is located right beside the ferry terminal in Butterworth. The train was delayed for 30 minutes and departed at 3pm.
The train moved pretty slowly. It was supposed to cross the Malaysian border to Hat Yai, Thailand at 6pm but the train only crossed the border at 9pm.
Waited for the boat to Parapat at 8am but somehow the ferry missed me. Got on the next 9am ferry (7000 Ruppiah, 40 minutes ride) to Parapat.
I decided to skip Berastagi and other scenic cities on the way and took the 9.45am bus to Medan.
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I was thinking about visiting Banda Acheh up in the north but changed my route to Bangkok instead because of time constraint. For the past few days, the protest in Bangkok was pretty big in the news, but I am hoping things will get better in the next few days. Flying straight to Bangkok will cost around USD$300. A more budget is to get to Penang then go overland to Bangkok by train.
There are ferries departing every morning at 11am to Penang. The boat ride will take around 4-6 hours. However, the port is in Belawan which is another 30km away and cost around 45,000 Ruppiah. By taking the boat, I’ll have to leave around 8.30am and probably arrive at 5pm Malaysian time which is an hour faster. There are also a couple of low cost airlines flying daily from Medan to Penang, AirAsia, Srivijaya Air, Lion Air and FireFly. Those cost from 300,000-800,000 Ruppiah depending on supply and demand.
Since there is a train leaving from Penang to Bangkok at 2pm, I tried to get the morning flight. After asking at the 4th travel agency, I managed to get a seat on the 7.20am Srivijaya Air fllight (485,000 Ruppiah~USD$50).
Medan is the 3rd largest city in Indonesia and the largest in Sumatera. There is a big ethnic Chinese population here and surprisingly the Hokkien (FuJian) dialect they speak is quite similar to the Hokkien used in Penang.
to Jalan Majapahit which is famous for Ambon and Layer cakes, Marquisa juice and other Indonesian local products.
One of the shop recommended.
Got some stuffs to bring home and had Sate for dinner (17,000 Ruppiah).
Finally arrived at Parapat at around 10.30am. The 500 km ride took almost 17 hours!
Parapat is actually a small town beside lake toba. Lake Toba is the largest lake in South East Asia (1130 km^2) and was formed when a giant volcano erupted around 70 thousand years ago. Archaeologist mentioned that the eruption killed most human then and caused volcanic winter which decreased the earth temperature for few years.
Indonesia has a lot of Volcanoes, a lot of it are still active.
Volcanoes in Indonesia
Samosir is something like an island in the middle of Lake Toba but is connected to the mainland as well. The size of Samosir is similar to the area of Singapore. Tuk Tuk is at the eastern tip of Samosir where most of the hotels and guesthouses are located.
Lake Toba area is populated mostly by the Batak people. Many years ago Batak was a cannibalistic tribe where they ate human. People in Padang area are pretty conservative Muslims but the Bataks are very strong Christians. There are around 6 million of them living around Northern Sumatera.
Today is actually a public holiday in Indonesia. It’s the day of Silence, Hari Raya Nyepi which is a Balinese new year celebrated by the Hindu. I heard that in Bali, even airport is shut down to keep the sound level low.
Because there are so many different ethnicities in Indonesia, the government is trying hard to unite the country. Races are not that obvious since everyone speaks Bahasa Indonesia fluently. Unlike Malaysia, on Indonesia national identity card, ethnicity is not a required item. Only religion has to be shown on the ID, there are only 5 major religions (Islam, Buddhist, Hindu, Protestant and Catholic) that can be chosen, atheism and agnostic are not one of the option so pretty much everyone has to pick a religion.
Padang food (11,000 Ruppiah) again in the morning.
Indonesians are a bunch of friendly people,
after eating the shop owners invited me for a chat. My spoken Malay is not that great so it’s a good exercise for me.
Padang just lies beside the sea
and is an earthquake prone area. There are earthquake happening every few days. The September 2009 earthquake was a big one measuring around 8 ritcher scale.
More pictures about the Sumatra earthquake on Boston Globe
Went to a meeting point for cars heading for Bukit Tinggi at 1pm. Waited for 1.5 hours for the mini van (17,000 Ruppiah) to be full before the driver started driving. The mini van managed to cramp 10 people in it plus a boy. Bukit Tinggi is just around 90km away but the trip took 2.5 hours because of traffics and rain.
Bukit Tinggi is a small town located 930m above sea levels and the weather is cooler here than Padang. Both Bukit Tinggi and Padang are very close to the equator.
Jam Gadang, clock tower is located at a square just arcross Ramayana shopping mall and Pasar atas. It’s a popular place for locals to gather around especially during new year. The Muslims around this area are more conservative, Valentine’s day and Christmas celebrations are banned here.
Met up with Yannuar at Senayan Plaza.
Found out that many of my university friends from Indonesia went back to Indonesia recently and were quite successful in business. Yannuar started his own coal mining business few years ago and expanded to oil digging and owning power plants in just few years. Indonesian Chinese are pretty savvy business people and have good a business network.
Got on the Damri bus (20,000 Ruppiah, 45 minutes bus ride) from Gambir station to the airport. Luckily it’s Saturday and the traffic was not that bad, managed to arrive at the airport just an hour before my 7pm Lion Air flight to Padang. There is a domestic airport tax of 40,000 that is required. However, the flight was delayed for 1.30 hours.
Sumatera stretched for around 2000km from the northern tip to the south of the island. Padang is at west Sumatera and is frequently hit by earthquake. The last one happened on September 30, 2009, just around 5 months ago and killed over 1100 people. Padang is mostly inhabited by Minangkabau people and Padang cuisine is pretty famous, with hot and spicy as the main flair.
Got to Padang airport at 10pm after the 1.5 hours flight. The airport is 20km away from the city and got on a Damri bus (18,000 Ruppiah)
to Padang city at 10.30pm. Since I got no idea where am I going to stay, got off the last stop and tried searching for a cheap place. Walked around and found nothing that fit into my budget then took an Ojek (motorbike taxi) to Wisma Salleh (75,000 Ruppiah).
Passing by the southern slums in Jakarta and some ramshackle wooden houses on the way. There are still many poor people living in Indonesia.
Arrived at Bandung at around 12pm.
Bandung is the 4th largest city in Indonesia with a population of around 2 million and is called Paris of Java. It’s around 180km away from Jakarta and is situated above 750 meter sea level so it has a slightly cooler climate. The city was a resort city for the Dutch Colonials in the 19th century.
Walked around for an hour and then took an angkot (mini van) towards Ledang to Jeans street, Jalan Champelas. This area was big in textile industry in the 90s. Currently, there are a few factory outlets for reject goods and distribution outlets for local designers.
Asian African conference museum.
Bandung was a host for the Asian African conference in 1955. The conference objective is to promote world peace and oppose against colonialism.
I lost my netbook adapter few days ago and had to spent the whole day today looking for adapter for my laptop. I already went to the electronic shops in Glodok Plaza and Pinagasia yesterday. Took the transjakarta to Kota and then got on a minibus to Mangga Dua. There is a big computer and electronic mall at Mangga Dua,
however no shops has the size for my netbook adapter. Asus is not that popular in Indonesia and the pin size for my netbook was smaller than what most notebook uses There is a shop which mentioned about ordering the adapter from Asus for me but I decided to go there on my own since it will take a while for them to do so and I thought I can get a better price, at the same time look around the city by going on my own.
and then went to the Asus service center at Senayan Trade Center. The lady mentioned that currently Jakarta doesn’t have any parts and needed at least a week to order the adapter from Taiwan. I asked her to double check again and found out that the other service center at Kelapa Gading has a spare adapter.
Kelapa Gading is located at the eastern part of Jakarta so had to take the transjakarta towards Pulo Gedung
and then got on an Ojek to the Asus service center there. That took me around 2 hours to get there.
Looking for adapter
View Adapter search in Jakarta in a larger map
Indonesia is huge and I have been thinking about my travel routes in the country for a while. I was thinking about either traveling east to Java or west to Sumatera. Decided to go Sumatera because it’s closer to Thailand and leave Java for next time since it’s closer to Bali, which is not a great place for a one man budget backpacking trip in my opinion.
Since Sumatera is 2000 km long with mountains and lakes, furthermore the road is not well maintained, I decided to book a flight (550,000 Ruppiah) to Padang in Sumatera instead of traveling overland, skipping by Palembang. That will save at least 3 days in my trip. The agent screwed up and I had to take the evening flight instead of an earlier flight booked earlier.
Booked return train tickets to Bandung with the same travel agent. Paid 85,000 Ruppiah for each way but noticed that on the ticket is just 45,000 Ruppiah, since it’s already 11.30pm, I don’t want to go to the train station and just pay more for conveniency sake.
The museum is informative. Ports and the maritime sector do play an important role in Indonesia because of the geographic and shape of the country.
Sunda Kelapa is a port north of Jakarta, it was a burstling port of the last Hindu kingdom of west Java before the Portuguese came at 1520s but then was driven out by a Muslim leader and was renamed Jayakarta, meaning Victory City.
The Dutch then came in the beginning of 1600, built a fort and named it Batavia, making it the capital of the Dutch East Indies. The Dutch colonialize Indonesia for the next 350 years.
Walked from Kota, the old city to Glodok which is also called Chinatown.
The gap between the ethnic Chinese and other ethnicity in Indonesia is obvious, with many Chinese businessman owning shops. Ethnic Chinese only make up of 3% of the population but they control almost 70% of the economy. The riot in May 1998 happened around Glodok area.
Monas (Monument Nasional)
built by Sukarno and the flame on top was said to be covered with Gold. Wasn’t able to get up the tower because there were demonstrators practicing some drills.
It’s not uncommon to see protest on the street here.
Took a cab to the airport (65,000 Ruppiah) after lunch. There is an airport tax of 30,000 Ruppiah for domestic flights at the airport. Got on the 2.50pm flight with Kartika Airline (303,000 Ruppiah). There are many low cost airlines in Indonesia so it’s affordable to fly.
and arrived at Jakarta airport at 4pm.
is also called the big durian and is a city with 10 million people. The city is located at the western part of Java. Java is just half the size of Britain but it has 120 million people here and is considered as the heart of Indonesia. The city is around 660 sq km and is 25 km from the north to the south.
Java Man, an earliest form of human lives here 1.7 million years ago. Even though Indonesia has the biggest Muslim population in the world, but Islam was just introduced during the 15th-16th century. Before that, Hindu and Buddhism are the major religion here. Borobudur, one of the biggest Buddhist temple was built around 750-850AD in central Java. Almost 88% of the population today is Muslim but it doesn’t seem like a religious country. By just looking around it seems there wearing head scarf is the exception rather the norm for the ladies, probably it’s better to stay that there are more non head scarf wearing ladies than those that who are wearing head scarf.
Took an Ojek, motorbike taxi (10,000 Ruppiah) to Jalan Jaksa
which is a place for backpackers. When I tried to look around the hostel, I noticed the Ojek rider tried to open my bag. Always have to be aware of people around.
Decided to visit Batam, Indonesia since it’s just 20km from Singapore and I thought I can get a cheaper flight to Jakarta from Batam. Went to Harbour front and took the 2.50pm ferry, Penguin Express to Batam Island (SD$23, an hour ride).
Indonesia time is an hour slower so arrived at the same time as I left.
I am pretty excited to visit Indonesia because it’s so close to Malaysia yet I have never been there. Indonesia is the 4th most populous country in the world with 250 million people. It has 17,000 Island which 6000 is unhabited, with 300 ethnic groups. From the Northern tip of Sumatera, Acheh to Papua, it’s around 4000km long, roughly the same horizontal distance between LA and NYC..
The largest ethnic groups are the Javanese (45%) of central and eastern Java, the Sundanese (14%) from western Java, the Madurese (7.5%) from the island of Madura, and Coastal Malays (7.5%), mostly from Sumatra. The rest are Acehnese and Minangkabau of Sumatra, the Balinese, the Iban and Dayaks of Kalimantan and many more.
Wasn’t able to find a public bus from Batam center to the city center so had to take a cab (45,000 Ruppiah~USD$45, USD$1~10,000 Ruppiah).
Batam is similar size to Singapore and is considered like the special economic zone of Indonesia with factories, shopping malls and is also considered as the sin city for Singaporeans. Even the taxi driver was asking if I wanted to rent a girl for the day. There isn’t much to see at Batam, it’s just like another typical small city. There aren’t public buses around so it’s hard to move around city since I usually avoid taking cabs.