Category: Transportation

Batu Karas to Jogjakarta (Yogyakarta)

Getting away from Batu Karas proved to be a bit more difficult than getting there was, and as I’ll describe later on, I really did feel like I was getting away.

There is really no direct line between Batu Karas and Jogjakarta. One could fly to Bandung on Susi air; then catch a train from Bandung to Jogjakarta – there are several. The total cost would be about Rp.480,000.

The public bus is the cheapest option. You would need to get an ojek from Batu Karas to Cijulang, and catch a bus to Cilacap when they are running. If not, you’d need to go to Pangandaran and get a bus to Cilacap. From there, you can get a bus directly to Jogjakarta. The name of the bus you want in Cilacap is “EFISIENSI.” The total cost for this option is about Rp.65,000.

You also have the option of ojekking it to Cijulang; then taking a bus to Pangandaran, and another bus to Banjar, where the trains to Jogjakarta stop. The problem with Banjar is that the trains are though trains, so turning up and hoping to buy a ticket to travel on the same day can be hit or miss. Should you have to wait a day or two in Banjar, extreme boredom would surely set in – there is not much there. It’s far better to book ahead, but sadly there is no reliable way to do that from Pangandaran or Batu Karas. You would have to book the ticket in Jakarta, Bandung, or Jogjakarta before coming to Batu Karas. The total cost to do this would be about Rp.125,000, unless it’s a busy holiday period, when they require passengers who embark in route to pay the full fare from the train’s point of origin.

For me, the public buses aren’t a good option because I have more luggage than I can carry in one go. On public busses in Indonesia, there is sometimes a bit of jostling for position, so you need to have all of your luggage in your hand as you board the bus.

The worst option, and the one I chose, actually sounds the best. There is a mini bus that offers a package deal. It’s picks up in Batu Karas and takes you to the train station in Sidareja for Rp.250,000, which includes the minibus ride and the train ticket.

Unfortunately, there is no travel agency in Batu Karas, so you need to find a local who has the number to call, and who will tack on a little commission to the price. The price I was quoted by a Batu Karas local was Rp.500,000. Knowing that was way too high, I went to Pangandaran and booked the same trip for Rp.250,000 – the price printed on the brochure in the travel office. However, I didn’t even get back to Batu Karas before the local network kicked in and I got a call saying they had made a mistake and the price was actually Rp.500,000.

What happened is obvious – the local got his commission.

I decided to go ahead and pay the higher price because I wasn’t sure if I would get a refund for the Rp.250,000 if I didn’t, and it was still the quickest way to Jogjakarta. But, after a miserable ride in the hot, non air-conditioned, cramped mini bus, over a derelict road, I would surely choose to fly back to Bandung, and book a train from there, for about the same money.

It’s a sad thing – I had a great time in Batu Karas, and the people were very hospitable. Besides staying in a hotel, and eating in local restaurants, I rented a motorbike from a local, and also paid him to guide me around a bit. One would think they would want visitors to leave with a good feeling about the place, so you’ll speak well about it, and return some day. But instead, some of the locals feel they need to get one last fistful of cash.

Would I return to Batu Karas? Sure, but not without my transport out pre-arranged. If going from Jakarta or Bandung, I would either fly, or take a train to Banjar, and I would have my return ticket in hand. There are cars one can hire in Banjar to go to Batu Karas for Rp.150,000. I’d get the drivers number, and arrange for him to pick me up.

What I would never do, is trust a Batu Karas local with my transportation arrangements.

Currently, the hotels in Batu Karas don’t book transportation because they don’t want to compete with the locals. It’s certainly a policy they need to look at.

At the end of the day, being overcharged Rp.250,000 is not the end of the world, and I’m sure it’s not the last time it will happen on this trip. None the less, it’s still annoying, so I’m tagging this post and any similar, future posts, “overcharged” so it will be easy for everyone to see what they need to watch out for.

Do you have and overcharge stories? Please tell us about it in the comment section below.

Bandung to Pangandaran

Traveling from Bandung to Pangandaran, I decided to try one of Indonesia’s small, regional airlines – Susi Air.

I found Bandung’s airport very impressive. It’s very comfortable and modern, despite its small size. Everyone was very friendly, and helpful. The baggage screeners even had a cheery disposition.

The airport at the other end is in Cijulang, about 25 km from Pangandaran. If you need transport to Pangandaran or Batu Karas, Susi Air offeres a shuttle service to either place for Rp.25,000 – schedule it when you buy the ticket. If you have another destination, There are a few ojeks (motor bike taxis) waiting outside.

The plane I was on was a fairly new, 12 seat Cessna Grand Caravan. From the time I bought my ticket, to I got off the plane in Pangandaran (Cijulang), the service was fantastic. I was late getting to the ticket office the day I bought my ticket, but my friend Tara called the ticket agent (a little Bahasa Indinesian helps), and she waited. The day of my flight, I arrived before the ticket counter opened so I went to the waiting area. When the ticket agent arrived, she came and got my bag, took it to the ticket counter and checked it in, then returned with the paperwork. I never had to even get up. The pilots were two guys from abroad, and also very friendly, as was the ground staff in Pangandaran (Cijulang).

Susi Air
Susi Air operates fairly new planes that are flown by experienced pilots, and equipped with modern electronic navigation.

In these days rude, impersonal service at major airports, and by the big airlines, flying between two regional airports on a small carrier was a flashback of how air travel used to be – enjoyable!

This trip is highly recommended for that reason alone.

But there’s more. The 40 minute flight is so much nicer than the 10 hour bus ride, and the scenery from the plane is beautiful.

Java View
Aerial view between Bandung and Pangandaran.

Java Mountains
Aerial view between Bandung and Pangandaran.

Java landscape
Aerial view between Bandung and Pangandaran.

Terraced rice paddies.
Terraced rice paddies.

South Java coast
South Java coast.

Susi Air has daily scheduled flights between Bandung and Pangandaran (Rp.280,000), Jakarta and Pangandaran (Rp.520,000), Jakarta and Bandung (Rp.250,000), and Jakarta and Cilacap (580,000). However, they need a minimum of two passengers on the flight, so some days they don’t fly. I had to wait one day for my flight.

Their call center number is: +62 811 212 3080 / 3090

Susi Air’s airport sales office numbers are: Jakarta – +62 811 212 3921 / 3922, Bandung – +62 811 212 3923 / 3924, Pangandaran – +62 811 212 3925 / 3926, Cilacap – +62 811 212 3927 / 3928

Jakarta to Bandung

Of all the options to get from Jakarta to Bandung, the train is the best option. Other options include flying (Rp.250,000), public bus (Rp.40,000), mini bus (Rp.70,000), or metered taxi (Rp.500,000).

Gabbir Station Jakarta
The Parahyangan Express at Gambir Station in Jakarta

I like the train because it’s relaxing, and the scenery is beautiful. The Parahyangan Express (Rp. 65,000 executive class, three hours) passes through Jakarta’s suburbs, then cuts through the West Javan hills; providing a completely different perspective than road travel. The executive class is a bit more expensive than business class but they don’t allow vendors who get on and off the train into executive class, so it’s a lot more peaceful.

Parahyangan Express from Jakarta to Bandung

Jakarta to Bandung by Train

Train to Bandung

Train from Jakarta to Bandung

Getting to Gambir train station in Jakarta is very easy from Central Jakarta. It’s best to go a couple of days ahead of time and buy the ticket.

When buying the ticket, go to the counter to the right of the ticket window where you’ll find forms to fill out. Fill in your name (nama), address (alamat), phone (tlfn), departure point (dari mana), destination (ke mana), name of train (nama kereta), date (tanggal), and time (jam) desired. All the train information can be found on the signs above the ticket window, or from timetables on the counter. It’s all in Bahasa Indonesian, so have a means to translate handy.

Arriving in Bandung’s train station is straight forward. When you leave the station, you’ll be besieged by dodgy, overpriced taxi drivers. There are no metered taxis in sight, but if you walk straight through the parking lot to the main street, there will be Blue Birds, and Putras who will take you to where you want to go on the meter, costing half what the guys in the train station want.