Java: Hitching a ride to Bandung

Following Borobodur, I went off to get my bus to Bandung in the east of the island. I had intended to get the train due to the fact I had missed out on several train journeys already on this trip. However, many of the seats had already sold out and only the expensive ones remained. Ever the stingy traveller, I opted for the bus.

Only there wasn’t a bus.

I had been paranoid I would miss it after arriving late back from Borobodur but as I waited at the ticket office, no bus was coming. The guy at the ticket office repeatedly reassured me it was coming but then even he seemed to get a bit stressed. About an hour later, I was told the bus wasn’t coming as it had broken down. The alternative was to get a lift in the guy’s mate’s car who was also going to Bandung. I was promised I wouldn’t have to pay anymore money.

It would be a loooong drive to get here…

Under the assumption that other passengers were going too, I agreed. This was one of those occasions when I hated being a solo traveller. Something felt dodgy about this but I had nobody to soundboard off – why would they take me to Bandung in a private car for the same price as the bus? And where were all the other people who were seemingly getting this bus to Bandung? When it looked as though I was the only passenger, I started to panic, not least because this complete stranger I’d met on the street was going to drive me across Java in the middle of the night.

Obviously, this is Asia and it was just as likely this was a genuine offer. This continent makes very little sense after all. I felt better once another passenger came along and we set off. Of course, it was fine. It was uncomfortable and looooong, but it wasn’t a scam or an attempt to rob me. I was dropped off at my destination at 8am the next morning with no problems. Asia confuses me.

Bandung was just a pit stop so I could avoid going to Jakarta (which had “Manila” written all over it). It was cool, refreshing and full of outlet malls. It’s a shopping Mecca apparently. I also managed to find a yummy British pie shop which made my day. There are all sorts of countryside excursions you could do but I was knackered and didn’t have much time. My hostel, Pinisi, was great – quiet, friendly and clean.

Inner-city Bandung
Inner-city Bandung

After catching up on sleep and spending a couple of days wandering round the city, I got a CitiTrans shuttle from Trans Studio Mall (you’ve got to book in advance via phone) to Soekarno-Hatta airport at 12.45am ready for my morning flight. The journey from Bandung takes around 3 hours and there are a few companies offering it. My trip cost 120,000 IDR and it’s a great option if you want to avoid bustling Jakarta. Overall though, unless you love shopping, Bandung is skippable. It’s basically a designer outlet mall in city form. Jakarta probably would have driven me mad but it definitely would have been a bit more exciting.

And with that, my time in Indonesia was over. What a country! It had been shorter than I’d originally planned but I’d covered so much – from paradise beaches to rumbling volcanoes to old age temples, it’s been a real mix. I look forward to returning!

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