A direct flight from Krabi to Jakarta was really expensive so we decided to do a combination of minivan, train and plane with a one-night stopover in Kuala Lumpur. Instead, we travelled the following way:
1) Minivan ride to Hat Yai
Hat Yai is where the closest train station to Krabi is located. We took a 4 hour minivan ride by the craziest driver I’ve ever had (this means really crazy in SEA!!) We nearly got into an accident. Luckily, the driver managed to swerve out of the way. One passenger yelled at the man and told him to slow down which he did for 5 minutes, and then he drove like a maniac again.
2) Train ride to Kuala Lumpur
We stopped in Hat Yai for 3 hours, enough time to fill up on disgusting KFC, shop around for some airline tickets and stock up on groceries to prepare ourselves for the upcoming 17 hour train ride. There were no sleepers available so we had no choice but to get reclining chairs. The Malaysian trains are in good shape, however, so it could have been worse (which we experienced later). One woman had a large pile of gigantic buckets in front of our seats. When it was her turn to get off, I assisted the lady. She had, in addition to the buckets, mops, blankets, rice cookers and water dispensers. Perhaps these goods are cheaper in Thailand? I got a poor sleep on the train, mostly because the lights were left on all night. There were also two girls blasting their mp3 player behind us. I still cannot believe how many inconsiderate people there are in this world.
3) Plane ride to Jakarta
It was about 6 am when we arrived at the modern KL station which connects to all parts of the city. We still needed to buy our plane tickets to Jakarta and I suggested to my friend that we skip KL and head straight there. I didn’t want to spend our energy looking for accommodation for just one night. We also had our plane tickets out of Bali booked and I didn’t want to waste time. We rode a bus to the airport and bought a ticket at a very good price. On the plane, we watched Just For Laughs Gags and ate very delicious spicy chicken. We were excited. If airplane food is this good, it could only be better in the food stalls and restaurants!
4) Train to Yogyakarta
We arrived in Jakarta at 5 pm. We were planning to spend one night even though we’d only heard negative things about the city. We boarded the bus which had no seats, so we were told to sit by the driver. I sat on a tiny drop seat while my friend sat on the floor. We were a foot from the windshield. The driver again drove like a crazy. He had his headphones on and drove bumper-to-bumper with every car in front. At one point, we were on a curve with no shoulder. He didn’t slow down and I thought we were going to go over the ramp and plunge into the road beneath us.
The bus dropped us off at the train station, the closest point to the cheap guesthouse area of the city. I was not impressed and did not want to stay in Jakarta, but I didn’t suggest leaving because I thought it might be too crazy an idea to leave. Thankfully, my friend suggested we go straight to Yogyakarta. I gleefully agreed. The train station only sold tickets for the luxury train which was quite expensive, particularly if you count the fact there were no sleepers, only reclining chairs. We took a cab to the other train station where we could ride the Ekonomi train, which turned out to be the craziest train I’ve ever ridden. I call it the Cuckoo train.
The train station was crowded with transient-looking people and families sitting on the platform. The train was late. When it arrived, we were shocked by its decrepit condition. We found our seats which were orientated the opposite of the train’s direction; hence it was back to back with another seat. Someone said we could change its orientation, so as I was about to do that, a man creeped out of the little gap and asked us not to move it because he wanted to sleep there. We looked at the seats opposite the aisle and another person was sleeping in a gap. We saw a couple change the seat anyways so we said sorry and moved the seat.
Indonesia is hotter than any of the other countries we visited but the train had no air conditioning. The fan was broken and the windows were too. We were dying from the heat. The seats were also uncomfortable: mine was completely concave and my friend’s had a spring jamming into her back.
After 15 minutes of movement, the train stopped. Hordes of people started to board which confused us since we were the last car. Where were these people going? Well, they sat on the floor which they covered with newspaper. Then it got worse, the vendors came on. They walked up and down the crowded aisles selling nasi goreng, cup noodles, coffee, noisy toys, combs and various crap, advertising their product at the top of their lungs. Since there was little room to walk, they would bump into the people sitting by the aisles, including me. This continued until about 2 am when they finally stopped. At 5 am, men in drag came on and started singing while shaking their bells. People actually gave them money! The only good thing about the train? The toilet was not that disgusting. It wasn’t pleasant but not horrible which was more than we could have asked for considering the general condition of the train.
So that was our journey to get to our first stop in Indonesia. We travelled for nearly 48 consecutive hours, if you include stopovers. This journey foreshadowed the impending bad luck and events we were too experience the next few days. More about that in another post.