The journey from Indonesia’s capital city to Yogyakarta, another Indonesian city in Java is possible by way of a simple, though expensive train trip of 8 hours. The landscape is beautiful along the way…
Temperature – 29 degrees C
Our next stop is the most populated city in South East Asia – Jakarta. With a population of almost 10 million and very serious pollution and traffic problems we find it difficult to find redeeming features about this grey place with very few green areas. We also learn what the wet season means as it beats down on us every day, sometimes lasting minutes, sometimes hours!
We board the infamous and slightly mystical Pelni boat from Batam to Jakarta. It is a 29 hour fairly chaotic ride over the Java Sea – and – for the first time, we cross the equator and enter the Southern Hemisphere!
For the people who actually want to take this boat, here is some information below:
A few tips for the journey:
From Singapore to Batam
This is an easy journey from Singapore from the Harbourfront. Our only advice is to have the correct visa money before getting on the boat (from Singapore to Batam) – ideally in US dollars ($25 at the time of writing). Even officials working the Indonesian immigration desk may try and rip you off given the opportunity.
From Batam to Jakarta
The hard part is finding the Pelni office and finding something to do whilst you are here.
To find the Pelni Office see photos below. Essentially it is a 10-ish minute walk from the ferry terminal to the Pelni office and there won’t be signs and or road names on Google Maps.We would suggest walking is bets otherwise you can easily be swallowed up by touts.
So – come out of the ferry terminal, out of the car park in front of you, turn right and walk along that road until another main road (not little rough track) heads off to the left and uphill slightly. Walk up there and after 5 minutes the Pelni office will be just on the right of another road on your left.
The timetable at the time of writing was once a week, leaving on Wednesday afternoon, taking 29 hours and arriving on Thursday evening in Jakarta. From our short experience we would recommend spending as little time as possible in Batam and therefore arrive at the ferry terminal from Singapore either on the same day or the day before. Getting tickets should not be a problem.
For the boat itself
Keep hold of your ship ticket for free issue food from the “pantry” – bring your own seasoning for the otherwise bland food!
If you don’t have bedding then bring insect repellant and sanitiser.
Flip flops are a must as the toilet area seemed to get very very wet…
Toilet paper is a luxury – bring your own!
Buy food and water from sellers before you board or after you board when the sellers are allowed on the boat before it departs – this is better value and choice that buying from the shop – and – make sure you barter!
Ear plugs are helpful if you cant sleep in a room with hundreds of other people!
Make friends with people around you as soon as you board – this is possibly the most important tip we can give.
Consider not getting anything valuable out of your bag until the second day so that you can sleep at night.
If you are in a mixed gender group this usually means you must take economy class, unless you are happy to be in separated sleeping zones. We are unsure if or how this is enforced in reality.
CLASS 1a = Rp. 999,000
CLASS 1b = Rp. 817,000
CLASS 2a = Rp.561,000
CLASS 2b = Rp.517,000
CLASS economy = Rp.263,000
Expect to pay 20% more if booking through an agent. From our experience as a mixed gender couple we had to travel in economy class to be able to stay together.
See photos below (and hover mouse over for caption)!
Temperature – 28 degrees C
We arrive at the Island of ‘Singaporean man’s second wives’, where around half of the 1 million people population are not indigenous. It is a fairly depressing place where several hotels charge for rooms ‘by the hour’ and many of the people currently working here are away from their families in other parts of Indonesia. It is our first introduction to Indonesia,but perhaps not a very representative one (we hope!).
Temperature – 32 degrees C
We arrive in one of Singapore’s 63 islands, delighted to find that although it is highly urbanised, much is green – although much is manicured. The World Bank reckons that Singapore is “the easiest place in the world to do business”, which might explain why the country is home to more millionaire households per capita than any other country – and every single one of those 5 million people seem to be out and about as we spend New Year’s Day enjoying the many cultures. We breathe a secret sigh of relief when we work out that it has been ten weeks since we were in a country where English was the first and official language… and that country was England! Still, in Singapore we need a tiny bit of Mandarin to get by…
All we can say is “Luxury”! Things were looking good when we booked the bus, and were asked if we wanted the bus with personal TVs or one communal TV. It was a tough decision but in the end we settled for a bus with two TVs. The bus left on time, and arrived in Singapore on time, in part due to the driver’s willingness to leave slow-poke passengers behind.
Temperature – 32 – 35 degrees C
It seems that all of a sudden we are in KL! We arrive late at night, and are confronted by the dingy streets surrounding our hostel, complete with rats and rather broad-shouldered “ladies”. But it doesn’t take us long to discover the good things about this city, and we are quickly seduced by the amazing cuisine. When not stranded on traffic islands in this car-dominated city, we could be found snacking on various new street foods.
After booking a bus due to all trains being booked out, the overland journey from Hat Yai in Thailand to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia should have been straightforward. As the New Year approaches us we realised that we were looking forward to the Christmas-New Year break being over so that travel would return to normal!￼ ￼ ￼ ￼ ￼ ￼ ￼ ￼
Temperature – 30 degrees C
This stop is slightly obscure, but we wanted to have another taste of a more ‘real Thailand after Bangkok, so we head to the only part of Southern Thailand that seems not to revolve around tourism. Hat Yai has a population of around 160,000 people and is close to the border of Malaysia. Much of our time was spent in search of good food (we heard it would be good) but like the street cockroaches, we walked the pavements for hours without success!￼ ￼ ￼ ￼ ￼ ￼ ￼