To travel to Ubud, Bali, Amy and I first had to go to Jakarta to catch a flight to Denpasar, Bali. I omitted the nightmare that was the leg between Bandar Lampung and Jakarta from my Bali post because it’s kind of a downer, but I’m low on blogging material for this week, so we here we go.
Flights from Bandar Lampung to Jakarta are frequent, but not wanting to use any more of our precious vacation days than absolutely necessary for this holiday, we decided to work and a full day on Thursday and then take a night bus to Jakarta and fly out to Bali Friday morning. Below is a map of Indonesia and you will notice that Bandar Lampung and Jakarta are, in fact, on different islands, making the night bus option a bit of an adventure.
We asked many people how long this journey to Jakarta would take and answers ranged from four to eleven hours. In other words, no one had any idea. The scary part was that a few of my students told me that before getting onto the ferry, we would have to wait in the bus for about three hours. Surely, we thought, this was an exaggeration, but we boarded the bus 9pm on the Thursday night having absolutely no idea what to expect and only knowing that we were either going to arrive in Jakarta sometime between 1am and 10am.
At first, everything seemed just grand. The bus was air conditioned, had reclining seats, provided snacks, and even had a smoking section. Yes, you heard me. A smoking section on the bus. The bathroom was less than awesome. Remember the post about my bathroom in my old house? Imagine trying to operate that on a moving bus. To date, that has been my most stressful experience in Indonesia. Anyways, after about two and half hours, we arrived at the ferry port in South Lampung…. and we boarded the ferry at 2:30am. Dewi wasn’t lying. We sat on the bus at the ferry port for three hours just waiting. To make things even worse, we were locked inside the bus and couldn’t leave… I was freezing, claustrophobic, and in dyer need of fresh air. Just outside the bus, I saw people selling chicken noodle soup and I wanted it BAD. But chicken noodle soup I couldn’t have. I had to stay locked inside the bus. For three hours. Amy managed to sleep the entire time… I paced and kept trying to escape like a crazy person.
Finally, at 2:30am, we were ushered to our seats on the ferry. EF was paying for our fare, so we requested the executive class. The executive class had hard seats, way to strong of AC, and it smelt funky. We were unsure as to how the economy class could be worse, but didn’t dare to venture into their section and find out. Instead we went outside to the balcony, at least hoping it would be warmer. BIG MISTAKE. Outside it was even smellier, you could hear the karaoke from the upper deck blasting, and people were very eager to talk to us…. at 4am when they should have been sleeping and letting us sleep as well. But there are no boundaries between appropriate times to trap someone in conversation or leave them be in Indonesia. Any time is a good time to chat. Too tired to keep moving back and forth, I tried sleeping, which was difficult because people would stop and ask me things like “why are you sleeping?”, and I wanted to eavesdrop on Amy’s conversation. Amy, well rested from the bus, stayed awake and spent a significant amount of time having this conversation:
“Where are you traveling to?”
“Are you taking the train?”
“No. We’re flying.”
“You should take the train, it’s cheaper”
“But the train is cheaper.”
“Why don’t you let me drive you to the train the station? It’s no trouble.”
“No. We’re flying.”
One day, I will translate this Onion article in Bahasa and distribute it throughout all forms of public transportation in Indonesia. Report: It’s Not Okay to Just Start Talking to People You Don’t Know. Take a look at the map of Indonesia again and find Bali…. it’s a two day train ride from Jakarta. Our choice was easy, and it was flying.
I went back inside and was able to kind of fall asleep uninterrupted for about an hour or two before docking in Jakarta and had to get back on the bus. In Jakarta, we enjoyed another bus ride where we had no idea when we had to get off and then transferred to a bus to the airport. While walking to the airport, Amy said “I thought that as soon as we left work, we’d be happy, but I still hate the world. That ferry ride was the pits.” Haggered and hangry, we arrived at the airport 12 hours after we departed from Bandar Lampung.
I use the term the pits pretty liberally, but now when Amy and I feel as though we are in the pits, we always remember the ferry ride to Jakarta. Now that was the pits.