Monday, March 26, 2012

On the Road Again: Bogor

Tim and I took a quick trip out of Jakarta this weekend to nearby Bogor, which is about 60 km south, close to Mt. Salak, an old volcano named after the snakefruit (not far from where I went hiking with Ben and Erin in the fall).  Called Kota Hujan, or city of rain due to its frequent downpours, from what I understand, Bogor used to be the local vacation spot during colonial times- a slightly cooler weekend/summer get-away.  The Dutch built a governors' retreat there- a large palace that is now used as a presidential get-away/secondary capital (Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono [or SBY as he's called here; pronounced "Es-bay-yay"] recently met with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon at the Bogor palace).  Apparently SBY plays golf in Bogor on occasion, too, at a course right by the hotel where we stayed.  This I overheard from a random kid who jumped in our taxi to guide our reluctant taxi driver towards our hotel in the pouring rain (don't ask).

Lately the sprawling beast that is Jakarta has extended all the way out to Bogor, so the traffic and craziness have somewhat subsumed the formerly relaxing get-away. It was still worth a trip, though, even just to walk around Bogor's famed "Kebun Raya"/botanical gardens and to check out the aforementioned presidential palace. 

Anywho... Tim and I decided to take the train out to Bogor, figuring we could avoid the holiday weekend traffic which apparently can make the 1 hour trip to Bogor last about 3 hours.  That was an adventure...  at Gambir station (right next to the National Monument [Monas]) we bought tickets for about 75 cents, which earned us a spot on what we think may have been the ekonomi-AC train (we had intended to get the eksekutif class tickets, but something got lost in translation). 

Monas from stasiun Gambir.

Once the train arrived, we shoved ourselves on and a few minutes later we were notified that we had somehow squished into the special women-only car on the train... Tim was forced to press into the significantly stinkier and more crowded car right behind with all of the other men.  Oops.  

Khusus untuk wanita saja.
 I think everyone got a kick out of us being on that train.  We were definitely the only bules there.  Funny thing is, it wasn't even the most economic train we could have taken- there was one that doesn't even have doors (sorry for the blurry photos... the train was moving too fast!):  

Once we arrived at the station in Bogor, we stepped out into the street and were inundated with calls from both vendors and angkot drivers.  Strangely, we noticed that a large percentage of the vendors on this particular street were selling bunny rabbits (sorry Jamie!):

Angkots are small green bus/vans that are the main form of public transportation in Bogor... somehow both Tim and I missed reading about the fact that Bogor has very few taxis (unlike Jakarta).  Since we couldn't find one of those few taxis, we hopped into one of the angkots and basically hoped it would get us to or at least near our hotel.  Once squished inside the bus, a very nice woman who spoke English quite well helped us figure out where we were going.   I should note that these ankots generally drove with the door open so people (including local street kids and/or street musicians) could jump in and out at will.  I had 1/4 of a butt cheek on the seat, with the rest of my body hanging out the door as we took our jaunt through town:
View out the angkot door as we rolled through town.
Sweaty and squished in an angkot.
 More on the meat of our Bogor trip soon...

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