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Lodaya Malam to Bandung, trains run on time BANDUNG - It is half past two in the afternoon on a warm Tuesday afternoon at the start of the wet monsoon. No guarantee for rain however, it has been strange weather for over a week now in Yogyakarta and elsewhere in Java it seems to be more of the same. The wind blows from the wrong direction I was told. Maybe that is just good, because that would mean I could have a dry trip to Bandung. However using the train is less reliable on the weather than flying, it is still prone to various delays.

Directly after it became sure that we were about to travel to Bandung, among the reasons is to meet the sister of my girlfriend, I headed to the ticket office to see if there was a direct flight available. However Merpati promised a daily flight to Bandung starting from December, it was not possible to book it. Only four days were available and Tuesday was not on the list yet for a direct flight to Bandung. Unfortunately. To be sure I took an option on a ticket for the next day, just in case all other options were full. I didn't see a reason why that would be the case, but I rather be sure than sorry in this kind of situations.

A trip by motorbike to the train station was almost retaliated by heavy rains. When I was ordering the ticket at the booth, some heavy thunders rolled out over Yogyakarta, seemingly directly towards me. At some distance towards the east there was a play of colorful lightning strikes to be seen. After each strike it took only several seconds for a heavy and long thunder to roll out over the city. Some felt like an earthquake. I was expecting for hell to break loose, so I was happy to be home. Nothing happened however because the suddenly appearing dark clouds were torn apart by wind from various directions. Just a few drops of rain came down.

The train ticket for the Lodaya Malam from Yogyakarta to Bandung.
The train ticket for the Lodaya Malam from Yogyakarta to Bandung.

In the hours that were left until our departure I had to manage to gather the most important stuff so I could leave for the train station around nine in the evening. That was more than on time, because the train had a scheduled departure time of 21:30. Because I assumed that this departure could be delayed with one or two hours without too much problems, because of various causes, but most of the time because trains had to wait for each other on the mostly single-track railroads on the island of Java, I had taken my precautions.

Without any rain traveling to the train station by taxi we arrived there five minutes before departure time. There we were told to go left, because the train would arrive at that side. I had to smile, still having the opinion that I still had to wait a few hours. Fortunately I had recently bought the December edition of the National Geographic. It was still unopened because I didn't have time yet. Just for those moments that can last for hours and I can't do anything about it.

I looked to the left and looked directly into the tree big white lights of the locomotive that pulled the four 'bisnis' and four 'eksekutif' carriages of the Lodaya Malam. Exactly on time according to the timetable the train entered the station. My hand slid down from my backpack, some disappointment that the train had already arrived because now I could not read my National Geographic yet. In the train I would not read. Too much shaking and probably not enough light as well. If I had some more bad luck, there would be a box of cockroaches and a few mice as well. That was my last experience using an 'eksekutif' train, the Taksaka from Yogyakarta to Malang about one year ago.

The train didn't look much better indeed. It was very cold inside as well and the chairs hadn't been improved in all those years. But well, for 150.000 Rupiah I wasn't the one to complain about it. You have much more space for your legs than in an airplane and you can enjoy this for many hours to come, since the trip would last somewhere around 6.5 hours. A matching Styrofoam-like pillow and fleece blanket were on my chair. That was what I needed, because I already felt the chill and we had jus left from the Tugu train station in Yogyakarta.

A small box with a cup of water, a small sweet bread and a cookie with chocolate-taste was handed over to the people in the carriage. The chair was approved as well and slowly I started to doze away. It was already dark and in the best situation we would be able to see a sunrise between the volcanoes around Bandung tomorrow morning. A short stop was made at the train station of Kebumen, but I only realized that partially.

Until we reached the satellite cities of Bandung, I slept. I only woke because the train shook heavily. No earthquake but just the train which had to break when entering the city. In between conical volcanoes the sun slowly rose. The light cloud cover made it into a colorful spectacle. Every once in a while the landscape disappeared behind some bamboo and trees, but more often behind the tin roofs of the shacks at less than one meter from the track.

We passed those at snails pace and entered Bandung. We stopped almost at the other side of the city - the western side - at 'Stasiun Bandung'. This city has more than one train station, but this is the main station and also the most convenient to travel from. It was just before six in the morning now. However the station was already populated with a large amount of calo (middlemen) and taxi-drivers we just wanted to drink a warm glass of tea. My nose was still cold from the long trip in the cold air-conditioned train.

A small warung (food stall) just outside the gates of the station was the place where I ordered two teh hangat. Sitting on one of the walls of the cities green places we saw the day taking over shifts from the night. Within half an hour the morning traffic had picked up. It was about time that we would start to move as well. This was just the starting point of a trip that was barely planned so I am very curious what is about to happen.

Posted in Travel @ 06 December 2007 by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink

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