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A trip by bus from Kampung Rambutan to Karangbawang KAWUNGANTEN - At the end of a Sunday afternoon we left from Lippo Cikarang in the direction of Kampung Rambutan, a bus terminal at the edge of Jakarta. From here we would take the bus later today. We would take the one headed for Cilacap at the southern coast of Central Java to bring a visit to the family of my girlfriend. The trip to the bus terminal took about one hour, which was only a small leg in the entire trip.

When we arrived at the bus terminal the atmosphere was quiet. There was a row of buses waiting and there were passengers, but there was no chaos and everything seemed to run smoothly as well. Full buses departed while empty ones took their place. A number of DAMRI shuttle buses to the international airport of Soekarno-Hatta were waiting for passengers as well. Now I knew what that 'Kp. Rambutan' written on the buses meant, I had not been here before.

The DAMRI bus we were supposed to take was nowhere to be found, so that left us with the choise to take another bus from 'GR', Gapuraning Rahayu for 55.000 Rupiah each. Most buses that departed from here in the direction of the city of Cilcap and the villages around there were air conditioned. The bus that brought us to our destination did not. Any doubt that we had to take another bus and later on transfer once soon faded because it would mean hours of waiting somewhere at a bus stop in a village in the middle of the night, while it only was about one hour from our destination.

A few of the buses waiting for passengers at the Kampung Rambutan bus terminal in Jakarta.  indahnesia.com
A few of the buses waiting for passengers at the Kampung Rambutan bus terminal in Jakarta. indahnesia.com

Our trip would be during the evening hours, so it would not be that warm after all. I found us a place at the very end of the bus, so we could keep a fairly close watch at our belongings. Like real Indonesians you bring more than your own body weight if it is possible. On the way home you bring oleh-oleh for the family there and on the way back you bring a same quantity back for friends, relatives and yourself.

Two rows behind the smoking old men was a pretty good place. The bus was only filled with passengers for the first few rows, but it was hardly half past six. According to the kenek (drivers right hand) the bus was to leave at half past six, which gave us about two hours or less to prepare for departure since buses only leave on time if they are full around their time of departure. I was getting hungry again, so I went out to get something to eat and drink.

A bottle of mineral water and iced tea were easy to be found. A proper snack was a little bit harder. A nice bowl of soto was easy, but the problem is that I refuse to bring such food inside a bus, because you have to bring it along in a plastic bag. And I am convinced that it will break even before I can eat from it, spilling the entire contents over the floor of the bus at the place where I sit. Nothing for me. I bought some very sweet bread with chocolate-like produce inside. We would also make a nightly stop somewhere, at a place where food was available as well.

When the bus eventually departed at just after seven in the evening, which is still on time, the bus was filled with a blend of people. One guy in Arabic dress including turban sat in front. In between him and me a lot of villagers heading home, some heavy smokers and a mother with three kids that kept the rest of the bus awake in the first two hours of our journey. But kids get tired too and eventually they gave up looking outside in the dark night.

The longer the trip lasted, the worse the road got. The last three hours it sometimes was more bumping than normal road. The road was better half a year ago when my girlfriend made this trip for the last time. That was shortly after the start of the wet season, so very plausible indeed. The noise of several iron parts that should be bolted together continues and I was still a little too tall to fit my small chair properly. Not much sleep for me here.

We drove through the deepest of nights over a small road, passing hundreds of kampung spread out over the countryside. We were driving with quite high speed, it seems like that buses with Indonesian drivers don't have a 'slow' mode and every once in a while the brakes were tested heavily when a flashing 'opponent' or a huge pothole were nearing rapidly. It all went well, but barely. An accident is near in conditions like these, at least it seems that way.

The tablets I took earlier to catch some sleep were of little use. The woman in her forties that occupied the seat next to me needed more chair which caused her to put her behind in my direction. I just used my elbow to defend my seat, because she was acting to be asleep all the time. So did I, which solved the problem pretty well over time. The smoking old man shared his cigarette with another heavily smoking man at the last row. At the back of the bus there always was cloud of smoke, even though one of the windows was still ajar.

After two in the night the first people got off the bus. From that point the bus slowed down a little and had to make regular stops. Eventually family was informed that we were about to arrive at the meeting point. It was still half an hour before we eventually reached the village of Karangbawang. There were two cousins of my girlfriend waiting, wearing warm jackets and warming their hands because here it was cold at night. How cold? No idea, I zipped up my jacked and I was happy that I wore long trousers and closed shoes.


Tags: travel, rambutan, terminal, bus, kampung, jakarta, indonesia


Posted in Travel @ 16 June 2009 07:40 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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