This isn’t a recent experience. I actually went on this trip last May, but I’m journaling what I remember.
Here’s the story:
We had a two-day weekend back in May I believe and my roommate at the time wanted to go somewhere for it. (We work 6 days a week so this was something special). We decided to go to one of the 1000 islands up in north Jakarta. We left around 12 on Saturday, got to north Jakarta around 2pm and had the hardest time finding where the fishermen’s boat dock was. We asked lots of people and they all pointed us in various directions. Indonesians can be really bizarre sometimes because if they don’t know where something is, they just guess and point in a direction they think it is. (Now, I haven’t actually confirmed this, but this is what seems to happen all of the time… so this is being said from experience. And of course, this doesn’t include everyone). No one ever just says, ‘sorry, I don’t know’. It’s actually really annoying. Anyways, there was this big storm coming in and I didn’t really want to get in a boat, but my roommate was really persistent in finding the dock anyways. Finally, we got in a beca (pronounced ‘becha’ – a motorbike carriage type thing) and he drove us back to practically where we had come from once ‘landing’ in Jakarta. We walked through the fish market and found the boat dock. It was about 5pm and the sun was going to set soon, plus it was starting to rain. L (my roommate) asked the fisherman if the boat was leaving anytime soon. He shook his head and said, ‘no, not until 7am tomorrow’. While she was talking to him, I went over to a little warung and had an instant coffee. It was getting cold since we were next to the water and the wind was picking up. L told me the fisherman had said we could sleep on the boat if we wanted, but both of us decided it would be nicer if we stayed in a hotel, got up around 5am and got on the boat then. We thanked the fisherman and told him we’d be back tomorrow.
We went out to look for a taxi and found one parked next to a bank. Apparently, the taxi driver worked for a guy who was filling up the machines or something because he told us he would take us to a hotel, but he had to ask his boss. The whole thing was really weird, but because he sounded nice, we said ‘great’! He gave us a few hotel choices. In the end, we waited for him and his boss and then drove to a hotel about 15 minutes away. The boss asked for some money for the lift (his taxi meter read something like 235,650 IDR, which was a lot) and they dropped us off. The hotel was completely full so we decided to walk to another hotel. Dodging traffic was kind of a nightmare because Indonesia is the worst place for pedestrians. Cars/trucks/motorbikes usually honk at pedestrians to have them move out of the way because they have the right-of-way. (The first few months I was here I was petrified of being hit… well, I still am, but I’m kind of used to it I guess, but not at the same time). On top of that, there had been some rain so the streets were really muddy. I stepped into a big ditch of mud at one point and my flip flop sunk in… it was really gross. Plus, it was dark out so it was difficult to see everything.
Well, we made it to the hotel, checked in, had some drinks, went swimming, ordered McDonald’s, watched “Man on a Ledge”, which was on TV, and went to bed. We woke up at 5am to check out, grab a taxi, and catch the boat. The ride to the island was spectacular. It took about 2 and a half hours, but it was incredibly calm and beautiful during the early morning.
When we got to the island, we wanted to be clear as to what time we needed to be back because we had to work the next day. The guy told us two o’clock. Tidung island, or Pulau Tidung, was absolutely beautiful. There wasn’t a large area to swim in, but we managed. The island was obsessed with banana boats and tourism. The banana boat rides would take the tourists on an inflatable banana around the water for about five minutes and then into the bay quick enough where the tourists would drop off and land into the water. When I say tourists, I’m not just talking about foreigners, but anyone not native to the island. The water was very warm and super salty. We had some lunch, swam, and then it was time to go back to the dock and wait for the boat. The island was pretty small and we basically walked the entire thing because the dock was on the opposite side of the island from the beach.
When we got back to the dock, there was a massive crowd waiting for the boat. It would be impossible for us to all fit on one boat. There must have been about 200 people waiting – it was nuts! L told me we had to get on that first boat. She was determined. We waited for about 45 minutes with people inching up everywhere. Finally, there was a boat that arrived, and the crowd set loose for the boat. Luckily, a man had put his arm out, grabbing both railings because there was a gap near the ledge. I was pushed so hard that I smashed into his arm, but luckily didn’t fall into the water. Then, L crouched down at one point because she’d dropped something and I was worried, but she got right back up and a man in front of me let me go ahead of him, but it was crazy! I was being pushed on all sides as L and I made our way up onto the boat. I knew I had to get on that one because L made it on a little before me, and luckily, the fisherman recognized both of us because he’d given us a ride that morning so he waited until I got on as well. The scariest part was being pushed and shoved when on the platform to the boat (no railings on either side of the platform). When I made it onto the boat, they cut off the crowd and told them to wait for the next one, which was getting closer. While were pulling away from shore, the crowd just looked so intense and stood still waiting for the next one.
The boat ride back was nice. When we arrived, I stood up and looked back at the rest of the boat. It was amazing to see people everywhere, on top, on the side… the boat had been completely packed. I had been having a conversation with a man who sat directly above me, but hadn’t noticed how packed the boat was until I stood up (even though I’d only had enough room for my butt and that was it). It was eerie too because not too many people were talking. It would be like if you and someone else were the only people having a conversation in a room full of 50 people.
It took us about 5 hours to get home because the bus system is absolutely insane here, but we made it. The whole trip was rather crazy, but I learned a lot. We’d taken every kind of transportation – taxi, bus, boat, motorbike, bike carriage, motorbike carriage, etc… everything but train or plane ha ha! And the whole trip really taught me a lot about communication and the Jakarta transportation system.
Me hanging out in the hotel after a crazy day.
This kitten was watching us in the morning as the boat left the dock at around 7am.
Me in front of the beach.
Eating some delicious food and drinking some fresh coconut juice.
Me and L on the trip back to Jakarta.
Three guys trying to get a nap in on the front of the boat. This was on the trip back to jakarta.
Watching the storm roll in the day before our trip to the island as we searched for the boat dock/fishermen’s market.
This was the view from our hotel window at 5am.
This was on the way to Pulau Tidung.
The water at Pulau Tidung was actually that color and what an amazing cloud shot!