Thursday, November 10, 2016

Trip to Bandung and Jakarta in 2016

On the 24th. of October, I flew to Bandung with the intention of meeting up with my music business counterparts (record labels, record shops and bands) in both Bandung and Jakarta. I took Malindo flight because it was overall cheaper than Air Asia with free 30kg luggage. The first thing upon landing was I noticed people walked from the plane to the airport like a herd of cows and sheeps. Nobody queued. I had to grab a form from an immigration officer who handed out the forms by standing at a corner blocked by the crowd. It's always better to have your own pen to fill up any forms at the immigration because there was no pen available sometimes. It was a mess at the immigration. The queue was long. I had no idea where were the queues and whether I was at the correct line. The airport in Bandung was small one but I think I spent almost an hour at the immigration.

Upon leaving the immigration to collect the luggage, there were porters trying to snatch your luggage. It was not a daytime robbery but they were just trying to earn some money by helping you to carry it. I just rejected their service politely. I could not find the Bluebird taxi service counter to call for a cab and I could not find the toilet, I made enquiry at the information counter. I was shocked that the toilet was located on the upper floor without any lift or escalator. Obviously, I could not carry the heavy luggage up just to pee. I also had to walk back inside the airport to call for a taxi when I was stopped by the security guard as I did not have a flight departure ticket/pass. I explained to him and he allowed me to re-enter directed me to the taxi counter. The Bluebird taxi counter issued me a coupon costing Rp60,000 but the payment was to be made to the taxi driver (not to be paid at the counter as in many airports). This would led to a rip-off eventually.

The journey to my hotel, Elenor's Home, which was located in Jalan Boscha II was expected to be a short journey as it was less than 5km from Husein Sastranegara International Airport. However, it took us about 2 hours because of a massive traffic congestion in additional to the fact that the driver did not know his way to Jalan Boscha II, which was a small lane in between a row of houses behind a petrol station. Initially, I thought I wanted to pay the taxi driver Rp70,000 because of the hassle of traffic congestion. I was stunned when he asked for Rp100,000. I paid without arguing but I was obviously not happy with it. Even the locals thought it was a rip-off as Rp100,000 was the price of a train ticket from Bandung to Jakarta.

There was nothing to shout about regarding Elenor's Home that I stayed. It was a low budget hotel. The staff are friendly and helpful. However, the floor mat provided was filthy as I could obviously see all the black stains. The toilet/bathroom was old and the drainage was smelly without any basin. No shampoo and soap were provided but there was a towel. The breakfast was simple. There was no air conditioner but you do not need it in Bandung.

The room at Elenor's Home (Sorry for the mess):

Breakfast provided on the first morning at Elenor's Home:

Breakfast provided on the second morning of Elenor's Home:

The sky turned dark faster than Peninsular Malaysia in Bandung. The sky was always cloudy and grey just like England anyway. I walked out of the hotel based on the direction of my badly printed map which was not detailed enough. My first destination was the nearby petrol station as I wanted to buy a local SIM card called Simpati. Unfortunately, the petrol station did not have it but the staff directed me to a nearby stall. I went to the stall but the salesperson did not seem helpful, so I walked away. I was trying to search for Rumah Mode and FFWD Records as well as my dinner using the map. I made the wrong turning but I didn't mind exploring. I saw another roadside stall selling Simpati SIM card. I made enquiry and the guy seemed helpful and friendly, so I bought it from him. He helped to configure everything and the SIM card was ready to use instantly with data plan (I realised I could not make any local phone call later in Jakarta when I was in desperation). His customer and himself gave me the correct direction to Rumah Mode.

I had my dinner at the food court of Rumah Mode. Food was pricey but I would not complain about the taste of the food. The staff were helpful and friendly too when I asked about Indonesian country code that I needed to register an account in Uber, and, food recommendation. I did my quick survey at Rumah Mode to find out what they had. I was not there to shop anyway. I failed to find FFWD Records that night. I walked back to the hotel which took me about 15 minutes by foot. The walking path was very bad at certain places. So, I had to walk very carefully to avoid tripping and getting myself injured on the first day. In fact all the walking paths in Bandung and Jakarta were equally bad. If you want to walk, you need to walk carefully. I found it pretty safe to walk in Bandung as I didn't encounter any criminals.

Fried rice from Rumah Mode for dinner:

Next day, I used the service of Uber to go to the railway station to buy a train ticket but found out that I could actually buy train tickets at the nearby shops such as Indomaret & Alfamart. Passport was required to buy a train ticket. The queue at the train station was very long. When I discovered that I could buy my 2 ways tickets from a machine, I decided to do so with the help of their staff. Honestly the user interface of the machine was not very user friendly. At one point, I was stuck because I could not key in my passport number. The error message did not help at all. Then the staff told me that I needed to ignore the alphabet of my passport number because only numeric was permitted. I was also surprised to notice that I needed to check in 1 hour in advance. If I didn't go to the railway station, I might not be aware of it. I walked out of the railway station to use Uber service again but I noticed Kartikasari which sold excellent bagelen behind Alfamart at Jalan H. Akbar (another small lane). So, I decided to check it out and bought some Bagelen that my sister recommended before calling for Uber to return to the hotel. After reaching the hotel, I walked to search for FFWD Records again. This time with SIM card, I could use Google Map for direction. It led me to the destination but I could not see any building with FFWD signboard. I called my counterpart from FFWD Records and he came out to meet me. There was no signboard in fact. FFWD Records was located behind a shoes shop. I stocked up everything I needed from FFWD Records.

I had my lunch at The Kiosk on the upper floor of Setiabudhi Supermarket. For the next few days, most of my meals were in either Rumah Mode and The Kiosk unless my friends brought me somewhere else.

A local exotic food I tried at The Kiosk. Sorry that I do not remember the name. I did not like the sambal at all but the rest were ok but not something I fancied:

One of my Indonesian friends, Vando, took me to Omuniuum that I spent a fortune obtaining my music stocks later that evening. Omuniuum also took some of my Malaysian stocks. It was a pleasure dealing with Omuniuum. It was a highly recommended store to obtain indie music. The staffs were good in recommendation. We also went for a gig consisting of 4 obscure local indie bands that I could not even remember some of the bands' names. There was a shoegaze band, Fuzz Oh, and a Bjork wannabe band, Lunar Lunar, that I liked. Even the venue was new according to the locals. I met Marin of FFWD Records for the first time unplanned here. I also met Eky from Sorge Records and obtained some stocks from him.

The band at the gig in Bandung that I cannot remember the name:

The crowd at the gig:

Another band I do not remember the name:

A band named Lunar Lunar:

I believe this is the band, Fuzz Oh (if I remember correctly):

On the 3rd. day, I walked to Jalan Cihampelas in the morning to check out Ciwalk and some shops along Jalan Cihampelas. I found all the shops boring and uninteresting. The shops along the road basically sold counterfeit branded jeans. Ciwalk was just another typical shopping mall. No record shop and anything interesting for me. I could not even find local non-counterfeit branded jeans there. It was a waste of time! I spent a lot of time at FFWD Records talking about music and the scene later that day. I bought Burberry jeans for my wife and myself at Rumah Mode. My jeans were torn actually. Rp264,900 for men and Rp349.900 for ladies. There were more choices for men. There was only one choice for ladies.

On the 27th. of October, I went to Jakarta by train. Checking in was no hassle at all. I was shocked to find out that there was a 20kg weight limit for luggage. I think the restriction was ridiculous for a travelling foreigner because Malindo flight allowed 30kg for the luggage. This regulation was not written on the ticket. You needed  passport to board the train just like when you bought the ticket using your passport. Right before entering the train, the porter snatched my luggage after I showed him my ticket. He showed me the way and placed by luggage on the top luggage compartment. Then asked for Rp10,000. I told myself not to talk to any porter or ask them for any direction on the way back. The train journey took about 2 hours plus. It was a comfortable trip. The train had 2 slots of power sockets for 2 seats, so you could charge your mobile phones. Food and drinks were served and the prices were not too costly comparing with the prices at the food court in Rumah Mode.
I called for Uber service after walking out from Gambir railway station in Jakarta. It was quite a distance to walk. From the 3rd floor I took a lift to the first floor (ground floor), then walked for quite a distance to get out of the railway station. Honestly, I looked like a mad man dragging the heavy luggage. It was about 1 hour journey from the railway station to Reddoorz of Panglima Polim (near Blok M Square). I was advised by the driver to turn on Waze whenever I take Uber, Grabcar or taxi in Indonesia to avoid being cheated. His advice would be handy at later stage of my bad experince with another Uber driver in Jakarta.

Reddoorz where I stayed was pretty inconvenient for someone with heavy luggage like myself because there was a staircase to climb. I left for Blok M Square to survey record stores shortly after reaching the hotel. Upon reaching home, I found myself locked outside the hotel. I tried to call the hotel but realised that my SIM card was a data plan SIM card and I could not make any local phone call. Luckily a friend in Jakarta was online. So, I asked him to call the hotel for me. Unfortunately, nobody answered the call. I was stranded for about 30 minutes until I heard some noise from the hotel. I knocked on the door to find their staff opening the door for me. Eventually, I found out that there was a trick to open their main door and the card detector was slow. You basically needed to hold on to the card on the card detector for several seconds before it could read. At the room, again I failed to open the door. It was another tricky door to open. Luckily the staff was around. The main problem of this Reddoorz was their staff always went missing and it was not easy to find them. Later that evening I went to meet my former colleague who happened to be in Jakarta.

The next day, I went to Blok M in the morning and had my lunch there. Checked whether any stores wanted to stock Malaysian indie music but it was frustrating as I got "no" answers without them checking out what I had. Later that day, I went for Synchronize Fest with Jodi. We were caught in 2 hours traffic jam and had to miss Sore's performance. I got my Demajors stocks at the music festival. There were some great bands performing that day (first day of the festival), such as Heals, Goodnight Electric, Teenage Death Star, Scaller, etc. I noticed that there were a lot of good drummers in Indonesia especially from rock and metal bands. The third day (30th. of Oct) of the festival was interesting too. Unfortunately, I had to leave Jakarta.

On the 3rd day in Jakarta, I spent time in Blok M by trying to convince a store to take up my Malaysian indie stocks by providing them my sample CD to listen. The store owner liked the music but did not dare to stock up anything. It was a waste of time and frustrating day for me. That evening, Jodi took me to High Fidelity at Pasar Santa. The owner took up some of my Malaysian stock and I was very thankful for his willingness to try out something new.

On the 30th. of October, I departed Jakarta for Bandung. I called for Uber service a few hours earlier because the traffic in Jakarta was bad. This time I met a crook Uber driver. He kept asking me for directions instead of following the directions of Waze that he was using. I could hardly understand his language too (my friends said probably he spoke in Javanese instead of Bahasa Indonesia). He actually annoyed me. Upon reaching the railway station, he overshot and I had to forced him to stop. During payment, he tried not to give me back my change but I insisted on having my change back. He was the only Uber driver in Indonesia that received bad rating from me. My luggage was heavier than the train's permitted luggage weight of 20kg this time. Luckily, nobody weighed my luggage. I might not escape if the train was crowded with passengers. I took the escalators to the top floor while being annoyed by a porter. I managed to refused him from taking my ticket or snatching my luggage this time. However, I actually needed his service to carry the heavy luggage to the top luggage compartment inside the train. Unfortunatly, no porter was to be seen. My attempt to place the luggage failed. A helpful Indonesian lady tried to help but as a lady her strength was limited too. She called a staff of the train for help and the guy allowed me to place my luggage behind a seat at the back of the cabin. In Bandung railway station, I walked out of the railway station to call Uber service again. This time I stayed at Pulas Inn in Jl. Hegar Asih, Cipaganti. The hotel was easier to find than Elenor's Home. The staff were helpful and friendly. The breakfast of nasi uduk was very nice. It was hard to adjust the hot water. The room was colder than the one in Elenor's Home. The toilet was old and no basin. No soap and shampoo provided but there was a towel. It's best to stay at the ground floor if you have a heavy luggage. That evening I went for another gig called No Problem by Teenage Death Star. The opening act was Collapse. I preferred this gig of Teenage Death Star over the one in Sychronize Fest because the festival one was too crowded.

On the 31st. of October, I went to FFWD Records again to pick up the stuff I left there with Rama. I walked down the street from FFWD Records where I had never walked before and I found a roadside stall selling mixed rice. I took 3 dishes (including a piece of chicken) and free tea costing me only Rp12,000. It was my cheapest meal in Indonesia. A lot of people warned me about having food poisoning but luckily nothing happened to me. The stall was generally clean when I was there. The flies came only when I started eating. I was trying to be more relax on my final day before departing and spent some time packing.

The haul from Bandung & Jakarta:

On the 1st. of November, I took Uber to the airport a bit too early. I was told that I didn't need to arrive 3 hours in advance as I did.  2 hours in advance will do I suppose. Again I was cursing when I had to wait outside before I could check in when nature called. The toilet was upstairs and there was no way I could carry the heavy luggage with me. I think the airport building architech needs a big slap for the bad design.

Useful Tips:
Currency exchange rate for MYR to IDR was 0.000356

Rp100,000 = MYR32.60
Rp50,000 = MYR16.30
Rp20,000 = MYR6.52
Rp10,000 = MYR3.26
Rp5,000 = MYR1.63
Rp2,000 = MYR0.652
Rp1,000 = MYR0.326

Average meal: Rp20,000 - Rp50,000
Synchronize Fest ticket: Rp200,000
Train ticket from Jakarta to Bandung: Rp100,000 - Rp120,000
Train ticket from Bandung to Jakarta: Rp100,000 - Rp120,000
Taxi from Bandung airport to hotel: Rp60,000
Uber from hotel to Bandung airport: Rp23,500
Uber from Bandung railway station to hotel: Rp29,000
Uber from Blok M to Jakarta (Gambir) railway station: Rp36,000
Hotel: MYR50 per night
Simpati SIM card (12GB data only lasting 1 month, 4G) - Rp50,000 but charged Rp70,000

No comments: