Most people who are going to Bandung and back to Jakarta would normally travel by road. It is after all very convenient ever since the toll highways were opened; cutting down the traveling time. Bandung can also be accessible by train from Jakarta from the Jakarta Gambir train station.
I took a train back from Bandung to Jakarta Gambir Station in order to try out this service. I must say that I did find it enjoyable and without much hassle. The train service is run by P.T. Kereta Api (Persero) and the train station in Bandung is located at lcoated at No. 1 Jl. Stasiun Selatan, Bandung. It is near to Mutiara Hotel, approximately 10 minutes walking distance. However if you are staying in other hotels in Bandung, just tell the taxi driver to send you to the train station. Just tell them – Kereta Api station – they will get it.
I bought my train ticket from the adjacent building from the train station. It is a low green color building and near the main entrance of the door, you can see the words – Pusat Reservasi Tiket. Just go in and proceed to the counter. Tell the counter staff that you wished to buy a train ticket to Jakarta. I bought the Executif ( Executive ) class ticket. It is slightly more expensive, but there is air-conditioned and better seats. There are a number of departure times for you to choose, and the journey to Jakarta will take about 3 hours. Remember to book your train ticket in advance, so that you can be assured of a confirmed booking.
The train station is a huge compound with a big car park space in front. It is a dull low rise building. Just walked in, avoid the touts and give your train ticket to the staff near the entrance and just proceed to walk into the gate. After getting in, find a empty bench where you can sit and relax. If you are hungry, there are a number of food outlets that sell food and drinks. And remember to check in at least one hour before the train departure time. If you are staying far away from the train station, do make allowances for traffic congestion on the road. The train does not wait for you if you are late.
You will also be served with a complimentary light refreshment consisting of a small cup of mineral water and 2 pastries. However if you are hungry, just wait a while. The staff will come into the cabin with trays of food – fried rice, noodles, fish and chips, etc. Just take what you want, the train’s staff will come back later to settle the bill with you. At that time, I had already bought donuts from the Dunkin Donuts outlet at the train station and a bottle of mineral water. So there was more than enough food for me.
The real joy of the train journey was getting to view the objects and landscape throughout the 3 hours journey. You will get to see slums, thick vegetations, hills, rice plantations, tall buildings, roads, etc. There is beauty and ugliness, light and darkness ( when it is in the tunnel) and there are moments of serene peace and chaotic disorder. In other words, a world of contrast will unfold before your eyes in this train journey. Which is why it was a memorable trip for me and I really would loved to take the train again.
The train stopped at a few stations before finally arriving at the final Gambir train station in Jakarta. So remember not to alight at the wrong station. One important clue I can give to identify is that the Gambir train is on elevated ground and it is also the final station. So if you see the train moving up on an elevated track and slowly coming to a halt, you should be near Gambir station. However if you are not sure, just ask the local people sitting around you or the staff.
After alighting from the train, make sure that you have taken all your belongings and walked towards the escalator that is going down. Walked out of the entrance and you will see lots of people and strangers shouting at you – “taxi, taxi”. You can choose to ignore them and head straight to the taxi stand. Get a ticket from the staff, pay a nominal service fee and she will show you the taxi. Remember that there is a minimum charge of RP20,000 if even if the destination is nearby. However, when the meter shows an amount above the minimum charge, the meter rate will apply.
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