Flights can be fast, but are tiring and leg space constraint is an issue. Road travel is widely accepted but can cause indefinite delays due to traffic and constant maintenance work. So this time I decided to take the train from Bandung and travel in a relaxed and laid back manner and enjoy the supposedly scenic ride to Jakarta, which is served by the Gambir Railway Station. A train system links most cities in Indonesia, including Jakarta and Bandung, with an easy booking system in place. Apart from the station, tickets can be booked upto 30 days in advance, from any Alfamart or Indomart supermarkets which are found in every nook and corner of the country.
My journey commenced from the Hall Railway Station in Bandung. I was pre booked on the 0830 am Argo-Parahyangan express travelling in Air Conditioned Executive class. The beautiful hostess gracefully showed me my recliner seat with adjustable footrests and a pillow to make my journey cosy and comfortable. After a slight delay of 8 minutes, the train moved, a bit slowly at first, but soon picked up speed. I had hardly rested in my seat for 5 minutes or so that the real show started with the train passing through valleys and the beautiful Parahyangan mountains which surround the city of Bandung and give the train its name.
The coach was clean, half full (which is not the case on weekends and religious holidays) thus enhancing passenger comfort by turning the front empty seats around towards you affording to really rest your legs.
A flat screen TV, was constantly on, displaying train information supplemented with movies and serials. Food could be ordered on the seat or had in the buffet car. Toilets were not western but were kept spotlessly clean by continuous washing every few minutes by the efficient housekeeping staff.
The journey itself offered an amazing view to see the countryside and the ride was incredibly scenic. Spectacular mountains, jaw dropping bridges, rice fields, volcanoes, with sheep and cows grazing everywhere, small villages with children excitedly waving as the train passed blasting its warning whistle at every village and cross road it passed.
A 100 km out of Bandung the train leaves the highlands behind and enters the North Java plains on its approach to Jakarta. Here the train moved much faster and soon we were approaching Gambir Railway Station, which serves as a junction for major trains passing from outside Jakarta city.
I was at my destination in 3hrs and 15 minutes, bang on time and all the more richer for my great experience.