Day 01 of our Indonesia holiday was very boring and tiresome, to be honest, considering it was spent just lazing out at NAIA. That was the longest layover for me so far and I am not keen on repeating it. Thankfully, Day 02 arrived and it was filled with one amazing thing after another.
But let’s start at the beginning of this wonderful day. Early that morning, at around 6AM, we arrived at Soekarno Hatta airport in Jakarta. We barely had enough sleep and were super tired; we groggily passed through the Indonesian immigration counters and out to the taxi stand. Despite our sleep-deprived state, we still managed to communicate where we were going and made sure the driver runs his meter. We were supposed to ride a Blue Bird taxi because that company is highly recommended as the most honest. But it seems that our accommodation was a bit new and none of the Blue Bird taxi drivers we talked to that time knew the place. Thankfully, one taxi driver from another company said he knows the way and readily agreed to run the meter, so off we went to our hotel as the sky became lighter.
Checked In at Pop! Hotel
Our accommodation for this leg of the trip was Pop! Hotel, a new-ish hotel with modern minimalistic style. The reason I booked it was because its contemporary design was attractive, plus I thought the room (good for 3) would be a welcome break after a day of immersing ourselves in Indonesian history and culture. Plus the shower I saw on its website beforehand looked amazing. Nightly rate was 398,000 Indonesian Rupiah, which is roughly Php 1,450 (around 480 per person if divided among the three of us).
Pop! Hotel did not disappoint because the whole place was so posh, the elevators were touch operated, the hallway leading to our room was so fab with the different door colors, and our room was clean and so adorably streamlined. And yes, the shower (hot water available) was so compact and modern it was so fun using it, especially the part when I discovered the tucked away trash bin and what each toilet button did. haha
Upon check-in, we promptly crashed onto the beds as we were exhausted. It was very tempting to just sleep through the whole day but that would’ve meant cancelling our tour to Taman Mini, which is something I knew I would regret if I forgo. We all agreed to set our alarms to ring 3 hours later just in time for lunch and then the plan was get ourselves to “Beautiful Indonesia Miniature Park” by any means necessary.
3 Hours Later…
I woke up to Marj and Popoi preparing themselves for our afternoon tour. Despite my foggy and exhausted brain, I quickly availed of our room’s wonderful ultramodern shower and toilet. The three of us managed to freshen ourselves enough to look human again and off we went back to the airport to exchange some more of our dollars to Indonesian rupiah. I know, I know – airport money changers are a bad idea considering their exorbitant rates but we were running out of time and so we opted for convenience. Thirty minutes later, we found a Blue Bird taxi to take us to the park that’s considered as the quick and easy primer to Indonesia.
Excited at Taman Mini Indonesia Indah
2 hours and less than IDR 100,000 later, we finally arrived at Taman Mini, which is considered a ‘whole country in one park’. According to Lonely Planet, “this 100-hectare park has full-scale traditional houses for each of Indonesia’s provinces, with displays of regional handicrafts and clothing, and even a mini-scale Borobudur. Museums, theatres and an IMAX cinema are scattered throughout the grounds, which all command additional entrance fees. Free cultural performances are staged in selected regional houses (usually around 10am); Sunday is the big day for cultural events, but shows are also held during the week.”
Taman Mini is about 18km from the city centre; allow about an hour to get there and at least three hours to look around. As for us, we must have stayed there for around 5 hours because despite starting out super exhausted, when we arrived at such an interesting place our energies were automatically replenished.
We found replicas of Indonesia’s many historical structures, which were amaaaazing! We saw a museum or two. There was so much to learn and marvel at that the time went by so fast.
One thing though, the park is huge and if you’re not used to walking too much, it can get exhausting pretty fast while you’re going around Taman Mini. But if you decide to check out just a few parts of the park to avoid turning your legs to jelly, you won’t make much of your visit. We were kinda lost on how to solve this problem when we came across a bunch of men offering their scooters for rent. Problem was if we hire a scooter and a driver, that would mean 3 scooters and 3 drivers in total, which would blow our budget. Popoi and I know how to drive a motorcycle but we didn’t have much experience. Still, wanting to see as much of the place as possible we gave in – we rented two motorcycles. One was driven by one of the guys there with Marj backriding while I drove the other with Popoi in tow. Despite initial balancing issues and several close contact with gutters and unsuspecting shrubs/trees, we were soon zooming around Taman Mini with childlike abandon (yeah, probably not our safest moments…)
We also managed to visit an aquarium and ride a cable car (yay, a fun first for me!). Viewing the park from above adds a whole new dimension of enjoyment, we highly recommend it ^_^
That Moment When I Almost Lost All My Valuables
Yeah… this happened. I was so excited with all the sights and so pre-occupied reading informative signs and scrutinizing carvings that I forgot I took off my day pack inside one of the replica structures there since I felt hot and weighed down. The small backpack contained my money, my passport, airfare tickets, etc. When I realized it was gone I was already at another building. Panic surged through my brain making me run all the way to where I left the bag, leaving only incoherent words for my two bewildered and surprised companions to decipher. Thankfully, there wasn’t anybody else in that area of Taman Mini and I recovered my bag where I left it. Phew. PHEW!
Night Train to Yogyakarta
After our satisfying tour inside Taman Mini, we took a Blue Bird taxi again (there are many lined up waiting inside the park) to get back to Pop! Hotel. There was a miscommunication though despite me showing the driver the printed address of our hotel. He totally got it wrong (I still am not sure if that was indeed unintentional) and took us to a pink hotel completely different from our green one. I quelled my irritation and just tried my best to communicate with him and finally we arrived back to Pop! The most annoying part was that he insisted on us paying the full amount on the meter despite his mistake. Needless to say, that was costly grr!
We were running out of time so I only managed to haggle down the price a bit. We hurried back to our room, packed our bags quickly, freshened ourselves a bit, checked out and hopped on another taxi to Gambir Station to catch the overnight train to Yogyakarta. I’ve never been on a train before, much less an overnight one, so despite that I only had 3 hours of sleep the past 36 hours, I still had energy left to get excited for Gambir Station.
Normally, you’d buy the tickets at the station on the day of your trip but since I can get paranoid sometimes, I found a way to reserve tickets online even before we got to Indonesia through Mau Ke Mana. Chris, the guy who runs it, was very helpful. Reservation with him was a straightforward process: I paid him via PayPal and he emailed me the e-tickets which I printed and exchanged for actual tickets at the Gambir Station ticket counter. I will post a more detailed account of this train trip later for your reference, promise.
After our tickets were sorted at the station, we quickly grabbed dinner at a fast food joint and proceeded to explore a bit and be amazed at the various trains arriving and leaving. So much fun! In no time, our train arrived, we settled in and let the train’s rolling motion lull us to sleep. The next day would find us in beautiful Yogyakarta.