A travel journal
to Java by Marianne
Quote: Banten, Carita, Rangkasbitung, Pelabuhanratu; all are cities quite close to Jakarta, but few tourists ever visit these places.
The gravestone of a 22-year-old housewife made me think of all the risks involved when living in the East Indies in the old days. I was wondering if her descendants in the Netherlands knew that she was here in this old Dutch graveyard in Banten.
In Rankgasbitung we found remnants of a tiled floor which once led from the main building to the coach house.
This may not sound very exciting to you, but Eduard Douwes Dekker, whose pseudonym is ‘Multatuli’, lived in this house. All Dutch people know that he was the author of ‘Max Havelaar’, if only because we are made to read this novel when we are in secondary education.
On the plane I had reread this novel in which he not only describes the political situation but he also describes in minute detail the house in which he lived. Unfortunately, it was pulled down in 1985.
Max Havelaar, a Dutch colonial administrator, witnesses the oppression of the local people and wants to improve their living. He reports the abuses to his superiors. but they don’t want to listen to him. In the end, Max Havelaar is removed from office.
This idealstic young hero who tried to change the system is a portrait of Eduard Douwes Dekkers himself. After he had been dismissed because he had exposed abuse, he wanted to rehabilitate himself and wrote ‘Max Havelaar’. The political impact of the book was enormous. Douwes Dekker was never rehabilitated but became famous as an author. Ironically enough, much later an official enquiry showed that Douwes Dekker’s allegation had been true.
Hotel | "Anugrah Transit Hotel, Jakarta"
The transition from a 12-hour flight, air conditioning, cramped economy seat, to the hot humid air and the hustle and bustle of the airport is not without some effect. I was quite lethargic, not my usual self, and surrendered to the cowboy taxi driver, but was assertive enough to haggle down from $US25 to US$7, still far too expensive for a 5km ride. I don’t begrudge my generosity and hope he will use it for school fees or school uniforms for his children. Without a uniform children can''t go to school.
The Anugrah is a budget hotel. We paid 105.000 rupiahs (12 euro) for a fairly large, air conditioned room, one twin bed and one single bed. So this price is actually for three persons, free tea and coffee, and a bathroom with mandi (a large watertank which is filled with water--only cold). With a plastic saucepan you scoop out water and pour it all over yourself. Simple and efficient. Breakfast is included: two slices of bread, boiled egg, banana, coffee, or tea.
The hotel has free transportation to and from the airport, but we didn’t need that as we had to go to Kalideres bus station for all west-bound destinations.
From the main road in front of the hotel a number 95 Kopaja bus goes to Kalideres. The main terminal for buses to Merak and Sumatra, Labuan and Serang. The bus fare is 1000 rupiah (10 euro cent)
We were twice in this hotel and neither time could the taxi driver find it. The Komplex Taman in the address is important. Your driver will probably drop you in a transit hotel on Jalan Husein Sastra, which is a very noisy place on a busy road. This hotel is on your left hand side when you come from the airport. So if your driver stops here tell him to go another 500m. On your right you will see newly built houses and shops, this is Komplex Taman.
It is not very difficult to find some restaurants. On the main road, your back to Komplex Taman, turn left. That’s the way you came from the airport. Walk to the cross roads and turn left. You will pass 50 or more warungs (simple restaurants) if they are not to your liking, walk on until you see on your right a brightly lit restaurant. I can’t remember the name but you’ll find it. It’s impossible to miss. They serve good nasi goreng and other Indonesian dishes.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on April 4, 2003
Anugrah Transit Hotel
Jalan Husein Sastra Negara no. 72, Komp Taman Mahko
(62) 21 543 95122
Peningapan Is at the bottom end of the scale. Only a bed and if you are lucky a fairly decent mandi, which is an Indonesian shower. It is a huge container filled with water. Water is scooped out and you pour it over yourself.an that’s the way the shower works.
Losmen derived from the Dutch word ‘logement’, lodging, is a simple hotel, sometimes with an attached bathroom. Never a ‘real’ shower, always a mandi. There is no hot water. If you are lucky there is a table and a chair, but no other furniture.
Wisma and Pondok are slightly more upmarket than a losman. Better furnished but still no hot water.
At the top end of the scale are hotels which van rival with hotels in Europe, US or Australia. It’s the price which shows in which country you are. Although in Jakarta some of the big chain hotels may charge up to $ 300 per night
Peniginapan and losman
We quickly inspected our room, no leaking roof, no creepy crawlies. Sunset View
Hotel is a fairly basic hotel. During the week you are probably the only guest in the hotel. On Thursday evenings, the first few guests from Jakarta arrive. There are more arrivals on Friday and by Saturday the place is crowded. On Sunday afternoons most people return home. Mondays are unusually quiet, and not all beach warungs are open. However, when you ask them, they are always glad to prepare a meal. It may take some time as they will have to go and buy the ingredients first.
Our room was sparsely furnished: two beds, one table, one chair, and just enough space to put our luggage. We also had a separate mandi room--an Indonesian-type bathroom. The mandi is a tiled tub filled with water. With a small plastic saucepan, you scoop up water and pour it over the body parts you want to wash. When the water in the mandi runs down, you fill it up, but there is only a cold water tap. The mandi and the squat toilet are both raised up several centimetres off of the floor. There is drainage in the floor, so you can dump a scoop full of water anywhere and it eventually drains out.
It takes some practice to wash your hands; take a scoop, pour water over your hands, one at a time. Put down the scoop and pick up the soap. Don’t rinse your hands in the mandi but take out scoops of water and pour this over your right hand. Take the scoop in your left hand and now you can rinse your right hand. Usually I do this over the toilet, then the water drains out. As your hands get cleaner, take more scoops and clean the handle of the scoop while holding it. Never rinse your soapy hands or the scoop in the mandi. The water in the mandi should remain clean.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 9, 2003
Sunset View Hotel
Hotel | "Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, Terminal 2E"
The hotel is right above the arrival gate of the international part of the airport. The hotel itself is not signposted, but follow the signs to the meeting point at terminal 2E. Here on the second floor you will also find the hotel.
The rooms are pretty standard. You know, the same all over the world; double bed, well-equipped bathroom, TV, writing desk and mirror in front of it, minibar, and room service. I don’t like these hotels as they are the same all over the world, but I can’t deny that they are very comfortable after a long flight.
From my window I could see arrivals and departures, which I love to see because I think planes are beautiful. I didn’t hear them, or rather hardly heard them: double glazing!
The TV showing online flight schedules was very handy.
We had a light meal in their restaurant, which was good but rather pricey. We didn’t try out the message service or bar, but might do so next time.
There are three types of rooms which you can book for a mini-stay (max 6 hours) or overnight including breakfast.
For a mini-stay, prices range from US$50–$90, for overnight US$90-$175.Check-in is at 4:00pm, and check-out is at 11:00am.These prices are inclusive of 21% government and service tax. They accept credit cards but you can also pay in rupiahs. I’m sure they accept US dollars or euros as well, but I didn’t ask.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 20, 2003
Quality Hotel Bandara Jakarta
Terminal 2E, Hatta International Airport
Soekarno, Jakarta 19110
(0) 21 559 0008
Hotel | "Baka Baka"
Carita is just one long road along the beach with hotels on both sides. At weekends it is a popular place for people who live in Jakarta.
I had read the descriptions of hotels in my guidebook but had not became any wiser. As all of them seemed to be more or less the same. All of them quite modest. With the exception of a 4-star hotel: the Pantai Carita Resort but the beach front is a rocky reef and not very good for swimming.
The bus dropped us in front of the Baka Baka Hotel. So we went in to have a look. We were welcomed most warmly and many of the staff wanted to practice their English so it took some time before we could see the room.
The Baka Baka Hotel is on the beach and consists of a largish building which serves as reception and dining room, dotted around it are cottages consisting of one room, a bathroom and a veranda. They were very clean furnished in the usual hotel style: two beds a table in between, a wardrobe, no coat hangers, a side table with a mirror and outside two easy chairs and a table. From here we a had a magnificent view over the ocean. Our room had a fan but there are also rooms with air-conditioning.
When we arrived the hotel was very quiet, there was no one. So we thought that everyone had gone for the day or was swimming. We went to inspect the beach, beautiful and sandy. As far as my eye reached there was nobody.
Later on I learned that seaside hotels in Java are empty mid week but full at weekends. And indeed on Thursday night the first few guests started to arrive. There were more on Friday and on Saturday the place was almost full. On Monday we were the only ones left and had the place to ourselves.
The dining room overlooks the ocean and when it is dark there are tiny lights visible.
Fishermen go out in the evening on rickety bamboo constructions to catch fish.
It is here that we had kopi luak. When we had finished we were asked if the coffee had been to our liking. And then we were told that this coffee is very special. The luak is a kind of cat endemic in Java, Sumatra and Sulawesi. The luak will eat the best and perfectly matured coffee berries. They pass through the cat’s digestive system and are excreted. Plantation workers collect the beans which are now ready for roasting. We had really enjoyed the taste of this coffee and order a second one.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 20, 2003
Hotel Carita Baka Baka
Jalan Raya Carita Km 9
Labuan, Pandeglang, Banten 42264
Krakatau Volcano erupted in 1883 with devastating effects. The sky became as dark as ink, people thought the end of the world had come. Devastating tidal waves swept away coastal parts of West Java, and many people were killed. Fine ashes went with the wind and settled down as far as New York City. Krakatau itself disappeared completely, in its place "Anak Krakatau" appeared, Krakatau’s child, an extremely active young volcano.
This can be visited from Carita. Small boats will take you to the volcano. This trip will take three to four hours. It is not difficult at all to find "agents" who organize these trips. The moment you step out of your hotel, peopele will ask if you are are interested in their trip. With your guide you can climb Krakatau. This is a strenous trip, as the soil is soft, a mixture of sand, lava, and ashes. Then there is a three- to four-hour boat trip back. If the sea is rough it may take longer. I had a good look at the boats--they were VERY small, so I decided against the trip.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 4, 2003
On my way, I passed paddy fields which reached as far as the sea. When I walked past, bent figures stretched themselves: "Where are you going?" It is not a question, it is a greeting. "Jalan, jalan," was my answer--going for a stroll. The palm trees were softly rustling in the wind. A sun-dappled path was in front of me. A gentle breeze rippled the surface of the sea. White pieces of coral were washed ashore. Shells glistened in the bright sun. Crabs were running fast across the wet sand and disappeared.
A sudden gust of wind made me shiver. White-crested, pounding waves, the sea claiming more land. The waiter brings coffee and points at the sea: "Nyai Loro Kudul’s realm.""The Queen of the South Seas?"
A little later he accompanies me to room number 308. Soft light streams in through the windows. The room is pleasantly cool. In the wardrobe robes, green robes, her robes. A dressing table with half empty bottle of shampoo, scent, yellow flowers. The bed cover is green. Offerings on a low table and above it her portrait.
"D’you know her story?" I shake my head. "She was King Siliwangi and Queen Kardita’s daughter. Mother and daughter were very beautiful. King Siliwangi’s other wives could not stand this and cursed them. They were bereft of their beauty and the king banned them from his palace. Mother and daughter were wandering about, the mother dies of hardship and Nyai Loro Kudul arrived here in Pelabuhanratu. She could hear the beautiful singing of the sea nymphs and was enchanted." He steps on to the balcony. "Can you see those rocks? That’s where she jumped into the sea.""She wanted to die," I said. He nods. "But she didn’t die, she became the Queen of the South Seas. She drags everyone down, to her watery realm. Green is her favorite colour. Don’t wear green." I think about the sudden gust of wind and look at my green T-shirt.
"Don’t challenge her. Wear no green. She rules the ocean."
I had heard stories about the Queen of the South Seas and had been told that many people, also foreigners, had drowned when swimming in the ocean. I had dismissed the "drowning stories" and thought to myself, "inexperience swimmers." Now that I have seen her room and heard her story, I can imagine why people fear her.
Ask the receptionist to show you room 308. You pay a fee and you wait 15–20 minutes as the room must be prepared. Offerings are put down in front of her painting and the air conditioning is switched. Once the room is at a pleasant temperature, you are escorted to her room. You can stay as long as you like and take as many photos as you wish.
Nyai Loro Kudul, The Queen of the South Sea
Samudra Beach Hotel
Did she die of malaria or typhoid fever or in childbirth? She had probably just arrived in the Dutch East Indies. For a short time I sit on her grave and contemplate.
In her days, Banten was a lively little town and an important center of transport, especially for spices: pepper, nutmeg, cloves.
These days Banten is a sleepy village, which comes alive on the weekends when day-trippers/pilgrims from Jakarta come to visit the Mesjid Agung, the big mosque and the tombs of the sultans of Banten.
The first thing you see is the Kaibon Palace. In spite of recent restoration work, it is still more a ruin than a palace. On Saturdays the alun alun, the central square, is full of warungs where you can eat, talk, and smoke--favorite pasttimes of all Indonesians.
The Mesjid Agung dates back to the 16th century. It has a three-tiered roof and the minaret is curious to say the least. It is not a slender finger pointing towards the sky, rather it is a plump tower which I mistakenly had taken to be a lighthouse. A spiral staircase leads up to a balcony from which you''ll get a breathtaking view. From here you can clearly see that the harbor has become silted up. It was once bigger and more important than the harbor of Jakarta.
Next to the mosque is Keraton Sarowosan, the Sultan’s palace, but only the outer walls remain. The bathrooms in the palace had clean, running water . . . An ingenious system of aqueducts and water tanks 2km long, brought fresh water from Tasikardi, an artificial lake which was fed by numerous mountain streams. Tasikardi was once the Sultan’s Water Palace, where he and his family would relax. It was surrounded by Royal Pavilions, all gone today.
These days, Taskardi is a boating lake and picnic place. It is well worth the 2km walk (and 2km back again, of course!). Along the route you will see two small brick buildings with arched roofs. These were used to filter the water. The bricks are Dutch. They were brought over from Holland on the ships as ballast, so that the ship was deeper in the water and would not list. On the way back, the ships were laden with spices and other products from the east.
North west of the mosque is the European graveyard and Fort Speelwijck, which was part of the city’s defense. A few crumbling walls are all that remain.
There are no hotels in Banten. We were staying in Serang, a pleasant provincial town, 10km to the east. We took a public minibus to get to Banten--a 30-minute ride.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on April 4, 2003
Centre of Banten
If you arrive on an internal flight you will have to collect your luggage and check in again for your intercontinental flight. This way you will have to pay airport tax twice. It can’t be avoided. Airport Tax for an intercontinental flight 100.000 rupiahs (10 euro)Airport tax for internal flights leaving from Bali is 20.000 rupiah (2.17 euro) and leaving from any airport on Java 15.000 rupiah (1.63 euro). Generally speaking all Bali prices are slightly higher than on Java.
Check in for most airlines begins three hours before departure. There is not much to do in the departure hall.
At terminal 2E we had a very good nasi campur, rice accompanied by satay and vegetables in coconut sauce. Don’t miss out on their avocado juice, it is composed of sweetened condensed milk, chocolate sauce, and pureed avocado. Rich and filling, and highly recommended.
Once we had cleared customs we wanted to spend our last rupiahs. This was fairly difficult as most shops want you to pay in US dollars.Batik Keris (selling souvenirs and batik) accepts rupiahs, but their prices are inflated as are the prices in the snack bars. But this holds good for airports world-wide. All other shops accepts US dollars only. Even though the Batik Keris prices were inflated I bought some lovely souvenirs: Batik sarongs and a wayang puppet.
Jakarta Airport is situated 35 kilometres west of Jakarta. I can recommend two transit hotels Anugrah a budget hotel 5 kilometres from the airport and Quality Hotel Bandara Jakarta in terminal 2E if you want more comfort.
Soekarno Hatta Airport for a detailed description and maps.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on April 5, 2003
Soekarno-Hatta Airport Jakarta