Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by mumunmumun on 1 November 2011 • Blog
Although I have already stated that Ojegs are my transportation of choice, I must admit I have a soft spot for Becaks. Becak is a bicycle kind of contraption made to transport 1 person or more depending how well you can pack yourselves in one. Because it’s a cycling device, the driver basically cycles you around. It’s similar to the rickshaw but more humane, should we call it that.
I love Becaks because I’m not always in a hurry when I’m traveling. I like to travel slow sometimes and savor the local ambience of the area I’m visiting. While walking can definitely fulfill that and is for free, becaks gives me a different kind of feeling. It’s like seeing a town is slow motion, not in real time as does walking or fast forwards as on a fuel run engines. And to pay a relatively small amount of money is totally worth it, especially to a local that is working hard for it. Seriously, when you see the faces of the drivers when they’re pushing you up a hill, you would want to hug the guy and apologies for eating that extra chocolate cake last night.
An interesting thing about becaks is, they’re different in every area you visit in Indonesia. They’re even different between cities on the same island. I re-noticed this when road tripping from Jakarta to Bali a few years back and have been noticing ever since. I don’t really know if there is a certain pattern in the changes between cities. All I know is that some are wider than others, some have a smaller hood, and some actually have modified to ‘bentor’ or becak motor or becaks with a motor engine as we have found in Toraja and Banda Aceh. This still counts as becaks because they drive slower than ojegs.
To be honest, if I had more time on my hands during my travels, and I was a sadist with a whip in my purse everywhere I go, I would use becak for sightseeing in every city I visit all the time. I love the mild wind in my hair while witnessing a city pass by. I love talking to the becak driver as he accompanies me through my first experience of the area in a laid back tempo and without having to shout a lot. Most of all, I love the fact that this aged transportation media is environmentally friendly.
So have a go with becaks. If you’re physically larger than the average Indonesian, trust me, you will come to a point where you don’t have the heart to continue your travels on a becak. But it’s a great experience knowing how hard the Indonesians work sometimes. And for a better experience, why don’t you hop in the drivers seat and give the driver a day off while you give him a ride.