Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by viravira on 18 September 2010 • Trip
In several provinces of Indonesia, this public transportation actually has different names, but it is widely known as “angkot”, short from “angkutan kota”, which means ‘city/town transportation’. It’s called “pete-pete” (read: pay-tay pay-tay) in Makassar, “bemo” in Kupang, “mikrolet” for some routes in Jakarta, and “taksi” (which literally means ‘taxi’) in some places in Sumatera.
Although it has many names, you can spot angkots by the vehicle type. They turn minibuses or minivans into this public transports and usually paint them with distinguished colors such as green, pink, red, spotlight blue, etc. Beside the driver’s seat there’s a spot for one or two passengers, just like in any regular cars. But the seating arrangement for the rest of passengers in the back is usually turned sideways, that is 2 rows of seats (and by seats I mean a long bar with minimum upholstery) facing each other. In some cities, like Manado and Balikpapan, the seats are all facing front.
Angkots carry you to places within a city or between cities, it depends on the route that each serves. They usually have the routes written on the front and back window of the car, and some cities code the routes with numbers, or letters combined with numbers, and some also with colors of the car. For instance, in Bandung there’s a route between Abdul Muis terminal and Cicaheum terminal with code # 01 and the car’s painted green with yellow stripes on the sides, and there’s a route between Antapani and Ciroyom terminals with no numeric code, but it’s always the cream colored cars with green stripes on the sides.
Angkots have their own terminals. But they’re not really provided with sufficient and convenient angkot halts, so you can just basically stop them and hop on them wherever you want on the streets. This actually has become a problem to the city traffic, especially the busy ones like Bandung, where angkot also becomes the main public transport, because it often causes traffic jams or simply chaos. So, to sort of help reduce this inconvenience, I suggest that you walk a little more distance from the crossroads to stop and hop on an angkot.
These private owned public transports would often park in the corners of the streets or crossroads to wait for passengers (this is called “ngetem”, read: nguh-tem). Sometimes they wait until the seats are all taken, which can take time between 3 minutes to half an hour depending on how busy the route and hour is, sometimes they just take off with only 1 or 2 passengers.
The fare? Well, now this is the hard part. There isn’t really a fixed rate, but it’s not to be haggled. Usually it ranges from IDR 1,000 to 6,000, depending on how far your ride is. And the same distance could mean different fare in different cities. What I would do when I’m not sure how much the fare is, I’d just hand IDR 5,000 or 10,000 bill to the driver and they’d give me the change. Best way to know and not get ripped off is ask your trusted local friends.
Sometimes angkot drivers go with their sidekicks, called the ‘kenek’ (read: cuh-neck). A kenek sits or hangs (literally) at the back door of the car (and by back door I mean on the left side in the back of the car, where passengers would hop on and off of the angkot). And his job is to collect fares, call in passengers from the streets, and tell passengers to scooch over and give rooms for others.
A kenek would collect the fare before passengers hop off, so he’d ask you where you’d stop to determine how much you should pay. This helps to save time and traffic disturbance, compared to when you pay after hopping off. In the case where there’s no kenek in the angkot, every deal is done with the driver. You get off and then hand the money to them.
How do you ask the angkot to stop? Simply just by saying “kiri” (read: kee-ree), which means ‘left’. And then it’ll pull over to the left side of the street, because cars go on the left side here in Indonesia. Some angkots are equipped with a buzz, that you can just press the button attached to the ceiling. Some angkots’ ceilings are wooden layered, that you can just tap twice or thrice to let the driver or kenek know that you’re stopping.
For more info on angkot routes in Bandung, a friend of ours has summarized it for you at http://www.transportasiumum.com/content/rute-angkot-bandung (she’s still working on the English version, but I think you can get the idea).