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Travel, Teach, Live in Asia

Train Traveling in Indonesia
By:Anthon Jackson

Indonesia is an archipelago nation with thousands of islands, only two of which have reliable rail service. Even at that, "reliable" might be a stretch for Sumatra. Java on the other other hand is well-connected by rails. Spice up your travel through Indonesia by soaking up the countryside, meeting locals and practicing your Bahasa Indonesia language skills in a lively rail car.

Timetables & Tickets
The national train operator in Indonesia is PT Kereta Api (www.infoka.kereta-api.com). All Indonesian train schedules and timetables can be found on their website. Purchasing tickets can only be done at the ticket booths located in each station.

Although there is no one rail system covering the whole island, Sumatra has a few scattered rail services. For crossing from Medan to Panjang (where you can catch the ferry to Merak in Java) by rail, you will have complement your train travel with local buses. From Medan you can take two buses, first to Padang and another to Palembang, and from there you can catch a train at Kertapati Station to Panjang. For a more roundabout route, you can take the train from Medan to Kisaran, bus from Kisaran to Tanjungbalai, and then ferry from Kisaran to Batam to Palembang.

The island of Java has the most extensive system of rails in Indonesia, linking most of its larger cities. Jakarta, Indonesia's capital and largest rail hub, has two major train stations of which rail travelers should be aware. Jakarta Kota, (usually written "Jakaratakota"), is the one closest to the old colonial center of the city. Jakarta Gambir (often written as just "Gambir") is set in Jakarta's modern downtown. The most common rail connections from Jakarta are Bandung and Surabaya.

Jakarta to Surabaya
Connecting Jakarta with Surabaya on Java are several different rail lines and routes, the most comfortable being the Argo Bromo Anggrek line, which has executive seats only. The trip can be made either during the day or time-efficiently overnight, although there are no sleeper berths.

There are generally three class options for Indonesian trains, particularly on Java. The classes are executive (eksecutif), business (bisnis) and economy (ekonomi). For the first two classes, seating is spacious and reservations are mandatory. Only executive cars have air-conditioning. Executive seats recline and come with footrests. Executive trains can be recognized by the name "Argo." Economy seating is generally crowded as no reservations can be made except for on a certain few long-haul trips.

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