We had decided to take what appeared to be, on paper at least, a simple journey from Cianjur to Pangandaran – a seaside town on the South of Java – this would first require a Minibus journey from Cianjur to Bandung and then a Coach journey from Bandung to Pangandaran – sounds easy enough if not exactly idyllic.
The mini bus trip had been arranged through the homestay so all we had to do was get up and be ready for the bus – tick one, job done. The bus was due at eight so we had even had time for a bit of breakfast first, the bus did not arrive at eight or even quarter past – closer to half past eight it arrived then a two and a half hour journey to Bangdung not too bad in the scheme of things, this is Indonesia after all, but Bangdung had been described in the Lonely Planet as a ‘Little Paris’ – not really sure of which part of Paris it meant but being compared to Bangdung is not exactly complimentary as the parts we went through were quite scruffy but then some parts of Paris probably are as well.
The Bangdung bus station I would love to say, was a little diamond in the rough but it definitely was not that and we were here for a good while before the bus arrived to take us onwards. The journey from Bandung to Pangandaran was supposed to take six hours, it took nine hours and this was not the worst of it – the journey was horrendous!
First of all and possibly the worst part was the ‘bus hawkers’, the driver obviously had a ‘kickback’ every time he let some of these guys on and these guys simply jumped on once or twice each street corner . They were selling everything from dubious looking fruit to porn – not that I got a look in on either! Younger guys either felt obliged or were bullied into buying something, also there were the muslims after donations and again we did not get asked by these either but each time they came on board the entire journey slowed or even went backwards in some cases!
Another baddy was the beggars in the middle of the main roads – not sure which were worst here, either it was the guys who were after money for their dancing monkeys and they actually had the monkeys wearing masks (are these people right in their heads?) the others were the incredibly fat women, you know the kind, those that could actually afford to miss the odd snack or two – and these were begging for money too! Come on Indonesia, sort these people out!
Now it was not all bad I grant you that, we did get chatting to a very nice Indonesian guy who was taking his wife and kids back to a place near Pangandaran but besides that the journey was pretty grim and the weather outside matched the journey so we were not happy campers.
Finally after what seemed like three weeks after we started we finally reached Pangandaran bus station – well more of a bus stop quite a way outside the town itself. At this point we were accosted by a couple of trishaw riders who we agreed a price with to get us to our hotel. Now Liz had a young guy who seemed to move as quick as you can do with the potholes etc but my guy – if he was a racehorse he would have been shot a long time ago – I felt like I was travelling backwards but next gripe – when we reached Pangandaran ‘town’ proper through the town ‘turnstile’ – oh yes, we were actually charged. Okay the payment was not much but if this was going towards the roads someone was filling them with expensive air! Good people if you have been reading this then let me tell you this is not the final indignation we suffered this day. When we actually reached our hotel my Trishaw rider (not Liz’s) actually asked me for a tip, I told him no way as I probably would have got here much faster if I had walked and both parties parted company – welcome to the neighbourhood!
The hotel though was good and after a nice bite to eat and a walk along the sea front (including a beer and a bit of listening to some live music) all was back on an even keel.