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Java island

Java (Jawa) is an island of Indonesia and the site of its capital city, Jakarta. Once the center of powerful Hindu-Buddhist kingdoms, Islamic sultanates, and the core of the colonial Dutch East Indies, Java now plays a dominant role in the economic and political life of Indonesia. Home to a population of 130 million in 2006, it is the most populous island in the world. Java is also one of the most densely populated regions on Earth.


The Taksaka Pagi
Take the train through Java from Yogyakarta

Several of the journeys by train on the island of Java are seen as one of the most wonderful trips you can make by train on this planet. Whether this is really the case is more a personal opinion, but there are indeed some trips that will offer you splendid views, that is for sure. One of those journeys you can make with the Taksaka Pagi that leaves from Yogyakarta in Central Java at 10:00.

No delays here because Yogyakarta is the starting point of this train. After it has been parked on the correct track, the 500 seats in the carriages can be filled with passengers to the train can depart from Stasiun Tugu, at just a stones' thrown of the ever popular Jalan Malioboro as scheduled.

The train starts it's journey with a long stretch towards the west. The train uses a recently renovated double track that runs through a flat landscape. The double track doesn't run all the way to Jakarta though, the destination of this train. However progress has been made in recent year, a bit part of the journey still uses the single track and waiting is sometimes inevitable.
Through an almost flat landscape with rice paddies in all kinds of colors you pass the city of Kebumen as well as many of the smallest train stations like Gombong and Tambak when headed to Kroya. This city itself is not of very much importance, but the train will have to make a choice here. You can go to Cilacap from here, but mos trains will turn towards the north to continue their journey to the capital.

Just past this turning point, the train will hit another one, but this one is one of more natural origin. Slowly the locomotive tugs the carriages into the hills, ending up passing narrow bridges, valleys and around the highest peaks. By then the train is approaching the city of Purwokerto. The train passes the city on the western side after which it continues it's journey through the foothills of the Mount Slamet volcano.

At some places are deep valleys lined with bamboo and other high - but not old - trees. At the very bottom is a mud-brown river that transports the abundant water in an effective way. During the wet season it will look much greener than during the dry season, but that should not spoil your trip at all. During the wet season you might as well see a flooded river during your trip.

Once past the mountains the train enters the flat lowlands on the northern side of the island. The fist big city where the train stops is Cirebon. This is also the last official stop that the train will make before it enters the metropolitan area of Jakarta, but that is still several hours away. In the mean while you can enjoy the trip through searing hot lowlands filled with rice paddies and a village every once in a while.

The further the train heads west, the more people live on a square kilometer. You will start to see this, especially when you have passed Cikampek. Million of people living close together are the cause that rice fields here have been replaced with concrete shop-houses, streets with holes, piles of trash and people everywhere.

Starting from the city of Bekasi, the train slows down. Many railroad crossings, masses of waiting people are the main cause of this. The train driver has to use it's horn frequently to tell people to get off the tracks when passing local markets, suburbs and slum areas before it reaches the capital. More of the same here, but from the stop at the train station of Jatinegara it all get's slightly better.

The last couple of minutes the train runs straight through the heart of Jakarta, mostly several meters above street level. You can see the skyscrapers that have become a brand of Jakarta as the economical heart of the country in recent years. If you look straight down from the train you will still be able to see colonial structures like residences and of course the sluice gate at Manggarai, directly along the track.

As the train enters Gambir train station, there are dozens of porters in their distinctive yellow shirts eagerly waiting until they can jump onto the train through the door that is opened first. They will be glad to help you carry your suitcase and luggage. If you travel with the Taksaka - or any other eksekutif class train, only passengers are allowed to be on the train during stops at stations. When you see them inside, you know the train has really reached it's final destination.

The entire trip from Yogyakarta costs 280,000 Rupiah per person (22 euro) and takes about eight hours. You will get a decent chair which can be put in sleeping mode. During the journey, staff will offer you food and drinks several times, prices are reasonably cheap. Beer is also available on board. If you want to have something to ear or drink when staff is not serving, please find your way to the restaurant wagon in the middle of the train. They will be happy to serve you there.


Last revised on March 21, 2010
    
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 JAVA ISLAND PICTURES


12 pictures in this gallery 
 CITIES IN JAVA
 TEMPLES IN INDONESIA
 PEOPLE OF JAVA

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