Manila? Nope. Jakarta!
Moments before touchdown in Jakarta, I could see several planes queuing for take-off, very much-like the situation at our main gateway, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. There is one striking difference though, and that is, while something is being done to ease up the situation there, nothing is being done at NAIA.
Arrival Card and Customs Declaration Form
All AirAsia flights to/from Jakarta use the new Terminal 3 of the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport. At its current state (it is due for expansion), it looks and feels like the Iloilo International Airport. The terminal boasts of simple and modern contemporary architecture dominated by large glass windows with metal frames and columns.
Jakarta Airport Terminal 3 is not equipped with passenger boarding bridges (aerobridges), so aircraft are parked at a remote parking bay and we were made to take a bus that would take us to the arrival hall.
The immigration check counters are next. No questions asked. With an entry stamp in the passport, my debut in Indonesia became official. ASEAN citizens do not need a visa to enter Indonesia. Cheers!
Arrival Baggage Claim Area
After immigration check and baggage claim, passengers would have to pass through customs inspection. All good.
Welcome to Indonesia!
There was no one picking me up upon arrival, but prior to this trip, I did a quick research regarding my transportation options. The Terminal has pretty good public transportation services to get passengers out of the airport. As I got out of the building, I was greeted by a heavy downpour, great! Well, the thought of my first day getting marred by rain is depressing, actually.
Be alert as you exit the terminal building as touts will crowd around you. Don’t panic. They’re harmless. Whatever they say and offer, just be polite, flash a smile and walk away. They will try to follow you and attempt their best to get you to come with them, but don’t trust whatever they say.
How To Get Out of Jakarta Airport Terminal 3:
Soekarno-Hatta International Airport is located about 20 kilometers west of the Jakarta city center. The airport has directional signs wherever you look so you will definitely not get lost in this airport.
BUS: The cheapest option. DAMRI Bus has a tiny booth outside the terminal building (well basically just a few seats and a table with an employee selling tickets). The last Damri bus to Jakarta leaves from the airport at around 11pm. The bus is marked “Gambir”, a train station in Central Jakarta. From there, you can take a taxi, bajaj (auto-rickshaw) or ojek (motorcycle taxi: negotiate. A ride to a nearby destination should not cost more than 25,000 IDR) to your hotel. The ride costs 25,000 IDR (PHP 94). Simply tell the person at the counter that you want a ticket and then wait. Usually, barkers will just yell “Gambir… Gambir…” when your bus is coming, so keep a close eye on every Damri bus that comes.
I did not take the bus.
TAXI: As mentioned earlier, touts will convince you to take their “taxi service”, however, only go with the trusted taxi companies: Blue Bird (blue), Express (white), Taxiku (yellow) or Gamya (green). Locals know this, so you would probably have to queue before you could ride (well, there actually wasn’t any space for us to queue, so we were given “priority numbers” written on a piece of paper. Listen intently, as more often than not, they’ll be calling the numbers in Bahasa Indonesia. Good thing I downloaded a basic Bahasa Indonesia guide app on my phone before this trip). The taxi counter can easily be spotted outside the terminal building. The taxi ride would cost you approximately 150,000-200,000 IDR (PHP 567-755)
I took the taxi. Even while it was still raining so hard, the ride seemed to be smooth-sailing. We passed through beautiful gardens in the airport complex, and then entered the expressway. The toll fee is to be shouldered by the passenger. 15000 IDR (PHP57).
BUT EXPRESSWAY MY *SS!
Flooding on the expressway. Manila isdatchu?
Expressway? Traffic was awful! The worst traffic jam I’ve experienced so far. A few minutes later, a traffic police on motorcycle seemed to be helping ease out the traffic situation by directing vehicles to stick to their lanes, BUT, later on, a convoy of black cars with their hazard lights on overtook the non-moving traffic. Sh*t! WANG-WANG! Hahaha!
Anyway, I won’t rant any further. I arrived at Tune Hotel Pasar Baru three hours and thirty minutes since I left the airport. The taxi meter read 184000 IDR (PHP 796), not bad at all, but the entire experience was so grueling, it wasn’t the ideal first impression of Jakarta I would want to recall. First regret: I SHOULD HAVE TAKEN THE BUS!
(…to be continued)