How to Get Around in Salatiga

Getting around a new area can be pretty challenging when you are new. Some places, it’s harder to learn then others. For example, never drive through Ashville, NC cold turkey. Have a local drive you, for the first year, or more. Not even a GPS will help you save your soul from the devil roads there.

Even then, in the US, the transportation options locally are pretty obvious. Cars. Rent, borrow, buy, or whatever. Of course, there are green options, and if you live in a big city, those are more practical then in country, like say West Texas. Some of those green options include ride a bike, walk, take public transportation etc. Of course, if you can, I recommend the green options. Don’t tell Joy, but I think I’d enjoy riding my bike (which is somewhere in a boat right now rockin it’s way across the Pacific) around Salatiga more then my motorcycle, at least for most stuff.

Getting around here in Salatiga is not that bad though. There are quite a few options for the traveler. Some are greener then others. Some are cheaper then others.

First, there is walking. Nothing is far, but nothing is close either. Plan on spending half the day walking, and you can get everything done. You may get wet, but you will get there.

The second most common method is riding the “angkota.” It’s the public transportation. Combine this with walking and quite literally, the whole city is open to you. And the whole city will ride with you too. Great chance to make friends and learn Indonesian!Once you’ve been here about 10 seconds, you will realize that the vast majority of people here get around on scooters. There are a few varieties.

The Classic: Vespa.The Modern: Mio.The Old School Hotrod: ???The Utilitarian: Motortruck. (I named it that myself.) It’s a motorcycle with pickup bed and two wheels on the back. This one was made into a mini food stand. I want one for hauling kids around in a few years.

Of course, business, like moving furniture or produce to market, or goats, or friends is much more easily done with a small truck. There are plenty of big ones too, but here is one kind you will see a lot around town.For the folks who just can’t quite afford the $100-$500 down payment on a scooter, you can buy a good old bike. This kind is actually fairly well integrated into Javanese culture here whereas scooters seem to be considered more a young person thing.No city is complete without it’s taxi services. There isn’t a bigbox taxi service here, but more private ventures. Their vehicles are pretty old too. There is the dokar, which is a little two wheeled horse cart. Those poor horses are so skinny, but they get the job done.And then there is the becak. Becaks are pretty amazing. The drivers are always these skinny little guys, but they manage to get their fully loaded becaks up and down the hills. More often then not, I see them pushing the carts up hills, but they still get there.Naturally, cars are here too, but not nearly as many as there are scooters. Cars are rich people items, and you get to see some fancy ones too. That being said, cars are still the most comfortable way to get a family of kids around town for westerners.And finally, if you want to get from Salatiga to another town, there are buses all over the place that are more then happy to haul you to the destination of your choice, as long as that destination is also painted at the top of the windshield of the bus. Speaking of painting, most of the buses also have paintings of women on the side in varying degrees of sketchiness. When I took this picture, I hadn’t actually looked at the painting yet, and Joy asked me why I had taken the picture. Then I realized that this was perhaps the most sketchy paint job I had seen yet. So I gave her some coverup before putting her in the blog here.

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