I’m a huge believer in sustainable travel, so whenever possible, I try to take public transportation. In Indonesia, this can be a bit of a challenge.

For one thing, English isn’t widely spoken, so even in the Jakarta city train stations, it’s pretty difficult to figure out where to go. When I attempted to use the trains last time I was here several years ago, I was able to communicate with a station worker to find out what platform I needed to go to, but then the platform changed, and I guess they probably announced it and I obviously didn’t understand it, because I was standing on a platform when I realized that the train departing on the other tracks was the train I should have boarded.

When I was lucky enough to actually get on the right train, I found out that they are not always the greatest option for solo female travelers, so train travel was off the table despite my best efforts to make it work.

Other transportation options are available but they can be difficult to navigate without official route maps, as is the case with the angkots, which are like local minibuses.  I had taken them frequently in the past between my house and a nearby mall, as it was a straight shot a few minutes down the road, and the concept is simple enough: Climb on board, hang on tight, say “kiri” (left) when you get to your destination, and pay as you get off.

On this most recent trip to Indonesia, I decided to be adventurous and try to take the angkots to a mall that would have otherwise been about a 30-minute drive.

The trip there was a little nerve-wracking, but I had Google Maps to help me when the first angkot dropped me off halfway to the mall, and I quickly found a different angkot that was going in the right direction.

The ride home was much more interesting, and it basically amounted to me accidentally jumping into an off-duty angkot and getting a private ride from the driver and his family who were with him.

I shared more details in the video below.

I’ve taken dozens of angkot rides since my trip to that mall, but I can honestly say none of them have been as interesting, and I doubt I’ll ever have an angkot story to top this one!

Love, Elizabeth

Do you have any interesting public transportation stories? Share in the comments below!