Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Indonesia from Foreigner Perspective

This material is downloaded from travel brochure to Indonesia: Sweet Steam,
The last sugar cane trains on Java. You can pick the foreigner perspective about our country. One of the cited as follow: Please be prepared that in a country like Indonesia not everything will work as planned and/or paid for. The Indonesian (better to say the Asian) way to repair things with the help of primitive tools is amazing and will help us to fix some of the technical problems which may occur. Nggak tahu mau nangis atau bangga, akhirnya saya posting saja di blog ini!

Indonesia is the last stronghold of Dutch and German narrow gauge steam locomotives. But, this living museum of steam is not the only reason which makes Indonesia worth a visit. There are lots of ancient stationary steam engines inside the mills, some of them which have been working for more than 120 years.

Indonesia has changed rapidly over the last decade. Quite a lot of the sugar mills - in former times well protected from the international market – had to give up or try to produce more cost efficient. This is the reason why some of the sugar mills were closed and others converted from railway to road transport or – at least – to diesel hauled trains instead of steam. Although the recent government introduced new taxes to protect the domestic sugar industry and save labour for the workers in the mills, many mills have changed their system to bring in the cane. Given that the farmers around the mills are free in their decision which kind of crop they decide to growth, the system of field lines to the sugar cane fields had to be abandoned. At many places it’s more profitable to plant other crops than cane. So it was necessary for the factories to switch to road transport anyway, to reach sugar cane fields far away from the mill. Because new lines to other fields will not be constructed anymore, the truck was and is the only solution for a mill to survive.

Despite all the losses over the recent years you can still experience the largest variety of steam locomotives in the world in daily use during the harvest season. A handful of mills still uses steam to bring cane trains into the mills while others offer interesting and, sometimes, very extensive shunting in the large yards. Indonesia is for sure still a destination for the dedicated steam locomotive lover. But how long will it last....

On the tour we will experience Mallett locomotives as well as Luttermöllers or Klein-Lindner axle locos. A special highlight is the gear locomotive built by Orenstein & Koppel. If still serviceable, we will hire it for an afternoon of shunting operations. While this company seems to be omnipresent on the island, other producers, mostly non-existent any more, are still part of the greatest narrow gauge show in the world: Decauville, Schwartzkopff, Maffei, Orenstein&Koppel, Jung, Ducroo and Brauns, Hartmann and others.

The itinerary can only be a rough tour plan. You can never be sure that there‘ll be no derailment on the main junction of the factory, a change of traction (diesel instead of steam) or something else unpredictable.

06.07.2005: Departure Europe to Indonesia (Sunday)
07.07.2005: In the late afternoon meeting in Jakarta, continue to Cirebon
08.07.2005: In the morning we'll visit Tersana Baru. Shunting duties with steam and diesel, in the afternoon we'll continue to Sindanglaut, where all steam operation was ceased in 2003. We will try to steam up one of the two spare locomotives for a journey into the sugar cane fields and try to take over a part of the load of a diesel. Hotel in Tegal
09.07.2005: In the morning we'll start the day in Jatibarang, where a nice roundhouse with a turn table predominates the loco shed. Unfortunately nearly all field works went over to diesels while steam is still in use in the beautiful and large yard. Several interesting locomotives are dumped. We'll make a visit to the ancient machinery in the sugar mill as well. There are stationary boilers which are some 100 years old. The stationary steam engine powering nearly the whole mill. In the afternoon we'll continue to Pangkah. They're using steam for shunting and diesel into the fields. We will hire a train into the fields. However, the journey maybe short due to the bad overall condition of the small bridges on the line. Hotel in Tegal
10.07.2005: In the morning we'll visit the sugar mill Sumberharjo. Beside the diesels, several different types of steam locos are in use for shunting in the mill. Line work is nearly 100 % in the hand of diesels. Sometimes, the steam locos are used for field works too, but normally all loaded trains will be operated nocturnal. The afternoon is planned for the sugar mill Sragi. About half a dozen steam locomotives from various manufacturers are in use for shunting duties. There are also a dozen active diesels in Sragi. Hotel Nirwana Pekalongan
11.07.2005: In the morning we'll visit Sragi again. The morning light offers best conditions for photography in the depot.In the afternoon we'll enjoy the rack railway of Ambarawa, where we hired a train with the small B25 02 rack loco. After dawn we'll continue to Solo to our hotel.
12.07.2005: Today's plan is a visit to the sugar mill with the largest Luttermöller engine of Java: Tasik Madu. The impressive, 150 horse power engine has a six axle tender! In the evening we'll continue to Cepu. Mega Bintang Sweet Hotel in Cepu.
13.07.2005: The Cepu forestry railway sees only less than a dozen trains a year. These rare occasions are normally done in the rainy season when the ground is to soft for the trucks to carry the teak wood out of the plantations. So we will hire a train with one of the serviceable locomotives. We organised a real train, i. e. an empty train into the forest, a loading process there and a loaded train back to the timber yard. The trip will take the whole day. Hotel Kartika Abadi in Madiun.
14.07.2005: Around Madiun are several sugar mills. In the morning we'll visit Purwodadi. In the afternoon we will see the gear loco no. 10 of Rejosari, which will carry out some shunting in the yard. Hotel Kartika Abadi in Madiun.
15.07.2005: Today we have a full program. The early morning is planned for Pagottan (Luttermöller locomotives). At about 7.30 we'll continue to Kanigoro, where only one steam loco is still in use. It shares the work in the yard with two diesels. The late afternoon and the early evening are reserved for Merican. This is Java's last mill with 0-4-2s in regular service. Marican is also known for the sparks the locomotives producing while fired with bagasse. So we'll extend our stay until about 18.30 hrs for some night shots. Hotel in Mojokerto.
16.07.2005: On our way to the east we'll pass by Gempolkrep with its Luttermöller locos. They have an interesting shunting operation in a huge yard. Around noon we'll continue to Gunung (Mt.)Bromo, one of the active volcanoes of the island. Hotel Mount Bromo Permai, situated directly at the crater
17.07.2005: If you're going to Java you should not miss the spectacular view of the mount Bromo at sunrise. To experience this we have to get up very early. We will climb to the platform above the volcano to have the best view. You can also hire a 4WD Jeep for some 15 Euro to avoid he walk some 500 metres upwards. At noon we'll continue to Olean. Here we'll have the best chances for getting a loaded trains from the fields in front of our lenses. If there is no traffic on the day of our arrival (doe to the lack of fuel, an overhaul of the mill, a derailment in the yard or something else unpredictable) we'll continue to Asembagus, another mill with a chance for steam operated trains during daylight. Although they have only two serviceable steam locos (beside several diesels, they used both for line service in 2004. So the chances are not too bad for free line action.
18.07.2005: The full day is reserved for Olean and Asembagus with its interesting field work, which is the only mill with frequent free-line daylight steam. Hotel Situbondo
19.07.2005: Another day where we will visit Olean and Asembagus, according to the best operation. If you like you can also visit the sugar mill in Situbondo (Panji, 600 mm) which uses some tiny diesels for field workings. In the evening we're going to Jember. Hotel Bandung Permai
20.07.2005: For the morning we hired a steam hauled train in Semboro. As a special we'll see the last known fireless locos of Java, at least one of them in use in a part of the yard. In 2004 Semboro had two serviceable steam locos for spare, one Mallet and one Jung 0-6-0, built in 1961. As far as both of them are still serviceable, we'll hire them both, on for a morning train, the other for an afternoon journey. We won't use the tourist coaches, we'll haul real trains which we'll take over from the diesel locos. Semboro has still a large active network and uses tiny German diesels for pulling cane wagons out of the filed, while bulky, ugly Japanese diesels haul the trains on the partly double tracked main lines. On one of these lines we can use a steam loco. Hotel Bandung Permai, Jember
21.07.2005: In the morning we'll leave to the airport of Surabaya. Here we'll give back our hired cars and fly to Jakarta. There we'll take our international flight back to Europe.
22.07.2005: Arrival in Frankfurt/Main

This particular tour follows other rules than our tours to China, India or Burma for example. Our route may differ from the above itinerary in order to get as many good pictures of steam trains as possible. On the way, side trips to historical or other places of interest are always possible. If agreed, the group may separate and meet together later. We will travel by up to four hired jeeps which will give us a maximum of flexibility for special requests of some group members. It is possible to have a local driver for those who won’t drive by themselves. This service will cost extra (140 Euro each).

We will choose the hotels by their distance to the next steam mill, not according to the offered standard. We will have small but mostly clean hotels with air condition and a private bath room. Not all the hotels will have a bath, sometimes you’ll find a typical Indonesian “Mandi”. A Mandi is a small water reservoir in the bath room from which you can pour fresh water over your head. This will be more refreshing after a hot day than a medium warm, thin water ray out of a shower. European style toilets are not common in Indonesia. The chosen hotels will have a European style toilet, but in restaurants on the way or at railway stations for example you should expect Asian (or you may also say French) style lavatories.

On many days we’ll get up very early (before 6.00 am!) and will leave without breakfast. The best time for photography is the early morning between six and nine and the late afternoon between three and sunset around 17.30 hrs. The time in between is, according to the high sun, not rewarding for photography, even the dedicated video film maker wouldn’t be happy with the results during the noon time. We’ll rather use the noon time for a delayed breakfast or lunch. You can also enjoy a bath in the sea when we’re are close to a beach. Because of the active volcanoes on the island the beaches offer black instead of white sand. The sea itself may be polluted near the cities.

Please be prepared that in a country like Indonesia not everything will work as planned and/or paid for. The Indonesian (better to say the Asian) way to repair things with the help of primitive tools is amazing and will help us to fix some of the technical problems which may occur. Whatsoever, you never can be sure that the most important switch of the yard isn’t blocked by a derailed train, the mill run out of fuel a day before our arrival, and so on. The whole traffic could be stopped by such a problem. In such a case we’ll try to head for another mill. Sometimes it might be impossible to get pictures and the only thing you can do is to relax and drink a cup of tea or a beer.

For the mills with the best chances for line steam we planned some spare time. We’ll not go to sugar mills with dumped steam locos only. However, if time allows and we’re just passing by, we can make a stop at such mills as well.

The climate is tropic with high humidity and temperatures between about 28 and 35 degrees centigrade. Our jeeps are fitted with an a/c but you’ll do better if you acclimatize and accept to sweat if you have to move quickly to get a photo.

The tour is planned with the dedicated photographer and video filmmaker in mind. The itinerary is designed for those who think it more important to get the perfect shot in the morning sun than a substantial breakfast. Meals can be delayed or even cancelled. The meals are not included in the tour price. In addition, we did not plan lunch or dinner for every day. In some cases we’ll have to make do some cookies or bananas. Meals are cheap with the exception of beer and other alcoholic drinks. Please consider we are guests in a mainly Islamic country where alcoholic drinks (including beer) are not available everywhere. Chilled beer is another matter …

Charter vehicles and trains represent the standard of our host countries, which may deviate form European expectations. While we will try to avoid long walks, some photo positions may require a bit of an extra effort. Travelling on trains and driving cars is at your own risk. The charter trains will look like real trains did some years ago. So we will not attach coaches to the trains. Please be prepared that the exhaust of the steam locos contains sparks who may harm your clothes or skin.

Because we are using hired cars we need some more drivers. If you like to drive a car in Indonesia you should be over 25 years old and holder of an international driving licence. On the other hand you should be able to accept the Asian way of driving which is quite different from that what you have learned at the driving school. On the main trunk roads the traffic maybe horrible fast and dangerous while on minor roads you may be the only motorised car beside some ox carts (without any kind of illumination during the night, of course). However, most visitors will learn very quick how Asian traffic works and will have an additional fun to drive a car without the restriction you have to care about in central Europe. There is no insurance for the cars available. So we have to pay for dents ourselves, please consider this while driving. The one and only rule of the traffic seems to be do not touch other traffic participants.

Sweet Steam - The last sugar cane trains on Java
8 to 14 participants
2.640 Euro
6. - 22.7.2005
6 to 7 participants
2.790 Euro

Single room supplement
190 Euro
Minimum number of participants: 6

Maximum number of participants: 14
Please let us know whether you would agree to travel with a small group as well.
The price includes:
Flight from Frankfurt/Main probably with Gulf Air in a booking class with a limited number of available seats (your early booking is hence appreciated!)
All transfers in Indonesia by hired jeeps (with AC), self driving
All hotels (all with AC except Mount Bromo Permai, where you may need a heating instead)
Visitor’s permits and entrance fees to the sugar mills
Special trains as described (Ambarawa, Semboro, Cepu, Pangka)
European tour guide (flights without tour guide)
European airport taxes
Not included are:
Visa (payable at the arrival in Jakarta, in 2004: 25 US-$)
Meals and Beverages
Personal expenses as telephone, mini bar in the hotel, laundry service etc.
Tips for loco staff etc. (we expect between 30 and 50 Euro for this)
Local driver (available for 140 Euro)
Airport taxes in Indonesia (international 100.000 Rupiah = 9 Euro in 2004)
Above prices are based on specific bookings with the respective airlines, which have to be confirmed well in advance. Your early booking is hence appreciated.

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