Initially I would like to write about my worst train journey in Europe (because it's the most recent), but then I remembered, when it comes to train, I have more horrible experiences than the one in Europe. So, I'm gonna try to write about them, although some of them are a bit vague. Well, it turned out while I was writing about this I changed the subject into memorable train journey so, It was not always the horrible experiences.
Ljubljana-Venezia, Oct 2011
I'm the type of person who get easily, let me emphasize one more time, very easily fall asleep when I'm in any kind of transportation no matter what kind of, how much time I spent, what kind of position I was, oh yeah, I can sleep in a bus or train while I'm standing. So, this train journey from Ljubljana to Venice is clearly an exception because I couldn't sleep in that 4 or 5 hours of journey. Isn't horrible??
The train should be departed around 2.30 in the morning and I had to walk from my hostel for about 20 minutes with a back pain caused by the backpack, it was a little bit raining back then. I waited the train for 30 minutes or so but it was not coming yet and I started to get anxious, but I was not the only one who waited, there were about 20 other people, all of them are young traveler just like me. Finally the train arrived at almost 1 hour late from the schedule. Getting on the train was not not an easy job because I had to find the correct coach (gerbong) which is stated at my ticket and to find it I had to be a bit running because I don't want to miss the train. Finally I got on to the correct coach, however, some other people were not as smart as I am to find the right coach number so there was sort of a human traffic jam inside the train, I couldn't move forward to get into my cabin and my seat. Some people who went into wrong coach had to go back and find their right place. After 1 hour of waiting in the cold all I want is just a nice comfortable couch where I can have a good sleep, but I got stuck instead, I have to be standing, carrying my backpack. Oh great. Please read your ticket carefully next time, mind you!
About 15 minutes later finally I can walk to my cabin, but of course, there was already somebody else on my couch. Apparently there were one middle age husband and wife who can't speak English sleeping in our couches. The other girl who has same problem with me tried to talk them over and explain the situation in their language, cool thing she could speak their language. The couple didn't seem to understand and apparently insist that they were the owner of that couch even though it stated clearly in our ticket the number of the couch. It seems that they bought only the ticket without the seat reservation, so in this case they probably should buy the seat inside the train or find available seat. I'm not sure. They have been in the train since Budapest I'm guessing. Finally the girl gave up talking to them and maybe it is best to just wait for the officer to sort things out. So, yeah, I had to standing in front of our cabin with even more pain on my back waiting for the officer. After several minutes the officer came and he had to 'evict' them from there, a bit harsh but it was only because they were impossible to talk with. Finally we both get our seats, there were other 4 people inside, and they're all wide awake because of the earlier incident. It's good thing because one of guy helped me to put my backpack in the luggage storage above. So, I guess all those mishaps had successfully made me sleepless that night (morning).
Yogyakarta-Jakarta, July 2008
It was a journey from Yogyakarta to Jakarta in a business class (senja utama). I was with my other 3 friends, we intended to use executive class but since it's holiday season we only managed to buy business class from "calo" with a mark-up price. Thus, there was one seat which was separated from the other and my friend Miko had to sit there because he was the least contributing person (in terms of money) during that trip, although in the end all the expense was divided evenly. For the sake of being nice I offered him to sit together with us because there is no barrier in the seat so 3 of us can sit in the seat for 2. He said yes and thus for 8 hours of journey we have be squeezed together in that seat, not so pretty. To make things worse, the window could not be closed so we have to resist the wind and I used my praying attire (mukena) to cover my face because the wind was so strong. I was really trying hard to sleep. What a journey.
Jakarta Kota-Rangkasbitung (return), Dec 2008
Never underestimate what young people could do. It was the journey to Baduy, the secluded village in the west Java. Me and my other 2 friends (Raya and Ona) decided to go to Baduy backpacker style, altough I didn't bring my backpack at that time. Whatever. Based on instruction from a friend we took economic train from Jakarta Kota station to Rangkasbitung. Until now I don't know whether there is alternative such as business class train, all we know at that time was we're going to Rangkasbitung and that's the only way we know how. The ticket is quite cheap, about Rp 2,000 if I'm not mistaken and we had to wait for about 1 hour for the train. Do you know what is the main difference between each classes in train? I will make it simple that lowest class has to stop in every station and has to wait for other train to pass them, it never be prioritized in case there are 2 trains going to the same direction. So, as you can imagine, 120 km distance from Jakarta to Rangkasbitung took more that 3 hours of journey. It's not only that the train was very slow, once it stopped, it could take 5-30 minutes to stop. There is no air conditioner in this train and of course at first we didn't get a seat so we have to stand. Only about half of journey later we get the seat. As the cheapest transportation mode for sure the train was full-packed with people and the people were a little bit, I don't know how to put this delicately, they were a bit scary, it was truly excruciating when I think about it now but somehow at that time we didn't really make a fuss about it, we talked, we laughed, we had a good time, ohh youth!
Jakarta-Purwakarta, Oct 1999
It happened during high-school (damn it, I'm exposing my true age through this!), my school has this program named "Trip Observasi" a mandatory event for fresh man in my high school where we go to village and live there for a week. We also do some projects in order to improve the living condition of the people in the village. On my sophomore year, I was part of student board (OSIS) who with the teachers become committee of this event. We went to some village in Purwakarta, Central Java, we took the train from Senen Station, economic class train. I have no idea how the school even came up with this idea, but we were so young and probably never got on a train before so we don't have comparison of other classes. Last year on my TO we went to Jonggol Village - West Java using bus instead. I don't quite remember how long the journey take but when we got there, it was already dark, so I'm guessing more than 10 hours. As I mentioned in previous story, economic class train is the worst, it stopped for such a loooooong time and very slow and It was super hot inside. One thing I remember the most, when we arrived, I just noticed that the jeans I wore that day were torn about 15 cm in the back, just under the pocket. It seems that there was a thief who want to steal my wallet or something, and weird thing is I didn't remember nor feel anything something wrong with my jeans until we arrived. Our Journey back was using business class train so it's much better.
Shanghai-Beijing (return), Aug 2010
This is probably the most expensive train I've ever had, even if I compare with European train. It's a night train so it should be worth it and it was a sleeper train where one cabin consisted of 4 sleepers. It's kind of nice experience as it was my first time sleeper train ever, the facility were also good, there are individual lamp, head set, screen (the program was in Chinese for sure), mini table, drinks. The train was equipped with toilet and wastafel. It's also clean and neat, basically I have nothing to complain about this train, 8 hours of journey and I was able to sleep soundlessly (it need to be confirmed to other passengers though).