Semarang has a few options for public transportation. For my first 7 weeks here I have been taking taxis everywhere because 1) they run 24 hours a day, 2) the driver can take me directly to my destination, and 3) that’s the only form of public transport I knew how to use. However, I live on the edge of the city, so most taxi rides cost me $2 – $2.50 per trip. This starts to add up on a day-to-day basis.
Another option available is the angkot, little mini-van-like buses that are typically bright orange.
– only 50 cents per ride
– they run on established routes
– no route maps exist, so you have to know the streets (printed on the back of the angkot) or where you are going so you get off at the right spot
– no time tables whatsoever (so an angkot driver might stop for a cigarette break, a bathroom break, a lunch break, etc. during your ride)
– angkot drivers in Semarang are said to be rude, especially to women.
This weekend I decided to try my first angkot. When one pulled over for me I confirmed that he was indeed going by my housing complex, then got in the front seat as instructed. It turns out the back was full of 3 or 4 other passengers and a whole bunch of fruit. Mainly melons. We drove a few blocks and then pulled over at a little road side market. All the passengers and the driver proceeded to unload the fruit for the elderly woman who was planning to sell them.
Once the little van was empty we continued on our merry way. Also, the driver was not rude to me in the least. In fact, he chatted with me for most of the ride, asking the typical questions I get when first meeting an Indonesian (Where are you from? How long have you been in Indonesia? What do you do in Semarang? Are you married? Etc.)