Hitchhiking. It sounds quite familiar (somewhere), right? Do you think that Indonesia is a hitchhike-friendly country? Read my interview with these three ladies from Hitchhiker Indonesia, a community that is dedicated to talking and sharing information about Hitchhiking before you decide. I choose to interview the ladies because hitch hiking sounds harder for a woman.
When was the first time you went hitchhiking?
Probably around 2004.
What made you think that you should try hitch hiking and what was your first experience like?
It was unplanned and at the beginning, I didn’t really know much about hitch hiking. In the countryside it is more commonly known as ‘nebeng’ or ‘numpang’, or probably Indonesians are more familiar with ‘bonek’. My first experience was good enough.
Do you agree with a statement that to hitchhike is a lifestyle?
No. As for me hitchhiking is a kind of solution for a traveller. Some people might get addicted to it and some people prefer to do it as the last option if your money is limited and transportation cost is out of your budget. Hitchhiking is one great solution, but definitely you need to be a risk taker, brave and have a clear strategy.
Do you think it’s safe for a woman to hitchhike in Indonesia? Do you have any tips for an women who want to hitchhike?
I would say it depends a lot on the area and the mental and psychical strength of the woman. When you hitch hike, I would suggest to do it with at least one friend. You need to be a good passenger as well. A lot of people that are willing to accept a hitch hiker basically want company during their travel, so just try to be a good chatting friend. For your own safety, never ever fall asleep during the hitch hike if you are alone. Beside that, it can be considered as impolite. That is why I said you should have a hitch hike mate, you can sleep while your friend talks to the driver and vice versa.
Can you share your hitchhiking experiences?
I got tons of experiences! My last hitch hike was from Jakarta to Palembang. I got a little bit of a problem in a Police station in Bakauheni (Sumatra port). I hitchhiked by myself and unfortunately arrived too early in Sumatra. I decided to wait in the Police station around Bakauheni. When I was busy with my gadget, there was an old man who come towards me and suspected that I was a missing child or a child who escaped from home, that was totally silly and he asked me to contact my parents. It was a really awkward moment. I couldn’t really contact my parents at that point of time, because it was in the middle of the night.
My best hitchhiking experience was from Jakarta to Bromo. We experienced the moment that we really needed a ride because we didn’t have any cash and couldn’t find any ATM close by. Anyways, sometimes people think that I don’t have money at all and once or twice I got given money from people who give me a ride. That is a bonus.
What crossed your mind when you went hitchhiking for the first time?
What actually crossed my mind when I was hitchhiking for the first time was I believe that I can do it and I wasn’t afraid, but slightly confused because I couldn’t really read the map.
I heard that you successfully hitch hiked on a boat, is that true? How did you hitch a lift on a boat? Did you just put your thumb out ?
Yup that is true! Not with a thumb for sure 🙂 The first time I did that I think it was because I was lucky. And the second one in February 2013, the key was communication. For example, when hitchhiking on the road you can communicate to people who give you a ride about where you go and where is the closest place that they might pass. With a boat or ferry case, negotiate with the boat crew or captain (if you can). See if they will allow you to go with them for free and probably take you to some places. You should be persuasive and communicate well. Don’t be shy and believe that you can do it!
Do you have any favorite tactics for hitchhiking that you could share with us?
I don’t really have a special tactic. To be able to hitchhike is totally a process. You should start with goodwill and be a positive thinker. During the process of waiting for a ride is also a learning point. You learn how to be patient and have faith that somebody will give you a ride. Always smile, be polite, cheerful and never pick a ride. Accept more or less anything that comes to you (of course you need to do a quick scan to see if the person is a criminal or not haahaha). I have a story here that you might want to read.
What does the group Hitchhiker Indonesia mean to you?
Means A LOT! Like a family! Probably people thought that hitchhikers are poor travellers, because they can’t even afford the transportation costs. Don’t judge us wrong guys! We do have our own way to travel and fulfill our heart about the way we travel. One thing for sure, if you never tried it, you don’t really know what is all about. I have learnt a lot from this group as well, the most important thing is where there is a will there is a way! That is so damn true!
What is the most fun thing for you about hitchhiking?
Oh, there are so many fun things about hitch hiking! Meet new friends, you can visit various destinations, you can understand more about yourself, can learn about peoples characteristics, learn about life and measure the ability of self-learning and concern for the environment around us.
Do you think it is easy to hitchhike in Indonesia?
Yeah, mostly easy. Especially outside the towns (in the countryside). Why? There are so many people with a genuine heart and they are super kind.
What was your most successful hitchhiking trip? From where to where, how many vehicle(s) and how long did it take?
Bali to Jakarta I think, I hitchhiked 1 truck, 2 cars and 2 buses. It all happened in 1 day.
What you usually do when you are hitchhiking?
I like to talk to the driver or other passenger(s) and share stories. Sometimes we sing together or I end up sleeping (which I shouldn’t do).
Have you ever accidentally fallen asleep when you were hitchhiking?
Unfortunately, yes! Hahaha.. Quite often.
Do you enjoy hitchhiking? What have you learnt from your hitchhiking experience? Do you have any bad experience?
I do enjoy hitch hiking so much! It is not only because it is free, but the point is the journey itself becomes more colorful. I don’t like doing mainstream things. Haha.. I have learnt a lot of things from hitch hiking, such as: be more patient, the need to help each other, be more genuine in doing something, think and act positively, learning about cultures and people, and many more!
So far, I haven’t had any bad experiences. I do believe in karma, especially when travelling. What you plant now, you will harvest later. Hahaha. Right?
Finally, 3 tips for a beginner hitchhiker?
Don’t be shy, have a map and do ask people if you need to ask.
Hitchhiker Indonesia is a community that is dedicated to talking and sharing information about hitch hiking. The group has more than 750 members on Facebook and is trying to prove to Indonesians that hitchhiking is an alternative travel option. If you want to learn more about them visit the Facebook page.
Ps: I once tried hitchhiking in the past from Indramayu to Jakarta and it was a big success. 🙂 How about you?