My travels with my aunt and uncle continued onto Jakarta yesterday where we landed at Soekarno-Hatta Airport, Terminal 2. There are 3 terminals. We were pleasantly surprised to see we landed with enough time for a cream bath–head and neck massage with conditioner treatment–so we decided to pick up our bags and head out. Straight home and then on to the cream bath. A friend would be coming to dinner afterward.
Our plan was interrupted by a couple of factors. The first was our bags took awhile to be unloaded from the plane which set us back. But the second involved a mad dash through the parking lot with, although impressively compact, heavy heavy carry on bags pulled up over curbs and around cars. This had NOT been in my plans.
My plan was to head straight to the Silverbird stand–executive taxi stand–jumping the snaky switchback line at the economy Bluebird stand. What you receive by going Silver or Bluebird is the assurance that the company has trained and backed their drivers (Silverbird being the class of higher training, however), because each car has a code that you can use to report suspicious behavior to a central office. What you don’t get with the independent contractors, is this fallback.
With 3 terminals, I’m always trying to get my bearings at each to find the Silverbird stand. The main reason is that there are tons of independent taxi companies who would love to intercept unsuspecting tourists and whisk them away in their unmarked taxis, skimming business away from the tried and true monopoly (for a reason) Blue/Silverbird taxi company.
I have lived in Indonesia for almost 2 years! I knew how to avoid these guys. I thought . . .
After wading through a maze of very friendly and eager people asking, “Taxi?” with a smile almost literally putting a hand on my carry-on to kindly escort me to a waiting mini-van, I walked with a purpose in the direction of the Silverbird stand. In fact, I had to ward off one man who had already taken hold of my carry-on and started across the street. He finally let go of my luggage after I kept insisting I didn’t think this was the direction of the Silverbirds. What threw me, was that at Terminal 3, the Silverbird stand is across the street from the airport.
Anyhow, finally at the Silverbird stand, I approached a man and asked for the next Silverbird. Another customer was already being helped by a Silverbird rep. So this man offered to help. However, he took hold of my carry-on and started toward the parking lot, away from the line of Silverbirds parked in front of the airport! This was my first clue that something was sketchy.
This man walked briskly with my carry-on–the lightest of the 3 among mine, my aunt and uncle’s–and all the while responding to my insistent questions that he, in fact, worked for Silverbird. My aunt and uncle pulled their, once again, impressively compact for over 4 weeks of travel, but heavy heavy carry-ons across a crowded parking lot. We were in pursuit of a man who was taking us away from the Silverbirds, all the while letting us know that there were not enough Silverbirds right now so he was taking us to a car that was immediately available.
When we finally arrived at the unmarked silver mini-van, he and another man finally took notice of my aunt and uncle’s luggage and loaded it immediately in the back along with my carry-on of which our “guide” had already been in possession. Fuming, I asked for the taxi number. Of which, naturally, was one none.
I apologized to my aunt and uncle, feeling terrible that they had had to schlepp their luggage across such an unnecessary parking lot–and that my luggage always seemed to be the one that people were insisting on “helping” with. We removed our carry-ons from the back of the silver mini-van and sped bumpily back across the same obstacle course to the very same Silverbird stand from where we can come. The independent taxi man was disgusted as he watched us leave and his carefully executed plan fall apart.
This time, at the Silverbird stand, there was no one else being helped so we spoke to the legitimate Silverbird representative, who whisked us immediately into one of over 10 Silverbirds, at the ready.
Note: I’m sure the independent taxi driver would have been a safe option, but I didn’t appreciate being conned, and I didn’t like his attitude (Teacher voice)!
Content in the Silverbird, we rode home through Jakarta traffic that my aunt and uncle assured didn’t bother them because they were happy that they were being driven, rather than having to drive themselves.
Our plans of having a cream bath were gone, but we did enjoy a pleasant meal with the friend who had recommended the lovely hotel in Bali.