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Hitchhiking in Indonesia is usually very easy for foreigners (Bule) while it gets harder for locals, unless they are taken on the dumping bed of a truck. It might be hard to get a free ride at times if you can't communicate in Bahasa Indonesia that you actually do want to hitchhike. And even if you can speak some basic Indonesian, the concept of hitchhiking is not always understood. You will be welcomed with the standard sentence "Mau ke mana" (where are you going) as a greeting, that can lead to a lot of confusion - check Asia_phrasebook#Indonesian. Once you get the gist, hitchhiking can go very smoothly on all the islands and often one of the first cars will pick you up. Cars are not many though and traffic is very slow: in particular in Java it's not uncommon to be blocked in traffic jams for hours. If you want to cross the whole country and get a full picture of Indonesia, it is not convenient to take a mere 1 month visa. There's a two months visa that can be applied for outside of the country and that can be extended four times for one month each. Also you can buy a visa on arrival (30days, ~35$) and you can extend it another 30 days. Some countrys are visafree, but this option is limited to 30 days and is not extendable.
The thumb isn't used here for hitching and a sign isnt really necessary. Instead of sticking out a thumb, wave down each car with your right hand as if you were signalling for them to slow down. It is important to use you right hand to signal drivers to stop as the left hand is considered dirty/offensive and would take longer for someone to stop. It might also happen that drivers don't understand that they are being addressed by your waving hand just because many people are not familiar with the concept of hitchhiking. In that case, it might be helpful to wave at them somewhat vigorously so they will stop and you can explain your situation. Once you waved a car to stop, the driver will want to know what's the matter. Hitchhiking in Indonesian is said "Menggonceng" and free is "Gratis" like in latin languages. If you don't speak indonesian, it might be helpful also to have a sign saying "Nebeng". Nebeng is a javanese slang term that is used to ask fo a free lift - there are a lot of javanese people all over indonesia, so its a usefull term also outside of java. Alternativly you can use "Numpang" or "Tumpang" which means to be a passenger, but not necessarily free( just write "Numpang gratis and things will be clear, at least on sumatra) . Another good way to ask for a free lift is "Bisa ikut gratis?" that means "Can I/We join for free?" Pick ups and trucks are generally fine though, motorcycles are hitchable but the most likely to ask for money. If the car is decorated with plush, it's definitly a taxi and even if they offer you a free ride, bear in mind that everyone else in the car is paying!
Getting a free ferry ride is also possible at least through a practice of hiding behind the truck seat. In fact, trucks are allowed to take 2 (3?) people for free onto a ferry - so you might be either one of the guys going for free, or one of the extra-passengers; in latter case you should rather hide behind the seat, and once you are on a ferry, relax - no one wants to see the ticket later on.
Most used harbors on Java island are Jakarta's Tanjung Priok and Surabaja's (goes to Borneo, 20h). The passenger ticket for the ferry Java-Bali is half a dollar a price, so you might as well skip hitchhiking there.
It's possible to get free ferry rides between Bali and Lombok, Lombok and Sumbawa, Sumbawa and Flores, hitchhiking with a car or a motorbike, since the price of the ticket is independent from the number of passengers.
- Facebook group of Indonesian hitchhiking club
- The Rich-Mike HitchHike - A recent blog about hitchhiking from Bali to Jakarta and then on through Asia to England (20'000 km through 20 countries in 100 days) -Top tip: ask the police for a golden ticket! (The Golden Ticket)
- Faire du stop en Indonesie - a French blog entry by Ludovic Hubler
- 444km.blogspot.com - Blog entries about hitching Indonesia by Swedish hitchhiker
- Punk In Love A movie about hitching and freight hopping across Java, in Bahasa Indonesian but VERY understandable and funny.
- Information, tips and personal experiences of hitch-hiking in Indonesia. A 5229 km journey on 145 vehicles (only in spanish), by Marcando el Polo
- One month hitching in Sumatra and Aceh at an aimless hitchhiker
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