Backstreet Adventures by Becak and Bemo
Like many parts of Southeast Asia, Indonesia has a unique variety of public transport options that varies from city to city. One of the most popular is the cycle rickshaw, or becak as it is known locally – a type of tricycle for hire designed to carry one or two passengers.
In Indonesia there are two different types of becak. The more common type found in large cities like Jakarta and Yogyakarta is where the driver sits behind the passenger and pedals. The second type which is more common in Sumatra is designed with the driver sitting beside the passenger, similar to a motorbike and sidecar.
Another popular form of public transport is the bemo – a motorized three-wheeler taxi – not unlike Thailand’s tuk-tuk. Popular all over Indonesia, the bemo usually operates in specific areas like markets or other areas of commerce, including near hotels and tourist attractions. In the early morning, locals and food vendors use bemos and becaks to get to and from the market and to carry purchases in bulk to their homes or places of work.
Getting around using a share taxi is also a cheap and popular form of transport in Indonesia. These are usually mini vans known as Angkot or Mikrolet, which operate along fixed or popular routes. People can stop them anywhere they want to get on or off and will often find themselves packed in like sardines as the driver may deviate a little from his regular route to accommodate a particular passenger’s wishes and secure the extra fare.
Visitors to Indonesia are sometimes a little hesitant to ride local transport, as becaks, bemos and share taxis tend to operate in poorer local areas where it is easy to get lost. There is also a tendency for some visitors to feel sorry for the poor becak drivers who have to pedal them around – especially when the driver looks well advanced in years. But don’t be deceived! These rickshaw drivers are super fit and may well have been pedalling rickshaws all their lives. While two passengers in a becak might seem like a lot of weight, you won’t be any heavier than a becak stacked full of rice, fruit or vegetables from the local market!
A number of our tours at Khiri Travel Indonesia make use of the trusty becak or bemo to get from place to place. The slow, easy pace of the becak, especially, is ideal for travelers who want to enjoy the scenic local life and have time to take photos as they pass by. Both becaks and bemos can also navigate the smaller backstreets and lanes where no bus or car could possibly fit. It’s easier too for visitors to make an impromptu stop if something attracts their curiosity.
We also offer a unique Signature Experience tour in the harbor city of Mataram on Lombok Island where travelers ride in a bemo to attend an amazing cultural and religious experience called the Sasak Slam, an impromptu poetry contest.
For more information on how to book an authentic Indonesian experience that includes these unique forms of local transport, please contact [email protected].