Interesting thread. Kreteks were, for me, the gateway tobacco. When I drifted into the punk and new wave music scenes in the early 80s, smoking cloves was a big part of the alternative music culture. I never smoked real cigs, but I loved smoking cloves. And as far as the brands, Garams were never among my preferred kreteks - to me they just weren't as flavorful as the Djarum non-filtereds that came in the tin, or Sampoerna 234s, or especially non-filtered Jakartas or Krakatoas - those brands had that strong, sweet flavor of cloves that I really craved.
From kreteks I moved on to Drum and Galoises rolling tobaccos, and then I eventually tried pipe tobacco. I think it was partially due to seeking clove cigarettes at b&m tobacco shops (where they always had the best selection) that I became curious about pipes and pipe tobacco.