Sunday, 29 January 2012

Jakarta to Jogja...

As I arrived safely and soundly into the hustle and bustle of Jakarta, I touched down in the evening air, filled with darkness, noise, life and non-stop hassle. Well...sometimes hassle is a good thing, I think it gives the experience more motion and my answer to it 'smile and keep on walking', always seems to work for me. When your tired, hot and sweaty and almost frustrated walking down narrow streets of Jakarta city centre, all you can do is smile and I always start singing a little song to myself, knowing that soon enough I will be happy in a room, sitting down and relaxed. We managed to barter a room for the one night we where staying and then ventured out to catch a bite to eat on the street. As it was getting late, we managed to doze off to sleep around 1am and we woke up not so fresh as a daisy at 5am in order to catch our train to travel across the country of Java. Jakarta is vibrant and never seems to sleep, however, in ways it reminds me so much of Mumbai and the madness that goes with it. There is a great deal of poverty here, the land is not so clean and certain streets, more or less the place we stayed in was rather 'seedy'. Why use such language you may ask, as I woke at 5am I could here from the next room, a lady of the night leaving with her male companion! That's the sort of place we where staying in, can't really complain though, we had our own bathroom with a real toilet, not squat and it was cheap, good enough for me. 

So, as we headed out in the bristle of dawn, we flagged a tuk tuk ride to the train station, then at the train station, we somehow worked out which platform to go to and awaited our train. We ended up chatting to two Indonesian woman who gave us the advise of 'Hati Hati' which is beware, as many people pickpocket or try to rob you at this train station. I literally sat on my backpack on the floor and did not move until the train arrived. Well, when it did arrive an hour late, this is normal in Indonesia, almost reminiscent of Indian train times. We boarded our 'business class' seats, which was a wooden bench for two people to sit on and a window which air could filter through, I dread to think what economy class looked like. We settled in for the ride, then realising we where the only non Indonesian people on this whole train, was a funny experience. As I said, I always like to do what the locals do and how they travel. Every stop the train makes, so many sellers hop on the train trying to sell everything from food, drinks to toys and plants! We ended up chatting to the people around us and managed to learn words in Indonesian and the guy who was next to us loved The Beatles, so next minute he is blasting out Beatles songs from his phone and singing along, was a memorable experience. 

After 9 hours on the train, we arrived into Yogyakarta, which is otherwise known as Jogja. We settled in a lovely homestay called Utar. It was family run, where the grandma made breakfast, the children served the breakfast, the father cleaned the rooms and the mother sorted all the washing. After a night there, we where chatting to the owner and he explained he was the 'Secretary to The President of Indonesia' through the week and in the evenings and weekends he helped out at home. Now I realised why every picture around the place was of the Presidential Palace in Yogyakarta or of important people in uniform. They where a lovely family who gave us lots of information and assisted us in getting to our next destination. While staying in Yogyakarta for a few days, we headed out in the city. We explored the sights and wandered around the endless street markets they have here. Reflecting on this city, it oozes arts, every corner is filled with artwork and they actively promote creating art or being musical or performing in anyway. I looked back to one morning we spent looking round a gallery, it was university students work and the tutor explained what they do here and also how its a really free, open and supportive community. This is something I appreciated and admire, as the Indonesian people take huge pride on their arts, not only representing themselves but also their culture, country and national identity. 

After we had rested enough in Yogyakarta, we booked to venture over to a place called 'Ganung Bromo or as we know Mount Bromo'. This is a vast active volcano that is situation in the East of Java. We worked it so that we could arrive at Bromo then do the trek to the viewpoint and also to the crater of Bromo on the morning of John's birthday. This would be a brilliant way to spend his birthday and one to remember. So, with the excitement growing with this new adventure, we quickly booked to head over there and finally said our farewells to the lovely family in Yogyakarta. All I needed to do now is sleep and await my 12 hour bus ride to get there...

Shattered and fatigue in Jakarta...more one beer will help me sleep!

The secretary to the President of Indonesia...oh and our homestay owner

Walking around the spacious Palace of Yogyakarta

Saying hello to the wildlife in the cage...

Hitching a ride back into town

John taking over and offering a lift...this may be his new profession 'Cyclo Taxi'

It's harder than it looks...those where the words of John offering rides around the block

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