Pinch me, I must be dreaming!? Primo and I woke up at 1am and were out the door by 3am. Theres no arguing we were tired, but the excitement of our first taste of freedom in three months was enough to power us through. We had to get to a certain Surabaya train station by 7am and we were able to make that with enough time to indulge in a ‘Dunkin Doughnut’ (tip: NEVER order a peanut butter doughnut in Indonesia!) and another cup of coffee. Sleep deprived and high on a combustible combo of sugar, fat, caffeine and adrenaline, we are ready to roll; Jogja, here we come!
This was both Matt’s and my first experience traveling by train in Indonesia. There were three different class tickets you could buy. We opted for the middle one, “business class,” which is the preferred method of travel for 9 out of 10 Indonesian transvestites apparently, but we didn’t find that out until our train ride home four days later. Moving along…
The train, while a lot more spacey than a bus, was incredibly hot. The “executive” section is the only part of the train that has AC, but this too was unknown until the ride back from Jogja, when Matt and I attempted to sneak into the more exclusive, more air conditioned car. Unfortunately, we also learned that the conductors DO in fact check ticket stubs. Basically, both our train rides consisted of lots of learning of lessons and lots of sweating. We got into Jogja at around 1pm and found our hotel soon thereafter.
Drew was the next to arrive and when he did, the three of us took a moment to admire
our hotel before grabbing lunch and a cold beer; smiles all around. Once we finished up with lunch we decided to do a little recon and see what was in the area. Jogja is not a small city, but it is very visitor friendly and we found walking around to be a joy. There are however a number of Batik (Indonesia’s answer to Cuba’s Guayabera) pushers who spin wild tales of Australians getting hit by cars on the corner along with many other colorful stories. These pushers also have timely ‘insider information’ that everything you might possibly want to see in Jogja happens to be closed for the day, but that they know a GREAT little place to buy a Batik should you be interested. Yes sir, if you ever forget you are in a touristy place, there is always someone near bye to remind you. My friends and I joked around that the next thing we’d hear would be that Jogja itself would be closed.
During PST we were divided up in smaller groups so we could study the local language more effectively (some of us more than others). The company from which our language teachers were hired for this task was based in Jogja, so Drew and Ellen (she enters the picture very soon) decided to invite their old teachers to dinner. Drew and Ellen were not in the same cluster. Matt and I however, were. We did not invite our ex-teacher to dinner, which should tell you something about our teacher…or us.
The restaurant Drew’s teacher recommended happened to be right near our hotel, which was fine by me, since I had had enough traveling for one day. Drew, Matt and I met the two teachers at the place around 6pm, but Ellen was still nowhere to be found, since her driver had been driving in a circle of confusion for some time. When she did arrive, the energy in that room quadrupled. Ellen was so excited that I almost felt guilty for feeling tired.
It was the first time we had really indulged in western food for a number of months and just being able to sit back and be ourselves was really a welcome change of pace from living la vida village. Silly comments, personal stories and tasty treats were flying all over the table and it was all a delight. We decided to make it an early nite, because we wanted to do some sight seeing the next morning, so after a very satisfying first dinner in Jogja we went back to the room and talked a bit before hitting the sack.
This is the sightseeing day. Sleeping in a heavily air conditioned room was far better than I remembered and don’t even get me started on the shower! I think we were all feeling pretty good and looking forward to a long day of Jogja’ing it. After a complimentary bowl of chicken porridge from the hotel, we rented out a car/driver to take us to the biggies; Borobudur, Prambanan, and Kalasan Temple. I really enjoyed all of these places, but I’d be shocked if I could distinguish which was which from memory alone. I have always been a terrible traveler when it comes to sight seeing, but fortunately for me, I was with three smart people who helped remind me where I was from time to time.
After a long day of jaunting and driving, we were filthy and pooped, so we got cleaned up and hit a nice little coffee
shop near our hotel. Dinner was a bit of a mission, but a worthwhile one, because we wear able to track down an inexpensive italian place Drew’s teacher recommended. I was shaking with hungry at this point, so when our food came out, I went wild. It was real pizza too and we were eating it and it was a moment; the good kind. There was some talk of hitting a disco and dancing until the sun came up, but we were all bluffing and went back to the hotel and chatted instead; an excellent decision. To be continued…