Friday, 5 July 2013

Just your average 8hr train to Yogyakarta!

Awoke at 4.30am, strangely with the rest of my dorm, turns out they were all getting early trains too, even though they made SO MUCH NOISE while I was trying to sleep last night and went to bed at like 2am!

The girl in the bunk above me needed to get a train this morning too but hadn't booked yet, so she decided to join me and Mexican dude, Almando, in the taxi (all good, meant it was cheaper!) and we headed to the station at 5am. The taxi driver dropped us off in the middle of nowhere, we asked people where the station was but we were told up the stairs (well a station is hardly going to be ABOVE a major road is it?), then we were told downstairs, well, there is no downstairs, we're on a road stupid and there's no subway! Then we were told, inside the closed mall on our left, across the we went through the mall, got to the road and still no station. We hailed a tuk tuk down...which took us down the road a little and there it was...finally! Oh and did I mention it was pissing it down with rain the whole time, so we got wet too??

So we lined up to get our tickets printed, then lined up - or more free-for-all'd - into the station...and guess what, the train was delayed. Not by 30 minutes, not an hour, but an hour and a half. Even the 7am train, which Erica, the girl who shared a taxi with us, was getting to Yogya, turned up before ours did! Me and Erica exchanged numbers so we could book accommodation together and she left. Then eventually around 7.30am our train arrived. We had seats, but they were stiff, uncomfortable ones, I ended up sharing berth with a cute Indonesian elderly couple and their adult son. I slept the first part of the journey after leaving Jakarta and then read most of the way, whilst checking out the scenery (I managed to FINALLY finish the book I'd started reading in INDIA, 8 months later!!).

I'd heard the scenery was supposed to be amazing, but I didn't expect it to be as pretty and divers. From tremendous active volcanoes to small wooden bridges over trickling streams and rivers. From lush green rice paddies and banana plantations to corn husks and towering palm trees. From the sprawling slums of densely populated cities to tiny terracotta villages speckled with a colourful array of batik-clothed Muslims. This my friends, is just your average 8hr train journey through Java!

Upon arrival - I'd booked me and Erica dorm beds at EDU Hostel for a mere £5 a night - so I grabbed the cheapest transport possible as I only had 30,000 rupiah on me...which was a Bacak! A Bacak my friends, is like a cycle-rickshaw, but backwards. Instead of a cart on the back of a bicycle it's a bicycle on the back of a cart! So you have a totally open view of area...and the traffic! Which, by the way, is scarier than traffic in India - Java resembles India in many ways. In India at least, you can stop the traffic or they skirt around you. Here, they literally just bomb straight towards you, no stopping, no skirting around, just little old you standing there, hoping and praying there is a break in the road/traffic or that they at least don't hit you on your way across.

Once at the hostel I then tried to get money out and took my washing to a laundrette. The money was a disaster...I forgot my pin code and my bank blocked my card. Leaving me with no money at all, not even enough credit to ring the bank! So I asked the hostel if they'd let me use their phone to phone them, but no, it was 'against their policies', grumble. Luckily I had skype credit, so I tried calling them on there, but it was so noisy and the internet connection was so bad that they couldn't really hear me. Eventually they said they 'think' they'd unblocked it, and for me to try again. By this point Erica had arrived from her train journey and she wanted to go for eats so said she'd lend me some money until I could get some out - bless her! Sometimes, 24hr friends are actually life-savers! So we took a taxi to an area of town inside the Kraton (Sultan's palace) walls where she'd been told by a lady on her train, good food could be found, namely Gudeg. 

So we found a restaurant that looked busy - they all sold the same thing luckily - gudeg! We opted for the 'Komplit' platter which gave us a little of everything. So on our plate was steamed rice, chicken, marinated boiled egg, Tempeh (similar to Tofu) and minced chicken's liver in a coconut and jackfruit sauce. It was definitely interesting, we both said we probably wouldn't order it again as it was very sweet, but it was nice to try something very local! After, we decided to walk back and I tried my bank card again but still it was blocked. When we got back I tried to call them again, was told it should be working, tried the bank card at an ATM again, didn't work. Phoned them again, finally got it properly unblocked and managed to get money out YAY! So I paid back Erica who'd be leaving tomorrow to Bali, chatted to a couple of English girls in the room and exchanged books with one - I'm finally starting Shantiram - a book on India which so many people recommended with me, read for a bit, then went to bed!

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