Trains… a sedate form of transportation involving ceaseless staring at the landscape, terrible coffee (hey, still coffee, right?) and being dropped off smack-dab in the center of town (the neat part).
Suggested song: Rock N Roll Train by AC/DC
Today was a transit day, leaving Yogyakarta for Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta. The other day, 315,000 Rp bought me a ticket on the Agro Lawu (Aggro Lava?) express train, fully climatized and equipped with reclining chairs, for the 7h25 journey along the length and across Central Java.
After check out at the hotel and a brief taxi ride (which the hotel staff, in typical Indonesian fashion, did not book ahead of time, like I asked them last night), I got to Stasiun Yogyakarta with enough time to spare to sample the local railway station coffee. After finishing half a cup of the hot but unsavory brew, the remainder was quickly dispatched into the next trash receptacle. For one, the train sat at the platform, ready to board, for another, I believed to have sampled the bottom rung of coffee quality, which, coincidentally, was so far off the mark, it is not even funny. Come on, this island is called JAVA, for crying out loud!
Entering coach 6 and looking for row 9, I found the creature comforts exactly as advertised, comfy seats and a chill greeted me. So, time to settle in. Setting off at a quick walking pace that slowly increased to scooter-level rapidity, my fellow passengers and I trundled along, through the outskirts of Yogyakarta and into an interminable succession of Palm-tree groves and rice paddies, with volcanic mountain ranges looming in the far-off haze.
Here and there a train trestle bridge provided a sneak peek down a narrow river valley and the odd railroad crossing a view of waiting scooters. Now, while the scooterists in Yogyakarta cared nothing for red lights, it appears that they were more respectful of trains. Quite prudent, I have to admit!
More sights of the same kind followed for the next hours, along with lunch (microwaved, prepackaged Chicken Nasi) and insufferable, oversugared instant coffee (what was I thinking ordering THIS vile broth?). The ride, however, remained entirely sufferable, if somewhat uneventful. It was nice enough, quiet and I had AC/DC playing on the headphones (RockNRoll Train, baby). Dozing off, the ride time didn’t seem quite so terribly long to me,and, in a felt jiffy, I was deposited at Jakarta’s Gambir station. The timetable was kept perfectly and I stepped off the train at just before half past five.
The station, located right next to the National Monument — more on that tomorrow — is connected to Jakarta’s TransJakarta bus service. So I clutched my bag and headed off to the stop, bought a Flazz bus pass, got on the bus, got off the bus again… and, ta-dah, here I am, typing a post in my guesthouse just down a side alley from the Harmoni bus stop.
Now, wasn’t that an exciting, rip roaring adventure? Well, maybe tomorrow!