Thursday, June 24, 2010

My First Overnight Train: Jakarta-Yogyakarta

Our kind Jakarta hosts not only took us to Gambir Station, they also helped us look for an available trip to our next stop, Yogyakarta. They unanimously discouraged us though to take the economy train because according to them it's "really not safe".

Since it was a holiday the day after, we figured the economy tickets might already have been booked out anyway. So yeah, we agreed to spend way more extra bucks for business class tickets. It was gonna be my first overnight train ride.

Shervin patiently waiting for the ticket counter to open.

At the station, train schedules and seat availability were flashed on a digital screen near the counters. We found an 8:00 PM trip to Solo (train passes by Yogyakarta), but there weren't much available tickets left. So after bidding goodbye to our hosts, Shervin already lined up with other hopeful passengers even if the counters were yet to open at 5:00 PM (we got there at 3).

Barely two hours of waiting, the counters opened and the chaos began.

When it was Shervin's turn, the attendant said we could still get tickets but then our rupiahs weren't enough (and they wouldn't accept our dollars). She gladly reserved two tickets (300,000 Rp each) and told Shervin he can come back for it and need not fall in line anymore. After changing our dollars at a money exchange stall nearby, we were able to secure seats.

Our first Indonesian satay.

We ate at a cheap food place across the station and had chicken satay with rice for 24,000 Rp. We also bought an Indonesian SIM card (which the vendor did not activate so we asked someone else to do it) so we can contact Sandi, our Yogyakarta Couchsurfing host.

Although the SIM was successfully activated, we were still given an error message when we tried to contact Sandi's mobile. We kinda worried and thought we'd end up continuing our sleep at Yogyakarta's Tugu station, in the wee hours.

We happily boarded the train though cause at least we won't be spending another night in Jakarta. We'd be in Yogyakarta for our monthsary, Borobudur to be exact, as planned. Ten past four in the morning, the train steward walked down the cabin the aisle and yelled 'Yogyakarta' (by the way it's pronounced Jogjakarta) to awake people who will be getting off at Tugu.

Our Indonesia trip thus far. View Jakarta-Yogyakarta in a larger map

After alighting, we sleepily plopped on the bench at the waiting area, wondering what to do next. There wasn't any mode of public transport yet, and even if there was, we didn't know how to get to Sandi's house. We sat there for what seemed like an eternity (actually just an hour and a half), and agreed on getting a cab to look for Condong Catur. We walked out of the station and haggled with a taxi driver after showing him the address.

Yogyakarta's Tugu Station.

40,000 Rp wasn't that bad since he drove us to a residential place (we knew nothing about) quite distant from central Yogyakarta. He first took us to a house with the same number within the area, but on a different street. We were about to take our bags out of the trunk when I noticed that we weren't on Jalan Nangka ('jalan' by the way means street in Bahasa Indonesia). So we hopped in the cab again and found the correct street a block away. We got off just at the corner, and checked the house numbers as we walked.

We easily found Sandi's charming bungalow. Their gate was unlocked. Like a pair of zombies, Shervin and I trespassed without even consulting each other. We placed our bags on the chairs at the garage and walked outside of the premises to wait on the street.

5-ish AM, waiting for someone to open the door.

Just thirty minutes after, a lady came and asked, "You friend Sandi?". We both nodded and she let us in. Sandi and I have been chatting online weeks before, since I sent him a couch request, and he mentioned that his mom doesn't speak English. She's actually more proficient than I expected.

She motioned for us to take our seats in the living room while she called her son. A groggy Sandi appeared and we straight away informed him what happened. He checked the number he gave us on my mobile and apologized that it was wrong, it was actually missing a number 9.

He also said (translating his mom's story) that an old lady neighbor told his mom at the market that she saw us outside their house when she passed by on her bike. That's how his mom found out that we've arrived.

Sandi didn't have work that day. It was a Catholic holiday, and though he's Muslim, he was also given an off. Before leading us to our room, he said, "I can take you to Borobudur now". I was taken aback. I didn't expect us to go that soon but I replied, "We'll take a shower first".

A busy food stall, beside it is a mat (banig) where customers can sit and eat.

Sandi smiled, "Great. We eat breakfast also together."

[South East Asia in Six Weeks Series will resume after the next post, Philippine Passport Renewal: What Da Heck To Really Expect.]


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Anonymous said...
July 24, 2010 at 2:41 AM

Nice adventure.. I havent tried traveling alone yet but I'm thinking of doing it one day.

☮Pinay Travel Junkie☮ said...
July 24, 2010 at 6:13 PM

I am sure it will be an awesome experience! Good luck and safe trips...

Justin said...
June 17, 2012 at 4:40 AM

Awesome! I think I'm missing the time your train left Gambir Station to Yogyakarta.

Marky Ramone Go said...
October 29, 2012 at 3:40 PM

Great photos. I just booked a Jakarta ticket (for next year pa huhuhu) and I wanna do overnight train going and daytime train trip going back to Jakarta.

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