Traveling Through Java

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December 26th 2009
Published: December 28th 2009
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After spending a few days chilling out in Kuta, we decided it was time to move on. We got on a bus and drove to the north east point of Bali and then crossed over with a ferry. We then embarked onto a sixteen hour journey to get to the city of Yogyakarta, in central Java. Culture shock was in overdrive here. The main issue was that English was poorly understood, the vast majority of people we tried communicating with knew maybe a couple of words MAX. In fact many people didn't even use the words correctly which messed us up at times.

Our bus ride was interesting to say the least. We sat right up at the front and had a huge view of everything ahead of us, which was both good and bad. There are certain things that are probably best left unseen. First of all the Indonesian drivers can be accurately described as insane. Most of the roads have only two lanes, one coming and one going, which means passing habits border on suicidal. Generally we headed onto the opposite side of the road to pass slower vehicles and sometimes it was a race to pass before colliding into a truck for example. At first this was unsettling, but then it was happening with such frequency that we just got used to it. The drivers kept alternating and smoked kretek cigs like chimneys. Also a bottle of Arak kept being passed around between them so not only were they driving recklessly but were also getting more and more drunk! Indonesian roads ranged from mediocre to horrible BUT the fact remained that they were still way better than many roads back home (Quebec). Amazing to consider how a developing kicks our ass in terms of that regardless of the fact that we get harsh winters while they don't. Also traffic lights seemed to be happily ignored at times. Still we had a great view of the country traveling like this and I probably only slept about two hours in total on this ride due to uncomfortable seats, distracting scenery and the need to watch my bag like a hawk.

We arrived in Yogya at seven in the morning the next day, and I immediately ran off the bus to take a giant shit. I remembered to grab some toilet paper. After eating we took a local bus to Borobudur, the biggest Buddhist temple on the planet, built sometime in the eighth century. Upon arriving Billy stayed behind due to lack of interest and I headed in and realized there were thousands of tourists (most seemed to be Indonesian). That sucked. Still the temple was massive and I spent a few hours exploring and made my way up to the top where I was treated to an amazing view of the surrounding mountain ranges. Then an even funnier thing happened. Must of been cuz seeing a Caucasian person is such a rare site here but I had entire families coming up to me and asking to get their pictures taken together at the top of the temple. Next thing I knew there was a lineup of people all waiting their turns. I should have charged them. This went on for a while until it began to pour, which sent everyone into a frenzy as they tried to find cover but which was a welcome relief to me because I was sweating like a beast due to the damn humidity, so I just stood there for a bit. Afterwards I made my way down and rejoined my friend where we took another bus to the town of Semerang.

Upon reaching it and after much confusion we found a bus to Jakarta and were in for another ten hour overnight ride. At around two in the morning we were awakened to transfer to another bus. After falling back asleep for a few hours we were awakened once again, this time realizing we were the last two on the bus. I kept asking the driver if we had reached Jakarta yet and he just kept nodding so we disembarked. We walked around aimlessly for a while, I still hadn't completely woken up yet, talk about a rude awakening. It took a while to find someone who could speak English, but once we did we learned we were actually in a smaller town an hour south of our intended destination. UGHHh. We grabbed a cab to yet another bus and eventually reached central Jakarta.

The sweltering heat was taking a toll on us and we looked at the map and headed to one of the hotels listed within. When we arrived we found the only entrance to be in the back of the building and headed up to find scantily clad women in front of different rooms. Funny how the first "hotel" we chose turned out to be a brothel. When I asked if there was place to sleep I just got laughter as a response. We eventually did find some decent lodging and passed out for a while.

Jakarta was quite dirty in general and nothing much to behold. A big problem I noticed was the fact that there was so much freestanding water all over the place, it meant an absolute breeding frenzy for mosquitoes. I got devoured by them. Billy, who serves in the reserves, got some special vaccine that accelerates his healing so any bites he sustained simply disappeared in an hour or so, while I ripped my skin apart. Or so he says. The town didn't impress us much and we made sure to move out quickly.

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