Indonesia Part II: Planes, Trains and Becaks

Luxury Bus

Finally. A palace on wheels. Starving, from only snacking on peanuts and Leah’s prized Luna bars, sent in a special package from U.S.A, we pounced upon any vendor offering packaged and product labeled foods.  We weren’t in Bali anymore. We reclined in our neon geometric 80’s designed cushioned seats, only to be greeted with a bottled water. This couldn’t be? Were we dreaming? Complimentary? We woke up comfortably chilled to an abandoned terminal at 3 am expecting another motorcycle ride. We wandered the brightly lit streets with our taxi driver until we stumbled upon Dewa Homestay and a wide eyed burly, bear like man sitting wide awake under framed pictures of Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix and the Doors. “How much are rooms?” 10,00 rupiahs ($10) “Perfect.  We’ll take it.


When we arrived in Yogjakarta, the streets of Maliboro were lined with horse and carriages and persistent drivers of vehicles called Becaks (pronounced Beshaks). Our new local tour guide and good friend from Dewa Homestay immediately took us under his wing.  Danang was his name.  He kindly, but shyly insisted on leading us on foot to the famous, yet unimpressive Water Palace, to the creepy and unethical bird market, where thousands of helpless birds hang in cages jumping from one platform to the other, unable to use their most wonderful gift, their wings, to te famous gado-gado (the staple local dish consisting of parboiled vegetables smothered in rich peanut sauce) restaurant, where he attempted to help me flirt translating to the cute non English speaking waiter.  When we gave Danang a break, which was much needed after two fulls days with two over curious and over determined newbies to the city, happy drivers pedaled us through the chaotic traffic for a couple dollars when our legs gave out from the excessive walking and wandering.

We only planned to stay 5 days, but grew attached to not only the city, but to our family at the home-stay. We woke in the morning to Budi, who prided himself on his breakfasts which we easily got accustomed to. I nicknamed him
“Banana man” after his famous dish of banana rolled in a thick crepe with honey chocolate sauce drizzles and raved about them daily.  Leah preferred the french toast and butter soaked omelet with a strong cup of instant coffee to start the day.  That goes along with our Yin Yang philosophy that has defined many moments and instances this trip.  But one thing that breaks the theory is hunger.  We are both always hungry!  We see ourselves as complementary forces, unseen and seen, that interact to create a greater whole, as part of a dynamic traveling system.

Banana man

Then there was chain smoking Agus, also known as Balu from the Jungle Book.  A business man, husband, and story teller.  His stories about his 17 years as a truck driver in the States could fill a book, and a recycling bin of empty Bintang (beers).  His wife, Ria, always wore a big smile. She practiced her English after a day or two, once she established rapport with us and even started to accept my compliments as a daily ritual.  Agus and Ria, playfully interacted as a young couple, but wisely reiterate to me in all seriousness their one piece of advice.  I must open my heart.  Danang would humorously add commentary that Budi had the key to my heart, if only he hadn’t misplaced it (along with the hundred other room keys he apparently lost)! Budi would just chuckle looking around frantically and shoot me a kiss across the air.

Ria invited us to her family’s warung (local restaurant) the day before our departure, where her mother and younger sister served homecooked, mouthwatering food and coffee to the locals on their lunch break. We acted as waitresses, although scared and intimidated most customers with our fast English.

Ria and Mom


Solo was just an hour away.  For a dollar fifty, we jumped aboard the train.  Reclining seats. Air con. Coffee servers strolling down the aisles.  In transit food service.  After our jaunt around the city in the crippling heat, in between visiting the most friendly and welcoming two story market where each stall was home to old women shelling garlic and shallots, then relaxing at Kasunanan Palace, we were looking forward to the luxuries of the morning train ride.  Although we wondered why our ticket was fifty cents cheaper and foolishly forgot our motto of expect the unexpected until we were pushed onto an old, stuffy train, where families were sprawled out on the ground, sitting on old newspapers.  We were forced to stand for the next hour, hanging from the handle bars like orangutans, trying to giving any sort of relief to our burning calves and sore feet.  Once again, you never know what your ‘gonna get. This time, Leah and I smirked at each other like mind readers, without saying a word, but silently acknowledging the obvious.

To Be Continued…Indonesia Part III



2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. danang
    Oct 24, 2012 @ 09:00:32



  2. thaicurryinkorea
    Oct 24, 2012 @ 13:02:51

    Glad the luna bars came in handy. 🙂


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