Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Travel Journal: Indonesia (Jakarta & my first train ride)

On our way to Southeast Asia...
Adorable little meals on the Malaysian Airlines flight and the Taiwan Taoyuan Airport - so cute! 
The prayer room

Everything was Hello Kitty!
December 18th, 2013

Hostel in Jakarta
The flights were so easy. Over 20 hours traveling and I never ran out of things to do. Between reading, sleeping, and in-flight movies...we were all set. I'm on the train now from Jakarta to Yogyakarta. They call it Jogya - said like jo-juh. It's definitely simpler, so that's nice. There is a lot of pollution in Jakarta. It's like can literally see the cloud. They obviously don't have emissions standards (or don't enforce them); walking the streets you get hit with exhaust all the time. It's so huge, probably 3-4 "downtown" areas with well built sky scrapers and big shopping centers. What I think makes it especially interesting is the juxtaposition of these large structures next to miles and miles of tiny shacks, huts, and concrete squares..brick boxes with tarp roofs. The city is full of trash, twin mattresses with people sleeping all hours of the day. I've seen no women working...even in restaurants, only men. Booths, stores, on the roads - all men. Must be a more "women in the home" society. I hadn't read that, but it's apparent here in Jakarta.

Our first night we stayed in a hostel in the heart of the city. We walked from the bus station. It was quite an adventure and I was thankful for my little Lonely Planet map. Crazy traffic, motorbikes everywhere. I was definitely pleased with my backpack and trooped it around no problem. We took a shower, drank some beer, booked train tickets for today at a little travel agent next door, and went across the street to have dinner. I ordered shrimp and noodles. Boyfriend ordered seafood with rice. Delicious, lots of spice and flavor. It was presented and tasted more Asian than I expected. I always thought of Indonesia as very island-y. In reality, it feels like an extension of Asia, both the population and the culture. We both assumed we'd find a bar after dinner and relax out for a while, but no way. The food settled and it was off to bed. I had to spend some time hiding/figuring out money stuff so it was for the best. We are quite literally millionaires in Indonesia!

The view from the train today is awesome. The sun is rising slowly over the grass huts and wooden shacks. People are up, hanging clothes out of their windows and in trees. We picked up Dunkin Donuts at the train station. My lemon donut was delicious, nice and tart like lemon should be. Boyfriend tried the dreaded durian. He's always braver than me. But he couldn't finish it. I'll never understand. It tastes terrible...and not in an acquired way either, in a truly terrible way. Luckily we brought delicious snacks as well - waffle cookies, panda crackers, some crazy flavored chips.

The train ride is amazing. We're completely out of the city now and the rice fields are incredible. They stack down the sides of hills, with perfect mounds to separate them. People are bent over all through them. They wear long scarves around their heads and necks, straw hats. There are kids too, but they look mostly like they are playing. I don't see any vehicles, or houses near the rice fields. I wonder how long they walk to get here - or if someone picks them up. If you look directly over the window, there is a layer of trash along the train tracks. People have been throwing trash out the window since the 1950's and no one's cleaned it up. I saw a laundry soap box that definitely came from the 60's. And glass coke bottles. Lots of clothes and plastic bags with all the color washed away. It's pretty if you forget what it is. Once I lean back, the view goes back to rolling rice hills with occasional spots of jungle in between. It's green and blue everywhere. The sky reflects in the rice water, turns pearlescent. It's really spectacular.

I like trains.