All the blogs and trip advisor posts screamed "get out of Jakarta as soon as you can!", and with it firmly behind me now I can heartily agree. It was meant as a port at the end of a long flight. A place to get a local SIM card for my phone and ditch the jet lag, but it served as a panic button for a day. This is a city almost impossible to explore on foot and is overcrowded with pushy and insistent cabbies and street hawkers. A part of this, I'm sure, was due to my location, as I chose a spot close to the train I'd be taking early in the morning to Yogyakarta, but with the complete lack of anything that felt even remotely safe or interesting, I found myself wondering more than once "what am I doing?"
I spent half a day running between the air conditioned hotel room with free wifi and a convenience store about half a mile away trying to purchase, register and then set up the SIM card. I even borrowed a pair of scissors to cut the one I could find down to fit into my phone, to the bewildered astonishment of the hotel staff who assured me that it didn't work that way. Ha! Brute force is a strong argument against going back out into the hot and humid mess outside. It's not elegant, but it works beautifully. I celebrated by heading to the nicer part of town for "the best oxtail soup ever". Donna, pay attention because I ate hot soup in this weather mostly because of you.
After a bit of research it became pretty obvious that all the best restaurants in this city are inside of fancy hotels, so I picked one and hopped into a cab. The hotel was lovely, the service was impeccable and the soup was delicious, but I barely stayed awake through dinner and headed back to the hotel to once again pass out early.
I got up at 5am the next morning to pack up, eat a quick breakfast at the hotel (don't ask, it was some kind of a super salty porridge and coffee), and head out to catch my train, once again repeating "no thank you" to the billion cabbies offering a ride to the end of the block. The process of getting a ticket and figuring out where to go was much easier than expected and I was very soon on my way.
Sorry for the blurry picture, but the train was moving very fast.
As the train sped further away from the slums and ruins of the city I began to relax. Here was the lush country I had seen in pictures. Here were the mountains and the endless waterlogged rice fields. Here was the reason I planned all this in the first place. The ride was 8 hours, but I had a kindle and the amazing views to keep me occupied. I started and finished two books on that ride, an insane thought considering that before I left, I'd been inching my way through one book for the last three months.
I hopped into a cab when I got off the train and made my way to the lovely home stay I found on airbnb where I was warmly greeted with the lay of the land and a cold melon juice. It was raining pretty hard so after settling in I popped over to the closest restaurant and ordered something that looked very British and not even remotely local, but it was tasty and as I relaxed under the lazy fans and listened to the rain patter on the leaves of the palm trees outside....I wrote this post! Ha! It's much too early in the trip for deep and meaningful life realizations :)