The arrival to the city was smooth. I found a bus to take me to the backpacker area and take it from there. But when I reached the hostel, it was too early to check in. It didn’t matter to me, I was exhausted and I only wanted to chill a bit and do a bit of stuff in my computer. Basically, I wanted to check my next steps in the country and what to arrange next, so I took things easy until I was able to check in.
By that time, it was already settled that I needed to get train tickets to make sure I was getting out of the city and getting to enjoy a bit the volcano stuff that so long I had been looking forward to. And that’s where I met Lea, this French girl staying in my room and going as well to the train station. She took me in the motorbike and there we had to wait 4 hours to get to our turn. By the time that happened, we found out that there were not tickets to suit either of our plans. So we looked at each other and decided to take the next train tickets available to Surabaya. It was her destination as mine from the very beginning, only that she was planning to go there the very next day and I was planning to take an earlier and more convenient train for the given day (not the one arriving at 1.30am…)
Anyways, it was what it was left so that was the only way and that meant that we were going together. Which was fantastic, since we pretty much had the same plans and ideas: volcano stuff! That’s all I did my first day in Indonesia. I was tired and the heat never helps. But I felt hungry and I decided to venture for food in the famous Malioboro Street, where I managed to get stuff here and there and also be boarded by a man trying to get me to the batik shop. According to him, I had to see the exhibition because it was its last day and blablabla… All kind of bullshit that they need to tell you, but I just went to see it because I had no strength to argue and it was free, so it was okay to have a look and go back.
For my next day, I had to wake up early to get to the biggest Buddhist temple in Asia. Once I got there, and after taking a local bus where you actually could smoke (I was so surprised that I ended up having a smoke inside the bus myself with another local), I got there and I got annoyed because I wasn’t able to get the student discount. Yes, I know, I am no student, but still keep my student card from my young days and use it whenever I can. So after paying a fortune, I got in and didn’t find any peace at all. The place was impressive and I loved it, yes. But the experience was quite different. There was no spirituality left at all when visiting the place. Just a huge amount of mainly local tourists. Between those, there were lots of students which had as a task to interview a foreigner to practice their English. I must say that the first ones were cute and even funny. But after being interviewed, recorded and photographed with every single student there, had been asked the very same questions every single time and the questions were just read and not meant at all, I got sick. Around the fifth group I had to start saying no. And the selfie stuff was about the same. I was asked so many times in a very short time to take a selfie with every person, separately, that it just felt exhausting. And I felt sorry about this, for them and for myself as well. Because I am always of the opinion that doing something that makes people happy and takes so little is just good and worth it. But this was too much and I could see myself running away and avoiding the places where the students were to avoid another interview. I couldn’t take another one and the heat started making me struggle a bit.
I didn’t do much more during the evening when I came back to the hostel because the heat had destroyed me and I was in need of real good sleep.
I went out for food with Lea and had a huge surprise!! Lola, the German girl I shared a few days with in Laos, was there and we just met in the middle of the street, just like that! Then, I had pretty good news from my friend in Japan and he confirmed me my stay in the countryside in Japan, what made me extra happy, as I was having my doubts and subsequent concern. And made me sleep happy, well and long (long enough)
What came next, during my last day in the city, was a cultural visit to the surroundings of the area where I was staying. So I started with some strange food, trying out things here and there and arrived to the Sultan Palace, as I recently discovered, this is the only place in the country that has a Sultan! The palace was lovely and I liked the place, but things got only better where I started a conversation with one of the tourist policemen and he started following me and talking to me to practise his English. Then, we decided to go together somewhere else but first I had to take a picture with all of them!
I got in his car and he offered me to take me to the water palace, which was nearby or to some mountain around. As I had to take my train in the evening, I couldn’t go really far and risk to miss my train because I really didn’t know what was the plan or where the mountain was, so although I would have loved to go to the mountain, I chose the water palace. He drove me there (5 min drive) and we then sat down to get some tea together and exchange a nice conversation. From what I could gather from the conversation, his wife would not be very happy if she finds out about this and he would have taken me to his house and showed me more stuff but his wife was there and I was leaving and all that. I kind of suspected that he was in search of a second wife. But anyways, things never got awkward or anything, he was quite funny and just happy to share a chat and a laugh. He was super nice and told me to be careful with my passport and my stuff and gave me a number I could call if I had any kind of trouble or anything (not his number because if her wife caught the call would not be okay). Then I visited the water palace by myself and also an underground mosque, which I liked quite a lot!
I came back to the hostel, came across Lola again in the middle of the street (seriosusly, what are the chances?), chilled a bit, took my stuff and head with Lea to the train station. The plan was to take a 6 hours train that would arrive quite late to Surabaya, so we would sleep there, take a bus in the morning to Probbolingo, take another bus to Cemoro Langwa and then hit Mount Bromo, an active volcano! Wohoo!