Sometimes one needs to make a decision. Sometimes one needs to make that decision quickly. So I did.
Stay two more nights in Karimunjawa or leave within the hour. I chose the later. It took me ten minutes to pack and the guy from the hostel drove me on his vespa, bought me the ticket and then to the express ferry for destination Kendal. From Kendal there was a shuttle waiting to take us to Semarang. All good. The couple I met on the snorkelling tour the day before was so king and helpful and assured themselves that the shuttle really would drop me off at the railway station.
I have met quite a few people so far, both locals and other travelers. Unavoidable not to talk about my destination. But why don’t you fly to Bali, it only costs …. I don’t want to fly, I want to go by train or buss, I say. And then they repeat the flight info and once again I repeat my answer. I want to travel slowly. I know how airport works. The other thing I have never done in Indonesia.
It all started on the 27 november 11 am when I made the decision. One hour later the ferry left Karimunjawa. It took 2 and a half hours to reach port outside Kaliwungu. Bus to Semarang. Wait for 5 hours. Train to Surabaya 4 and a half hours. Motorbike to the other train station in Surabaya. Wait for 2 hours. Train to Banyuwangi 7 and a half hours. Bus, crossing on ferry, to Ubud bus station on Bali 5 and a half hours, taxi to hostel in the Sanur area 1 hour.
You don’t have to feel sorry for me, I chose this. I wanted it.
Otherwise I wouldn’t have been on the local bus from the ferry to Seramang and seen that half falling apart bus, the driver honking at motorbikes, locals moving closer to talk to me. I wouldn’t have learned that if you want to buy a ticket for a ride the same day, they wont sell it to you until 3 hours befor train leaves. That the restaurants at the station actually do serve the food through the window facing the waiting area. That when having an event the train station is apparently the obvious place to have it. That some trains in economy class are quite comfortable and others are just a pain for five hours. That the first aid kit box on trains is easy to find but always empty. That people sleep more or less everywhere when waiting for something. That one can expect the connecting train to leave from another station in the same city. That this country never sleeps. That people always carry take away food.
Or the fact that when the conductor comes to check the tickets he is flanked by two armed guards. With officials there is a lot of gold involved, either on buttons or stripes.
The police is very present in this society. At the railway station they check the tickets before letting people in to the waiting area. In some way they also have the function of a social worker. Women often approach them with different issues. Sometimes police gives people, men, tickets but I haven’t figured out why. Yet.
The little things that makes each country special. How people behave and treat each other. How some women here greet their husbands by kissing his hand. How the conductor on the bus always rush people on or off. That riding a bus isn’t about having a nice safe trip but to get to the destination as quickly as possible. As if it was a race. And if you want to make a local really happy complement them on their children or as for some extra sambal.
Traveling isn’t only about the beautiful beaches and the nice drinks. To me it is about observing how things work outside my own box.
But mostly it is about putting myself outside my comfort zone. By traveling cheap, not planing more than one or a couple of days ahead and engaging with the locals as much as possible.
This trip has been tiring and so rewarding. I will fall asleep with a smile on my lips.