Eastern Javan Road Trip

Our first Indonesian ferry! Half a Euro per person brings us onto the next island. Java – the most populated of all in Indonesia. Java has a train network spanning from East to West. In order to save time we planned to make use of it as much as possible and get to Sumatra (where there won’t be any infrastructure at all) sooner.

We got very lucky being picked up on the road by two young couples who drove us all across Eastern Java, invited us to their home and next morning to what would become my favourite dish in Indonesia – Nasi Pecel. A little hike through Central Java, hitch-hiking along winding roads through the hills and explaining to friends and relatives of our driver over the phone what exactly it is this hitch-hiking. Just at sunset we arrive at a train station and are being told that there are no seats left on the train to Yogyakarta. Memories of India. They won’t sell us luggage tickets (to ride in the baggage cart at the end, which i had read about online), nor is there a way to get us on the train without a reservation for a seat. We retreat. Outside we notice another office and find a young Chinese girl that works for the train company and speaks perfect English. She designs a plan of taking two local trains with a bit of a layover in the city of Madiun. A guard prevents people without tickets from entering the station, so we plan to not leave the station in Madiun and hope for a quite night of sleep on a station bench.
Three hours later I’m on wikipedia reading about Java’s most important railway node Madiun, where trains arrive every 10 minutes and the engine drivers stop always next to where we are “sleeping”. As any business, the trains are operated by ten times more people than necessary so every train brings a crowd of railway workers to stare at us (and attempting the national sport of “taking selpi”). We decide to sleep another time.

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