I’ve now reached Indonesia, and it’s back on the trains through Java towards Bali for the new year.
It still feels a bit of a cheat, taking the flight from Singapore to Jakarta – only one and a half hours (less if you include the time difference), and necessary given the stretch of water that needs crossing. However, this has been the first time I’ve needed to leave land since leaving the UK. I’ve travelled over 45,000 kilometres over land, mostly by train with just the bus through Cambodia (as there aren’t any passenger trains) and Malaysia (which I hope to rectify soon on a return trip to Kuala Lumpur). It also meant I could get a new electric toothbrush in duty free, my last one died in Thailand.
Travelling by train again, I’m enjoying the gradual shift in landscape, the clatter and movement, and the new life on board and off. The first journey, from Jakarta to Bandung, was a very comfortable affair. Business class, I had a cup of tea and a magazine (entirely in Indonesian). Travelling further south to Yogyakarta, it’s economy all the way, with on board ‘entertainment’ of a continuous stream of people selling varieties of foods and several children with whistles. Three hours in and I’m struggling to ignore the cacophony of sounds, curious though as to where the endless supply of people trying to sell me things are coming from (and who is selling whistles). They have not stopped – for three hours!
Yogyakarta is another Javan city, with obligatory traffic. Another contrast to the relative calm of Pangandaran and it’s beach, where I spent Christmas Day. A sunset walk along the sand left me feeling what I imagine to be, like Paris Hilton. I was asked for my photograph four times, this could go to my head. Java is certainly proving to be friendly and very welcoming.
Back in the city and, turning to cross the road I am suddenly grabbed, from nowhere a large mans hand grasps mine and marches me across the street, holding his other hand in front of him, stopping traffic as we go. Something akin to Moses parting the waves in the Red Sea. I was clearly taking too long, and, after realising what just happened, I mentally add this to the growing list of acts of kindness from strangers.