A speedy placement of a pebble on my ‘trail of breadcrumbs’ was made in Java. Another train station, but quite a busy one, so there was no hanging about deliberating over where it was best left. Hence little time to document its new home and some hurriedly taken photos.
…cockroaches can climb. They can also fly of a sort apparently. I am having much more cockroach contact than is desirable, but as I have been told, I am now in the Southern Hemisphere. An interesting blog I’ve encountered while trying to ascertain whether or not they can climb is www.edibug.wordpress.com and it proves an interesting read, the nutritional values certainly cannot be argued with. However, as it turns out I learned through experience rather than google that they can in fact climb. Underneath the wardrobe is one thing but in the bed is quite another (I have my standards).
New Year’s Day and my last morning in Java was spent drinking coffee and eating fried bananas. Visiting the Glenmore plantations; coffee, rubber and cocoa are the predominant crops. A tour of the plantation and factories give an insight into the processes of these rudimentary staples of society, all of which are harvested and processed by hand with basic machinery. Fifteen hundred hectares are managed and worked by 300 people.
Drinking coffee with Sophina a few days ago, the local ‘Starbucks’ to Semilion, Glenmore offered some contrast. Sophina has been making coffee for the last 78 years. Now 92, this is her only means of supporting herself. Her character glows as she poses for her photo to be taken before she returns to grinding up the coffee beans with a large pestle and mortar, crouching on the floor with more agility than a 40 year old.
The Glenmore plantation, a much larger establishment, has 400 hectares just of coffee and many more of cocoa, vanilla, rubber and fruit. Unlike the hill tribe in Northern Thailand, staff work here making very proiftable exports, although the plantation is under a shared ownership between the Government and Chinese (60:40). Top quality rubber makes $5 per kilogram and cocoa $4 (US).
Other things I’ve learned that I didn’t know I didn’t know are that pineapples grow on the ground and pumpkins grow on trees (yes, they do).
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.