Friday, June 11
Yogyakarta, Java, Indonesia
From â€™round about midnight to 4:00 a.m., during the 350-mile, 16-hour bus ride from Bali to Solo, Java, I managed to nod off to sleep a few times. It was hard, though, because the roads in Java are a lot more bumpy than Bali, and the bus driver seemed to be interested in nothing except going as fast as humanly possible. Occasionally, I woke up, sat up and looked out the front windshield as we passed a slow truck, only to see another tour bus or big truck heading straight toward us at an alarming speed. Our driver would veer out of its path and back into our lane at the very last nanosecond. After a quick panic, I would fall back asleep, and Iâ€™m sure that same scenario played itself out over and over while I wasnâ€™t looking, all night long.
I hit the first big snag in my journey when I missed the stop for Solo, Java. My guidebook described it as a terminal, but we never pulled into one. The bus just let various people off on the street once every few minutes. A bit later, I got suspicious and asked the driver, and he said we already passed my stop. I decided to just stay on the bus another 3o miles to Yogjakarta, where I was planning to visit in a few days anyway.
I jumped off the bus there and was immediately surrounded by cab drivers. Thereâ€™s nothing like blazing on the back of a motorcycle taxi through the most hectic traffic you can imagine when youâ€™re completely out of your mind with exhaustion. I disembarked at the Sosrowijayan area, where there are plenty of cheap rooms. At around 9:00 a.m. I checked into a cheap room, all right: a two-bedder for $4.00 that was by far the dirtiest Iâ€™ve been in so far. So much so, in fact, that it was depressing. The walls were absololutely filthy and the only way to flush the toilet was to pour a bucket of water down it.
I napped for about three hours, only to be jarred awake by a strange yet beautiful voice singing over a PA somewhere nearby. It sounded like it might be some kind of Muslim devotional song, and went on for about an hour. After a quick shower, I couldnâ€™t take that room anymore, so I went and got an infinitely nicer and cleaner one at Bladok Losman. It cost twice as muchâ€“a whopping $8.00â€“but really lifted my spirits, especially after the 18-hour bus ride from hell.