Monday, June 21
Solo, Java, Indonesia
When I stepped out of my room this morning, I was astonished by the strange, haunting and beautiful sound of two separate voices somewhere across the alley singing Muslim religious songs through really loud PAs. I was so bummed I couldn't record it! I was also sad that I had to leave the creature comforts of the Warung Baru hotel, so what else could I do except grab lunch at the Warung Baru cafe? I was accompanied by Ralf, a fellow traveler from Germany who has been on the road in Southeast Asia since November 2009. He left his job back then to travel around the world, which he's done numerous times before. He gave me the lowdown on all of the rad places to check out in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, where I'll be heading soon.
One of the main reasons Ralf was in Solo was to climb nearby Gunung Merapi, a mountain that's about 9,000 feet high. To see the sunrise on top, he has to start the hike at midnight and he'll return to the bottom by noon. For lunch, I ordered another omellette served on Warung Baru's delicious homemade bread. I love it so much that I bought a half loaf of it to take with me to the airport.
After Ralf left, I sat in the cafe for a while to kill some time when I saw a colorful 50-something Australian named Stuart and his girlfriend Karie, whom I had chatted with a few times already, climb out of a becak and head into their room at Istana Griya. He is a farmer and artist who was in Solo to have some of his artwork printed on textiles for a big show he's putting on down in Melbourne. Like Ralf, Stuart has also traveled all around the world since the '70s. He told us a bunch of stories about sketchy things that have happened to him in foreign countries, like getting thrown in jail in Pakistan, falling seriously ill with diahrea in the middle of nowhere in India, running out of money, and a bunch of other crazy stuff.
A little while later, I hopped on a really hot, crowded train back toward Yogyakarta and got off at a little town called Maguwo, the home of Adisucipto Airport. Since the only flight to Singapore was at 7:30 a.m. I had planned to sleep in the airport, but it's a really small one and I was told I'd probably get the boot. So, exhausted, I ended up trudging a kilometer down a dark highway to lay my weary head on a pillow for a few hours in a really run-down hotel called Kalasan. Amid the sounds of roaring traffic off in the distance, fighting dogs and what could have only been a couple of Jehovah's witnesses wrestling a set of wind chimes, I "enjoyed" some sporadic shuteye until Mr. iPod woke me up at 4:30 a.m. for my flight to Singapore.