The Champagne Backpacker: Michael's Round the World Trip 2005-2007-- The Adventure of a Lifetime travel blog

Mount Merapi Viewed From Bladok Losmen

Fruit Vendor

Motorbikes Are King In Indonesia


Making Batik

Honey, An Indonesian I Met At My Losmen, Who Wanted To Practice...

Ramayana Cast At The Purawisata

Little Monkeys From The Ramayana

Wayang Kulit (Leather Puppet Shadow) Play, Sono-Budoyo Museum

Traditional Javanese Leather Puppet Shaddow Play, Sono-Budoyo Museum

THURSDAY, MAY 25, 2006. YOGYAKARTA, JAVA, INDONESIA. It took close to twelve hours on three separate buses to get to Yogyakarta in central Java from Mount Bromo in eastern Java. The first minibus ride took two hours from Mount Bromo to Probolingo. From Probolingo, I tried to find a bus to Yogyakarta. Unfortunately, upon arrival at the bus station, people can tell immediately that I'm a tourist and they lead me to a travel agency. The travel agent quoted me a price of Rp 125,000 (US$14) for the eight hour bus ride to Yogyakarta, with two departures within the hour. From Lonely Planet, I knew the actual rate should have been around Rp 50,000 (US$6). Initially, I agreed to pay the Rp 125,000, then I changed my mind after thinking about it for a minute. I told the agent I was going to shop around--meaning just go out to the buses and start asking people for prices. He immediately turned hostile on me. I told him essentially "Look buddy, you're trying to charge me 1 1/2 times the standard fare, and I'm not going to pay it." He tells me it's because it's an express a/c bus. I tell him I'm in no hurry and I like the fresh air. Another traveller (Austrian) agreed with my assessment. We proceeded to the rows of buses and started asking destinations and prices. The Austrian found his bus. Before he boarded, he commented to me how the Indonesians selling transport were generally two-faced in that they would be nice to you in their sales pitch, but if you politely declined, they would get angry. I had to agree with him as this was the third time this has happened to me. I continued to look for a Yogyakarta bound bus, but couldn't find one. The agent found me and tried again to sell me a ticket. I refused. He then started talking to everyone in Indonesian--I'm sure he basically told everyone not to help me. It was clear the situation wasn't getting any better, so I hopped on a bus to Surabaya. I knew I could definitely get a bus to Yogya from there, although it would be a slight detour. I did and it was. I arrived in Yogya at 10 pm after starting out at 9 am from Mt. Bromo.

I've noticed two unique things about bus travel in Indonesia. First, while you're on a bus waiting for it to depart, vendors come on board and place stuff on your lap hoping you will buy it when then come back. Second, in between the vendors, musicians play the guitar, sing, and ask for a handout.

My losmen (guesthouse) here in Yogya has a view of Mount Merapi from the balcony. Mount Merapi has been in the international news recently due to a higher than normal amount of volcanic activity. People living on the slopes were evacuated a couple of weeks ago. It appears that the volcano has settled down, at least for the time being. If it does erupt in the next day or so, I will have a front-row seat.

Near Yogya (pronounced "Jogja"), there are two ancient sites: Borobudur (Buddhist) and Prambanan (Hindu). I visited Borobudur today, an hour bus ride northwest of Yogya. It rained intermitently during my visit. (I will post photos of Borobudur, Mt. Bromo, and Tana Toraja shortly.) This evening, I caught a performance of the Javenese version of the Ramayana ballet. Honestly, it was boring and overpriced--the dances and scenes were very repetitive and the price was double what you would pay in Ubud, Bali, for a better performance.

Tomorrow I plan to visit Prambanan and then wander around Yogya. On Saturday, I catch a daytime train to Jakarta, where I will have one day to explore (Sunday), before flying back to Bangkok.

By the way, several of you found my May 3 post interesting enough to send me an email. My younger (and self-proclaimed wiser) cousin thought the equation should be Happiness = People > Place > Job. He opined that you could be at the most amazing place in the world, but you have to share it with someone. I think it depends on the place and the circumstances. Moreover, the post was titled "What Should I Do With My Life?" not "Who Should I Spend The Rest Of My Life With?" I'm still trying to figure out the answer to this last question.

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