I think I may have caught some form of sleep a few minutes after our train left Jakarta. I could not remember anymore when I dozed off but I could still recall seeing fleeting images of the capital’s urban sprawl, the houses with clay-tiled roofs at the city outskirts and the green rice paddies that characterized most of the landscape in Central Java. I probably drifted to la la land after that.
But I was already awake when a passenger’s muffled shriek broke the monotony that morning. She then pointed to the area where she saw a small mice scampered across to. Everyone stood up and checked if it’s hiding behind their luggage.
Someone even armed himself with a rolled newspaper in one hand, looking very determined to squeeze the poor fellow if it crosses his way. The mice however outwitted all of us and long before we could even realize it, we all moved on from this welcome comic relief.
A train staff entered our coach and took our orders for lunch. I chose the nasi ayam from the one-page menu.
I had difficulty balancing the plate on my lap. Perhaps the couple seated behind me sensed my desperation that’s why they showed me how to pull out the retractable desk by my side. I smiled and thanked them for their kind intervention.
“How many stops more before Yogyakarta?” I asked them as I sipped my tea.
“A handful more,” the lady replied.
It was still 12 noon and this train is expected to arrive at Yogyakarta at around 5 PM. My impatience could have worn me down at that point, but thankfully I was still upbeat with the fact that this was my first and at that time, longest train journey as well.
Admittedly, I could use some humor, which Dexter has loads of, to help me get by the day’s dull moments. He was supposed to be my travel companion in Indonesia but he backed out at the last minute due to work commitments.
The afternoon’s silence was surprisingly bearable and to some extent, necessary. I was just content with watching how life unfolded on this moving train, from the tiny mice that was still nowhere to be found, the sun setting on the west and the many already empty seats at this hour of the day.
The train arrived on time at Yogyakarta. I walked out of the station and hailed an ojek, a reverse rickshaw in these parts, to take me to EDU Hostel.
The front desk officer would later inform me that my driver actually charged me twice the normal fare but I didn’t mind being ripped off. I was just glad that after an 8-hour train ride, I was finally at ‘Jogja.’