Saturday 4th February- Day 5

Today has been a day of travel. Well, it IS a day of travel, because it’s not over yet. I’m currently sitting in Banuwangi Baru train station, which is just up from the ferry port here in Java, waiting for a train to take us to Probolinggo, where we are going to spend the next couple of days before we continue on to Yogyakarta.

I had the same delicious banana pancakes for breakfast this morning and then we all packed our bags (I’m so sick of that) and walked up to the Puri Lukisan to catch the Turtle bus back to Denpasar. It was kind of going backwards in relation to our final destination of Gilimanuk, which is where we were planning to catch the ferry from Bali to Java, but getting directly from Ubud to Gilimanuk was either impossible, difficult, or really expensive so back in the direction of Denpasar we went.

The turtle bus dropped us off at Sanur Maccas, where we ate an early lunch and then caught a taxi across the city to the bus depot. I was incredibly glad for Alyssa’s presence when the taxi stopped at the bus depot and there was a crowd of guys who descended on us even before we’d got out of the cab. I think they wanted us to catch their buses, but it was honestly pretty intimidating and I don’t know how I would have handled such a thing if I was on my own. I guess it’s a combination of that and a kind of confusing schedule and route information that mean most tourists don’t really use those buses – I think I saw one other foreigner in the station and on the bus.

However I’m really glad we caught the bus, because it just felt like a four hour tour of Bali for me and I loved it. There were rice fields and beaches and mountains and rivers and jungles and villages and houses and stores and people going to temple and making things and eating and sitting around and riding motorbikes and selling things and working in their rice fields and a million other things. I saw cows and goats and chickens (with roosters and baby chicks) and lots of dogs. Plus, the bus was ‘executive class’ which means it was like a V-line bus in Australia and therefore extremely comfortable. And extremely well air-conditioned, thank god, because it was sunny today and it was nice to not actually be grossly sweaty for a while.

The bus ride included the ferry ride too, so we drove right into the port area. Then came one of the weirdest things of this whole trip – the bus stopped, and all these people came rushing on selling mostly unidentifiable snacks. There was even a lady with a thermos of hot water and coffee and noodles! I don’t know, the whole thing just struck me as bizarre, but they all got off the bus as quickly as they’d rushed on, and then we drove right onto the ferry. We had to get off the bus then, so we went upstairs to the deck and sat outside so that we could watch. The ferry trip wasn’t that long really (I mean, you can see Java from the Bali side before you’re even on the boat) and it was so pretty. There was Bali on one side and Java on the other, with a nicely dangerous looking active volcano in between them, and lots of ferries chugging around. The sun was dropping as we crossed – unfortunately too cloudy for beautiful sunset photos, but it was still lovely to see all the twinkly lights on Java as we came closer.

We got back on the bus on the ferry and then it drove us off the boat and then stopped to let us off right in the port. Not being sure how long purchasing tickets might take we went straight to the train station to organise that, but it wasn’t any trouble. We just had a few hours to wait.

It seemed like a good idea to go and get dinner, and there wasn’t really any question about where we were going to eat – on the walk to the train station we had passed a restaurant right on the corner that had a mother cat and two tiny kittens playing in the doorway and Emma was enraptured, so we headed back that way. Emma spent the time waiting for her food crawling around making kitty friends, and then actually ate her dinner with a kitten snoozing on her lap. I think these kittens were the highlight of her trip so far…to think I could have probably just taken her down to the Animal Aid at home and got the same reaction, and saved myself all the trouble of bringing her overseas!

I left Emma playing with kittens and minding our bags while I went across to the Indomaret shop to buy some water and a snack for our train ride (I am drinking so much water here!) and then I eventually tore her away and we came back here to the train station to wait. It’s not the greatest palce to wait, since it’s horribly humid and this bench I’m sitting on is sending my ass to sleep, but there are lots of cicaks running about on the walls and roof and there is a convenient bank of powerplugs where I am charging my phone, so it’s not all bad. And we ponied up the extra money for ‘executive class’ train seats, so I believe that means air conditioning and hopefully a seat comfortable enough for me to take a little nap, since we’re not scheduled to get where we’re going until something like 2am. That’s going to be exhausting, but we’re giving ourselves tomorrow as a day of rest to make up for it.

Okay, we’re on the train now, and it’s delightfully air-conditioned. The seats can also spin around, so Emma and I have turned around to face Alyssa, which not only means we can talk to each other (although I think we’re all planning on taking a nap) but it gives us lots of room at our feet for all the bags. We also have a little pillow and a blanket in a bag in case we get chilly, as well as a tv on the wall, so I’d have to say that the Indonesian train system certainly has its good side. (Although I do not know what is going on in the non-eksecutif class of carriages!)

Ten more days. I think it will go fast, but at the moment it feels like there are so many good things to do and yet no real rush. I’m kind of nervous about staying with Alyssa’s family in Yogya, but I am also really looking forward to seeing everything she loves there. It feels so strange to be counting down the days until I get to go home again, and at the same time never wanting to leave.


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