Solo Trip: En route to Jogja


11:30 04/04/2014 How long does it take to reach Purwosari? More or less 10 Minutes by taxi, replied by the  jovial receptionist of Tune Hotel Solo. O great! we’re heading to Jogjakarta for our next destination. ” If you didn’t know, there is another train station near from here, about 5 minutes ride that also goes to Jogja”.  Before we even mention taxi, the cab was already waiting on the front door, ready to move us to Solo Balapan station.
Good thing about traveling to short distance in Solo was the fair flag down rate. A very good alternative compare to Becak ride. We’d time our travel from Tune hotel to train station, believe it or not. We reach Solo Balapan in 4 minutes 25 seconds. The receptionist wasn’t kidding then. 


People were rushing on opposite direction, kinda typical scene here in Solo Balapan station. We follow the herd and queued up on the ticketing booth. We’re both amused on how cheapo the train ticket could be in Indonesia. 



We scored tickets bound to Jogjakarta for 10,000 Indonesian Rupiah (roughly 34 Philippines Pesos) for an Economy seat per person. Damn cheap right?



We got half an hour prior our train departure, so we took chances and roam around the platforms. We’re like kids , unrestrained by a gossiping mom , exploring the vast space of train station. All the people we bump were friendly and seems careless about our meandering.



Later on we found out, Balapan is the largest train station in Surakarta even in Central Java. It connects the major cities such as Jakarta, Bandung, Surabaya, Semarang and Jogjakarta.



We keep gazing our watch to check our spare time. It’s 11:00 local time, 10 minutes prior our scheduled departure. We rushed and headed straight to our assigned platform. It was empty and  no one is around? We felt nervous thinking we went to a wrong coach or platform. We asked the train staff near our coach and showed our train tickets. He said we were too early. Sigh! This means our  the train leaves a bit later.


We’re astounded on how our economy seat looks like. For us it doesn’t look like one. It was comfortable and the cushion was soft enough to support our aching butt and back from traveling. The windows are so wide, ensuring everyone got a chance to peek a beautiful scenery we might passed by. AC’s are functional and keep the coach cooler the entire trip.

Since the train will not leave anytime soon, we goof around. The photo below shows it all. 




We felt amazed after the staff rotated our seat in 180 degrees. But why? She abruptly pointed the way where our train would be heading. That’s make sense, it would be awkward travelling on a train where the seat arrangement is opposite to the headed direction.


Looking at the train linear map, there are 4 stops in between to Jogjakarta. The expected travel time is 1 hour and 10 minutes. This will be a short train ride compare to our 15 hours journey from KL to Hat Yai few years back. 


The engine initiated and we slightly felt the locomotion. After few minutes our train started to navigate through the tracks , leaving Solo Balapan station.


We find bliss each time we boarded the train. The incessant joy it brings, like a kid who experienced it for the first time. You can’t blame us, we grow up in a Mindanao where train is foreign and bus is king. 



Our faces tilted 45 degrees facing the window, peeping the facet of Indonesian daily life. Few minutes after passing Purwosari  station we saw the motorists converge near the traffic barrier. Majority of them look nonchalant and patient to wait for the train passed the intersection. 



Another sight captures our attention was the shanties living near the rail road. We saw the exact scene in the Philippines and Thailand. The shacks looks falling apart, roofs were anchored by used tires or any heavy debris, and crowded with random stuffs. It opens a reality that poverty is everywhere. 



The paddy fields and green scenery did a good job changing the mood of uneasiness. All we saw for next 30 minutes was vast field of rice dotted the plane of Central Java. We can’t help but wave and smile to the farmers we saw from our window. Some of them responded with a smile and rest were oblivious.



The train decelerated and made a compulsory stop at Lempuyangan, the last station before Jogjakarta. Some people alighted and other were ready for next station.


Our train passed by on an elevated track which gave us a bird’s eye view of suburbs in Central Java. We saw graffiti on every wall, which made us assumed that freedom of expression through art is well exercise here.  After a few minutes our train reached our destination, Yogyakarta



Most of the passengers scramble to disembarked in Yogyakarta station. While us, holding our backpack, glued our foot and doesn’t bother to make a move until everyone get out. Though this train was a brief ride, it give a glimpse of daily life of Javanese people and time for personal reflection.

Jogjakarta welcomed us with a warm embrace, literally. Off for a temple hopping adventure on succeeding posts.


Train Commuters,


Sky and Summer


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