Living with intent, social engagement, learning, growing, giving
On the way to Bandung station this morning before 7 am we saw young children walking along the very narrow road’s edge in small groups and pairs to school (Saturday) and doing a better job of negotiating the constant traffic than we do. We also saw a few cyclists and joggers in fancy gear exercising amongst the impoverished villagers who need to maintain as much energy as possible rather than expend it on frivolous exercise.
At Bandung railway station a guard was making an announcement so I stopped to listen in case it related to us. When he saw me watching him he interrupted his announcement to smile and tell me in English which platform we should go to (even though I wasn’t aware that he knew which train we were catching he must have overheard the ticket inspector). The train is very comfortable in Executive class (only tickets left) which is just as well because it’s a 7 1/2 hour ride. On the train I was struck again by how discrete and quiet most Indonesians are, taking care not to disturb the journey of anyone else. My son with his uber loud voice must have disturbed everyone but no one even batted an eyelid.
A waitress walked through the train every 30 minutes taking orders for meals and the chicken teriyaki that I had was tasty. A reflexology massage therapist came through the train offering services and I was delighted to accept his offer of a foot then shoulder and head reflexology massage, next went my daughter and then husband so that he spent over 2 1/2 hours on my family. His service was excellent and we tipped him handsomely. His chair was setup in a room with a polite and friendly policeman having a brief rest between stations.
The train ride gave me ample opportunity to observe the entire life cycle of rice growing because almost the whole distance between Bandung and Yogyakarta has rice paddies beside the tracks. I saw rice grains being tossed by hand into rice paddies, seedlings being carefully dug up and distributed to different paddies, rice plants being tended by hundreds or perhaps thousands of men and women, some up to their thighs in water and all wearing hats, many of the brown conical kind seen in Vietnam, rice being harvested and winnowed, and husks being burnt.
The country east of Bandung was mountainous with beautiful volcanoes rising above the floodplains and the further east we went the more flat it became as the floodplain widened and the volcanoes were smaller and more closely spaced. It was all exceptionally green and beautiful but there was precious little forest or wilderness of any kind. We passed many villages and I saw children returning home from school presumably pleased to start their weekends. I also saw a funeral procession with the coffin covered by a thick black velvet with golden embroidery, followed by men and women in traditional batik clothing and bare feet.
On arrival at Yogyakarta railway station we decided to walk to our apartment so that we could stretch our legs. After queuing with vehicles, bicycle rickshaws, pedestrians to cross the railway tracks we were stopped by a school group of about 10 year olds who asked us a series questions about our impressions of Yogyakarta. I’d like to include a photo here of us with them so you can see their eager faces but I’m trying not to include faces on my blog. To our surprise and disappointment the owner of the house, we had used Booking.com to select, lives in the house and his bedroom was next to our children’s rooms and far from ours. We knew immediately that it was inappropriate despite being a lovely traditional Javanese house. He didn’t speak English but we managed to communicate our desire for a refund and he was very good natured though very disappointed I’m sure. We walked despondently with our children and luggage down the street (thankfully the rain had stopped), homeless as the sun dipped low and unable to find a cab. Ahead we saw a lovely boutique hotel which by some good fortune had signs displayed that it’s rated highly on Trip Advisor and Agoda. To our immense relief they had 2 double rooms next to each other. We had a lovely meal at the hotel restaurant, sitting beside the pool with the sound of running water and a miniature rainforest to soothe our senses.