When the price of a flight ticket for one hour journey is same as the price of a train ticket for 9 hours journey, it doesn’t look a hard choice, i.e., a flight ticket any given day. But there, in the Java Island of Indonesia, the choice is different, any given day again. I read so much about the scenic train journey from Jakarta to Yogyakarta, that I didn’t think twice before making my choice : I had to experience that 9 hours journey on board a day-time train. I always love the train journeys and I thoroughly enjoyed my train travels in India, Egypt and Thailand. Last year, I also completed the epic Trans-Siberian Journey in Russia. The trains not only get you to the destinations cheaply, but they also connect you to the soul of that country, their local people, their culture, their day to day life.. a real sense of connection that is usually not possible during a flight trip.
After spending 3 nights in soulless Jakarta, I happily reached at the Pasar Senan Station to board a day-time Economy Class Train to Lempuyangan Station, Yogyakarta. In an early morning hour of Eid-Ul-Fitr month, there was already a huge crowd. I was having an e-ticket, but it was not valid for the journey, unless exchanged with a real ticket at the railway station. (Read: How To Travel From Jakarta To Yogyakarta By A Train ?)
I went towards the ticket exchange area at Pasar Senen Railway Station. Apart from the ticket exchange counters, many ticket printing machines were also available in that area. The ticket printing machines were like self-service kiosks, where I could print ticket without any help. There was no queue in front of the machines, so I printed a ticket quickly and returned towards the entry gate to the railway platforms.
Among the crowd, most of the people were returning to their hometowns or villages during the holidays. This activity of the mass movement is known as Mudik. Everyone wants to return to their home to meet with family members and relatives during the holy month of Eid-al-Fitr, so the Mudik exodus causes a huge chaos across Indonesia, at the roads, at the railway stations, at the airports etc. However, during my trip, the holy month was just started, so the situation was relatively better than the Mudik.
The good thing at the station was that nobody was allowed to go inside without a valid ticket. It means, only the real travellers can go inside the stations in Indonesia. This is a nice thing, and makes the platforms less congested, that, in turn, keeps the platforms pleasantly neat and clean.
The train exterior didn’t look nice, but the train condition was surprisingly good inside..neat and clean look. The train coach was full of passengers, but there was nothing like passengers standing in the alleys, near the doors, cramming through the coach corridors etc. Everyone had a prior booking to occupy their respective seats.
Train departed at the right time. The next two hours or so, I didn’t find anything interesting in the urban expansion of Jakarta. Also, the window was not as much transparent as expected due to lack of regular cleaning.
The small kids were playing on the floor of the train. It was quite an interesting thing opposite to the trains in India, where we don’t dare to sit on the floors of our low-priced trains and it mostly remained crammed with the passengers.
After two hours of journey, a series of lush green carpet appeared on the both sides of the railway track. The paddy fields, occasionally appeared barley fields, palm and banana plantations, the constant changing landscapes, from one site to the next, forced me to exchange my seats with a fellow traveller who was having better views outside the train window.
The train was stopping at the regular intervals. All other stations in Indonesia were also very neat and clean despite of large population of the country. The stations wasn’t having too much crowd and railway tracks were also very clean.
After couple of hours through the green carpet of paddy fields, the train passed through the terraced rice fields with green covered small hills in the background. The red-tiled roofs and grey cemented walls of the village houses were actually enhancing the natural image of the Javanese countryside.
There is no food and water facility in the economy class trains. However, At the train stations, you can buy some food and water. Luckily, I was having few packets of biscuits, chips and water bottle also.
Occasionally, I passed through small river streams, large water bodies, small villages, bigger towns. Near the villages, I could see many people working in their fields. Due to its closeness with the equator, the Rice cultivation is an integral part of the Indonesian culture. They mainly have two seasons for rice cultivation, thus, different stages of rice cultivation is visible in the different parts. In one part, I could see the small paddies getting planted in the fields, in the other parts, fully grown rice was ready to harvest.
The outside view from the train window was ultimate and fascinating. Between whe rice fields and the villages were the dense plantations of banana, palm and other trees. Outside the train window, everything was quiet, peaceful, a visual treat to the eyes and the soul.
Around 3 o’clock in the afternoon, I saw the first glimpse of Yogyakarta city, after 9 hours of journey from Jakarta. Yogyakarta is a bustling city with lot of tourist attractions situated in the closed vicinity. Due to its close proximity to the temples of Borobudur and Prambanan, Yogyakarta is a very significant tourist destination in Indonesia.
Travelling Further To Borobudur From Yogyakarta: Outside the station, I searched for a local food stall and grabbed some food. I was aiming to reach Borobudur by the late evening. After having some food, I caught a bus from the TransJogja Bus Stand and reached to the Jombor Bus Terminal in the city by 04.30 PM. But there was no direct bus available at that time to move ahead to Borobudur.
It was too late for the day. Then a bus conductor advised me to go to Muntilan by an available bus and try my luck there to get any vehicle. I reached Muntilan by 06.00 PM and it was already dark. From Muntilan, I hired a car and reached Borobudur by 07.00 PM. Borobudur was one of my dream destination, but more about that in the later posts.