It was Eid al-Fitr season when I went to this country last July 7-10, 2016. I booked the ticket immediately last April when the seats cost less than half its regular fare. It was too late for me to find out that going there on this kind of holiday season for muslim people is not a good idea, because most places are so crowded on these dates especially on one of my destinations, Yogyakarta; and transit to this region sells out early specifically in trains and planes. But I did not hesitate to continue my travel and I gave my trust to the luck of finding a way to check some, if not all, the items on my list. And one more thing that pushed me to pursue this journey are the people I’m going to see whom I met from the website Couchsurfing. So let me tell you my experience in the island of Java.
July 6, Manila: After work, I went immediately to the airport, NAIA Terminal 3, and arrived there just in time for check-in (around 6pm).
I waited until the boarding time and got in the plane. We departed from Manila at around 9 in the evening. The plane landed at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport around 11:45pm, Jakarta time. (Indonesian time is one hour behind Philippine time).
Then I went directly to the hotel, located at the back of the airport, and which I previously booked through hotels.com app, by riding a taxi. I guess that was the first time I was scammed with the price because it should cost only around 75,000-100,000IDR and instead, the taxi driver charged me 200,000IDR. I did not mind it anyway because it was already 1 am and I already want to rest.
July 7, Tangerang-Jakarta: I checked out at 9am and asked the receptionist about the best way to Jakarta. I got it right when he said that I should take a taxi to Tangerang train station and alight at the station I want. In that case I intended to go to Cikini station, where I was going to meet my friend, Pola, along with her other friend. He then called a taxi for me and went to the said station. I bought a ticket to Jakarta including a reloadable card which costs 10,000 IDR.
I arrived in Cikini station around 11:30 in the morning and tried to find a place to buy a sim card, for me to text my friend. I wasn’t able to find one but luckily I found a KFC fast food chain which offers free wi-fi. I immediately ordered and asked the wi-fi password, and opened my whatsapp account. On the time I messaged her they were preparing to go out and I waited for them on that place. We met at around 1pm, introduced me to her friend Stefany, and started to tour.
We walked from there to the area around her college, Taman Ismail Marzuki (Jakarta Cultural Centre), and passed by the Planetarium, Jakarta Theatre, and Jakarta Art Institute. One of the beautiful buildings I saw in the capital was the said theatre and Pola narrated me stories of events and performances done there. It seemed that it has a lot of good memories to her as well.
While we were there, I told her my plan of going to Yogyakarta either on the same day or on the next day, whichever was available. Since the cheaper choice was going by bus, I asked her if we could go the the bus station too. But I thought that it was late in the afternoon and we’ve only just met for a short time yet, so I made up my mind that I would be going on the next day. I booked a plane ticket with their help.
After we visited TIM, we went out for a snack. We tried Mie Ayam Bakso (a chicken noodle soup with meatballs) and young coconut juice.
We then went to Monas, and spent most of the afternoon there. We had a lot of picture taking, went to the gallery below, and climbed up the monument. We were able to go to the middle observation deck but unfortunately not on the highest because tickets were already sold out. But the deck we were on still offers a great view of Jakarta. We saw the sunset there.
After that we took a ride to Jakarta Cathedral and spent some solemn time there. The interior of the place amazed us just like its outside structure that attracted me.
We also went to its neighbouring Istiqlal Mosque and there we ate something for snack/ dinner called Ketoprak (a vegetarian dish composed of rice cake, vegetables, bihun, and krupuk, served in peanut sauce) and Sate Padang (satay made from beef on spicy sauce). Those two are delicious even though Sate Padang tasted too spicy for me. hahaha! After that we went back to Monas and moved on to the last stop, Bundaran HI.
This is another monument found in Central Jakarta which is located in the middle of a roundabout. We spent a little time there as we were already tired that moment. And then I checked in to the hotel they suggested me and bade them goodbye as they went home to rest.
July 8, Jakarta: I checked out at 9 in the morning and walked back to the same KFC where I met my new friends. My flight was thru Halim Airport and Pola gave me the directions. I followed it and rode kopaja 502 to Kp. Melayu, got in the TransJakarta and alighted at Cawang UKI station, and had a taxi from there to the airport. I checked in early at 11 in the morning. The flight was at 2pm though.
July 8, Yogyakarta: The plane landed on the airport at around 3 in the afternoon. There I also met with my couchsurfing host, Gita. She was able to recognize me, thankfully, and we went to her home by her motorbike. She showed me my room and I had a rest for a while.
It was seven when we went outside. We visited a lot of places that night. Jalan Malioboro, Alun Alun, Kraton (though we only had a picture on the front gate), and Vredeburg. My friend told me about the myth of the two trees. It was said that if you walked past between the two trees blindfolded, it means that you are lucky. I tried it, and it was a success! We had fun on that place and saw a lot of people trying to do the same.
After that we went to walk around the shops nearby. They sell a lot of batik clothes at a cheap price. There are also some souvenirs sold, which can be bought at the same low prices. I forgot to buy one because we were trying to find food and we ended up eating Mcflurry on one of the malls around.
After that, we went to a small place where foods are cheap too, pointing out that foods sold on the market area are relatively expensive. My friend suggested me to try Wedang Uwuh (an herbal drink consists of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and sugar, served hot) and Soto Ayam (Indonesian chicken soup). We talked a lot while waiting for the food, and we didn’t notice it was already late. We went home at midnight.
July 9, Yogyakarta: It was seven when we went to Borobudur Temple by motorbike. It was an hour and half trip. It was somewhat colder in the area compared to the city, being located somewhere full of trees. Gita bought the two tickets at 30,000 IDR for each of us, though I had to pay mine at a foreigner rate of US$20. We went inside the temple complex and took a lot of pictures. Because it was a holiday, a lot of locals were there too. We spent a lot of time taking pictures and looking through the details around the temple. After climbing up and saw the scenic view from the top, we went home and bought souvenirs.
That somehow make my trip accomplished. And it was time for me to look for the bus going back to Jakarta. Fortunately, we found one bus with seats left. I thanked Gita for having such a nice time with her and being one of the best people I met. She went home and I got in the bus.
July 10, on the road: This was one of my nightmares. It was already 11 in the morning but the bus was still in Central Java and we were still 250 kilometers away from Jakarta. There was a long traffic jam from Yogyakarta to Brebes. I thought I wouldn’t be able to catch my flight, but thankfully when we entered the expressway, the bus went faster. We arrived in Jakarta around 5pm. I still had a little time to visit back Monas and Sunda Kelapa Harbour before going to the airport.
At around 8pm I was already in the airport though the flight was scheduled at 12am. I spent my time sharing my experiences to my Indonesian friends and thanking them again and again for giving me a nice trip in Indonesia. The plane departed at 1 in the morning but I wasn’t ready to go back to Manila yet.
It was a wonderful experience for me in Jakarta and Yogyakarta though I actually spend around two days of walking around. I plan to go there again in the near future and check all of the remaining in my list, such as Taman Mini Indonesia Indah, Ancol, Prambanan and Ratu Boko Temple, and others. I would love to see my friends again and to meet more friendly locals. Makasih!