We have arrived to central Java, and I feel stuck, with the walls closing in. Only the walls are people. I used a metaphor with Amanda yesterday that I feel as though I am a large side of beef being jabbed by many men with long pointy sticks. Like a big piece of meat, or a big overflowing wallet, however you may look at it.
So here is the low down. Yesterday, after leaving Bromo, which was a circus at the top of a beautiful mountain for sunrise, we took the public bemo (small minvan used as a bus) back to Probolingo. Our plan was to take a local bus to Surabaya. We arrived at the bus station, and were greeted by a man who tried to sell us on the direct transport to Yogyakarta. We said no, no, no, no, but he just didnt stop. We had been offered this several times already, and declined, but this is pretty much how it goes here
. You walk past fifteen pedicabs, all of them offer you a ride, you say no thanks, and then a sixteenth guy asks you, "Transport?", with a big smile. Yes actually, I just didnt like any of those guys. Anyway, we make our way past this guy, to the Surabaya bus, and we are surrounded by people. Amanda and I are separated, and I am told I need to buy a ticket, and Amanda is told by the bus driver we pay on the bus. She tells me come on, and it is only $1.40, and I rush to buy the ticket I think I need to buy. They guy at the ticket counter just happens to be the guy who was trying to sell me direct transport, and I ask about the ticket I need. He tells me it is $4. In reality these prices are 14, and 40 thousand rupiahs, which in translation can get screwed up.. but I know he is lying through his teeth. I go back to the bus, to see the door being closed in Amanda's face, and she informs me that they paid the bus driver off to leave without us. I have never been so pissed. I march back inside, feeling defeated, and with no other options, and buy the ticket from this guy. I give him stink eye and attitude the entire time, though the anger mounts in me, and I get back to Amanda and throw my bag down. At this point I think just about everyone in the station is staring at us, with good reason. We basically had a shouting match with these scoundrels. Amanda told one to screw off at one point when he was really in her face. They were just terrible. We end up boarding the shuttle, without lunch, ten minutes later
. What supposedly takes 7 hours takes us 10 and a half, with a dinner break at an overpriced restaurant, and the driver forgets to drop the Japanese girl off in Solo on the way. We finally get to Yogya, and have a bit of confusion about where we are going, and we end up at the wrong hotel, after dropping off the two Indonesian passengers at their front doors. I apologize politely and tell him this was not where we wanted to go. He responds abruptly with a NO! Im tired, and I want to go home. This was the absolute last straw for me, and all that has built up in me ever since entering this county flows out in a torrent onto this unsuspecting shuttle driver. I tell him we too are tired after our 10 hour journey that was 3 hours too long, and that his company is full of nothing but theives, and good for nothings. ( I have all but sworn off the damn country at this point, even though I have truly tried to look at the good things. I will write about Rinjani and the Gili's soon, they were fantatsic places, and we didnt deal with the hassle because we just took an overpriced tour. Completely worth it. ) We grab our bags, and head off to find our hotel by ourselves, first walking the Japanese girl to her hotel, though I am sure she is completely bewildered by our behavior. We talk later about how we have not gotten angry like that in a very long time, and my hands were literally shaking with the anger. One of those moments you really wish there was a punching bag around.
Today in Yogya was great, we met some really nice people, and found some really interesting batik paintings which we bought. But now we are second guessing the uniqueness and quality, and even the story that the place was in conjunction with the University, and that the money made helps students to buy material. They say one bad apple spoils the bunch, and though we have found many good ones, there has been more than one bad one, and one that had rotten into mush
. It is sad I can no longer believe what comes out of any of their mouths, and that any gesture is kind. I constantly feel like my guard has to be up, and I am tired of it. We will spend a few days here, and fly to Padang, and spend the rest of our time chilling out at the lakes in Sumatra before heading off to see Byrner in Thailand. Hopefully, they turn out well. And hopefully the batiks are as good as we think they are, but I guess we will never know for sure. I told Amanda, if it is a lie, then lets just believe the lie this time, its easier. I am travel weary.
To be fair though we have had one of the most amazing experiences of
all here. I will write about Rinjani soon, and it was just absolutely
fantastic. The Gili's were great fun, and we have met some really
great Indonesians. They are actually really welcoming to Americans
because there are so few of us here. Truly it has been a rough week,
but I try always to keep my spirits up. Keep love and peace in your
heart, I always say, and sometimes I need to say it to myself, for I
"There are no foreign lands, only people foreign to them."
-Robert Louis Stevenson