Today was the first day when I wished we had organised some accommodation in advance.
After 5 days in Jogjakarta we were moving on to Surabaya, a busy city with no purpose for us apart from to break the journey to Gunung Bromo, Java’s highest mountain.
The 2pm train leaving Jogya was fully booked so we secured tickets for the 4pm, due to arrive in Surabaya at 9pm. We didn’t book any accommodation but we had a list of names and addresses of suitable candidates. Unfortunately we couldn’t get seats in the prefarable executive class (a couple of pounds more than business class) but a 5 hour journey would fly by. Or so we thought.
One hour into the jounrey and we make our first stop. Ten minutes pass and we’re still sitting in the station, then twenty, then thirty. We ask what the problem is and were told that there was an issue with the number of pasengers booked onto the train. Every passenger should be allocated a seat, but the booking system had failed and many seats had been double booked meaning some passangers were forced to stand. Consequently the passengers had a‘mini protest and security had to be called resulting in the passengers winning, the result being that another carriage was going to be added.
Unbelievable really. When I cast my mind back to my years of high cost commuing in London it’s rarely in a seat. The carriages were always so tightly packed it was hard enough to get anything out of your pocket, let alone move around comfortably. If we’d taken this surprising Indonesian approach in London then riot police would have been called on a daily basis and each train would be about a mile long!
Ninety minutes later and a little longer in length we depart.
Luckily for us ‘the boy’ is like a robot when it comes to sleeping, so at 6.45 (he’s an hour out as he hasn’t changed his body clock from Malaysia), he was sleeping soundly on our lap.
10.30pm, the time at which we thought we would now arrive at Surabaya, comes and goes and we establish that due to our earlier delay we have now missed a lot of our signal schedules and are running even later than planned. 3 hours later!
We finally pull into Surabaya station at midnight, transfer ‘the boy’ into his buggy, and haggle in our sleepy state with the persistent taxi drivers to negotaite the best rate.
The taxi left a lot to be desired and even as a car novice I can confidently say that I know it would not be roadworthy in the Western world. Not only was the steering faulty, the door barely closed and the rust bucket struggled to travel over 20km an hour. Not ideal when you’re desperate for sleep.
I’ve never been so pleased to arrive at a hostel. That was until they told us they were full. The taxi had driven off, but we both agreed that was a blessing, so we traipsed around the streets looking for a hostel (well anything) with a bed.
Thirty minutes later and we hit jackpot. Sleep at last. I can now confirm that sometimes planning can have its benefits.
Top tip of the day:
If travelling late in the day it helps to try and maintain your bedtime routine. Pack your baby’s bedclothes and wash, change and read to them as you would in a hostel as they will take these as cues to sleep.