For my 4 days off in May, I went to Yogyakarta, pronounced “Jogjakarta” by Indonesians, and shortened to Jogja. It’s on the southern end of the island of Java (same island as Jakarta) and is only about 50 minutes away from Jakarta by plane.
I admit that I didn’t put quite the level of planning into this trip that A put into our Bali trip, but it still turned out great. The first thing I did, of course, was book my airline ticket. I bring this up because of how I paid for it – at the cashier at my local Indomaret convenience store. Yup, I paid for my plane ticket at the convenience store across the street. Isn’t that great??
OK, here’s how it went down. I was trying to pay for my ticket online using my credit card but it wouldn’t go through (that may have something to do with my card’s Jamaican address…I don’t know) so the airline’s website gave me the option of paying for it at an ATM or at Indomaret or AlfaMart. It gave me a reference number and headed to the Indomaret, where I withdrew the cash I needed from the ATM located right in the store (you can only pay for the ticket at the ATM using a bank card issued on an Indonesian bank) and headed to the cashier with my money and my reference number. They took my payment, gave me my receipt and by the time I got back to my computer 10 minutes after I left it, the airline had emailed my flight confirmation information. Done and done!
To be fair, when I first learned about this method of paying for plane tickets by accompanying A to do the same several weeks before, I was condescending about it because it seems so unsophisticated. But I take back all of that unfair and unwarranted condescension. It’s so convenient and efficient.
Once I had my ticket all squared away, I booked my hotel, decided what sights I wanted to see, and found a driver to take me around in Jogja. I didn’t do extensive food research like A did; my food research was shallow at best. But I decided to figure it out once I got there.
Once I had it all organised, the last Saturday in May couldn’t come fast enough. Although my days off were actually Sunday to Wednesday, I decided to leave on Saturday evening since I really had no reason not to – I don’t teach on Saturdays and classes end by 6 pm. On that Saturday, I watched the clock all day. I watched the seconds slowly and torturously tick by until it was 4 pm and time to grab my bag and say sayonnara to Jakarta for the weekend. My flight wasn’t leaving until 7 pm but with the crazy Jakarta traffic, I decided to allow myself 90 minutes to get there since ojek don’t go all the way to the airport and I would have to cab it for sure.
I caught a cab at the front of our complex and I was off. My cab driver, Toto, apparently remembered A and me from our last Sunday out together before she left – he had dropped us back to the centre. As soon as I entered the car, he asked me, “You alone?” With a little trepidation, because I didn’t remember him at that point, I said yes and he asked me, “Where you fren?” (said in Indonesian accent, not Jamaican patois, please). I realised that he must have driven us before so I said she was gone and he proceeded to interrogate me about her movements. After I had satisfactorily answered all his questions in as much Bahasa as I could manage (since his English was very, very basic), he gave me a mini Bahasa Indonesia tutoring session. By this time, we were about 10 minutes into our journey and stuck in Jakarta traffic. I spent a few minutes being anxious that I would miss my flight but then I prayed it out, exhaled and stopped worrying. That was a good thing because 15 minutes later we got off that clogged road and onto the highway and from there, we chipped along like we were at a raceway.
Eventually, Toto and I started singing along with Lionel Ritchie on the radio, belting out “Stuck on You” like we really meant it. That’s how we spent the next 15 minutes of the ride – singing along to the radio with me explaining to Toto what the English songs meant and him explaining to me what the Indonesian songs meant. Forty-five minutes after I got into his cab, Toto dropped me off at the airport. I checked in, got dinner (airport bakmi – it was OK) and settled down to await my flight.
Of course, we ended up leaving about 45 minutes late due to heavy Saturday night air traffic but we arrived only about 20 minutes later than our scheduled arrival time in Jogja. My driver, Tugi, was there waiting for me and after about an hour’s drive (20 minutes of which was spent driving around trying to find the hotel), he safely delivered me to my haven for the next 4 days.
My mini-break was off to a pretty good start.