As early as 6:00 am I was already at the Gambir train station excited for my first 'long train ride'. Even though I'm a train veteran with thousands of railway miles under my butt courtesy of our own LRT and MRT lines, the trip to Yogyakarta from Jakarta will be my first time to trainspot for more than 7 hours. I already pre-booked a ticket for myself via Tiket.com for 300,000 Rupiah one-way (1,500 Php) a few weeks before I departed for Jakarta, so when the ticket counters opened a quarter after six, I hurriedly entered the station and found a seat where I just sat and waited for the 8:10 train to Yogyakarta.
There were a couple of trains going to other destinations that left before my train. Each one had me confused a bit thinking my train was the one about to leave. The lady staff calmly told me that I should not worry "Your train leaving on time, relax and sit there you be fine" she told me. I sat for over an hour and watched dozens of people come and go. I felt my head bowing down and my eyes closing a bit due to lack of sleep. I thought about the two girls who were on the same flight coming to Jakarta with me and wondered where they are heading. I somehow wished they were bound for Yogyakarta as well.
I got a seat by myself at the last row near the dish case and the connecting door to another car. As the train departs right on the money at 8:10 I stretched my legs and tried to be as comfortable as I could. The seats were soft and I instantly stared out the window to see as much countryside scenery. Whenever I would feel my eyes shutting down on its own, I would stand up and walk to the other car, then towards the dining area at the second coach.
We passed by small pockets of towns in between wide and almost unending fields similar to ours here in the Philippines. I noticed most of the houses have roof shingles made of terracotta, the shimmery red colored clay ceramic represents the minor difference from their countryside houses to ours. Three hours into the trip and facing another four hours more, I got bored with rice fields-watching and pulled out my ebook reader and read a few pages of Murakami's "After Dark", I was in the part when one of its characters, Eri lulls into sleep and was haunted by a strange figure, when my eyes succumbed to a slumber.
I woke up past 1:00 pm after I bumped my head into the glass where I was leaning. The train has gathered a bit of speed and is shaking more than usual. We stopped for five minutes at another station where I walked out and stretched my feet. My patience was wearing thin, I've enjoyed and had enough of my 'first long trainspottin' experience. I can't wait to drop my backpack at my hostel at Yogyakarta and explore the city.
I spent the next two hours counting the kilometer markers by the side of the track until we finally reached Tugu station at Yogyakarta. As the sound of the train buzzes and signified its arrival, I got jolted by a feeling of excitement similar to every time I visit a new place. My excitement turned to apprehension as I walked out of the station and was met by half a dozen becak drivers who are trying to rip me off.
Fortunately, at the corner of my eye I saw a middle aged man sitting quietly on his becak and I proceeded to him and asked how much is it going to my hostel which was the EDU Hostel. We agreed on a 20,000 IDR fare (100 php) which seems to be a bit expensive to me that time, but afterwards when I realized that it was a cycle longer than I expected and I really enjoyed the ride aboard his becak, so I gave him an extra 5,000 IDR as a tip.
So there it goes, my 7-hour train ride surely beats the half hour LRT rides back home, plus its more convenient and spacious. I'm just glad to have tried out a new mode of transportation on my way to Yogyakarta. I took a brief rest at my bunk bed at EDU Hostel and just processed the whole day spent on traveling from Manila to Jakarta, waiting for the bus and the train plus the journey to Yogyakarta itself. I realized I was starving so I took a quick shower and went down. I asked the friendly staff for direction and immediately went out and happily explored the new city on foot looking for interesting things to see and side street food to fill my famished tummy.