Escape From Surabaya

So much for the quiet beaches and quaint villages, we’ve got a taste of city life now and it might be tough going back. Bright lights, big city, dairy products. We’re in Jakarta now, staying with Laynni’s cousin Luann, her husband Mel, their 6 kids (who I won’t name since I don’t trust my memory, or my spelling), a cook, two of her kids, a driver, a nanny, her dad, and, of course, the Great Dane. Add us to that and the fact that Laynni’s aunt and uncle, Freda and Bruce, are also visiting. Air-conditioned chaos. A busy place, but luckily their house is somehow big enough to fit everyone comfortably. Regardless, I still have to think that we may not have picked the ideal time to drop in from across the globe.

Anyway, my citified enthusiasm stems in large part from the fact that we just came off the golf course! That’s right, hitting the links at the end of November at a beautiful course halfway across the world. OK, I’m done gloating…….for now. And, as if that wasn’t enough, they also have a pool, a computer, and real milk and cheese. The four main staples of happiness as far as I’m concerned. Luckily for Mel and Luann we’ve already booked our flights to Singapore, which should save them the cost and effort of having the authorities drag us out of here kicking and screaming. Also, since they’ll be reading this I’d better take the opportunity to kiss some ass and mention how tremendously grateful we are for all they are doing for us. Contrived, but sincere.

So, last word had us about to catch a flight for Surabaya en route to Yogyakarta. Hello, Surabaya (you need to add the appropriate level of Seinfeld-ism to that, i.e. Newman). If you remember me describing our last stop in Surabaya, you’ll recall that we didn’t exactly enjoy our stay, and pretty much nothing we tried to do was easy or went according to plan. So, being once bitten, twice shy, we planned (there’s that word again) to land at the airport, get to the bus station, and take a “top of the line” A/C bus to Yogya (pronounce Jogja, don’t ask me why) ASAP. Costs a little more but it’s worth it to miss, ugh, Surabaya. Whoops, a few problems, not as many express buses today, Oh, there’s one, sorry, full, just missed it, they come every half hour, there’s one, nope, there’s one, oh, maybe not…………three and half hours later we gave up and dejectedly trudged onto an economy bus just like the ones that had been leaving every ten minutes or so all day. We bought three seats (one for our bags) but other than that it was bare bones all the way. We got out though, and have no plans to return in the near future. Yay.

Next chapter. Yogyakarta is great city, very laid back but still loaded with the kinds of Western amenities we have recently begun to crave. Did someone say Pizza Hut? We did, about 50 times, as in “let’s go to Pizza Hut again”, and “this is the best Pizza Hut I’ve ever tasted” and “I love Pizza Hut”.  You get the idea. Other than eating grease, we spent a lot of time shopping (kill me……kill me now) in order that we could send some Christmas gifts home (and some birthday presents we’d gotten behind on). Don’t get your hopes up too much, though, being on this mailing list only entitles you time-killing such as you are doing now, not to any exotic key chains or “I <heart> Indonesia” t-shirts. Although, if you forward this to seven and three quarter friends within sixteen minutes of receiving this, turn four full times around in your chair……….. Back to the gifts, we did pretty well, this is a great place to shop, as evidenced by my stellar purchase for myself. I’m sure that it’s obvious to everyone exactly what a person in my position – traveling light, long on time, short on cash, on the road until next summer – really needs to be complete. That’s right – a huge Spanish hunting knife. What problem could possibly be insurmountable with that in my possession? Never mind the fact that I don’t hunt, never really learned how to sharpen a knife, and, when camping my once or twice a year, usually find a bottle opener more than sufficient to cover my needs. I believe the word you’re looking for is “whim”. Laynni already called dibs on “moron”.

In between determined bouts of shopping we managed to squeeze in a visit to Borobodur, a Buddhist temple that is considered one of the seven man-made wonders of the world. It was truly breathtaking, which is saying something coming from a guy who used to consider Monday Night Football the height of spirituality (don’t get me wrong, it’s still up there). Truly an awesome sight, 1200-year old statues, carvings and spires, all built entirely by hand. We took lots of pictures and they really tell the story far better than words, so I’ll move on.

Right in Yogya, we went to see the Kraton, the Sultan’s palace. The 200 metre long tour was OK, I guess, although didn’t really take up the entire morning we had left open for it. “Is that it? Where’s the rest of it?”. As it turns out, the Sultan still lives in much of the palace and is so paranoid and reclusive that he doesn’t want loud, gawking tourists (like Laynni) watching his family eat breakfast and sifting through the royal bathroom reading materials. Royalty, I tell ya, they sure can be fickle. We were also told that although the Sultan wields no real power any more, this particular Sultan has actually been elected Governor. A man of many hats. I hear he also picks up the odd shift at Dunkin Donuts during the busy season and that the guy on the corner with the cage full of monkeys is the Secretary of Defense.

Important ** Please do not forward this to anyone who may have friends or family in the Indonesian government, or to the guy with the cage full of monkeys**

Getting from Yogya to Jakarta we booked a theoretically semi-nice night train (the most expensive one was already full). We’ve started to implement our new theory on travel: budget, skimp, and cut corners anywhere except transportation. We have yet to regret spending a few extra dollars for a more comfortable ride, but the opposite has almost always been the case. Of course, even the supreme dollar can only do so much: Planned departure time – 9:27pm, Actual departure time – 9:56pm, Planned arrival time – 4:40am, Modified planned arrival time – 5:09am, Actual arrival time – 7:35am. Of course, it would have taken even longer yet, but luckily we got off at the wrong station. We’re very cagey that way. In the end it worked out (for us, anyway) as Luann and Hidodo (their driver) came and got us, and everybody (once again, mainly us) lived happily ever after.

THE END

Tune in next week for Dean & Laynni’s Wacky Adventures In Singapore. Hear how the drool slips out of Dean’s mouth as he sleeps on the airport chair. Watch Laynni inhale bag after bag of candy and call it lunch. All that and more, coming soon………

P.s. Do not send e-mails requesting that you also be removed from this list. That type of nonsense will be looked upon with scorn.

This instalment has been brought to you by Pizza Hut……..and the letter K

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