It was a bit before noon when I finally left the hostel and made my way to the train station. It was warm, humid and all the motorbikes on the street gave the city a sound to it as if it was a huge “honeybee farm”.
At the train station I decided to buy an economic train ticket not because I wanted to spend less money but because I wanted to travel like everyone else. So I thought! As I was waiting on the platform I quickly had to realize that there is no chance I could understand which train is the one I am supposed to take. I turned around and asked the women next to me if she speaks English. With a very big smile she answered with a no! I took out my Lonely Planet and went all the way in the back to the very small phrasebook part. I mumbled a few broken Indonesian words: “Di mana kereta api Bogor? Jam berapa berangat?” The face of that woman lid up and she started to talk as if I understood every word. Not only Mary did, but also the man sitting next to her started to jump in and took great pleasure in talking to me. I tried to follow and flipped through the book as quickly as I could. Finally I got at least that the trains here don’t have different wagons with the different class it is an entire train that defines the class separation. Business class is faster and has air condition, plus the doors close. While on the other hand an economic class train has no air condition and the people sit and stand everywhere plus on top of each other and there are no doors.
Mary pointed to the train that was like mine for another direction and said: This is you, you bought an economic class thicket. Are you sure you want to go on this train?
I looked at the train, then back at her and then back at the train and mumbled out a very vague, yeah!
Another business class train to Bogor arrived, by now it was the second and I couldn’t go on it. Mary got up because she had a Business class thicket, waved me goodbye and left with the train. As I watched the train disappear I realized that Mary is like everyone else here and despite me on the train to Bogor. I ran downstairs back to the thicket office and asked if I can change my thicket back. The man behind the window started to laugh when he saw me and handed me quickly the money back I spent and gave me a business class thicket, which I gladly paid. I ran back up and there it was my train to Bogor. I was finally after one hour and a half on the train.
In the train I met Buriman, a cook who works 3 days a week in Bogor. So far I recognized that Indonesian people are very open and want to get to know you. He asked me the same questions I get asked all the time when I meet somebody here. Where are you from? Are you traveling alone? Are you married? I told him I am traveling alone and because I didn’t want to get back in to the conversation of why I am not married I invented a husband. I came up with a whole story. Where he is and what he works and why we are not together on this journey. I did feel a bit bad but I couldn’t bare that look again as if I am damaged goods or something. After that story he was pleased and told me he would make sure I would get to the bus station in Bogor so no one would rip me off with the ticket. I was really happy for his help and I quickly followed his lead once we arrived. We jumped in one of these ankot buses. They are quite small and always have one direction. So you can hop on and then once you want to get off you just tell the driver, pay him and jump out. I really like that system, how practical is that!
In the ankot Buriman asked me if I had lunch or if I was thirsty. I could use something to drink, I thought. A bit worried to say yes I trusted my cut and said: “Yes why not. I am very thirsty!” He smiled stopped and paid the bus and we jumped out. At the restaurant he offered me a coke and I drunk it as if I passed the Sahara. Soon we went our way, with his friend joining us because apparently he knew more about the buses to Pelabuhan Ratu. Once we left to the next ankot we walked towards a bus station that looked rather shady. I saw nowhere even one backpacker or tourist. But I wanted to get to Cimaja and so I went along with my two new friends. Finally we found the Bus and there was also Andrew who was in charge of the bus. A very skinny local who had an extremely long and strange nail on his left pinkie. Buriman made sure I had not to pay too much and that Andrew would make sure I get to the right bus to get to Cimaja in Pelabuhan Ratu. I thought it was so adorable how they took care of me I couldn’t believe it. After a quick photo session, they left and I went on the bus. Turned out I was the only person on that bus so far. So I waited a while to see if there are more people coming or if we would leave soon. After a while finally some people came and I asked someone when the bus would leave. They answered with the head tipping to the side: “In have an hour.” OK, I thought, that is perfect. After a have an hour we didn’t leave and so I asked again. “In have an hour”, said Andrew. I didn’t say anything and thought you can’t change it Sarah you might as well go with the flow. Another have an hour later we still haven’t left and once I asked again he said: “We are just waiting till the bus is full!” Fantastic! I feared to be sitting at this bus station till the next day. But out of the blue suddenly people ran in that bus and we were ready to leave!
The drive was nothing like I expected. The roads were so small and so terrible. Sometimes the wholes were so deep I flew through the whole bus. But here and there suddenly someone jumped on the bus and sold fruits or something to drink and then jumped back out. That was so great even the food was coming to you! It started to rain and the ride was long and slow due to traffic.
I had enough time to look out the window and let my thoughts go. Suddenly I had to think of John and how crazy this whole thing was. I realized that I literally took a plane and a train to go see a man I barely know to spend with him an evening!! That is not nothing I would say!
It was getting dark outside and I started to feel a bit lost in the middle of nowhere in West Java in that bus, in which no one really spoke my language.
What was I actually expecting from John? Was I fooling my self by pure romanticism that this was supposed to evoke a reaction out of him?
There it was my first movie moment that I was talking about in the beginning and not like in a big picture but rather very much like ordinary life it is not as romantic or dramatic. There is no one running across the big screen because he just had an epiphany moment when he realised that he actually does like you.
Fact is when I met John I was attracted to his energy. It was so positive and full of life. The way he talked about his travels and surfing involved so much passion, that I wanted to find more out about it my self. In a way I guess, I should thank him. Because I could have also been jealous and negative about the whole thing since I was working almost everyday in rainy London. It pushed me in a way and here I am today traveling alone through Indonesia, getting to know an entire new culture, country and beautiful people. I am finally surfing and writing. Happier than ever I’m doing everything I love.
So I guess I don’t have to expect anything from John. I want to thank him. Even if I will never see him again, and I hope that wont happen, I will never forget him.
Two month before I left London I changed something essential in my life. My attitude! I decided to be happy. This may sound silly and strange but it literally was that simple. The grey, cold and rainy London made me see the things more deconstructing than they were. Finally I got so sick of my own feelings, that I decided: “Enough with this I want to be happy!I want to do what makes me happy. I want to be with people who inspire me, who think positive like me. I want to earn my money through work that I love.”
I started to listen to upbeat music that put me in a sunny, shiny and happy mood. And it worked!
If you would have asked me 5 month ago if I think I would be here in Indonesia, I would have probably said no. Everyday I learn new things about my self. Like for example that I can be patient. I learned that through the bus rides here in Indo. You never really know how long they are going to be and take once you are on them and since I don’t have to be anywhere at a specific time I learned to just – sit!
It can happen that your thoughts wander off in to the negative when you sit in a bus for 12 hours.And I think that is absolutely O.K. The one thing I learned in these moment was, do I want them or not!
No, I don’t know what John feels and if it evoked anything. In the end if we are meant to meet again we will. It would be absolutely fantastic, but until then all I can do is trust, believe and be patient!
Those three words: Trust, believe and patience, are big words that we sometimes underestimate. I think if you can manage to really truly live them in everything in your life, you will eventually get what you want. You must only know what you want!
Finally in Pelbuhan Ratu I was lucky enough that Andrew told his driver that they were going to drop me off directly at my hostel in Cimaja. Thankful that he held his word I sat in the front with them and they started to smoke. Never in my life have I seen people smoke so much like the Indonesian men.
Twenty minutes later we reached Leo’s little paradise and I was finally in Cimaja.