Jember - Welcome To Java
Trip Start Oct 20, 2009
37Trip End Apr 01, 2011
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To add to the fun, the bus broke down three times and then got stuck in a traffic jam halfway up a volcano. It seemed like we were stopping for half an hour each time, every ten minutes at one point and being the only white person on board, I had no idea what was going on as no one I spoke to could speak English. There were speeches, songs, a million guys selling peanuts and even one guy who got on board with a big bag of what looked like pork scratchings, handed them out to everyone and then came by again to take them back. No idea what he was doing. The whole time I was blissfully unaware, but mildly intrigued by the shenanigans Anyway, to stop moaning I can wrap it up by saying that I’ve definitely had more comfortable bus journeys in my life.
Arriving in Jember over 10 and a half hours after setting off, I was weary and looking forward to resting. But first I had to get into a bike with a seat on the front to go to one hotel that was full, then got in what can only be described as a box shaped smart car, with 10 people crammed in the back, sat on solid wood planks. It was like getting a snapshot of being people smuggled across the border, but in the smallest vehicle physically possible. So on this crazy journey from Kuta in Bali to Jember in Java I had been on the back of a guys moped, onto a rickety bus, across the sea on a ferry/barge, back on the bus, on a bicycle with a seat on the front of it, and in the smallest minivan imaginable. Getting a taxi is so boring; it’s nice to try something new.
Jember is an interesting little city, being very spread out and fairly built up but entirely for locals. I was most probably the only tourist there and definitely the only westerner, so I got some pretty peculiar looks from pretty much everyone I passed and realised within 10 minutes of arriving that to get through Java I would need to know a lot more than "Thank You" in Indonesian. It looks like I slipped off the beaten track with this one, but it was nice to see.
Setting off for Surabaya the next morning I began another bus journey, but this one being only 4 hours, rather than ten and a half, so it seems much more tolerable. I’ve seen more Durians on this journey than ever in my life and I’m still yet to figure out why people get on the bus, hand out a random food item to everyone, then take it back and get off the bus again. Such a strange process.