Musings - Day 47
Day 47 – 11th February 2020
Thanks for staying with me guys, the last couple of days has made me realise just how much you need to slow things down sometimes. Keep the messages coming though guys.
So totally refreshed after my day indoors, I slept right through to around 6am. Had to shower early for the train station calls to me. Not for a trip, that’s tomorrow, but because it is an early start, I thought it best to get the ticket twenty four hours in advance, then not be having to rush around tomorrow, with the translator app. The Grab taxi was ultra-efficient, but sadly, no English and a misunderstanding of my train ticket requirements, so he dropped me at the right station, but the wrong entrance. Which turned out to be a half hours walk around the streets to find the actual entrance, that he should have dropped me at in the first place. Oh la di dah, who cares. It is a lovely morning so no matter. When I eventually arrived at the right entrance I was guided to the ticket office, because the machines in the part of the station that I was in were only for phone app sales. The queue was quite lengthy, I was feely okay, so what? My turn arrives about twenty five minutes later. Very nice young lady in an Habib, sporting the most intricate metalwork braces across her teeth, that seen for many a year. There was that much silver reflection I could have straightened my hair in them. Anyway she tells me after standing in line for all that time that her counter is for ticket sales for today only. For future reservations, I have to go to the reservations desk, out of the door and left along the concourse. Still smiling and happy to be in the fresh air, I make my way to the reservations desk for advance ticket purchases. This time there are only two people in front of me, so not too much to have to wait around here, so I thought. The people in front must be undertaking a train ride to Siberia, the amount of time it is taking them, but I am trying to be patient. After all I am at the advance reservations counter, the sign says that I am. So after enough time to be diagnosed with leprosy, I am eventually seen by another smiling, bracer less, Habib wearing, lady. She informs me that I do have the right counter, but not today. “How so?” I ask with as much love as I can muster and at least one of my fists clenched out of sight. Now the translator app comes into its own here because she is embarrassed at her poor English. It is quite understandable, that she is being understanding about my wavering lack of understanding of the not quite so understandable situation. I am standing under the counter that reads advance ticket reservations, as plain as the nose on my face, but for reasons best known only to ‘Allah’ it is not functioning as so today! It turns out that a computer went down so they have temporarily swapped offices. Apparently, less travellers use the advance purchase option these days. What? She then delivers the killer blow that the office in question, wont be staffed today until 09:30am, an hour from now! From my look, I think she wanted the problem to go away. I was directed to a ticket box. (A ticket machine outside the station that would be able to take care of all my ticketing needs.) This was indeed the correct machine and it had a cash slot to pay for my purchase. Three attempts later, a very reasonable man in a railway police uniform came to my assistance. He was quick to point out that this wasn’t his job, but he was happy on this occasion to offer his help. Little bit of a bingo moment going on in my mind after the trials of advance ticket purchasing thus far. So as a duo, we are progressing well. Right trip details, right passport number, right temporary sim card telephone number etc. All we have to do is pay. He advised placing the smaller notes in first. The machine had excepted the first INR 22’000 (around about £1:35p.) It then refused to accept any other notes, presumably because of their condition. I tried several of mine, no joy. Then he got some notes from his wallet, still no joy. He the relayed the same message that this was not his proper job. I am finding it so hard to smile right now! He suggested that I go and buy some water from the station store, in order to change a large note into smaller, newer ones that the machine could more easily spend. Two things happen now that lead me to despair. One the store was rammed and I had to wait while the lady in front of me, bought enough supplies to feed a regiment on a trek through the Americas. Then eventually, I returned to the laughing policeman, who had left his post at the ticket machine and the unit had timed me out! What the fairy lights at Santa’s grotto is happening here matey? Then he delivers the phrase that every tourist with a sim card, holding enough date capacity to download Darwin’s theory of evolution Parts 1 to bloody 9, “It is credited to your phone sir!” So now I discover that because he went back to his day job, I lose the money! I don't need more credits on my phone. He now tries to tell me that he has another idea! Brilliant! The first two have been extraordinary in their success, why take all my money and perhaps some of my clothing while you’re at it, for yet another stab at a ticket purchase, why don’t you? Maybe we could employ the services of a passing circus troupe, while you're at it! Why is it so hard? This time the uniform takes me into a bakery. (Please don’t ask this is exhausting enough!) He insists I hand my passport, phone details and cash over, and jumping Josephat, little Fatima produces a ticket. This could have happened an hour and a half ago if only I had been directed towards the bread in the first place!
So then I have to get a ride back to my apartment building. I said to a rickshaw driver, “Do you know the Menteng Park Buildings, Diamond Tower?”
He replied “Yes Sir,” with the kind of deference I needed right now. No movement to open his little locked rickshaw door mind you.
“Well can you take me there please?”
“I am sorry is the Queen visiting and we can’t get through?”
“I don’t think so Sir.”
“Then why not?”
“Not far enough Sir.”
“I am sorry would you like me to contact the architect and get it moved to the other side of town perhaps?” I didn’t wait for the answer, I just stormed off in the wrong direction, but I wasn’t going to let him see that.
The day did get better and I became calmer, because I had been recommended to a part of Jakarta full of bars, restaurants etc. I found two! But it didn’t matter because I never left the first one. It was called ‘The Eastern Promise’ it served cold beers by the bucketful and Indian curries. All my present worldly needs in one go!
Position: 06°11'24” N 106°50'26”E – Miles completed: 13085
Location: Jakarta, Indonesia 19:45 - 11th February 2020 - Journey 47 days 17 hours