5/24/18: No Tourists In Malang

When my 4 am alarm went off, I realized how loud the sounds from the mosque were. It’s so crazy that they broadcast the chanting and singing so loudly at such an early hour— the entire city can hear it.

I packed up my stuff and went out into the courtyard. Ismono told me he hadn’t slept all night.

I ate a donut and drank a cup of coffee, and we were on the motorbike by 4:30.

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We drove 10 minutes to the train station. I printed my ticket and said bye to Ismono. From driving me everywhere to booking my hike to Mt. Ijen, he was so generous and helpful during my stay in Banyuwangi. I’m truly grateful for him and his wife.

I waited in the lobby for a few minutes until they opened up the gate for my 5:15 train to Malang.

I found my train car and walked to my seat: 8E.

The train was really empty. We all got our own little compartments.

We left the station promptly at 5:15. Wow! So punctual.

I was super tired since I didn’t get that much sleep, so I tried to nap. However, I had a hard time falling asleep so I just listened to podcasts for a while. Eventually, after seeing that others were doing it, I decided to just lie down on my seat completely, which helped me doze off.

I was probably asleep for an hour before I woke up. I was a bit hungry, so I had a couple bananas and some lansat. I slept some more, edited the podcast a bit, and listened to more podcasts.

Views from the ride…

The elderly couple sitting in the compartment next to me were so cute. You could tell they were super comfortable with one another. The wife would sleep with her head on her husband’s lap, and at times she’d talk to him while he had his eyes closed knowing he wasn’t listening, but kept talking anyway.

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They’re so cute

We got to Malang at 12:30. My hostel was only a kilometer away, so I ignored all the “Taxi? Taxi?” calls and walked 10 minutes to Woodlot Hostel.

The city was way bigger than I expected. There were tons of shops, big streets, and food stalls. There was a lot going on.

When I checked in to my hostel, the receptionist asked if it was ok that I was the only girl in the female dorm room. I was thinking of course that would be ok. Less people means less noise, which means more sleep. Maybe she thought I’d be lonely or something

The dorm was HUGE. The entire third floor was just beds. I was bed number 49. I think there were at least 30 more beds on the third floor alone.

I was starving so I left to get lunch. The first place I had bookmarked was closed, so I wandered around the streets to find something else. I was taken aback by the size of the city. There were tons of jewelry shops, phone shops, beggars, clothing stores, city parks, and museums. I really was not expecting such a big place.

I walked into a place with a sign for a food court. It turned out to be a rather large shopping center. The food court was filled with all different kinds of Indonesian food.

I picked one stall that looked like it had decent veggie dishes, pointed at the different ones I wanted, and sat down.

Once again, another amazing meal. And it wasn’t too oily! I almost got the eggplant, but decided against it because it’s always super oily and I’m trying to cut back since I’ve been eating a lot of oil lately.

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I went up to the counter and asked how much the meal cost. The lady told me, after a moment of hesitation, 20,000 ($1.50). I’m almost positive I got ripped off because I’ve never paid more than 15,000 for a meal at a warung in all of Indonesia, not even in Bali. Oh well. What could I do in that moment?

When I was back at my hostel, I asked the front desk if the train was the best way to get to Yogyakarta (pronounced Jogja) and if they knew the train schedule. They told me they could help me book the train using a local app called Traveloka. I found a train leaving at 8:20 am the next morning that would take me to Yogya (as the locals say) for about $13. After booking it on the app, I got a code that I would need to show the cashier at the Indonesian convenient store chain, Alfamart, to pay for it. I had 36 minutes to get there before the code would expire and I’d lose my reservation.

I quickly made my way over to the closest Alfamart and showed the cashier my code. I gave her the cash, and she handed me a regular receipt. I thought I was getting the actual train ticket from her, so I was confused. After a bit of non-verbal back and forth, using google translate on her phone to communicate, I understood that I would need to get to the train statin tomorrow, a bit before the departure time, and print my ticket there.

I went back to the hostel and checked with the front desk that it was indeed standard procedure to pay first and then print the ticket at the station later. They told me it is, and that I should have received an email with a confirmation code that I would use to print the ticket tomorrow, like you would at an airport self-check in. I checked, and I did indeed receive the email. Ok! What a process.

I went up to my (very large and empty) dorm “room” and recorded my next podcast episode: number 83 will be about my study abroad experience in Prague.

Once that was done, I got dressed to go for a run. I wasn’t sure what else there was to do in the city, but I knew I wanted to run and running is always a great way to see a city anyway.

I wasn’t sure where to run, so I just chose a big street and started going north. Once I got tired of all the cars zooming past me, I turned down a side street. Ah, much better.

I ran on that street until it ended, turned onto another street until that one ended, and repeated this process again and again. About 2.5 miles into my run, it started to rain.

And then it started to REALLY rain. I turned around, thinking this would be a good time to head back to the hostel.

It continued to downpour for the next 10 minutes. When it died down, I got my phone out to check where I was on the map.

I had ran about 4 miles. I was about a half mile away from my hostel, but I wanted to do 5, so I decided to do a bit of a detour to make my run longer.

I put my phone away and continued the run. Five minutes later, the rain picked back up. This time was more aggressive than the last. The roads were starting to flood, and every single cell of my body was drenched. Everyone hanging under awnings, waiting for the rain to stop, looked at me running past like I was insane. They were probably confused why I was running, and on top of that why I was running in the rain.

I got to a park that I knew was super close to my hostel. I was relieved knowing that I would be done soon. I kept running south, but then stopped recognizing where I was. I knew I had gone too far and had missed a turn.

At this point I was running in calf-deep water, and it was starting to get a little ridiculous, even by my standards. It was also dangerous because I couldn’t see the cars very well, and I knew they couldn’t see me, so I decided to hide out under the roof of a restaurant until the rain subsided. The restaurant customers stared at me. I know I certainly looked ridiculous.

A few minutes later, the rain was light enough that I could venture back out. I did indeed miss a turn, but I was only a couple minutes away from my hostel— last stretch.

When I walked in, water dripping everywhere, the staff just laughed at me. I laughed back, and went up to my room to shower.

Once I was dry, I researched places to eat for dinner. I found one place about 10 minutes away with good reviews called Ingga.

I left around 7. The restaurant was attached to a museum and had a lot of tables. There were a bunch of other older tourists there. I guess we all read the same article mentioning this place.

A waiter came over to take my order. The menu was all Indonesian, so I asked if they had anything vegetarian. He gave me a few options, and I decided on a vegetable soup that sounded pretty good. I wanted something warm after all that rain.

I asked for sambal (chili sauce), and he asked me if I wanted mango or tomato sambal. I said tomato.

He came back out a few minutes later with a gigantic stone plate of the stuff. I mean, a small bowl would have been fine, but ok. Quite dramatic if you ask me.

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The sambal

When I got the bill, I realized I had ordered some really fancy sambal. It cost 7500 IDR, which is more than a bottle of water. I was a little pissed that he didn’t tell me how much it cost, since sambal is usually free, but oh well.

I walked back, ate some fruit, and watched the season finale of Survivor. Such a nice way to spend my night. :) (I wanted Dom to win but am happy for Wendell! He played a great game. Also Michael is amazing. And Erik and James looked so awkward standing on the stage. Wasn’t my favorite season ever but I still really enjoyed it!)

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Melon and grapes for dessert

It’s crazy how I haven’t seen a single other backpacker, or young tourist, in this entire city. The only time I saw other tourists was at dinner, and that was just a big group of old French people.

It is astounding to me how Java is literally 30 minutes away from Bali, yet it has so much less tourism.

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