I don’t think I had any expectations when I picked Yogyakarta to be my first city to visit. It was green, it had temples, it looked “local”. Jakarta gave the impression of being a big, dusty city, and based on other traveler’s opinions, I decided to skip it altogether. So here I was, almost 24h later since boarding my first flight from Vancouver, stepping out of the airplane in the absolute heat of Jogya.
Did i mention anything about heat? In the first ten minutes, my face & body were a sweaty mess and my hair looked and felt like it just received an oil shower. The humidity is intense and i made a mental note that i’ll have to get used to the climate – pronto if possible. Almost dragging my backpack behind me, i made my way into the terminal were (not surprising) a dozens of drivers were offering me a ride. *Scams* *Scams everywhere* were the words ringing in my ear and i quickly walked to the train station where i knew i could get a cheap ticket to the next station where my hostel was located. So I walk there only to be informed that the next available train will arrive at 4:30pm, a mere 4 hours of waiting time. Nuh-uh, i’m too tired for this. I head back into the wi-fi-less terminal and resigned I stop in front of one driver “ready” to bargain. I managed to bring the price down by an entire 30,000 rupiah (3$) and then he won’t budge after that. So I take my backpack and make him a sign that we have a deal. Time to go into the city.
The “taxi” didn’t even look like a taxi. It was a run-down car that had seen better days probably about 40 years ago and after about 15min of driving i was secretly hoping that the driver is not some kind of serial killer, driving who knows where. Luckily, i made it to the hostel unscathed. Mental note: bring my paranoia to acceptable levels!
Adjusting to being a traveler in Asia is not easy. I didn’t have any expectations but this time i found myself having the culture shock- something that i skipped completely when i first moved to Canada. Asia is different, here life functions at high speed and everywhere is chaos when it comes to driving or anything that has to do with the roads or people. It took me an entire half a day to mentally prepare myself for a trip to the Apotek(pharmacy) 5 minutes away that included crossing the road (BOTH WAYS!!). I told myself that if i manage to do that and get over my fear, I’ll be ok. And, damn, if that wasn’t the biggest achievement of the day! I learned that here, there’s safety in chaos. Drivers will try to avoid any obstacles and will get out of your way. Don’t show fear and walk with purpose, or else you’ll confuse everyone around. Adjust. Overcome. Learn.
I’m still at the beginning of my journey and there’s a lot of things to discover. For now i’ll expand my comfort zone little by little. It’s amazing how aware I am of the little milestones i’m reaching: Bargain, walk around alone while everyone is watching me, buying a train ticket, use an ATM, go down to the local store. It feels like i do these things for the first time- when the environment changes, you get a whole new experience.
So, I’m here now. Taking steps one at a time. Taking in the beauty of Asia. Tomorrow i’m off to my next destination. What surprises it will have in store for me? I guess i’ll have to wait to find out!