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Drinking coffee in the kampung, part 2 YOGYAKARTA - First time to have a drink. I looked in the direction of the only warung that I could find here at the moment. I didn't really want to look for another one. Fortunately there was someone to serve, in the form of a Javanese women which sat on a bench in front of the house. Probably waiting for a customer. A bemo passed. That stopped and the driver got out. Hopefully he didn't bring any passengers, otherwise they had to wait. I wasn't the only one there when I walked into that direction. The driver ordered an iced tea and sat down. I just had picked up the nice idea to drink a coffee here. It had been a long time that I drunk a kopi tubruk actually. That is nice for a change. I found a nice spot at the one big table available.

Also read part 1 of 'Drinking coffee in the kampung'

When drinking the coffee, just a few people passed by. A policeman on a run-down motorbike tried to greet all other villagers. That must be a local one here. After the policeman there was the seller of mobs. His bike stuffed with mobs and wipers everywhere. Too many different kinds to just bring along on one bike if you had asked me, but he found out a way that he could stop everywhere he wanted. A stick prevented his bicycle from tipping over. The radio in the warung played gentle Javanese music. It wasn't a disturbance at all however.

The small roads from village to village are nothing more than paths. Remarkably enough these are of good quality.
The small roads from village to village are nothing more than paths. Remarkably enough these are of good quality.

The glass of hot coffee was empty quick enough with the help of a short conversation including the standard questions. After first the driver of the minibus driver on the route Purworejo - Sendangsari had left again it was also my turn to pay for the coffee and hit the road again. My camera ready so I could make some pictures from this side as well. After that I looked for the man from the railroad company again, the one who serves the railroad crossing and must have a job that isn't too bad after all at first sight. There are not many trains here and traffic is also thin most part of the day, so everything must be pretty easy to keep in check.

Immediately I was invited to take a look inside. However it was very hot that close to the railroad tracks, inside it was remarkably cooler and actually pretty nice, especially with a small blower that was brought in by the people who worked here. Furthermore there were some schedules on the wall, together with a calendar from PT KAI on which several of the previous presidents were decorated with an extra beard and mustage. Like it should be on that kind of calendars. The clock didn't work. There was not much else in this working booth, outside the control for the railroad crossing. An old fashioned system which enables the employee to lower and lift the fences manually.

The man works here five times a week half a day. At least that are some trains. It somewhat amazed me that he didn't have to work entire days here. Maybe that was just good, because it may look like easy work, there are actually trains involved and not those toys where little children are waiting for to be driven around in their kampung on their free afternoon. He was able to tell me some other facts. Five minutes before a train would arrive he received a warning by the system. That gave him the opportunity to walk back from the warung to his post to reply the message and to lower the fences a few minutes later.

When he was walking outside he still had enough time to walk back in time. I already imagined that that there will be a day without anyone servicing this railroad crossing. Who ever checks this anyway? Can it be checked? Someone else could also send a confirmation and lower the fences, right? That would save this man a daily trip to and from his work. But well, those are questions that I didn't ask in that way for sure. I just found it remarkable that in the remote rural areas of southern Java there was a small post and I was talking with someone that services a railroad crossing.

And back again

After the conversation had ended with some friendly regards I had to find my own way back again. The man has given me some directions. I could follow the main road until the traffic light - I was amazed that there was one close here anyway - and turn left there. Eventually I would end up close near the beach, if I wanted to go there. In fact I didn't want to go there, but of course I thanked him for his information and headed in that direction anyway, not for the least that I eventually had to go back to Yogyakarta again. When arriving at the first traffic lights, I decided not to follow the road to the left but go straight again, continuing towards the south. Earlier I had seen a red line on the map, which should be some kind of a main road. I was just curious if I would find that one.

The road became increasingly smaller over time and eventually nothing more was left than a badly paved road made from boulders. Here the schoolchildren still followed the road as well, bumpy as it is with their bicycles. Maybe they were also slightly amazed by that one white guy that is bouncing over the road with them, including helmet. It wasn't the most ideal road indeed, but it didn't last very long as well. When leaving the village, the paved road stopped at a small crossroads. I had the choice between a small unpaved path to the right, a three-track unpaved path to the left and the bumpy road right behind me. Eventually I had to go east, left from where I was at the moment, so I decided to take the tree-track unpaved path.

Some paths are so small that it looks like they have a dead end, but that just appears that way, because this one eventually ends up at the main road.
Some paths are so small that it looks like they have a dead end, but that just appears that way, because this one eventually ends up at the main road.

I hardly realized that I was in one of the most splendid of environments. Here no big city noises, cars and busses horning, sellers that put a newspaper in your face, banners that pollute the roads. Nothing of all that here, just a wonderfully peaceful environment with much green, little traffic and open desa's (rural villages). Here the people still have houses with a garden. That is quite easy here because the area is just as flat as many parts of the Netherlands. Building buildings far from each other was still possible; the rice fields are still north of here. So close to the beach, locally there already was some black sand, crops that were more resistant against drought were found here.

The villagers which were playing cards or chess here in the afternoon heat had nothing to complain. Cigarette, glass of iced tea on the bench besides them and let's play. Work was done in the early morning hours and now it was waiting for the late afternoon to bring in the freshly dried grass and other food for human and livestock. Nice trees decorated many gardens here; of course also many edible plants like corn and others were perfectly aligned as some form of borders. Fences with barbed wire were not needed here. A thief probably had to run too far with his stolen goods and above all; dealing with such things often doesn't involve a judge. They just forget about it.

In between villages wide open landscapes with high sugarcane. Almost ready to be harvested. A small group of people gathered near a mobile tree-cutting installation to make small parts of a tree. Not the entire tree was felled, only over three meters high. Maybe the rest was to be cut down as well, but I had the hope they would keep it for a future generation. I had to pass by and because they had already seen me coming from far away, space was made for me by the time I arrived. Of course no speeding here, slowing down, a friendly salute and ahead again. Pretty simple but it means so much here, just to be friendly and it doesn't take much effort if you ask me.

Searching for the main road

Somewhere here, between al the green colors of plantations there had to be a main road as well, that red line on the map of the province of Central Java, because I was still there. I didn't see any sign yet, in contrary to earlier today. Via the main road from Wates to Purworejo you will see a big portal like you usually will find in Java. It can not be more clear if you ask me. If you take smaller roads however, then a small mark is usually more than enough. The roads through the kampung's and desa's often don't have any physical provincial borders, they just indicate their own.

At some locations an entire four lane road has been constructed. Of course with an eye on the future, but the person who designed this must be a visionary to see much traffic here any time soon.
At some locations an entire four lane road has been constructed. Of course with an eye on the future, but the person who designed this must be a visionary to see much traffic here any time soon.

My current main road - a three to four lane path - ended up at another crossroads. Straight ahead was a smaller road with in the distance a group of people buying something for as far as I could see. I could also turn right. A small path as well - probably even smaller than the one going straight - but this one looked somewhat more attractive. More green, more shadow and at the end of it was an open area. I was curious what that was. Since I stopped in the middle of the crossroads, soon a young man approached me. He wanted to know where I wanted to go. Back to Wates was my answer. That was indeed via the small path I picked, in the direction of the main road. So that is the route I choose, not knowing where the main road was to begin, because I was using unpaved paths for round half an hour now already.

I entered the path slowly. In fact these paths are simple enough to get a nice overview. Most paths are as straight as a ruler, right in between the nice square areas of estate. Furthermore there are not many people here as well, but that can be a danger as well of course. It is quite attractive to speed up here just for a moment. The condition of the paths is generally not really bad and it had rained the day before there was no dust yet as well. But it might just happen that a farmer with a bunch of sugar cane on is back steps out of the fields, then you are left with little choice than braking at for power in the hope that everything will be okay. No, those things are not for me here, however I didn't meet that farmer yet. I hope I can keep it that way as well.

At the end the path got more light and the sun started to shine after it had been slightly cloudy for quite some time. All of a sudden it got more warm. When approaching the open space I noticed - to my big amazement - that there was a nice asphalt road here. The road was deserted. In the remote distance a few motorbikes, but that was it. Here no crowds of people, traffic lights and crossing people who don't even mind to look around them. Not even a lizard that ventured out in the afternoon hat. To the left was in the direction of Wates and beyond. That is where I went, not knowing how far it still was to Wates or even how far I was away from Purworejo already.

A few kilometers ahead was a small crossroads. However small, there was taken care of this one with for all four directions a proper sign stating the possible destinations and even the distance, however in small and red font added. Wates was just over 20 kilometers and Purworejo was already more than 13 if I followed the main road. That meant that I covered quite a distance via those small rural roads in the recent hours. I didn't look at the indicators; I only knew I left from Yogyakarta with 31.190 on the display. That is what I always tried to write down so I at least know what distances I traveled during those one day journeys I often make.

The fast road

The long straight road ran for many kilometers to come. Almost no traffic but a few motorbikes and trucks. That is in fact pretty strange for a road in this condition if you ask me. The road is very good and there were not many warung along the road as well, that must be an indication that it had been that quiet here for a long time already. At least I was able to make quick kilometers here. And with the sun behind me I was able to reach speeds of up to 80 kilometers per hour. Well, the road is perfectly straight and the roadside is at least ten meters wide at both sides. That was enough for me to enjoy it for the time being. As soon as I saw a curve ahead I slowed down towards 50 kilometers per hour again. That's a nice speed again.

First I saw a sign for the direction of Pantai Congot (the beach of Congot) and then also Pantai Glagah. That meant that I was back in the province of Yogyakarta again and that without noticing any change. Not bad at all. Normally roads improve - or not - when crossing a provincial border but that wasn't the case here. It took a while before I saw an important sign. Here I had the choice to follow the main road to Wates again - and then the main road to Yogyakarta - or drive via Bantul over similar quiet provincial roads. That last option was the one that I preferred, also because I didn't use that road yet.

Not a single person ...
Not a single person ...

The area was just as beautiful as earlier that day. Here however, rice paddies again. Most of them in fresh green colors of freshly planted crop. There was a little bit of wind so here too it was actually refreshing without the need of speeding. Slowly it became more crowded on the road. Motorbikes with chicken, agricultural tools and other small stuff is what I overtook. Here still many bicycles with bunches of grass and other food for cattle at the back. A wonderful image when I think about it at this moment. That I had to find it at some distance from home is not really something to concern about, these kind of things make it perfect again, and the effort I had to make is far little than what I get in return until now.

It was still many kilometers to go before I found myself in some place that I could call a town. Near Srandakan - again along Kali Progo (Progo river), but now more south - is a beautiful new bridge over the river and directly after it a small roundabout to cover up a diverted road which had to move for the bridge. The new concrete is still very clean and it almost hurt your eyes because it is that light of a color. Not really thought about that earlier I suppose, but for the rest it's a nice piece of construction if you ask me. The old bridge is not too far away but is not in use for motorized traffic anymore. Bicycles and other small 'freighters' can still use it, which creates a safer alternative in case this new bridge gets really crowded in the future.

Step by step the environment got more crowded when I was approaching Bantul. It was clear that my day trip had almost came to an end. The town of Bantul, pretty hard hit during an earthquake almost one year ago now, is like a outpost of Yogyakarta at a distance of 10 kilometers. The main street of Bantul is not really interesting except for the fact that big parts feature high and green trees that cover the entire street from left to right. How nice it can be. Just outside Bantul I noticed that the sky north of it was quickly getting darker. I still had the hope that I was able to pass the southern ring road so I could stop in Jalan Prawirotaman for a drink and some food.

It didn't matter. Just after crossing the southern ring road I just had five seconds to find a place to stop because it started raining. Five seconds later I was already soaking wet. I decided not to stop for a drink but to go home directly. On the same road, a little to the north, there was 20 centimeters of water on the road, so it was indeed a heavy downpour here. Further to the north it rained as well and it didn't look like it would be dry anytime soon. When I arrived home I took a shower and put on dry clothes. Soon I had to go back to fulfill a promise I made to the man at the railroad crossing, but to do that, I first had to print a picture.



Posted in Travel @ 19 May 2007 by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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