Let’s Get Lost: Magelang, Central Java

The beauty and grandeur of the Borobudur Temple in Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia

The beauty and grandeur of the Borobudur Temple in Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia

I am a firm believer that no matter how adverse the situation you get yourself into, you can still turn things around and make the most out of it. That’s one thing I learned during my 2010 trip to Central Java in Indonesia going to Candi Borobudur. I did plan ahead for this- booked hotel accommodations, plane tickets and researched on how to get there from Jakarta and go around Magelang but nothing prepared me from the actual events that transpired.

After the train ride from Jakarta I was supposed to go to a bus terminal, get on a bus bound for Magelang that will pass through the front of my hotel. My research didn’t tell me what to do when the bus breaks down in the middle of nowhere, get transferred to another bus heading to a place other than Magelang and getting ditched in an area that’s not anywhere near Borobudur. In other words, I didn’t have a Plan B.

So that’s what happened. I got off on a road intersection as instructed by the locals and was told to ask around how to get to my hotel. It was hot, it was humid and dusk was fast approaching. I was running out of time, of patience and fear also started to creep in. As helpless and frustrated as I was that time, I couldn’t reach the hotel staff through my phone, there were no payphones around and people there didn’t carry mobile phones with them. What made it more difficult was that locals can’t read and speak English so my pseudo sign language knowledge skills was really put to the test.

A few minutes of hand gestures with strangers, a passerby had a motorcycle that offered to take me to my destination for a minimal fee. Strapped at the back of the driver and my luggage tucked to his front, he made the motorcycle fly through the Indonesian countryside to get me to where I had to be. The motorcycle ride proved to be an awesome experience afterall- one of the many highlights of that trip. It glided swiftly through the road that I forgot how afraid I was to ride the motorcycle for the first time. All I could reckon was the vast rice paddies on both sides of the road, the long straight road concrete road we were traversing when I look to my back and the setting sun to our front.  Once we got to the city half an hour later, I saw the fascade of the Borobudur Temple on my right casting an orange hue because of the sunset. It looked golden to me. Then on, I knew I would be okay.

This is not the first time I got lost while traveling and honestly speaking I like it whenever it happens. Getting lost is one thing, it’s finding your way back that truly makes it all worth it.