Sep 27, 2010

Something I Should've Done in My Teen Years Or Early 20's

Blindfold Trip Around Solo, Central Java

I’m back from Solo, Central Java, people! Woohoow! It was only a 3N2D trip in the weekend, but it was one helluva trip! Why? Because it was the first time I (and my travelmate, Vindhya) decided the destination right in the train station! So, this is how it started, summarized in an imaginary dialogue based on the true fact.

Vindhya : I want to take a trip by train.
Me: Where to?
V : I don’t know.
Me: Ok, let’s just decide in the train station. We point a finger, with eyes closed, to a Java map. And whatever is pointed, then that’s where we go.
V : Yeah, let’s do that!
Me : Ok, let’s limit our budget to IDR 300,000 / pax.
V : That’s too little! Make it 500,000.
Me : Really? Okay then. Who else is coming along?
Renny : Count me in. I need a vacation. I’m tired with work.
Motulz : Hey, that sounds cool! I’m coming along!
Endi : Me too.
Boyo : Can I decide last minute?
Me : Yeah, sure. So Vindhya, from which station should we start the trip?
V : Reno said Senen has more Economy trains. Since we only have IDR 500,000 (that’s equal to about USD 50) each, it’s safer to take the Economy train to start the trip.
Me : Ok. What time will we meet there?
V : 7-ish pm?
Me : Cool. Can’t wait.
V : Me neither!

And so we went last Friday. Unfortunately, only Vindhya and I made it. The others had something else came up for the weekend. Alright, no problemo!

And so I got to point a destination because I won the rock-paper-scissors thing (in Indonesian version which is called “suit”). My index finger pointed Malang! Yay!! I’ve been wanting to spend more than just a few hours in this cool-weathered city!

Where we were supposed to go

However.. too bad the last train to Malang had left Senen Station in the afternoon. So we decided to go to the closest city to Malang, with available train that night. It’s Solo. BUT, the only available ticket was Business class for IDR 160,000 / pax, too much for a start cos we didn’t know how much we’d need for a room, ticket to go back, etc.

So, we crossed off Solo. But no, wait, we could still reach Solo by taking the economy train to Jogja, and then take the Pramex train from Jogja to Solo in the morning. And all that only cost us IDR 44,000 / pax.

Pramex train's female coach

Only IDR 9,000 / pax, Jogja-Solo, 1 hr ride

The downside? Well, apparently the economy ticket to Jogja was without seat number. Yes, people, it’s a standing ticket, or whatever you call it. So technically, we had to stand in the aisle between seats for the whole night. Practically, we sat uncomfortably in the aisle with many other unlucky passengers, and food sellers went back and forth through the aisle, making it even more uncomfortable. And in my mind I sort of thought, “Oh, whose idea was this again?” Hahahaha.. no real regret, though.

Long story short, the whole trip was mainly about food. Yes, we both love eating. We love trying local food anywhere we go. But we do care about our weight, hahaha.. so sometimes we shared a portion. Here are the food.

Nasi Liwet in a stall exactly in front of our hotel IDR 5,000 / portion.
Would cost more if you added chicken

Sate Buntel, made of goat meat
IDR 12,000 / portion

Me with delish Serabi Notosuman.
Left: regular, IDR 1,800
Right: chocolate topping, IDR 2,000
My favorite is.. both!

Tengkleng soup, basically anything that westeners don't eat :-D
Anything from the goat, except the meat, probably

This is the popular one, across Klewer Market,
near Alun-alun gate, next to the Security station

A portion of tengkleng with rice IDR 15,000
It was the most pricey of all our Solo treats

In the middle of Galabo, a street turned into food market at night
Near the Keraton Solo and PGS Market

Delights from the Bestik Harjo at Galabo.
Chopped fried tongue, fried skin, and risol kuah.
All IDR 43,000

Iced dawet, a sweet beverage that we shared
for our breakfast in Jogja

Together with this Nasi Gudeg each, breakfast was IDR 17,500 / pax

Another portion of dawet in Solo.
I just love dawet so much!
And this one costs IDR 3,000 / portion

Our last meal at a stop in Kebumen.
We prepared about IDR 15,000-20,000
and turns out it was only IDR 4,000 (Vindhya's) and 5,000 (mine)!

Our stay was quite comfy, I mean, for IDR 75,000 / night, what do you expect, right? We didn’t book it previously, we didn’t even find it through Lonely Planet. Vindhya’s friend’s dad said that the budget lodges are easily found near the Solo Balapan station. So that’s where we got off, decided to turn left, and saw this first hotel (well they call themselves a hotel), checked out the rooms, and checked in!

We picked the room with only a fan, no need for AC in such a cool afternoon. We figured, the night had to be even cooler. The bathroom was quite clean, although the toilet had to be flushed manually. In the morning and afternoon each person was served a glass of sweet tea, and the staff are all nice, friendly, and helpful. And the best of all was, our room faced the garden. It felt so fresh to just sit in the porch, sipping a glass of tea, and chat lightly.

Other than tasting the local dishes, we also went to check out the Keraton Solo (keraton = palace), or Keraton Surakarta (Surakarta is another name for Solo, I don’t know what’s the deal on why they have 2 names).

The entrance ticket was IDR 8,000 / pax. There isn’t a fixed price for a tour guide around the keraton and the museum inside it, but the average fee that visitors give to a guide is IDR 20,000. We didn’t get a tour guide because, well, we were really careful with our money. Didn’t wanna lose the challenge!

Keraton Solo / Keraton Surakarta

Oops! A knight at a Sodoran fight!

Groom and bride

Shocked by a huge dandang.
Dandang is like a traditional rice cooker.

But this big? Cooking for the whole village, maybe?

Overall, Vindhya and I had a great time proving ourselves for a challenge, we had unforgettable experiences, yet we didn’t spend so much money, and Vindhya didn’t even have to take a leave from office! (I’m an independent worker, so I don’t have to take any leaves).

So, it’s a pity when people restrain themselves from having a fun experience of traveling because they think traveling always has to be expensive and takes so many days. We could even go cheaper if there was a friend’s place to crash, or maybe be more tight with budget if we planned all the itinerary. It doesn’t have to be exact USD 50, doesn’t have to be by train, could be a little shorter for instance 2D2N, the destination could be closer to your home, and you could make use of a long weekend, etc.

You know, there are ways to make things fit with your budget and time-efficient. You just gotta have the will, then there must be a way. Think fun, and you’ll have fun.


  1. I'm so in. Woohoo!!! If there is a next and I'm available, I'm in.

    By the way, that photo of Vind in the express train... well better check out that little girl on the left... frightening!!! Horror face hahahahaha....

  2. hahahaha.. it's like she's seeing a ghost!

  3. Anonymous8:17 AM

    Whoa! Aku pun punya pikiran yang sama dengan apa yg ditulis di blog ini (hebat + aneh bisa sama) :))

    And yes, it was fun!! Can't believe I did this trip :p
    Mumun, welcome aboard! Another trip, another challenge ;)

  4. Tentunya pikirannya sama, soalnya ini juga hasil tuker pikiran sama lo :D

    thanks for being a great travelmate and for triggering the challenge! Haha..

  5. Kereeeen,,,fotonya lucu2 wehehehe

  6. stania10:38 PM

    Early twenties? I thought you're 14???

  7. @anno: makasiii :)
    nice blog of yours, too. nanti baca ah :D

    @standia: no, mumun is 14

  8. brilian! pingin ikutaaaaan! :D

  9. kalo di eropa IDR 500k cuma dapet apa ya ran..?

  10. haha, kalo di belanda cuma dpt tiket keretanya :P

    tapi kalo di jerman ada tiket murah utk beramai2, trus bisa tidur di stasiun (di belanda ga boleh), jadi sepertinya menarik :D
    tapi buat wisata kuliner jelas tak cukup :D

  11. mwhuhuhuhuh, belom kesampean...pengen suatu waktu bisa bertraveling bersama dirimu dan Mumun. Pasti menggila dan seru!
    Mau ke Solooooooooooooooooo.....yummy foods!

  12. hihihi.. hayuk atuh menggila di Amiriki. Abis itu baru ke Solo :D