I wasn't gonna leave Solo without seeing the Kraton, the royal grounds, owned by the King of Solo, the center piece of which would be the Royal Palace. I walked towards the nearby market and bought a kilo of "balimbing" (carambola, saranate), all ripe and the size as big as my knuckle (6,000 Rp). When I saw those juicy ripe flesh of a jackfruit, I couldn't resist buying 1 kilo (10,000 Rp). It's my fruit day, apparently. Yesterday, it was macopa.
Just across the market is the stately Kraton Grounds entrance. I bought my ticket - 5,000 Rp for the first portion which was something I wouldn't pay money for had I known what was there. The museum portion, worth 13,500 Rp - including camera fee - was a different matter altogether. A young girl named Pipin accompanied me as my guide and jubilant annotator. There was this huge clock tower decked in white and blue, and as you enter the grounds, you are immediately transported back to the old grandeur of Solo. In fact, there were tangible indications of massive riches all around.
I wasn't able to do my internet most of the day. Neither was there any wartels available. I needed to call Jakarta just to make sure I had a room waiting for me at Margot. I felt it was imperative. I was starting to feel the strain of this constant mobility, this is starting to wear me out, to be honest. How do other travelers do it, especially when they're taking 16 months to 2 years of non-stop travels?
My train back to Jakarta won't leave Solobalapan until 9:17 in the evening so I had plenty of time to burn. But I didn't feel like making difficult trips today. It turned out for the better. I just walked all day, checking out the shops along Jalan Slamet Riyadi, which was Solo's less-busy EDSA. In the afternoon, I found myself along Gajahmada Street which was a strip of upmarket hotels: Novotel Solo, Ibis, Grand Orchid Hotel and the imposing Hotel Sahid Jaya.
I also found a neglected park at the Bunggawan area, right across Monumen Pers Nasional (which had imposing white dragons at its facade.) By 4:30 PM, they were finally able to fix the aberrant electric grid so I was able to make my call to Jakarta. I saw Wahyu (my ojek driver yesterday) beside the DHL Office and told him I needed a ride to the Solobalapan Station.
Wahyu invited me to visit his house which I turned down. I should have accepted, looking back, but I am not too fond of doing adventures too close to departure times. But I actually had enough time - almost 4 hours! But that flew by fast. Solobalapan boasts of its Executive Lounge, with an AC room, fully carpeted, fitted with comfortable chairs and cable televisions strewn everywhere. I was tempted to doze off from my seat, but was too paranoid to let go of my backpack. I was looking forward to my Bima Train which was an executive seat.
The journey was supposed to take me 8 hours and 30 minutes, arriving in Gambir at 5:30AM. But by 7AM the next day, I knew it would take longer than what's written down my train ticket. We reached Gambir at 8AM. Two hours and thirty minutes is nothing to scoff at, and I just wished train schedules were more accurate. What if I had a plane ride to catch, then I'd have definitely missed it. And despite a comfortable train seat, sleeping on a train with a recliner will never give you the comfort of a bed. People sleep horizontally for a reason. I was so tired I knew I'd have to take a nap upon reaching Margot Hotel. Otherwise, I'd be gallivanting like a zombie.
And yeah, I broke a plate at the train. Some idiot placed his plate at the foot of his chair - and people were bound to step on it. Idiot, didn't I say?
This is the Eye in the Sky!
Night at Jalan Slamet Riyadi, Solo's main avenue.
Slumbering cars. This photo only courtesy of www.123rf.com.