Jogja on my mind, again

I have visited Yogyakarta once before, but felt like I needed to see and hear it again, this time of course with Esso. One reason is to hear the lovely court gamelan (see HERE and HERE).  Another is to revisit Borobudur (pictured above). And there are nice beaches nearby, a feature I completely missed on my first visit, so we can have a complete vacation: nature and culture.

The flight from Chiang Mai to Indonesia is harsh. Cheap, crummy seats to Kuala Lumpur, a long slog through immigration and customs—only because Air Asia could not provide baggage service to move our bags from one plane to the other!—another flight. Landing in a hard rain. Yogyakarta’s airport has a tiny international section, so getting in was no problem. Rush to the ATM to get some Rupiah cash—there is a row of four ATMs, the first three don’t work; persevering, I finally conquer the fourth and get the most cash it will allow. Then, battle the crowd for a taxi. Long, congested trip downtown to the hotel. An ache in my back, which has been a minor annoyance in recent weeks, asserts itself, probably aggravated by stress and bad seating.

So we’re a bit grumpy. But I’m optimistic. Tomorrow, we will go to the market and get terrific bargains on beautiful clothes.

So we go shopping, and fantasize about how to spend our enormous supply of Rupiahs (thanks to the favorable exchange rate). What I really need is a phone SIM, so I can log into the local network for maps, taxis and so on while we roam the city. But we can’t find a phone shop that’s open (that’s a shock!). And then it’s time to stock up on cash, and I find my ATM card is missing. Yikes!

But, wait, keep calm. That’s not a crisis, I always carry an extra ATM card for just such an emergency—but my backup is from my Thai bank, which is on a different network, and doesn’t work in Indonesia. So, our money supply is limited to what I got at the airport. Enough for a couple of days of meals, but no extras like shopping, tours, and so on. I grimly start to research what kinds of services are available with online booking, which I can still do.

I get the hotel clerk to help me call the airport. It takes awhile to get to the right office. No, the card was not turned in to lost and found. You’ll have to call the bank. But what bank?

Back through the nightmare traffic to the airport, find the ATM, note the bank name (Mandini) and serial number, back to the hotel. That is our Sunday.


Monday morning, go to the bank. I still don’t have a phone, so I give them the hotel number to call back when they find the card. Take a sanity break by going to visit the Kraton. This is the same ground I covered on my first visit. But there’s a lot of walking, and my back is aching, so we don’t linger long.

Finally, find a phone shop. Here, cell phones serve as web connections; voice service is an extra option. I figure 6 Gigs of data should last a couple of weeks; a SIM loaded with that much costs about $7. Put the new SIM in my trusty iPhone, and now we can find our way around.

But by this time, the pain in my back has become more acute. Did I break a rib somehow, and not notice it? Possible. How to get help? The hotel manager has offered some advice: there’s a cheap, walk-in physical therapy clinic at the University. So that’s our next stop.

A bit of a wait at the clinic, so time for lunch… then I can be treated. I explain my symptoms, the therapist smiles and nods, and proceeds to massage my legs. Legs? That’s not the problem, but perhaps there’s a method here. Not enough language to inquire, so I relax. After some time, he explains. There’s a bad contraction in my hip, tightening the legs and throwing me off balance. This sounds quite accurate–exactly the problem behind my previous episode of acute pain, two years ago: /healing/.   So now I trust him.

So the guy grabs a colleague from the next cubicle–a big, burly weightlifter-type–to help him. One holds me on the table while the other one pulls my leg straight out. Great idea, opening up the hip joint–but the pain in my ribs gets worse. So bad, that when they are done, I can barely stand up.

Perfect storm! In a strange country where neither Esso nor I know the language, few people speak English, with no money, and in greater-than-ever pain. Classic!

Back to the hotel, get the message that the bank does have my card; back to the bank to claim it–none of these are especially short trips, mind you–and by that time, about 5 pm, I’m exhausted with pain and stress, although relieved that the money problem is solved. I need more help. Not the clinic, how about a real doctor?

In a poor country with few English speakers, only the top hospitals can be relied on for English-speaking staff. So I decide to go to the best hospital in town,

And this is where the day gets interesting, finally. So let’s start the next post with that. But just so you don’t feel you’ve wasted your time on this unhappy story, here’s a cool clip of some captive birds in the street.

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