How I ended up in the back of a cop car on New Year’s Eve

So, my 31st of December did not go as planned. At all. I was staying in Yogyakarta during New Years and had planned to go to the celebration at Borobudur. The plan was as follows: I was supposed to go to the Borobudur temple around the beginning of the afternoon and then stay there until the celebration. Then, in the night, I could go back to Yogya.

I had not really thought this through, I was just sort of assuming everything would work out. But the first wrong turn was when I woke up and my host took me to lunch, because it all took a lot longer than a simple lunch should have. So eventually I got ready to go to Borobudur, but then he said I should come to his office first, and from there I could get transport. But there was no way to go to Borobodur by Go-jek, like we hoped, and all the other options took a lot longer. Normally, that’s not a problem, but seeing how it was already three o’clock at this point, I did not want to arrive at the largest Buddhist temple with limited time to see the damn thing. I also did not want to pay 40 euros for these limitations.

After sitting in the office of my host for a while, thinking about the best solution, I felt a little desperate. It was the 31st of December and if I didn’t go to the Borobudur celebration, I had NO celebration.

Simply. Not. An. Option.

So, I made a new plan. I would go there in the evening, party all night, and go to the Borobudur when it opened, at 6 AM the next morning. It seemed like a solid plan, and my host thought so too.

The next issue that arose, was the transportation. Man, this story is going to become so long, because the whole day felt like that and having to figure all of this stuff out, I really wasn’t having much fun. The options were to go by bus, having to transfer two times and it would take very long. The other option was to borrow the motorbike from my host and go by myself. At that point I did not know the roads would be rather good, so I was scared to go by myself. But it seemed like the best option. However, the minute I decided that yes, I was going to conquer my fears and go on a motorbike, by myself, in the dark, to a place 40 kilometers away, my host started telling me horror stories and said that as a woman alone I would run into criminals.
‘So, what, they will rob me?’ I asked, a little scared. ‘I just won’t bring much money. And I can drive away quickly on the motorbike.’
‘No, no, they won’t rob you. But maybe they will stab you.’
Okay. So I won’t be going by myself then.
The final option was that my host would bring me (BRING ME) and then drive back with his cousin. She was arriving from Semarang that evening (but what bus did she take?) and instead of going all the way to Yogya, so that my host would have to stay at home to let her in, she would get out in Borobudur so she could drive the rest of the way with my host. A very elaborate construction, that was so nice of them so that I could go to the celebration.

So, we left the house around 9 or 9.30, which I thought was a little late, but okay. Then we made a lot of stops on the way, to get gas, to go by his office, and finally we were on our way. It was a very long ride. By now I am very much used to being on the back of a motorbike, but this was just… so long. Maybe it is unnecessary to say, but my ass hurt when I finally got to hop off.

During the motorbike ride, my host turned to me and asked:
‘So where are you staying tonight?’
Uh. What? I thought this party was going to go on all night. We talked about me staying up all night, but he never mentioned that the party would be finished around 1 AM. So what am I supposed to do for five hours, until the opening of the park? Well, I brought my Kindle, so I supposed I could just walk into a random hotel and asked if I could hang out in their lobby, reading. It wouldn’t have been my first choice, but I was feeling adventurous.

We arrived at the temple and a new problem surfaced. Where the hell was the entrance to this party?!
The temple is big and there were several entrances. We kept walking around and finally we found the way in. At this point, it was already after 11 o’clock. So even though I reserved a ticket, we didn’t pick it up. And it was unnecessary because there was a gate, but there were many people outside the gate as well, and from there you could see the stage and the festivities really well. So it was good. I was there, at the celebration.

And then…

My host had to leave. I figured he would at least join in some of the celebration, together with his cousin. I didn’t realize he was JUST going to drop me off. So I looked around, desperate for some company, and then I saw two people with long blonde hair. If anything, they were bound to speak English, so I approached them. I introduced myself. I asked them if I could hang out with them for the duration of the party, because I was all alone. They said yes. My host left.


And so I made new friends, friends that were my best friends for two whole hours. And this is a perfect segway for me, into a wise lesson that I learned.

Sometimes you just have to accept that your contact is short term and you won’t see each other again. And you can enjoy it and be okay with it.
For a long time I just thought of social contacts as something that was an opportunity to grow. I didn’t really feel like hanging out with new people if I knew it would just be for one evening (travelers for instance). I wouldn’t get something out of it in the long term. And I know this sounds horrible, but that is how I reasoned sometimes. I can actually be a very selfish person and I am totally aware of that.
But now I don’t feel that way anymore. Because each person you meet teaches you a lesson. Maybe it is a lesson about their culture, about communication differences, about yourself… But a lesson it will be. As well as a memory. And now I am collecting these lessons and memories and I treasure each and every one of them. I get inspired daily while traveling and meeting many people from all over the world. They show me different views on things, tell me different opinions, share stories about their lives, which may differ from mine in so many ways.
I have short term contact all the time now, and they continuously brighten my day.


Alright, enough of that. The story continues. The two blondes had a friend that was Indonesian (saying the world is small is the understatement of the century when we realized that the guy actually lived two streets away from me in Jakarta!!!) and this friend had two more friends. (I can feel this story boring you, but please, stick with it. It is about to become one of those weird experiences that you only gain when you travel or live your life in a crazy spontaneous way)happy-as-a-clam-def
He told me that those friends would go to a hotel of another friend of them and that I could join them. Well, didn’t that just seem like the perfect solution. I was happy as a clam.

When the clock struck twelve I wished my temporary friends a happy new year, I texted some people back in The Netherlands (IMG_0662_Fotoractually no, I sent them a video) and it was about an hour later when they were planning to go back to Yogyakarta. And if I didn’t want to see the Borobudur I would have probably been able to catch a ride with them, but that was not the plan. No, the plan now, was to go to a hotel with two strangers to hang out with said strangers until the sun came up.
O boy.

They introduced me to the two friends of the guy (I’m sorry, I did not remember their names so you’ll just have to do with my non-descriptive descriptives) and they were two policemen who had to oversee the event. Do you see where I’m going with this?

They told me they would be a little bit longer to round everybody up and do their debriefing or whatever, but I could wait in their car and we would leave shortly. Next thing I know, we are walking to their car, I get in the backseat and wait for my newest two friends to come back and drive me to the hotel.
I was giddy with anticipation and with the way my day was turning around. And when they came back after half an hour they drove me to the hotel, where I met the owner. He had studied in Belgium for six years and spoke perfect Dutch. Who would have guessed?!

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He made me a sandwich, I got some water, and we hung out in one of the small wooden thingies… (what to call them…? See the picture) I was totally set, the evening turned out great and while having a conversation in a mixture of English, Indonesian and Dutch, the owner mentioned he actually had some mats to sleep on, if I wanted to get some shut-eye.

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Well, I wanted, so after a few more minutes I went to the back where he laid out a bed and went to sleep for a little bit.

As it turns out, the Borobudur temple actually offered a sunrise tour, so around 5 AM the owner drove me to the entrance of the park and I watched the sun rise at the Borobudur temple. It was a bit rainy and there were many clouds, but honestly, who cares. It was great.


I was there by myself, alone with my thoughts. I walked around, studied every nook and corner and when it was just after 6AM, I got a drunken call from two of my best friends to wish me a happy new year.

So yes, full disclosure, I felt a little bit lonely at that point. They were on the phone, in the midst of insane noiseIMG_0691_Fotors of fireworks going off, people having fun. And I was alone at this amazing temple. I got over it pretty quickly, but I missed my friends at that point and was really honored that they would spend twenty of their drunken minutes with me (of which their recollection the next morning was foggy, at best).
Also, I was amazed by modern technology, that would offer me the possibility to talk to my friends, basically for free (whatsapp call) while staring at an amazing artwork of a building.

So that’s it. That is the crazy story that saluted my new year in style and that will probably set an example for the rest of my travels. And if all my failed plans and changed itineraries will be anything like this… I’m truly going to have the time of my life.

For more pictures, click here.