Unexpected Hospitality

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We were embarking on a new journey, which required one of those grueling Indonesian bus rides, a twenty five hour journey from Bengkulu, Sumatra to Jakarta, Java, on the “economy” bus which only cost $18 instead of almost double for the same journey but of course without the adventures of an “economy” bus. Considering hitchhiking is a pain in Sumatra due to the lack of cars, the condition of the roads and the distance between cities, we just thought it was not worth the trouble.

Bus in sumatra
An economy bus in Indonesia looks like this
So we opted for the fun bus ride on the type of bus that stops every ten minutes with people getting off and on, loading huge bags to transport merchandise, fruit, fish, vegetables, chickens, etc from Sumatra to Java. Unfortunately it was raining a lot so everyone closed their windows and due to the intense heat we had the lovely impression of being in a large steam room, fully clothed, full of people and interesting odors and best of all smoke. Sorry but this sounds better than being in an air conditioned bus with reclinable seats.

If you didn’t know, in Indonesia, every man smokes (or almost) and smokes a lot. Every man smokes everywhere. Every man smokes in the bus. If we stop for lunch everyone will get out to eat and will wait to get back on the bus to light up his cigarette. If you’re a smoker and you don’t have cigarettes, help yourself! Breathe! It’s free. Luckily women don’t smoke that much because it is not proper for a woman to smoke in Indonesia, our lungs say thank you to them. Other than that it was a pleasant smoky and steamy journey.

Thirty plus hours later (originally twenty five) we arrive in Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, a city with more than 10 million people inside the city and almost 30 million people in its metro area. This is a huge city, the largest in South East Asia and the thirteenth most populous in the world, no need to say there was little to keep us here. We don’t really enjoy mega cities and Jakarta is not known for its architectural appeal nor its cultural interest, it’s mainly large shopping malls and crowded streets so we hightailed it out on a bus to Cianjur.

map of indonesia cianjur
That's where Cianjur is, South of Jakarta
Cianjur is a small peaceful town surrounded by beautiful mountains and lush valleys. It sounded more like our type of place so we hoped on the next bus and another five hours later we arrived in the small city.. It was already late at night, we spent forty hours in a row on buses with almost no food, barely any sleep, and probably quite smelly. That’s the kind of trip we enjoy, who wants to arrive in a new city, clean, fresh, and with food in their belly?

Cianjur is a small city so to find a hotel we start asking around, finding two or three different places but all a little luxe at around $15 per night and above our budget. We couldn’t find a couchsurfing host there so we had to go through this painful process of finding a hotel for less than 10 bucks a night. Strolling around the empty streets of Cianjur with our backpacks we finally come to a guy asking where to find budget hotels in our broken Indonesian and he ends up offering to take us in his car to a friend who speaks english and can help us. Wait! A man we barely know offers us a ride in his car in the middle of the night not even knowing where we were going? Great let’s go!

We arrived at a cafe greeted by person after person and then we met his friend, who turned out to be the owner of the cafe. At this point we were stinky, tired, disoriented and hungry. Talking a bit with our new friend, he decided to invite us to stay in his house for the night, feeling out of it we were struck by such kindness, even though we didn't know much about him, Yordan, the owner of Fun Fun Milk in Cianjur.

Yordans family in Cianjur
Yordan's beautiful family
An hour later, our bellies full, we went upstairs and we sat in our temporary bedroom hanging out with our new friend’s mom. With her we had long conversations we learned that Yordan and his brothers have a Christian rock band and have traveled around the United States, Europe, and much more playing music at different events and that Yordan’s wife, Viona is originally from Kalimantan (the Indonesian part of Borneo) and caused a great ruckus in her family as she is Muslim and he is Christian. All this learned with hand signs, gestures, and the few words of Indonesian we knew. We then slept like babies, we could have slept for days if we could have.

Restaurant cianjur
Having fun at a restaurant in Cianjur
The next morning we got to know better Yordan and Viona as we shared breakfast together. We had one of these instant connection with them, like we knew them before but forgot about it. Yordan and his wife Viona along with their adorable baby, Apple, ended up opening up the door of their home to us and not just opening up their door but their hearts as well. We spent three days exploring the area, sharing meals with the family, “chatting” with Yordan’s mom, talking, laughing, learning about their lives, and sharing our stories. At night we would talk to their friends as friendly as them, and we managed to have a good fun with them.

waterfall in cibodas
Exploring Komodo Park in Cibodas, near Cianjur
After the three days we sadly had to leave to continue our journey. Before leaving we tried to offer Yordan and Viona some money for all the times we tried to pay for the meal and they insisted “later” and for letting us share their home with them but they firmly refused. This was not about money, not for us and not for them, this was just about kindness and friendship.

We always try to believe in the goodness of people. We try to believe in those who give and share while expecting nothing in return, while trying to do the same. This unexpected hospitality, this random rescue in the middle of the night, this experience in general warmed our hearts. Well this was before we had to hop on another funny bus ride to our next adventure.

If you get the opportunity to go to Cianjur, make sure to go say hi to Yordan and his family, his beautiful wife, adorable daughter, and hilarious mother at his wonderful budget-friendly cafe, Fun Fun Milk. They have a second baby on the way and they are planning to open a new cafe in Bandung, where they studied, we wish them the best of luck !

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