I live in Yogyakarta. Not long ago, Nick, an Australian friend of mine who stayed in the city for several months, told me he was going to Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, 786 miles away in the northeast part of Java island. That he was leaving did not shock me—he travels a lot—but his insistence on taking an economy-class train did.
I asked him why. “I heard it would be interesting,” Nick said. And by ‘interesting’ he was referring to the usual picture of this train: crowded couch, busy hawkers hustling all the time, and all. “What do you think, man?” he asked me. I frowned, then gave him a smile.