Some might say, to go traveling alone is a scary and weird thing. It seems like you have no friends to accompany you. You wander at a strange place, no one knows you and vice versa. Worst case scenario: you might get hit by a car and no one helps. But it’s just a scenario, it won’t happen unless you keep playing candy crush while crossing the road.
I enjoy doing things on my own. Be it driving, watching concerts or movies, buying groceries, eating at restaurants, and traveling. But since it’s writing about traveling, I won’t tell you how difficult it is to stay focused on my mom’s grocery list without any tendency to buy (unimportant) stuff for myself.
So, it was June, my birth month. Birthdays don’t excite me anymore. It’s getting more frightening even. At this very age, I have bills to pay, too many responsibilities to take care of, parents getting old. Celebrating birthday feels like an irony—with or without cakes— problems will definitely screw you anyway. But instead of thinking about those problems, I decided to go to Yogyakarta on my birthday, alone. For the very first time in my life, I booked an executive class train for the trip with my own money.
I started traveling alone since I was in college. It wasn’t my first time to go to Yogyakarta, therefore I didn’t make a travel itinerary. It’s not that I have memorized Yogyakarta’s streets, but rather wanted to go to places I have never visited before when I was there. Upon arriving at Yogyakarta, I went straight to the hostel at The Patio Yogya. It was 8 o’clock in the morning. The sky was quite gloomy as if its bowl of sunshine has been eaten by the thundercloud. I dropped my bags and went out for breakfast. Since the hostel was not that far from Alun Alun Utara, I walked. The first thing I love about traveling alone is that I don’t have to wait for anyone. I don’t have to argue, if I want to walk then I’ll just walk. If I want to use a vehicle, I’ll just order it online.
That morning, strolling around Alun Alun Utara to Selatan never felt so emotional. Looking at how people work to survive by selling food, drinks, artworks, clothes. No matter how weird my traveling activity was, no one would complain because I only got myself at the time. Lol.
Oh, I forgot to mention about how cozy the hostel was. There were 5 rooms at the hostel, with clean and neat shared bedrooms and bathrooms. My roommate was two women from Manchester, they have spent a month traveling at Yogyakarta and will continue the journey to Bali after that. I wonder how many times should I spend to save some money to go travel the world like them. Okay, enough wondering. There was a foot-soaking pool I can just sit there and contemplate about life with one of the nicest staff, Mas Toni. Frankly, I’m not an expert on initiating a conversation with a stranger but that’s exactly what will happen when traveling alone. You will “push” yourself to meet and talk to people, in every situation. Pretty much like socializing with colleagues at the office, but without deadlines.
So, Mas Toni told me he was once a teacher. He got divorced from his ex-wife, moved to Yogyakarta and work at the hostel. He said to me, “I don’t care even if I work as a staff, wash the dishes and mop the floor, as long as I’m happy I’ll do it.” He wondered what makes me so brave to travel alone. “What if someone kidnapped you?” he said.
I spent three days at Yogyakarta. I ate a tasty fried duck at Warung Makan Cak Koting, tried Wedang Uwuh for the very first time, and found a cool coffee shop with a small library inside. It’s Blanco Coffee and Books at Kranggan street. It’s funny that when I’m alone, I begin to feel everything. The coffee and old books scent, the sound of people typing on their laptop, the laughter when they’re talking about life, the comfort of being on my own.
At the end of my trip, I went to Pandansari beach. Unlike Parangtritis beach—in which you can find trashes everywhere—Pandansari beach was clean and peaceful. I think it’s because not many people know the location, yet. After spending hours sitting on the beach, when the sun went down I hugged myself and said, “you are capable of doing things on your own and you can rely on yourself. Among those confusing choices in life, at least you know what you need.”
Here’s a tranquil scene to brighten up your day 🙂