An Unplanned Road Trip

I like to think that there are certain things in life you ought to leave to chance, like when you set your heart on something but your gut tells you otherwise, or when you stop depending on the internet to give you topics for a prolonged conversation. Even if you’re not one to gamble, it’s crucial to buck the odds every once in a while.


Well, this might sound so random, but I went on an unplanned road trip last weekend with some of my new friends. As an anxious, enneagram type 4 overthinker, I have this tendency to overprepare a lot of specific things, non-material goods included. It usually drives me crazy when there happens to be a big gap between expectation and reality. I don't like the huge space, but I won’t like myself more when the fact falls short.

Instead of thinking too much about what to speak or when to engage in a tête-à-tête during this trip, I decided to change the blueprint this time: I came with nothing beyond what was necessary. It goes without saying that the experiment helped me to slowly overcome the projection bias and whatnotor to put it simply, the trip became something unexpected but fun.

***


On Saturday last week, I arrived at the meeting point much earlier than expectedwe were told to gather at 7 o’clock in the morning, but the bus had dropped me off at around 06.20 a.m. I didn’t complain though. I loved the short solo trip before meeting the crowd. It was peaceful.


Fast forward to a few hours later, my friends and I were on our way to Puncak. It was around 10.30 a.m. when we started to hit the road from Bogor. We were divided into two groups with two different cars, but we tried to travel in convoy.

An hour or so into our trip, however, something unexpected happened. We got separated. My group took a right turn just like how the map told us to. It led us to a small street, a quick shortcut that should take us faster to Puncak Pass. The other group failed to take the same turn as their car was blocked by a big bus. It unintentionally covered the entire opening of the intersection.

We had no other choice but to accept that we would be taking different ways. Little did we know that it would take our group almost six hours to arrive.

As it turned out, taking the smaller street was a bad, bad idea. We didn't anticipate how severe the traffic congestion was there. Once we were inside the narrow road, we figured out that the map had messed up. We got majorly stuck and could barely move.


Hours had passed since the first time we went in but we were still trapped. After a while, it started to rain too. We had accepted that at one point we would run out of ideas of what to do, but we couldn't accept the fact that we had to pee so badly.

Inch by inch we moved until a big sign of a random cafe nearby took our attention. It was like stumbling upon an oasis in the desert, but instead of letting water in, we let it out. Without thinking further, we decided to park our car before going into the cafe.

Our plan was soon canceled once our car entered the parking lot though. We all expressed a relieved sigh upon seeing a small restroom in the middle of the outdoor area. It was our best version of an oasis in the desert if not more. I almost thought that my eyes were playing tricks on me if not for the security guard coming to our car with an umbrella in each hand.


"Are you coming up (to the cafe)?" the guard asked. His voice was almost inaudible with the heavy rain pouring behind.

We answered a quick "No" in unison, thinking that we wouldn't be allowed to use the restroom. But instead of telling us to go, he offered us one of the umbrellas. I took it. My friends and I then went to use the restroom one after another.


Well. Nothing much happened after that. We hit the road, got stuck again, moved a few inches, and were back to square one. Good music as our conversation's background and delicious snacks might become our only consolation, but I was, in a way, happy that I had become more comfortable with my new friends. I talked more.

After more than three hours with no intersection, we finally found an opening to a bigger street. Our luck battery, however, was not enough to fight what happened next. After thinking that we were now safe from the traffic, we got stuck for the second time that day...

Who knew that the one-way policy from Puncak to Jakarta had just begun at 3 p.m. and so no car was allowed to go up? It was 03.30 p.m. when we successfully found our way out from the small street. We waited and waited and waited (in Indonesian, I would say that we were already "mati gaya" there) until we couldn't take it anymore. A friend and I decided to go out and order something from a restaurant called Mie Bandung Kejaksaan 1964 nearby. I settled for a bowl of bakmi pangsit rica and a glass of hot tea.


Well, at least the scenery was pretty there and the waiters were kind. At 05.30 p.m., the one-way policy from Puncak to Bogor was over. We had to wait no more. Off we went to our villa in Cipanas, wading through the thick fog along the road (it was so dark out there that taking pictures became more and more useless as the night came).


Compared to how much time we had spent on the road with the traffic and the forgotten one-way policy, the time it took us to arrive at our villa felt like a blink of an eye. After hours of nothing to do, anticipation excited us. We became high-spirited and laughed about a lot of things.

If you're curious about my friends in the other car, they safely arrived at the villa at 3 p.m.what a lucky battery they had that day. Once we were reunited, we cleaned up our stuff, played two games, and wrote down our first impressions of each other. We then went outside to have a barbeque night.


A barbeque night turned out to be a perfect night for a random conversation. It was beyond my understanding how our topic got stirred into something we had never touchedlike relationshipsbut it undoubtedly broadened our knowledge about each other.

I didn't expect to know that about some of my friends, but now I do.


***

We had a board game night until 2 a.m. that Saturday, so it’s safe to say that I woke up the next morning feeling a little exhausted. Albeit still not a hundred percent energized, Puncak’s air hit me differently. Sunday morning that day felt fresh and surreal.

When I was a kid, I often spent my New Year's in Cipanas with my big family. It was during primary school, if I recall correctly, when my cousins and I were close courtesy of children’s pure innocence. We would play all day long until our parents told us to eat. At night, we would have fun barbeque times while watching the fireworks go off.

Going to this place certainly brought back a lot of fond memories. I don’t miss the time I was a kidthe lack of control would stress me out so much nowbut I do miss being that carefree as it has slowly become something I need to relearn as I grow up. It’s funny to think about how aging means gaining something from the outside but also losing a little part of yourself in the process.

Well, it’s unfortunate that we couldn’t extend our trip and let nostalgia wash over me any longer. After doing a session of morning prayer, we packed and got ready to go home. Some of my friends did a karaoke session while waiting.


Please note that all of us were already hitting the road at around 12.30 p.m., but boy, did we once again run out of our luck battery. Like continuing the episode from the day before, we got stuck in the traffic for seven freaking hours that day.

I pitied those who had to drive.


Well, what else could we do during another unplanned road trip? We talked. We ate tahu sumedang, boiled peanuts, and pempek goreng. We went to pee at a random restroom in the middle of a building construction. We listened to a friend’s story. We sang and slept. We played some mobile games. We, once again, were kind of "mati gaya" (but those are some ideas if you need some).


I got overwhelmed with relief when the cars in front of us started to move at half an hour past 5. Judging by their reaction, I believed that the other felt the same way as I did. Trying to go down from Puncak as fast as we could before another unexpected thing happened, we managed to arrive at Bogor at around 7 p.m. Hungry and tired as hell, we decided to have a lunner (it means "lunch and dinner" have you heard?) at Kedai Kita. I ordered a plate of beef black pepper noodles and a glass of sweet hot tea. I forgot how spicy the noodles tasted.


Hitting the road again after our much-needed meal, we finally went back to our beloved Jakarta, arriving at our meeting point at 10 p.m. What an experience. What a trip. I was tired beyond words.


(So the million-dollar question is: will I want to do this again in the future? I don’t think so. I will be avoiding Puncak’s traffic as far as I can. Do I regret the trip though? No. I believe that this road trip would be something I remember for the rest of my life.)