"The Second Large City in Indonesia" Top 5 Page for this destination Surabaya by Hui-Hui
Surabaya Travel Guide: 202 reviews and 420 photos
On the late evening of 4th Feb. I arrived at Surabaya with my parents and twin sister. We had to walk down from the airplane to the ground by ourselves. The first breath in Surabaya was so humid and hot. The weather was very different from dry and chilly one in Taiwan! Finally I realized that I was in tropical zone!
We took a shuttle bus from the apron to the airport. The old building looked like a community center of the 70’s. A lot of tourists waited on lines for passing the custom. Customer offiers worked very slow. It was almost midnight and even one of them dozed off... :-p
On the way to the hotel, I couldn’t stop looking at the view outside the bus. The local houses were with white walls and red roof. The roof protruded on the top in lovely shape. And all was almost dark and very quiet. I liked the hotel where I would stay when I just entered the lobby. It was full of classic decoration. In the middle there was a bar with some comfortable sofa. A beautiful female singer sang with live band. And we realized very late that she sang a Taiwanese pop song because her Mandarin pronunciation was not perfect. I noticed that some local rich people gathered in the lobby as well…They behaved in cultivation and presented their high position unwittingly…
The next morning I was awaken by “singing” of the Koran from a nearby mosque… It was very pretty… The city panorama from my room was just great! I saw a lot of red roofs covered one by one in a big mass. There were very few so-called modern buildings of glass and steel… And at the furthest point I saw a vague shape of a mountain… Sometimes it just disappeared because of heavy clouds…
The restautant was surrounded by a green tropical garden... The waiters and waitresses were very friendly and smiled a lot. I took a big interest in Indonesian cuisine!!! The first local dishes which I had were chicken sausage and Javanese noodles soup. Chicken sausage tasted very fresh and sweet! There were various ingredients like spring onion, bean sprouts, peanut and cassava etc. in the noodle soup. The taste was very light with soya sauce.
It was an exciting moment when our bus left the hotel and we finally had opportunity to see street view! Most of houses were of two floors with lovely red roof made of concrete tiles. There were many stands along the street. Some vendors just showed some plastic cups/bottles of water to sell... It was weird but a lot of people just sat along the street and looked absent-minded… Even some families including parents and children did like that together… What attracted me the most was local dress of women. They wore in bright-color robes and hid their pretty hair by scar and liked walking in a group… Due to the humid climate, basically the buildings and infrastructures looked dark and somehow dirty. (We have the same problem in Taiwan.)
We arrived at a traditional fruit market as first stop. It was a market made by some simple tents. The scene of various colorful tropical fruits (banana, durian and so on) hung around was very interesting. Indonesian durian was smaller and less “stinky” than one of Thailand. The most special fruit was snake fruit. It was covered by a thin brown shell like snake’s squama. The white meat tasted sour! Afterwards we visited a local convenience store. There were various products made in Indonesia and most of them were of international brands. To be honest I didn’t take interest in their western snacks at all because they looked very artificial.
Then we left the downtown of Surabaya to the suburb. There were only rice fields, trees and farm houses around us… I had never seen such amazing complete GREEN scenery in my life! Because of humidity and sunshine Java was really a paradise for plants! But unfortunately our aged Mercedes bus got problem once and we had to park along the road. The air conditioner was off and it was very hot...
We had lunch in an Indonesian-Chinese restaurant called Victoria. Concerning the food sanitation, the traveling agency only arranged restaurants run by local Chinese for us. The ancestors of local Chinese moved to Indonesian some hundred years ago and most of their descents looked like Javanese with dark complexion, short & thin figures and big eyes. My forefathers moved to Formosa so nowadays I was Taiwanese girl with Chinese-aboriginal look… If they had moved to other places, my destiny would have been totally different!
The restaurant was like another community center. In the interior wide room there put some round tables. We just sat there for lunch. The dishes were very common Chinese dishes but tasted different from “Taiwanese-Chinese home-made dishes which I was used to have. What we liked the most was fried chicken! It was so juicy, crispy, fresh and delicious. We ate it out, even though there was bird flu in Indonesia!!!
Our bus went to a mountain area and got deeper and deeper… The tropical plants were very tall and big! Then our bus stopped in a parking space close to several souvenir shops. We had to walk to the waterfall Coban Rondo. It was quite a popular local tourism spot! I saw a lot of Indonesian youth. Some of them walked around, some sang with guitars, some played water in a small river and some couples dated. They were quite curious to us and smiled to us a lot!
It was really a green world! The valley was full of plants and grass. The water of cascade sprayed and cooled me down… It reminded me of some commercial film where naked female model stayed in pool in front of waterfall surrounded by bright-green tropical plants… How a relaxing scenery! Afterwards we bought some grilled curry corn (1,500 Rupiah) from a stand. The corn was hard with very light taste of curry. It was tasty and natural! I took a look at souvenir shop and found Batik pretty. But concerning the quality, I gave up the idea to do a purchase here.
In the late afternoon we went to Batu town. It was a holiday center on hills. We saw many clean villas of white walls and red roof. There was a big one on a pool as restaurant and karaoke house. The weather was not very good and it was a little foggy on hill. We first visited orchid garden. My hometown was famous for orchid planting so seeing flowers in green house was not so exiciting for me. Then we watched some animals in cage... The most special ones were fruit bats. They were hairy and big. When some children yelled, they made sounds like mice! We got some cups of apple juice to drink before we entered apple farms. The juice was very very sweet... The apple trees were introduced by Dutches when they occupied Indonesia. My father climbed a tree and picked up some fresh apples for us. But due to humid and warm climate the apple had no taste at all...
At noon of 6th Feb. we came back to Surabaya. We went through rice fields and local houses. The house were very lovely with corridor of L type. Some chickens walked around and lived so close to human beings. The traveling guide shared some local bananas with us. They were small and very sweet! We got quite excited to visit the famous zoo! We first took a rest at information center and then our bus entered the animal area. It was interesting to see many animals walking freely around us. Some cute camels got so curious to us and even blocked our way! Besides Komodo dragons (lizards) and orangutans, Indonesian animals were mini. Elephants & rhinos were small; necks of giraffe were short. The design of the zoo was quite Indian... It was said that it was very crowded on weekend.
We had late lunch in another Indonesian-Chinese restaurant. Most of dishes were the same to formers. The new one was fried oyster cake. It contained a lot of egg and tasted different from Taiwanese one. On the way to the city center, we saw Candi Javi temple, a Hindu temple built in the 13 century. It was high all in marble with a roof built by many steps.
We arrived at a shopping center. We didn’t take interest in pirate leather bags but local food-dried vegetables and crisps! We chose many bags of shrimp chips (they had more than 50 kinds in Indonesia), dried potato and cassava chips etc. A girl wrote down all the items which I took one by one by hand and then gave me the paper. I had to take it to the counter for paying. There was no scanner or computer at all! Afterwards we bought a coconut at a stand outside. It was very juicy and cost only RP 1,500!
Then we headed to the huge blue mosque of exotic style. I got very excited to take a rickshaw ride around the mosque. The seats were in front of the rickshaw so passengers were in more dangerous condition than rider! :-p We were not muslin so we could reach until the atrium. Some muslin kids came out and took pictures with us. They were all very cute in bright-color robes!
We had dinner in a restaurant called Crystal Palace. The dishes were similar to what we had had. Some servers in neat uniform gave us glass of tea. I was quite upset to some Taiwanese group members especially a middle-age man. When they were served with glasses of tea, they performed like kings without saying “Thanks”! I felt so ashamed! Then the guide showed a coconut crab. Although it was an animal under protection, Indonesia-Chinese believed that eating it could help their manhood. :-(
The next morning I had an early breakfast in Marriott Jw. Some waiters were happy that I took interest to try their Javanese breakfast-rice with ingredients wrapped by banana leaf. :-) After breakfast Fenny came to visit me. I was excited to see and talk to her and she was so kind to bring various local desserts! Unfortunately she had to leave for work soon so our meeting was pretty short!
In long break my family walked out and “visited” a supermarket. It was interesting to see local products like Indonesian clothes, Islam decoration (made in China!) and perfume in plastic fancy bottles etc. In general the prices were only 1/3 of Taiwan standard. It was funny to see many stickers of Taiwanese idol band-F4. The four cute guys seemed very popular in Indonesia! Before leaving the hotel, I bought and sent a postcard. Then we went to a handcrafts shop. There were various souvenirs at high quality. (most of souvenirs in Bali were actually made in Surabaya.) We bought 2 wooden statues, a batik skirt and tea etc.
We had lunch in a nice Japanese B. B. Q. restaurant. It offered buffet but the ingredients were refilled very slow. My comment for the restaurant was “Indonesian shrimps were dark and tasty”. Later we visited an old submarine. I once watched a German film “Das boot” so I enjoyed experiencing the limited space like in the movie.
Then we spent about 2 hour in the biggest department store. It was built glorious like one in Taipei 101! Many local Chinese in pretty suit drove car there for shopping while some Indonesian poor slept on the street. There were many brands imported from America and Europe on sales. The prices were lower than in Taiwan but as we spent out all the local currency, we missed the chance to do big shopping!:-(
After eye shopping, we got exhausted. We went to another Indonesian-Chinese restaurant for dinner. I was really fed up with the same dishes every day except fried chicken. The restaurant was full of Taiwanese tourists and also local Chinese. I saw an old-fashioned pink crème birthday cake. It was something which we had 20 years ago in Taiwan!
Our last stop was China town. It was actually a night market on a road with typical match box houseS along and a metal arch of dragon in the front. Compared to night market in Taiwan, it was tiny. There were some stands of Chinese food (satay and fried noodles etc.) and little stuffs from China. The ambiance was very desolate. The guide said that the vendors were all descents of Chinese… But for us, they just looked like locals. Afterward we went to the big community center (airport). It was sad to end the trip and had to work immediately the next morning.
- Pros:friendly people, Javanese style!!
- Cons:big gap between the poor and the rich
- In a nutshell:a big prosperous Javanese city
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