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View from my room


Room I ended up spending six nights in instead of three.

So after venting to a friend about the conference debacle, it was decided I needed a drink. A group of us headed out to a food market (I think it’s called Food Festival, Pakwan City), which is an open area with loads of stalls selling different types of food. The place had a carnivalesque atmosphere, with live music (that is almost ubiquitous in Surabaya), a caroussel, weird family-sized bicyles, etc. We ordered satay to share, coconuts, and I decided on a roti cannai (which is basically a fluffy-ish paratha) to be dunked in some gravy. Safe, but I can’t stand too much fish sauce which a lot of street cuisines in this part of the world use.

Then, we headed to a restaurant that served beer, which is not ubiquitous in Surabaya. We didn’t realise alcohol was so hard to find here. I was so desperate for a drink that although I never never drink beer, I drank about half a bottle of Bintang. Which doesn’t sound like much, but I hate beer. So something positive came out of this, because I think I might just be able to stomach beer henceforth which will be really easy on my wallet.

The next day I braved the conference again, and even attended a session in which the wicked witch was part of, but cowered at the back. Then at night, headed out for dinner with a group of people to a nearby Indonesian restaurant where an Indonesian girl in the group ordered for us. Honestly, I liked the idea of the food more than the food.

The next day was my first vela day. I had signed up for a tour organised by the conference. The tour rundown did not sound terribly exciting but it was something to do. The good thing was that it got me to do what I wouldn’t have otherwise been motivated to do – see some of the signts of Surabaya. Here they are:

Started at Balai Pemuda, which means Youth Hall.

First stop, City Hall which houses the offices of the mayor. Independence Day is around the corner and the whole city is decked up in red and white, the flag colours, for the day. Outside City Hall, students were practising their marching.

First time I’ve ever seen cauliflower growing in a pot as a decoration.

Surabaya (sura=shark, baya=crocodile) is all about the shark and croc, I think related the the rivers that flow through the city. The motif is everywhere.

Visited a museum which contained a random collection of objects such as hospital equipment.

More interesting was the art exhibition, taking off on the theme of the city’s (or country’s?) first female mayor.

 Then we headed to the ruins of a building that was destroyed in WW2. The city’s identity is very much tied up in a battle which started the war of independence on 8 November 1945. See I even remember the date.

The monument has 11 lines, 10 planes and is 45 metres high. I think.


Then we went to House of Sampoerna, which is little museum dedicated to the local ciggie maker. We had a special guided tour which does bring the thing to life. We got a glimpse of women on the factory floor though it was kind of weird watching them work through the glass above like they were exhibits not people. Each woman produces 300 ciggies an hour! The cigarettes have a mix of tobacco and cloves and are called kretik because they make a crackly sound. Below is the machine traditionally used to make the mixture.

We then went to lunch, which honestly was the best part of the tour. It was the best meal I’ve eaten so far. The fish (freshwater, my favourite) is a local favourite. There was satay of course and a yummy mushroom spicy stir fry thing. Simple but tasty.

We then took a long ride to see this super kitschy giant statue of a god that our tour guide couldn’t identity. We mused over the fact for once, we had a view of the backside of a god.

 There was also a temple dedicated to a combination of Confucianism, Daoism and Buddhism. More exciting was this view of the mud flats.

 Last stop was a souvenir shop, full of stuff I did not want to buy.

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