Surabaya Trip Report

Old Aug 9th, 2006, 01:17 AM
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Surabaya Trip Report

While in Surabaya (East Java, Indonesia for the geographically challenged) on business, I had a chance to take a little side trip. Surabaya isn't really on the tourist map, but it and East Java probably should be.

Firstly, I stayed the night in Surabaya at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Majapahit. This is one of those marvelous colonial era hotels built by the Sarkies Brothers, the same people who brought you the E&O in Penang, the Strand in Rangoon and Raffles in Singapore. The hotel has been very faithfully restored, right down to the brass toggle light switches, but rooms have all the mod-cons such as TV, mini-bar and even wireless internet. It looks a lot like Raffles probably did before they turned it into a shopping mall. Perhaps one of the best features of all was the price: My deluxe room, all in with taxes etc., was just under $100.

I had a quick tour of Surabaya, of which the highlight, believe it or not, was the cigarette museum. This is a new attraction that's not in guidebooks yet. It's not exactly what you think - the cigarettes in question are kretoks, so the predominant smell that hits you the second you walk in the door is cloves. The museum is housed in the old factory, which started out as an orphanage in 1868. The museum covers the life of the founder, himself an orphan, the history of the company, etc. The surprise came after viewing the exhibits on the first floor. Going up to the second floor I expected just more exhibits, but what I found was a glass wall looking out onto the back half of the building, where hundreds of ladies where busy making cigarettes by hand. Everybody was moving so fast, it was like watching a movie in fast forward. Rather sureal.

From Surabaya I traveled by car up into the mountains to stay the night - or part of it at least - at Bromo Cottages. The cottages are rather basic, but the view is fantastic. The desk gave me a wake-up call at 3:30 a.m. (!!!) so I could see the sunrise from the rim of Tengger Caldera, which was about 45 minutes from the hotel. It was still dark and biting cold when we reached the lookout point, but as the sky began to lighten I could make out the smoking crater of Mount Bromo and the dormat cone of Mount Batok next to it. Both rise up out of the huge flat floor of the caldera. Beyond the other rim of the caldera, another volcano puffs out of column of ash and smoke every 20 minutes or so.

Once the sun was up, we drove down to the floor of the caldera and across it to Mount Bromo. At the base of the volcano, we're greeted by 'cowboys' who take you on horseback about halfway up the side of the mountain. I swear, I think my horse weighed less than I do! I felt guilty riding him but he didn't complain at all. Halfway up, you have to get off the horse and climb stairs the rest of the way up to the rim of the crater. From there, you can look down into the vent, lined with yellow sulphur deposits and constantly spewing steam, or you can look back across the flat plain of the caldera. It was really a fantastic sight!

More details and pictures are posted at my travel journal at http://chiengfa.com
MichaelBKK is offline  
Old Aug 9th, 2006, 01:49 AM
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As you say, “Surabaya (East Java, Indonesia for the geographically challenged)”, so why have you posted it on the Thailand Board?

Incidentally, there is at least one other Surabaya in Indonesia; in Lampung.
Tangata is offline  
Old Aug 9th, 2006, 04:05 PM
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Michael, enjoyed your report and pics, thanks for posting. I was in Central Java a few months ago. We would have liked to get to East Java and I was really considering it, but with only 7 nights in Java, I felt there wouldn't ne enough time for both. I'll most definitely have to get back there and to Bromo.
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Old Aug 9th, 2006, 05:21 PM
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Tangata - Must have been force of habit. I don't even remember selecting a topic.
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Old Aug 9th, 2006, 06:18 PM
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Sorry Michael, that makes two of us -- I didn't even realise that it was you posting.
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Old Aug 9th, 2006, 07:56 PM
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thanks for the report michael
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Old Aug 10th, 2006, 06:44 AM
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Laurie, I remember you wanted to go there, but just couldn't fit it in. So much to see and do in Indonesia, and so little time.

Thanks for the report, Michael.
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