Sitting agigated in the plane bound to Juanda International Airport Surabaya, as in other backpacking trips, nothing is certain except for the guesthouse I booked for the arrival night stay. I did not have fixed plans as to where to go before our scheduled expedition to the highest mountain in Java, Mt. Semeru. Arriving late in Juanda Airport Surabaya, we waited for the taxi we requested from the guesthouse, not knowing our request was never read by the owner of the guesthouse. Desperate for good sleep, we haggled with the taxi driver to send us to Da Ri Fi Guesthouse for the price of IDR60,000.00. As for Da Rifi Guesthouse, the rate we had through Agoda was IDR50,000.00/ MYR16.00 with breakfast.
Da Rifi Guesthouse is located at suburb 30 minutes away from the Surabaya city proper. In order to go to the city centre, we had to take a mini van called angkutan with route no. H4. Then take a bus with route no. P1 to Tugu Pahlawan. It was really hot, my skin burnt with the sun heat. We did not have the map, we wandered on foot along the street to find Tugu Pahlawan. There it was near the intersection!
Tugu Pahlawan is an iconic monument in the heart of Surabaya. Standing high at 4,115 meter, the monument was built in rememberance of the fallen heroes of Surabaya during the Independence war between 1945 to 1949. It becomes a centre of attraction every 10th November to remember the fallen heroes.
Apart from the statues of important leaders at the entrance of Tugu Pahlawan, some of the pillars were sprayed with patriotic quotes while the walkway leads to a beautiful garden landscape towards the underground tunnel which functions as a museum. We did not know the existence of the underground museum until Wibie asked if we went there. We wanted to save money, thus accidentally skipped the underground museum.
We wanted to see Cheng Ho Mosque, but we got lost. We ended up at the old post office. We walked further up to find the oldest church in Surabaya, Gereja Kelahiran Santa Perawan Maria is under massive renovation.
To quench the thirst, we stopped by at the street stall. We had in mind that the most crowded stall, must have the most delicious food of all. We were seated right in front of the drink counter, a good position to observe the liveliness of the stall. I ordered Es Kacong Ijo – a drink with green beans and coconut milk. It amazed me how they grated the ice by using a hard wood stand similar to our traditional “kukur kelapa” with some sharp blade at the centre of the wood stand. Ice cubes are too modern in this part of the world. We then ordered Es Campur, similar to our Ais Kacang or Air Batu Campur. All for the price of IDR11,000.
After that, we hailed a tricycle to Sempoerna Museum. A must go in Surabaya.
From Sempoerna Museum, we went to Pasar Atom just to figure what’s there. To go to Pasar Atom, we had to pass by the entrance of Kya Kya. Once a bustling trading centre of Surabaya, Kya Kya Kembang has an interesting past. Kya Kya Kembang was known for the melting pot area. It was made popular during Japanese colonization, when many Japanese soldiers took on girlfriends from this district. Kembang meant the “girlfriends”. These days, Kya Kya Kembang is an area where one could find aging shop houses selling everything under the skies. As we were there during the afternoon, we did not have the opportunity to see how Kya Kya Kembang transforms itself into Chinatown food streets.
Pasar Atom is a simple market place, a cross between shopping complex and traditional market. I noticed most of the shops there sell either clothes or food. You may purchase clothes for baju kurung here. We then entered the food area. Lots of food from jeruk, cakes, breads, lapis, spiku, cakue’, traditional kuih and many others.
Otak-otak Tenggiri – similar to our pulut panggang but the filling is Ikan Tenggiri paste.
Cakue Peneleh : The same like Tionghua’s Cakue. But there are many flavoured Cakue such as Prawn Cakue, Chicken Cakue and many other.
Next, we went to Arab Quarter to see Masjid Ampel Sunan. We were dropped right in front of Arab Bazaar along Jalan Ampel Suci. They were selling many religious based items such as Al-Quran, Tafsir, Ketayap, Telekung, Kurma and many others. At the end of the road, there stood Masjid Sunan Ampel. If you have not known, Sunan Ampel is one of the Wali Songo responsible to spread Islam to Java.
We wanted to wander around Jembatan Merah when my friend, Wibie whom I knew from Jakarta Java Jazz last March texted me that she would be meeting us at Sutos Mall with her couchsurfing friends. Why not? I love to meet locals whenever I travel. At that point of time, we were looking for a cinema to watch 5cm movie. A story of 5 friends who learn to appreciate each other more after their hiking expedition to Mt. Semeru. Yeah, what a coincidence. That’s our sure-go destination in Indonesia for this trip. We wanted to know the route and the difficulty level to hike the mountain, thus our eagerness to watch this movie.
Sutos Mall is a cool place to hang out with friends. We figured there are not much shops but rather places to eat and hang out plus and exclusive movie theatre. We got our tickets for the movie. All I could say, 5cm is a great movie to watch. I hope someday Malaysia will be able to produce a movie based on hiking expedition like 5cm. Oh that apart, I was very humble with the opportunity to make friends with those who spared some time to meet us over the dinner.
After we ate our dinner, Wibie sent us off to Da Rifi Guesthouse. We decided to spend another night there. Wibie had introduced us to Ardi who would be leaving to Malang on the next morning at 6am. He agreed to take us with him and there we went, hitchhiking from Surabaya to Malang with Ardi.