discovering surabaya

Not quite a long time ago, I went to Surabaya. On mid-February, to be more exact. The motivation was, of course, to seek for runaway from daily routinity; also to visit a dear friend(s). This trip was made possible by AirAsia Bandung – Surabaya new route promo, and the dreadful year end full of deadlines.

Surabaya is a fine hot and humid city because it is located close to the shores. Its development is mainly focused on business, whether it is commercial business or industrial business. Its main activities, of course, focused in port area, CBDs, and industrial estates.

Compared to Bandung, this city is relatively larger but tidier. Most of the main roads are extremely wider than those in Bandung, with approximately 18 – 24 m ROW (Right of Way) consists of two lanes two way road with wide median and pedestrian area. Although there are lots of zebra crosses, I still found it’s hard to get myself crossing the road.

Most of people in Surabaya use private vehicles such as cars and motorcylces to go around the town. However, I still found it intersting to roam using public transport. Here you can find angkot, bus, taxi, and becak.

Still haven’t decided yet where to explore, I took angkot to get myself to Jembatan Merah, one of the city’s  landmark during my second day in Surabaya. It is located in old town area, near  Chinatown. Nearby, we can find a lot of gorgeous old Art Deco and Indische-Colonial buildings: Nationale Building, ex Javasche Bank, ex Telecomunication  Office, Jawa Pos Office, Cigar Building (Gedung Cerutu), Societeit Concordia von Surabaya, Governor Kantoor, ex Kalisosok Prison, and so much more.

Across Jembatan Merah is Kembang Jepun, one of the most notorious commercial street in Surabaya’s Chinatown; which is often related to Jungunianfu (prostitution) area on Japanese colonialism era in Indonesia (ca. 1942 – 1945). The district is now an active commercial area, as in Jalan ABC, Banceuy, Pasar Baru, and Otista, Bandung.

At around the back of ex Kalisosok Prison, we can find House of Sampoerna, another historical building owned by Sampoerna family known by their cigarettes. The house is currently functioned as museum and gallery, with a souvenir shop and cafe as its auxiliary function.

The museum displays history of Sampoerna and cigarettes in Java. The sweet musky smell of fine cloves and tobacco welcomes us from the very first time we open the museum’s front door. On the 2nd floor, they display cigarettes production process, which is strictly prohibited to be recorded.

This was where I impulsively bought myself a book: “Sampoerna: The Legacy”. It is a A5 sized thick book made of fine papers, illustrated in water colour. Really worth Rp 270.000,00 to the very cents. 😀

The House of Sampoerna also offers “Sampoerna Heritage Track”, a small tour to several historical sites in Surabaya which is extremely fit me (not only as an architect, but also as a solo-traveler who don’t actually know where she’s going, hehe). Moreover, the tour is for free! And as if it hasn’t enough yet, they provide the tour with a heritage map and fluent talkative tourguide, which I can guarantee that she knows exactly what she’s talking. The bus leaves on time, as you can check the bus schedule here.

This time, I took the 1 pm to Chinatown and Kampung Arab and 3 pm tour to Tugu Pahlawan and PTPN XI Building.

The 1 pm tour took stop at Klenteng Hok Ang Kiong, the oldest temple in town. Afterwards, the bus took us around Kampung Arab and then went back to HoS.

While on the 3 pm tour, the bus took us to Tugu Pahlawan via Veteran Street, where you can find Asia-Afrika-Street-ish atmosphere around. Afterwards, the bus proceed to PTPN XI office building. It was designed by architect E.D. Cuypers (the one who designed De Javasche Bank – now Bank Indonesia building – in Bandung as well). The building was formerly the largest building in Surabaya owned by HVA (Handelsvereeniging Amsterdam).

Finished with HoS’s tour, I headed to Pasar Genteng using becak. It costed me 20.000 rupiahs. Pasar Genteng is a house of snacks and food for oleh-oleh. Usually, people seeks for Smoked Bandeng (bandeng asap), keripik teripang, and so much more.

The next morning, I went visiting Masjid Ampel in Kampung Arab district. The masjid located in the heart of commercial and residential area. To get in there, you have to go through the alleys. It was friday morning, and the masjid is closed to be prepared for Shalat Jum’at. So it’s not really the best timing to visit the masjid. However, a lot of pilgrims visit this place to go to see Sunan Ampel’s graves as well.

Afterwards, I headed to Madura through Suramadu bridge with a friend, her husband, and her daughter. We were in quest of Bebek Sinjay, one of the famous duck cuisine restaurant in Madura, which were not in business that day. 😦 Headed back to Surabaya, we finally made our lunch in Bebek Kremes Kali Tangan.

My journey was wrapped up with a story of how I almost missed my plane home due to… umm… the perfect combination of miscalculation of downtown – airport driving-time and traffic jam in industrial area. hehe. luckily, the flight was delayed! 🙂

Well, that’s a piece of my new year’s getaway story (if February is still considerably new year, compared to April).

Besides the facts that
I chosed the wrong airport taxi to downtown on my arrival (which costed me more 45K Rupiahs compared to the official airport taxi);
got lost to Balongsari – near Tanjung Perak – on my way to House of Sampoerna (which were, surprisingly, close by distance from where I took the wrong angkot);
and almost missed my flight on my way home,

I found that at this very moment this is how I need my vacation to be. 🙂

Happy Exploring!!!


2 thoughts on “discovering surabaya

  1. waaa… nampak menyenangkan…
    itu tour nya emang ada teh? terus bukunya emang punya???
    hehehehe… mau minjem 😛

    1. iya, itu tur-nya emang ada.. gratis.. masuk museumnya jg gratis..
      kaya’nya si sampoerna teh udah kebanyakan duit, bingung mau diapain, ya dibuang2 gitu deh :p haha..
      ada, bukunya lagi dipinjem temenku.. aku pun belum sempet baca.. 😀

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