Kebun Bibit – Surabaya

What an amazing day it’s been. I am sitting in the es teler durian warung enjoying another Es Teler durian  

 reflecting back on my day. I chose to sit here because my mouth is on fire after eating nasi tempeh penyet (tempeh – bean curd-  in chili) and the shaved ice is so soothing.

 It was so delicious. On the plate with the tempeh and very spicy chili are basil, cucumber and crispy fried small fish. At first I was amazed with how well I was coping with the chilli and then suddenly it hit me like a sledgehammer and my es jeruk (icy orange drink made with fresh sweet oranges) became my best friend. So much so, I had to order another! Then my nose started streaming!! A courting couple found me so entertaining they couldn’t drag their eyes away! Thankfully their food arrived and I could blow my nose surreptitiously without an audience! I was very relieved I didn’t sneeze like the father at a nearby table! It was bad enough wiping my nose and knowing this was making it redder! The tempeh penyet was dinner – at 5:30pm – and just as delicious as my bubur ayam (chicken risotto with various garnishes) had been that morning!  


My day began when after breakfast, I quizzed Cilla and her father (Bapak) for recommendations on what I could see/do. Bapak explained that Surabaya is not a tourist destination per se, it is more a place for those interested in the history of trade in Indonesia. Cilla proposed the Arab and Chinese quarter which sounds fascinating however as that too is where the House of Sampoerna (Indonesian kretek cigarette factory/museum) is, and being Sunday, the workers who make the cigarettes will not be there, it seems silly to go to the same place twice. Her father then told me a little about the history of the area which is closely tied to Indonesian Independence Day and both the Dutch & Japanese Occupation. It became obvious that I would need more than a morning, so have put it off till I can spend a whole day there. 
Next Cilla recomended a park called Kebun Bibit which literally means the seedling garden. It sounded fascinating and I went expecting to learn about propagation. Instead I discovered an absolutely beautiful park with huge, tall trees below which were colourful and creative garden beds.  


 Don’t you love the signs!   

Paths wound around the garden and led to various areas including picnic spots,  playgrounds for children and a mini zoo area.  


 Strangely at the mini zoo, children were tempting deer to come closer to the fence by offering snake beans!! It looks like the deer prefer kangkung (water spinach). There were 2 types of deer, both gorgeous.  

  This smaller variety excited me at first because  I thought they were kancil (mousedeer), but then I noticed one had antlers and they were too tall!  Kancil are only a foot high  and so timid, I doubt you could tempt it to come that closely to the fence!


Being Sunday, there were hundreds of people  walking or sitting around – most with children.  I saw a few couples too and while they were sitting together , both were on their phones checking facebook! Sound familiar? 

The childrens playgrounds were brilliant, easily the best I’ve seen in Indonesia. For older children. There were several adventure style playgrounds. I love the parents hovering around, supporting their children. 

In the photo above,  look at the face behind the wall!  
For younger children there were various types of more traditional playgrounds. 


 I found a group taking photos of models and my request to take a photo, evolved into joining the shoot temporarily!  We both look like we have Fred Flintstone facial hair! No wonder there was a light on a tripod nearby!


Tucked away in another corner of the park were some trainee doctors earning some pocket money and practising basic skills.   The sign below says the first 10 people pay half price!


Just to finish off, here’s a couple of photos I took of families relaxing and enjoying their Sunday together.  


Outside and close to the exit were many sellers attempting to attract children’s attention with a variety of toys and critters, including siamese fighting fish and brightly painted hermit crabs.  There were also various food sellers, all doing a roaring trade. The fairy floss fellow was most entertaiing and happily agreed to my request to film him! In the 1980’s I saw a similar process except instead of being powered by a motorbike engine, it was on the back of a push bike and powered by foot! 


 While heading back to the bus station I discovered a whole road of rubbish neatly stacked along the fence.  

 Going through it for recyclables were several people some of whom asked to be photographed!!    


It was midday by time I reached Terminal Bratang and it was much quieter than it had been when I arrived! While we waitied for the bus to fill up, passengers were entertained by various singers, sellers and ngamen (beggars). In the photo below you can see several people handing out things to passengers. One item of whatever they are trying to sell is either placed in your hand or in your lap if you are not interested. Depending on the number of sellers, you can end up with a variety of things in your lap. On this trip, we were each handed a hanky, a bag of broad beans, a mini koran, a selection of childrens colouring in books and a soft cover book of legends for children.  I bought one each of the first two but handed the others back. Behind the sellers, right at the front of the bus is a lady singing. Her voice isn’t that bad however the feedback from her microphone and PA system is horrendous.  Thankfully she only sang one song.

The last photo is a handmade envelope. One was handed out to each passenger by a physically  disabled person who then stood in the middle of the bus shaking a marracca briefly before retracing his steps to collect all envelopes. The lady on my first bus rolled up one trouser leg before handing out the envelopes so that her heavily bandaged ulcerated leg was visible. After collecting her envelopes she sat down with me on the back seat, rolled down her trousers before enjoying a well earned nap. The fellow on my second bus was using a crutch as one of his feet was severely misshapen.  Both were bare footed. 

As I sat in the bus, I realised how tired I was. I decided to go straight home and do Lumpur Lapindo (the mud volcano in Sidoarjo caused by the huge Lapindo Company) another day. My next post explains what actually happened!


9 thoughts on “Kebun Bibit – Surabaya

  1. Loving your posts!!

    If you’re not going anywhere after Surabaya, my book shopping recs are Toga Mas first (everything is 10% off rrp) and then Gramedia Expo. GE is amazing – it’s huuuuge. They even do music concerts there!!

    Galaxy Mall is my favourite mall πŸ™‚ Din Tai Fung has fab dim sum (the Hong Kong original has a Michelin star for their dumplings). Periplus there has a good selection of English Lang books about Indonesia. This book is a good read on Surabaya:

    If you go to TP mall (the biggest one), wander the kampungs around and alongside it. They’re amazing. City noise is completely blocked off and it has a great (and unique) suasana.

    House of Sampoerna is worth a visit πŸ™‚

    Be careful with Lapindo – lots of preman.

      • Gangs / “criminals” / con-men(people) is a rough translation. Expect to buy a lot of their DVDs as a minimum πŸ˜‰ but I’ve heard that recently they’re getting a bit rougher… We avoided it this year because so many ppl warned us against it.

        If you go to Bromo, I highly recommend visiting Madakaripura Waterfall on the way back. It was incredible πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ Highlight of our trip.

        Taman Safari is also a lot of fun if you adopt some kids for the day. The shows are really quite good! Next door is Kaliandra which is a lovely place to stay and had a brilliant day spa. Really good place for school trips – worth scoping out what they offer.

      • Such a shame SA can’t do trips to Indonesia. Our policy was reviewed recently and I’ve got my fingers crossed this decision is reversed in the update.

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