Last Full Day in Surabaya

My last full day in Surabaya began with the symptoms of another virus. Sore throat, lethargy and a headache. All I wanted to do was collapse into bed and sleep for 100 years. However I was determined not to miss a second of any day with Lenny. 

An sms from Lenny saying she was about to head out and get some bubur for breakfast had me grabbing my phone and heading over to her apartment. We walked along the road in true Indonesian fashion by walking with the traffic unlike the way we do it in Australia where we walk towards oncoming traffic. Walking on the left hand side of the road is a little nerve wracking as you have to trust that the drivers coming from behind you see you and allow you enough room & that you don’t get swiped by wing mirrors, which I’ve never, thank goodness, experienced. It’s tricky dodging puddles from the recent rain, stepping over uneven footpath (if it exists) or road as well as negotiating traffic parked along the side of the road. My eyes are busy watching where to put my feet while my ears are listening for larger traffic coming from behind me. If I hear a truck coming, I step warily further left just in case!! 

It wasn’t till we reached the bubur stall that I realised I’d grabbed the wrong phone and wouldn’t be able to take any photos. The stall roof structure was made from bamboo poles which were attached to the concrete wall behind by raffia hanging off nails embedded into the concrete. Covering the bamboo were old canvas banners. Not sure how waterproof this structure would be in a downpour which we’ve had daily. The walls were made similarly and the ‘door’ was another banner weighted at the bottom hanging down to my waist, which we lifted to enter. Inside the warung were a husband and wife. Lenny gave our order of “lima bubur ayam mbak” (5 chicken bubur) to the wife. Mbak is a polite way of addressing just about any woman in Java if you don’t know her name or status, even if she is younger. I felt like I’d just got to the point where I could incorporate this into my language and now in Bali, I daren’t, because the Balinese (and those from other islands) get really annoyed if addressed this way. I remember Ichal’s frustration in Papua when fellow travelers/warung staff called him ‘Mas’, the Javanese was to address men of unknown age/status. Ichal, from Ternate, Maluku Utara, reacted the same way I do when was asked if I’m from New Zealand/Britain. 

While Lenny gave the order to the wife, it was the husband who served the delicious, soft, gooey rice into polystyrene containers. As we were not eating there, our bubur was ‘dibungkus’ (put in take away containers). His wife put the fried onion, tofu, crunchy peanuts, spring onion and shredded chicken into small clear plastic bags which were then knotted. All this was put into large plastic bags and a large plastic bag of krupuks (crackers) was added to the top. After paying for the bubur which was I think around Rp5000 each (AUD50c), we turned around to head back to the hotel to eat our bubur with the rest of the family. Just as we were about to step through the door, Lenny spotted a bowl of blue eggs on the table. These are called ‘telur asin’ and are salted duck eggs, a favourite snack which I have seen available throughout Indonesia. The eggs are salty because they have been preserved using a salt brine which gives the eggs a salty flavour. Lenny couldn’t resist and grabbed a couple! 

Around 10am, we were again met by Lenny’s cousin. He drove us to the House of Sampoerna via several sites that I had mentioned to Lenny that looked interesting. Funnily enough, even though Lenny had grown up in Surabaya, most of the tourist sites were as new to her as they were for me!! We passed the Tugu Pahlawan (heroes monument), Jembatan Merah, (red bridge) to name a few. Both of these sites are connected directly to the Battle of Surabaya. 

The House of Sampoerna is the home of Sampoerna clove cigarettes and is the number # 1 destination for tourists to Surabaya. The Dutch built building was originally an orphanage and then later a theatre. It incorporates a museum as well as an upstairs viewing platform from where visitors can watch workers making the cigarettes by hand. As we walked in the door, a tour was beginning. We joined the group and firstly learned a little about the family history. The founder of the business was a Chinese man who arrived in Indonesia with his father when he was quite young. After marrying a local girl, they set up a warung selling basic food items.    

   Once it was established, he tried other jobs but always came back to the warung. One of those jobs was a 6 month stint in a cigarette factory. Eventually a bankrupt cigarette factory became available and he bought it and the rest, as they say, is history. If not mistaken, his grandson sold the business to Altria (formerly known as Philip Morris) for a LOT of money. Upstairs, I discovered that the workers were still on their New Year break and wouldn’t be back till Jan 4th, which is probably why the museum wasn’t that busy. It also meant that I could sneak in a photo of the factory floor as I saw several others doing!  

 Apparently the workshop floor is not air-conditioned which could destroy the freshness of the cloves/tobacco mixture used in the cigarettes. The women workers roll, trim and pack the cigarettes and the fastest can roll up to 400 cigarettes a day! According to Lonely Planet, the tar content of these cigarettes is so high they are banned in most countries. The scent of a kretek (clove cigarette) is evocative for me because of the distinctive clove aroma and when ever I smell one being smoked, I am immediately transported back to Surabaya in 1976/7, standing on the 2nd floor verandah of the Hotel Indah looking  out over the street below. 

To Lenny’s cousin’s disappointment, we were still full from our bubur breakfast, so instead of finding somewhere to eat, we headed next to the Tugu Pahlawan. As soon as we opened the car doors there , the high humidity and heat hit me. There was no shade in the car park, just lots of bitumen reflecting the suns heat and nowhere to escape the high humidity which was warning of us of imminent rain. Just inside the entrance was an enormous statue of Sukarno and Hatta, the first president and vice president of Indonesia. 

  Behind them were columns built to look like the remnants of war as this whole complex is dedicated to the Battle of Surabaya which took place in September 1945.    

 Directly behind the columns was a large lawned area and flanking this were paths leading to the museum and the ‘tugu’ (tall needle like structure) directly opposite.  

 These paths were semi covered by vines growing over a wire structure, so were a much cooler option than heading straight across the lawn.  

 The museum cost Rp5000 per person to enter. We walked down a circular spiral path to the museum which was below ground. There was no air conditioning and even though it was below ground, it was quite hot and airless. Upon entering the doors at the bottom, our ears were assaulted by a recording of Sutomo’s speech. It was so loud and distorted that I could not understand a word. I found this on Wikipedia which is what I’m guessing he was saying:

“Hey British soldiers! As long as the Indonesian bulls, the youth of Indonesia, have red blood that can make a piece of white cloth, red and white, we will never surrender. Friends, fellow fighters, especially the youth of Indonesia, we will fight on, we will expel the colonialists from our Indonesian land that we love… Long have we suffered, been exploited, trampled on. Now is the time for us to seize our independence. Our slogan: FREEDOM OR DEATH. ALLAH IS GREAT… ALLAH IS GREAT… ALLAH IS GREAT.. FREEDOM!”
Bung Tomo’s speech, 9 November 1945.
Who was Sutomo, I hear you ask! Here is a brief explanation, again from Wikipedia: 

Sutomo (3 October 1920 – 7 October 1981), also known as Bung Tomo, is best known for his role as an Indonesian military leader during the Indonesian National Revolution against the Netherlands. He played a central role in Battle of Surabaya when the Dutch attacked the city in October and November 1945. 
To read more about Sutomo and his role in the Battle of Surabaya, I recommend this Wikipedia link:
While looking at the exhibits of military clothing and weapons, a typewriter, Rupiah dating back to the Japanese occupation, a huge battle scene sculpture  

 as well as a static reenactment of Bung Tomo delivering his speech, 

  I was presented with a tourist map of Surabaya by 2 very friendly young workers wearing traditional clothing. A lovely gesture! They then invited us to the theatrette to watch a video about the Battle of Surabaya. We sat down in the air conditioned theatre and watched a video made from photos and footage dating back to the Battle of Surabaya, however unfortunately, the photos were all blurry and the audio largely unintelligible. Still it was lovely to sit for a while in the cool air-con!  

 We then headed outside, where the humidity had not abated at all, to take photos of the monument itself in the glare and the heat.  

 From the tugu, we headed now to Pasar Atum (sometimes spelt Atom) to see an older style mall. Pasar Atum was definitely more my style of shopping! It has a newer section which is air conditioned and an original section which is not. We began in the new section and walked till we found the doors separating it from the old and keeping the air-con sealed in the new. Here Lenny searched for a stall selling a type of plum requested by a friend at home. As soon as we reached a stall selling them, Lenny was swamped by sellers called her a – ee which is Chinese for Aunty. A-ee mau beli apa? (What is Aunty wanting to buy?) The stalls weren’t that big but the variety they sold was vast, all stored in jars or open plastic containers and sold by weight.   


  After buying 1/2 kg, we headed outside looking for the bubur Madura stall Lenny remembered from her last visit to Pasar Atom. It was one of many food stalls set up on the outside footpath around the base of Pasar Atum. This particular stall was run by a mother and daughter partnership with the mother selling bubur Madura and the daughter selling pecel ( vegetables with lonton rice covered in a peanut sauce).  

  We ordered a bubur Madura each which was served in a banana leaf sitting in waxed brown    

It was with relief that we hopped back in the car again and on the drive back to our hotel, as we were deciding on a swim, it began raining as it has done every afternoon in Surabaya. So instead we all enjoyed a well earned rest before heading out later to a family kareoke place and dinner. 

Lenny had promised her two the kareoke after they had enjoyed it at Chinese  school recently. While all I wanted to do was collapse in bed, there was no way I was going to miss experiencing my first family kareoke!! Didn’t even know such a thing existed. It was brilliant and wish I’d known about it when my two were younger. We were ushered into a dark room where the two youngsters were handed a microphone each that had the top ball piece covered in a shower cap/surgical mask type covering. On the wall was a flat TV screen and on the table in front of the microphones was a computer screen from where the singers could choose their songs. The 4 adults were then treated to a variety of songs by Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars & Katy Perry as well as the popular song from Laskar Pelangi to which all the adults (except me) joined in. I’d love to do this again when feeling healthier so that I could join in with the singing without coughing!! I loved listening and watching the music clips that my students talk about  – now that my 2 are much older, I am so out of touch with popular junior culture. 

After the hour was up we headed out to a Tokyo Noodle place where again I enjoyed Japanese tofu even though the name of the restaurant is misleading. It’s not a Japanese place at all!!  


Thus ended another another day with Lenny in Surabaya.  Asyik dong. 


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