Twelve Hours in Surabaya

We’re always in the search of happiness. Some people find it through social interaction, some through building networks. Some through relationships, some through achievements. I, myself, often find happiness through exploring new places and getting lost in between. This is why traveling seems to be one of the primary tools that would keep me refreshed. It’s essential to keep me sane.

Perhaps it’s the millennials part of me, I don’t mind spending some of my savings for a little break from the daily routines and crazy schedules. Some people argue that our generation don’t really care about settling down, let alone buying a house for our future family. All we care for is making memories through a series of adventures. Is this really becoming a dangerous trait for our generation? Well, everyone can have their own thought about this. Let’s have a convo over coffee if you’re interested to have a further discussion about this. But for now, I’m not here for that subject.

I’m here to share one of the exploration I had during my last visit to the capital of East Java.

So after spending two days in Banyuwangi for a hike to Ijen Crater and a motor-ride to Baluran National Park, I took a train ride to Surabaya and had about 12 hours to kill before my flight back to Jakarta. All I could think about the moment my train arrived in Gubeng Station (Surabaya’s train station) was to immediately order online transportation and go to Depot Bali (Jalan Makam Peneleh 30). If you’re in Surabaya, their Nasi Babi Peneleh is A MUST! Tripadvisor even put it as Surabaya’s Best Balinese Nasi Babi. Good news is, they-re available in Go-Food so you can easily order and have it delivered to your front door.

I’ll let the picture tickle your curiosity even more.

Basically, it’s a plate of freshly cooked rice with tender-crisp pork belly, pork satay, a bowl of tasty broth soup and three different type of Sambal. I’ve fallen in love with this one since the first time I gave it a try a year ago, and have been craving for it ever since. Who could resist a huge portion of greatly tasted meal that comes in a very affordable price?

Next on my list was to put my bag in the airport, and then go to Madura by crossing the Suramadu Bridge. I was in the spirit of exploring those beautiful beaches that I stumbled upon in Google. Sadly, I had not enough time to do all that. It would take about an hour from my breakfast spot to the airport, and it would take another 1,5 hour to go back to the city, plus it would take another 1 hour from Suramadu Bridge to the center of Madura. After a lot of consideration, I settled on just crossing the bridge for the sake of experience, spent about 30 minutes there, and went back to the city.

The details of my short visit to Madura will be up in another post. As for now, let’s focus on this city that is known as “Kota Pahlawan” (the City of Heroes). So, it was almost 11am when I finished exploring a tiny part of Madura. I haven’t even showered, and I was still carrying my 60L carrier. Those yummy porks from Depot Bali were already gone untraceable. My tummy was once again empty. My eyes were pretty tired and needed to rest. My back was started to ache due to carrying the heavy backpack for hours.

The super kind Gojek driver, Mas Adit (I’ll share about him on the next post), suggested me to rent a cheap room at a homestay located in the downtown area so I could shower and have some rest. He even helped me search for the most strategic place that has best price on Google (yeap, on Google through his smartphone!) as I told him that my budget was only about 100k or even lower than that.

Long story short, I picked a homestay, thank God there was still one empty room left. After a much needed showers and power nap, I was all ready to be back on the road again. But first, I needed to have a lunch. A friend of mine recommended me to try the famous Kwetiau Medan Apeng at Jl. Kedungdoro No.267, which was only within a walking distance from my rented room.

I forgot what I ordered, but it tasted good!

Next up on the list was to visit House of Sampoerna, a museum, café & gift shop located at Taman Sampoerna No. 6. What’s so appealing about this place? You can take a bus tour around Surabaya’s most historical and touristy spots with a professional tour guide. The best part is, it’s free! All you have to do is register yourself at the front desk and wait for the next bus (ready every 2 hours if I’m not mistaken) to take you around. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much time to wait for the bus. So, although I had the bus ticket in my hands, I decided to skip it and chose to explore the city by foot.

I spent the next 15 minutes exploring the museum and taking some photos before I moved to Zangrandi. Some of my friends told me to pay it a visit. Well, it was all sunny that day, so I thought a cone of ice cream would be great. The place was quite empty when I arrived, even though it is located in one of Surabaya’s busy streets. Then I remember, oh yeah it was weekdays; most people were still at their office. I ordered a combination of avocado and chocolate ice cream, which I finished in just about two minutes (or maybe less, haha). I kinda regret visiting Zangrandi, because apparently we have it here in North Jakarta! Oh well…

The excitement of exploring new place while at the same time candidly capturing random people or scenery that I stumbled upon was uncontainable. After paying my Zangrandi bills, I stepped onto the side of the road, letting the sun pinching my skin. It was hot and dry, but my feet urged me to keep on walking.

I love how clean the city is. I love how organized and structured the city is. There’s a bit of Singapore that I kept on finding in some places. I must admit, the city major is doing her job excellently. People are crossing the street using the zebra cross and pedestrian bridge. They even have CCTV on each pedestrian bridge, so that people would feel safe when crossing the bridge at night. There were no homeless people using the bridge as shelters. Everything was so organized. If only this could happen in Jakarta.

If you ever encounter the same situation like mine, where you have to wait about 10 hours before you catch your next flight, here are some few things you can do:

  1. Ask for some recommendations on what’s good to check. People nowadays are so keen in sharing their information. I, myself, got plenty of replies via Instagram story and Facebook.
  2. Use your time wisely. Choose to visit several places that take fewer hours to reach, rather than one place that would take hours to reach.
  3. Don’t be afraid to talk to local people as they could be the best guide to show you around.
  4. Always check on Google maps how far you are to your next destination, this will help you to explore effectively (with minimal risk of getting lost, and waste too much time on the road).
  5. Throw your pride away when you find a good ootd spot, then ask a stranger to capture your photo.

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I'm mostly busy making memories through photography, writing, and being one of the creative hustlers in @kataimaji.

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