Like most big cities, Surabaya feels packed, busy, and sounds a bit loud. My visit last December changed my point of view about my hometown though. After experiencing the congested Jogjakarta on one of the busiest national holiday weekends—chock full of tourists, jam-packed, and overcrowded… you get the idea—my guy and I were incredibly thankful for and to be back in Surabaya. We let go a sigh of relief when the plane landed at Juanda. Surabaya had never felt so much bigger, roomier, better organized, cleaner, and greener. Isn’t travelling great? I gain a lot from it, including: perspective.
What else can I tell you about my hometown? Ah, yes, Surabaya is a city with good eats. This is the place to be for delicious East Javanese cuisine like sate klopo, sate Madura, soto ayam, and soto Madura. And of course, my must-haves: the thick, spicy, and fragrant petis-based (shrimp paste) dishes: rujak, lontong balap, tahu campur, kupang lontong, sate kerang, and oh so many other. Adjectives I’d use to describe East Javanese cuisine would be the same words I’d use to depict its people: bold and gutsy! The flavors “kick” the taste bud, as a friend puts it.
Founded in 1293, Surabaya, is an old and historic city with a youthful look and modern feel. In a certain section, the city displays its colonial-style houses left by the Dutch. The Arab quarter and Chinatown remain vibrant, reminding everyone of the attractive qualities of this port and trade city to foreign traders since way back when. Other parts of Surabaya are decorated with luxurious shopping malls with brands such as Jimmy Choo as one of its tenants. Competing shopping malls attract Surabayans the same way Chicago’s Lakefront Trail/park draws enthusiastic joggers, bicyclists, and sunbathers in summer months. Local coffee shops multiply rapidly all over you’d think that the whole city must be highly addicted to coffee. City pulse is strong and growth is apparent. Surabaya might be 720 years old but it looks like she’s far from slowing down.
Next blog entry: the mystical and cultural charm of East Java
Related readings from various sources:
Photos properties of The Traveling Chili Pepper