Posts Tagged With: Indonesia

Touring the Motherland Series: Surabaya

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

Bambu Runcing

Bambu Runcing Monument: was built in memory of the people of Surabaya who fought against the Dutch and British imperialism.

Always crowded

The consistent traffic jam

Hotel Majapahit

Hotel Majapahit (since 1911)

Related readings from various sources: 

Eating Out in Indonesia

Travel to Surabaya

Official Site of the City Government

Sparkling Surabaya

Memory of Majapahit

Surabaya’s Chinatown

Ampel: The Holy Heart of Surabaya

Photos properties of The Traveling Chili Pepper

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Categories: Indonesia Travel | Tags: , , , , | 10 Comments

Touring the Motherland Series: Yogyakarta, Central Java

Last Post: Bali Island

Almost every Indonesian I know loves visiting Jogja (short for Jogjakarta. Also known as Yogyakarta or Yogya.) There’s something romantic about this folksy, laid back town that holds such rich history of Java. As a cultural center of Indonesia’s most populated island, Jogja continues to preserve its tradition and uphold its cultural heritage. Tranquility and hospitality, some characteristics identical to the delightful Javanese way of life demonstrate themselves clearly in this town. They seem to send calm vibration to the town’s active streets and people. The people of Jogja are known for being patient and pleasant—traits that might easily separate them from local tourists or newcomers. A fascinating juxtaposition to observe. It’s comforting to feel the strong pulse of Javanese cultural identity in the midst of Indonesia’s growth and changes.

I remembered coming to Jogja with my family a few times when I was little and then in another occasion with my junior high classmates on a school field trip. The last time I visited Jogja was 14 years ago. I came with my childhood best friend in Surabaya. Along with her family, we helped her move to attend college in Jogja. So I wasn’t sure what the town would look like when Jeff and I planned to stop by for a weekend in December. What a relief it was to see the town’s familiar scenes. Other than the traffic jam, not much has changed. It still felt like that old romantic Jogja I had remembered from a long time ago.

One thing to note: It might be more enjoyable to visit Jogja during the off-season when it is less crowded. I was told by family and friends that tourists fill up the town during big national holidays like Christmas/New Year and Eid. We were included in that group of people who overcrowded Jogja during the New Year’s Eve long weekend! 🙂

Andong, a traditional form of transportation

Andong or horse carriage, a traditional form of transportation

Malioboro Street

Performing on the always-crowded Malioboro Street

The crowded sidewalks of Malioboro where I managed to shop tons of batik handicrafts.

The crowded sidewalks of Malioboro where I bought lots of batik handicrafts.

Borobudur Temple

Borobudur Temple, a 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist Temple in Magelang, a little bit outside of Jogja.

Borobudur Temple, a 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist Temple in Magelang, a short distance driving from Jogja.

Inside the stupa

Inside the stupa

A Buddha statue inside of the stupa

A Buddha statue inside of the stupa

The Buddha's teaching carved in stone.

The Buddha’s teaching carved in stone.

More BuddhaBuddha1

StupaThe Buddha

Selling salak fruit

Selling salak fruit

Traditional ceremony celebrating harvest time

Traditional ceremony celebrating harvest time, Kaliurang, outside of Jogja

The volcanic Mount Merapi covered by clouds. Jogja is located close to the volcanic Mount Merapi.

The volcanic Mount Merapi covered by clouds. Jogja is located close to the volcanic Mount Merapi.

The Sultan's Palace of Jogjakarta

At the entrance of the Sultanate Palace of Yogyakarta

Ancient ruins of Tamansari, a bathing complex and water castle of the Sultanate of Jogjakarta

Searching for the ancient ruins of Tamansari, a bathing complex and water castle of the Sultanate of Yogyakarta

Rice field in the rain

Rice field in the rain

Mendut Temple

Mendut Temple, another 9th century Buddhist temple close to Borobudur

Mendut Temple, another 9th century Buddhist temple close to Borobudur

Hoped you enjoyed the read!

Next post: Surabaya and East Java

Photos property of The Traveling Chili Pepper

Categories: Indonesia Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Touring the Motherland Series: Bali Island

It had been too long since my last visit to Bali, or Jogja in Central Java, or to Batu, Malang, or Trawas in East Java. Living 9800 miles away from home certainly has made it harder to visit Indonesia’s cultural gems. With my guy, who is also my best travel partner, we flew back to the motherland this past December. We regrouped with the families and reconnected with our native land. With unwavering travel ambition, we toured Java and Bali and re-immersed ourselves back in the culture. In a little bit over two weeks, we were reminded of the beauty, the comfort, the different faces, realities, and challenges of Indonesia. 

Here’s a glance at a country loaded with cultural diversity and natural beauty. We took pictures of parts of Java and Bali—two islands among thousands in Indonesia’s archipelago. The dissimilarity of ethnic group, language, culture, and cuisine within the nation would easily fascinate anyone. Indonesia’s islands, parts of islands, urban cities, smaller towns, and villages offer different feels and views, you’d be surprised you’re still in the same country. Rich. Rich, I tell you.

I’ll do Java on the next posts. For now, let’s check out:

Bali Island

 

Thanks for reading!  

Next posts: Central and East Java 

Photos property of The Traveling Chili Pepper

 

 

Categories: Indonesia Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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