Getting Know Surabaya in 14 Hours

JOURNEY TO THE WEST edition (10 of 10)
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Our flight to Ambon at 10.25 pm tonight would make 'The Journey to the West' ended. The plane from Kuala Lumpur was landed in Surabaya at 08.25 in the morning, so we still had 14 hours before the next fight. It must have been completely boring to spend so much time in the airport. So, we stored our things in a left-luggage service then took a DAMRI bus to go around the city. We really missed our friend, an English teacher in Surabaya, Bartek and would like to give him a visit. Unfortunately he was in Madura island so we could not see him.

From Juanda Airport, Surabaya, there's no public transport to the town center. The DAMRI bus would only deliver passengers to Purabaya bus station, from where people can take another bus to local destinations or even to other cities on Java Island. Try  not to buy anything in the terminal area as the prices are much higher than normal and some become not reasonable at all. It happens in most bus and train stations in Indonesia. Bad news: this is not the worst thing yet. Some do not behave nice to customers. Like at that time, I was surrounded by crowds of people offering local buses ride. All of them talked at the same time and even one of them poked me. So annoying and impolite! You can also find the worst buses here with no smoking prohibition inside, poor condition seats, and uncontrolled gas emission. We took such a bus to Jembatan Merah Plaza (JMP). We had been there before so we knew exactly how to get to House of Sampoerna. Click here to see our previous journey in Surabaya.

We did not want to miss the Sampoerna Heritage Tour (SHT) this time. We had arranged the things long before this visit. The tour is free of charge but early reservation (through phone call or email) is needed. The tour participants still have to come at least 30 minutes before the schedule time if they don't want their booked seats passed to someone else. SHT tour is held three times a day: 09.00, 13.00, 15.00. We took the second one. This tour is worth to join. It is still very rare to find one of this kind in Indonesia. More places should provide such a tour to enhance tourism.

Unlike in Songkhla when we joined a city tour guided by a single Thai speaker and we did not understand anything, here the guide explains both in Bahasa Indonesia and English. The guide told us that in the ancient times there were trams and river transportation in Surabaya. Can you imagine that? That must be cool! Old Surabaya seems to be a better place compared to the current second biggest Indonesian city with its poor city planning. The tour really expanded our knowledge about Surabaya.

The schedule said the tour would halt at three places; Balai Pemuda, City Hall, and Cak Durasim. But I don't have any idea why it did not stop at the third place. We actually had planned to quit the tour while in the city center. Well, House of Sampoerna is worth a visit not only because the free tour but also the museum itself. However, the problem is its location is not so strategic, quite far to the public transportation access.
The colorful SHT bus parks at House of Sampoerna
Balai Pemuda, a historical site in Surabaya now turns into a tourist information center
The tour is guided by a bilingual speaker
A road in Surabaya
In Surabaya there was an unusual street where people drive on the right side
In the City Hall, various souvenirs are offered
We then took a cab to Tunjungan Plaza (TP), perhaps the most popular shopping mall in Surabaya. Nothing special inside. It was just a mall. When the sun started to set, we got ready to return to the airport. The problem was we did not have any information how to get back there by public transport. Lack of info is the typical problem in Indonesian cities. That's why I created a public transportation system in Ambon by myself (see here). It may need thousands of years waiting for the government provide good information. What I can suggest to all travelers is: do not hesitate to ask people about the information needed. If you can only speak English, ask to young generation coz almost none older generation speak English.

-The End-


  1. hi there,

    greetings from malaysia...

    a nice blog for a traveler like myself...



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