Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Trip to East Java: Part I - to Surabaya!

Mas Herul, Eyang Rien, Dayana, and Didit on our train to Surabaya

Last week, I had the great fortune of traveling to East Java and enjoying Madura, Thanksgiving at the U.S. Consulate's house in Surabaya, the biggest mosque in Surabaya (capacity 30,000), a traditional family wedding, and a trip to Gunung (Mount) Bromo.

Our journey began a week ago Tuesday. Herul and I left the house in Pejompongan for the train station at 8:25AM. On arrival I was introduced to a number of family members - two more eyangs (grandmothers), cousins, aunts and uncles. We settled into our seats on the train before the curiously punctual 9:30AM departure. Here's a weird picture I decided to take of my own leg:

The train ride took about 10 hours. We filled the time sleeping, staring out the windows, playing guitar and singing, playing Set, drinking coffee, and sleeping. The scenery was interesting if a little repetitive - endless rice fields, makeshift houses placed way too close to the train tracks, the rolling Java Sea.

By the time we arrived in Surabaya, it was dark out. We loaded all the bags into a couple of cars and stuffed ourselves in like sardines. Surabaya, with a population of 5 million, is the Jakarta of East Java. It is the biggest population center and features big buildings, malls, ports, and other trappings of coastal city life. Rival claims by residents of Surabaya and Jakarta assert that the other city is more dirty, congested, crowded, and hot. I'll settle the score once and for all: Surabaya is cleaner, the streets seem more consistently wide. There are more trees and greenery throughout. It is perhaps slightly less crowded, however, traffic is roughly the same, and it is definitely hotter in Surabaya. And there are more mosquitoes in Surabaya. And more flies.

It took nearly an hour to get to the soon-to-be bride's house. We put our bags upstairs and quickly retired, with plans for an 8AM departure the following morning to explore the nearby island of Madura.

Herul woke me up at 5:30AM. I groggily went downstairs to mandi (shower). Several hours later, I realized it was past eight and we were not leaving for Madura. In fact, no one had even spoken of the fact that eight o'clock had come and gone. When I asked, Dayana told me that of course, they would probably not leave until ten. So we killed time on the porch, watching Toby (cute 5ish year old) play with a train set, playing guitar, watching Herul smoke, and playing chess. At 10AM there were no signs of a departure. Mas Eddie, Nina's cousin who I had met and hung out with a few weeks before, showed up. Here's a group of us on the porch. The white guy is Sven, a German who married into the family. The short white woman is his mother:

Here's Toby with the train set. From left to right, the teenaged/young crowd - Dayana, Tutus, and Hery:

Here's a common sight. Note that the bus, visible in the background, has finally arrived!


We loaded the bus we had chartered for exploring Madura at maybe 11:


Here's Sven and Puci. Puci, as you can probably tell, is hilarious:

An hour's ride through Surabaya took us to the Suramado (Surabaya-Madura) bridge. This is one of the largest bridges in southeast Asia and is considered by Indonesians as a major tourist attraction. It's nice:

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