Surabaya, Java, Indonesia

Trip Start Dec 25, 2008
Trip End Dec 25, 2009

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Where I stayed

Flag of Indonesia  , East Java,
Thursday, October 1, 2009

It seems that my lenght of stay in a city is directly related to the comfort level of the hotel where I am staying.  I have been in Surabaya for close to a week now and I have been at the Surabaya Plaza Hotel ( where I am paying 450,000 without breakfast. Tried to negotiate the breakfast in (not very forcefully!!) and of course I did not succeed but there is a great Bread Talk Shop in the Plaza just a few steps away. So  I have been buying some very tasty pastries to have with my morning coffee in the room. The room is very comfortable and when I compared it to other similar hotels in more or less the same area it was very comparable (it seemed somewhat better value) and was  the only one offering free internet access from the room.Although I did not check the room at Ibis Hotel in the old part of Surabaya and close to most tourist sites it also seemed to be very decent price wise). I also checked quite a few cheaper options (130,000 to 200000) and just didn't feel I wanted to give up the "luxury" of my 450000 room!!!! Also the Surabaya Plaza Hotel has a 1/2 hour dance performance which I enjoyed.

Once again I did alot of walking in Surabayu and enjoyed discovering the old dilapitated dutch buildings as well as the few that have been renovated and one that has stood the test of time, never been renovated and still looks grandiose.  I spent one whole day in the old quarter where I visited the House of Sampoerna (colonial-style building with the original structure built in 1862)This building houses the famous clove and tobacco cigarettes manufacture.  These cigarettes are still rolled and packaged by hand in this warehouse where I believe 300 women  work from 5 a.m. to 3 p.m. rolling or packaging cigarettes.  There are paid by the number of cigarettes they get done in the day.  I am told that they are well paid and have better working conditions than other manufactures!!!!  It is simply amazing to watch them and the speed at which they work. Honestly, I would not even last 5 minutes doing this type of work!!! Of course, photos are not allowed!! The building also has a museum, an art gallery and a cafe where I had lunch.  As well, the House of Sampoerna offers a free tour bus with guide (started in June 2009).  The tour lasted one hour and stopped at several historical, political sites.  I am told that it is the only "tour bus" in Java and I must say that I really enjoyed the tour. The guide explained in both english and Indonesian (we were two foreigners) which was also appreciated.  

After the visit of the House of Sampoerna I continued to visit the Old Quarter by walking to the famous "red bridge" where many "freedom fighters" lost their lives.  This is just at the entrance of the Chinese quarter which I also visited and then proceeded to the Arabic quarter. I was chased out of the famous and oh so very sacred Mesjid Ampel Mosque.  I had a long sleeved shirt, long pants but did not have a head scarf!!! so I was swiftly escorted out as I tried to get into the cemetary where Sunan Ampel (one who brought Islam to Java) is buried. I guess every Mosque is different as I was guided around and allowed to take photos in the Mosque I visited in Jakarta.

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