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Beyond Bali

Surabaya - East Java

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Places of Interest in Surabaya and Surroundings

Kali Mas Harbour

Surabaya's historic Kali Mas harbour is the explanation for Surabaya's existence, and the best place to begin a tour of the city. Buginese boats come to the wharf bringing timber, oil, copra and other produce from the outer islands, and ship out enormous amounts of cement and other building materials, which are testimony to the success of the Government's development projects. The ferry to the neighboring island of Madura also leaves from here.

Tanjung Perak

To the east of Kali Mas harbour, the modern port of Tanjung Perak is the second biggest port in Indonesia after Jakarta, and the gateway through which Eastern Indonesia's products pass to the outside world. The port occupies 574.7 hectares of sea area, and is facilitated by a Port Administrator, shipping and forwarding associations, and a ship owners association. The Indonesian navy uses Tanjung Perak as a base, and permission is needed to visit the site.

The Mosque of Sunan Ngampel

A gateway on Jalan Ampel Suci leads to one of Java's most sacred mosques, and the grave of Sunan Ngampel, one of the nine missionaries (wali sanga) who first bought islam to Java in the 15th century. Heterodox traditions have grown around the wali sanga and they have been attributed with almost divine powers. People gather around the tomb to pray and ask for favours, although veneration of the dead is strictly forbidden under islam. Good Muslims merely pray to Allah for the peace of the dead man's soul.

Chinese Temples and Ash Houses

Historic China town is found around Klenteng Dukuh, the red temple with the Chinese characters for "Peace" and Prosperity emblazoned in gold above burning candles and incense, in Jalan Kapasan. The Chinese population married and mingled with the local people while retaining their own identity, and consequently Chinese and local elements have fused in both cuisine and culture. Signs of the Chinese veneration for their deceased relatives can be seen in the 'ash houses' places built for ancestral worship, which often occupy a whole building on a piece of real estate worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. These buildings can be recognised by the Chinese characters and burning incense placed outside them.

Another Chinese shrine, Hok An Kiong, was built in the 18th century and is located on Jalan Selompretan. This shrine is dedicated to the safety and well-being of sailors, and offerings are made here to propitiate the sea.

The Arab Quarter: Silks, Spices and Incense

The Arab Quarter lies to the south of Kali Mas harbour on Jalan Kyai Mas Mansyur. Despite the name, the district is home to an amazing mixture of races and ethnic groups, including Yemenis, Pakistanis, Gujaratis and Mallets. Shops selling silks, sari, batik and other cloth crowd around a warren-like market which is pervaded by the aroma of spices and incense.

The Red Bridge of Surabaya

The colour of the bridge that marks the entrance to the 19th century colonial business district off Jalan Veteran could most aptly be described as "blood red". Red is a sign of the courage and determination for which the people of East Java are famous, and one of the most famous battles in the larger Battle of Surabaya accurred here. The white-washed walls and red-tiled roofs of the colonial buildings here date to the boom period of the 1920s.

Joko Dolog: Surabaya's Mascot

One of the strangest sights of Surabaya is aptly named 'Fat Boy' statue, more formally known as Joko Dolog. This ancient statue sits grinning from a park in the middle of the city's administrative district, close to Grahadi, the Governor of East Java's official residence. The stories say that this statue was built at the orders of King Kertanegara in the 13th century to dispel a curse that prevented the city from prospering. The city of Surabaya continues to prosper. It is a place where the past flows into the future in an unbroken tradition , and where signs of that tradition are visible everywhere.

Surabaya Shopping

The Indonesian enthusiasm for shopping and "malling" combine with Surabaya's commercial status of long standing heaven. "Five Star" shopping centers and traditional "bazaars" alike offer everything under the sun in both extremes on the scales of cost and status.

For the busy business or convention visitor, some to the more up market shopping malls are conveniently located adjacent to their hotels, while the older and traditional venues make for more interesting bargain hunting and treasure finding expeditions for those with a little time on their hand.

Antiques, even the simulated variety, from the region are often very attractive buys. So are handicraft, textiles and handmade jewelry.


For one-stop shopping, the city's proudest testaments to modern consumerism are Plazas Tunjungan and Plaza Surabaya on Jl. Pemuda , near the World Trade Center. Both come equipped with floor after floor of designer boutiques, electronics and appliance shops, furniture showrooms, sporting goods, duty free shops, McDonald's outlets and fast-food courts; and both are anchored by well-stocked Matahari department stores.


In terms of quality and selection, the best produce in Surabaya can be found at Hero in Plaza Tunjungan I and at the Gelael outlets on Jl. Jend. Basuki Rahmat and in Surabaya Plaza. For 24-hour grocery shopping try the Sinar store on Jl. Bintoro.


A wide selection of foreign language newspapers, magazines, novels and travel guides can be found in the book stores of Surabaya's largest hotels: the Hyatt Regency and Shangri-La have the best range. Also look for Gunung Agung stores in plazas Surabaya and Tunjungan and for Gramedia at Jl. Jend. Basuki Rakhmat 95.


Surabaya's local gold market is crowded along Jl. Blauran just north of the city centre. prices are reasonable (mostly 24 karat available) but jewelry craftsmanship is the big bargain. It pays to shop around.


Indonesia's 27 provinces and 300 odd ethnic groups have produced a plethora of unique handicrafts, ranging from primitive wood carvings and totems to intricately designed cloths, painstakingly delicate silver filigrees, puppets, masks, and pots. The bounty of this rich cultural heritage is easily available in Surabaya, both in modern shopping malls where prices are fixed and in private galleries and gift shops where bargaining is half the fun.

Opposite the Hyatt Regency on Jl. Jend. Basuki Rakhmat, look for Toko Bali Which specializes, as its name suggests, in arts and crafts from the nearby island of Bali. Further down the road at Wing On Art Shop you'll find a pot-pourri of curios and easy-to carry souvenir items. Mirota on Jl. Sulawesi 24 and Karwati Art Shop at Jl. Embong Wungu 30 are also good: or try the top floors of Sarinah Department Store on Jl. Tunjungan for guaranteed quality offering a wide selection of batik and ikat cloths, wood carving and jewelry.

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