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The second largest city in Indonesia is often overlooked as a tourist destination, however Surabaya is also known as the ‘City of Heroes’, is a city of entertainment and amusements and a number of preserved heritage sites.
For most foreign travelers, Surabaya is regarded as a transit stop, although for the locals it is one of the most important cites in Indonesia and often linked with the birth of the nation itself. For those with the will and patience to explore, it is a city of charming old heritage wonders and a vibrancy that will lead one through some interesting experiences.
The city government has committed itself to prevent rapid modern development extinguishing the priceless historical nature of its earlier days. Some of the most valuable heritage sites date back from Dutch Colonial era and while some now accommodate commercial interests such as hotels, bars and restaurants, great care has been taken to maintain the structures in their original form.
The Hotel Majapahit, built on 1910 as the ‘Oranje Hotel’ is an exquisite example of bipartisan preservation. Here one can enjoy the immaculate posh of a bygone age and experience the treatment of a respected Raja. Beautiful gardens bright with sinuous rills and incense-bearing trees enfold sunny spots of greenery. (I’ve pinched a pastiche of some of Coleridge there but such was the pleasure of my first visit) Another wonderful delight of this hotel is the afternoon tea in the main lounge as ducks waddle through to the fishpond out in the garden. The Old East Java Governor Office Building is another heritage landmark in Surabaya in which the city has managed to maintain the essential ambience of its past.
For those with a fascination for nature in the raw, a visit to Mount Bromo will expose the awesome power of the Earth’s moving tectonic plates. Not far from the city is the village of Ngadisan and from there one can take a two-hour jeep ride through fine volcanic deposits named The Sea of Sand. The jeep will pull up near the steps of a viewing platform and from the top visitors are able to view some of the dramatic activity of Vulcan, the Roman God
Surabaya has a lot more to offer than most people think and if planning to pass through the city, it may be well worth taking pause for a more searching look at the attractions here. AirAsia has a direct flight service from Bali to the city twice daily. More info on www.airasia.com