I have spent the last 2 years in Surabaya as a teacher for English First. As the second largest city after Jakarta , I am sure you can imagine that it is a very busy city ? full of motorbikes, cars, bemos (small public buses), city buses and becaks (pedicabs).
However, it is still possible to find the occasional oasis of calm and tranquillity in the centre of the city. Thanks to my gym membership, I spend much of my weekend at the Hotel Mandarin Oriental Majapahit in the gym, by the pool, in the jacuzzi or steam room or sauna. Occasionally I treat myself to a relaxing spa treatment.
Places to visit to see the local colour of Surabaya are the Arab quarter with its old mosque in the Ampel district and the Chinese temple and area in the Kia Kia district.
I live on a ?kampoeng’ ? a traditional Indonesian district. It is full of life and local colour. This is not a house provided by EF but one I chose to rent myself.
Surabaya is a shoppers’ (and window shoppers’) paradise. Most of your students will tell you that it is their hobby! There are a number of glitzy malls (with air-conditioning of course!), some cheaper malls and finally the cheap local covered market of Pasar Turi – if you can take the heat and are good at bargaining!
If you enjoy eating there is a wide choice ? from the street stalls right up to the five star hotel restaurants.
There are few places for walking in the city. The zoo is probably the easiest place to go if you want to stroll around. As there aren’t many westerners in Surabaya , you will attract some attention and even be asked to pose in photos so it helps if you are patient and friendly.
Not far outside the city, however, there are plenty of places for walking ? the botanical gardens near Lawang on the way to Malang, waterfalls at Tretes and near Malang, the tea plantation at Wonasari near Lawang and the Environmental Education centre at PPLH near Trawas. Some of the scenery can be breathtaking.
The island of Madura is also near enough for a weekend visit. Madura is particularly interesting during the bull racing season in August & September.
The most expensive items are alcoholic drinks such as wine or spirits and, since the fuel price increases, the cost of taxis.