Chris receives travel advice from his local caleg.
I recently received a brochure from my local legislative candidate, known in Indonesia as a caleg. Nothing unusual about that, but there were two things that aroused my interest:
Two possible victims of photo-montage (L to R): Bapak Zahrus Faisal and Lee Harvey Oswald
So, after a few unsuccessful attempts – not surprisingly, he is rather busy campaigning at the moment – I managed to gain an audience with Bapak Zahrus. Having read and heard a multitude of stories about rich, corrupt and lazy politicians, I must admit I was pleasantly surprised to discover him to be a mature, wise and generally decent guy. I was also a little surprised by his answers.
Having explained a bit about me and Indonesia Matters, I asked BZ to recommend to IM readers some suitable tourist attractions in Surabaya. I expected him to recommend the normal things – e.g. the Heroes Statue and other independence monuments, shopping malls - but he didn't. What he said was:
Surabaya is a commercial city/city of trade
Surabaya kota perdagandan
and therefore isn't really the nicest or best city for tourists to visit.
However, he then went on to recommend the nearby city and regency of Lamongan for its natural beauty, relaxed lifestyle, quietness and friendly people. He continued in lilting phrases that were a bit beyond my level of Indonesian, but the general idea seemed to be that Lamongan was everything a large Indonesian city (whether Surabaya, Jakarta or another) isn’t.
Lamongan isn't on the map, both literally (see map above - it doesn't appear until you zoom in a lot!) and figuratively, for most tourists. Tourist information online isn't plentiful, not helped by the Lamongan Regency’s website never working. To locals, it is perhaps best known for its yummy chicken soup (Soto Ayam Lamongan), recent flooding and – unfortunately* – as the hometown of some of the Bali bombers. However, it does receive its own section on the East Java tourism website: http://lamongan.eastjava.com. Some of the listed attractions include:
Wisata Bahari Lamongan
Getting there isn’t difficult. It is served by numerous daily trains (both executive and economy class) from Pasar Turi in Surabaya, while people with their own wheels just need to continue past the end of the Surabaya-Gresik toll road. If you’re coming from the airport or another town to the south or east, this then connects to the Surabaya-Gempol toll road.
I am interested to hear from readers who have visited Lamongan. Was your experience similar to Bapak Zairus’s? What would you recommend for other visitors to the area?
And if you haven’t visited Lamongan, what do you think? Would you consider visiting it? Why or why not?
Oh, and about the choice of costume, BZ informed me this was the traditional attire of Madura. I don’t know whether he is trying to corner the Madurese vote in the area, or whether he is trying to stand out from the crowd of politicians trying to appear more pious than their competitors.
* I am not suggesting Lamongan and/or its inhabitants are responsible for the Bali bombing. A major influence was the bombers' prior attendance at Abu Bakar Ba'asyir's Islamic boarding school in Solo, Central Java. I also do not feel tourists will encounter any hostility from locals.
Walking distance of your house, eh? Similarities to Lee Harvey Oswald?
Just make sure he’s not “a quiet man who kept to himself”.
/Haven’t been to Lamongan. Nice crustacean architecture, though.
I can think of a very good tempat parawisata close to Surabaya, and that silly old twit doesn’t let on he has spent many happy hours there?
As for hostility, so long as you pay the bill?
Well I’ve been to Lamongan, I mean the town, like most people I think I didn’t really mean to go there, just kept riding and found myself there, but, not much to report there….I’ve driven past the Maharani cave many times but never thought to stop, partly because I was in a hurry to get somewhere else and partly because places that attract many busloads of people from villages kind of put me off – when I was young, ignorant single fellow I didn’t mind busloads of village folk everywhere but with a family now I find the dumb stares and whispers you get pretty off-putting….
The fun park and Tanjung Priok, well we keep meaning to go there, we went to a similar place in Batu recently, huge fun park there as well but I forget the name, great for the kids and for their sake I’ll put up with all the staring yokels….and it is pretty funny to see fully clothed middle aged jilbabed women in the swimming pool.
Jatim Park in batu. And the Pukolator ride is just the best.
Next to Jatim park is Uncle Sastro’s Batu Night Extravangza, and a pretty good bar in the Klub Bungga hotel.
I am wondering if I was one of the staring yokels……
Jatim Park, that’s the one, how could I forget, jolly good time to be had there…there’s an idea for a post, fun parks of Indonesia, Batu though is a nice place and very friendly people.
Seksi Mr. Patoengs,
How ’bout starting a thread for off-beat little travel adventures, perhaps focused on easy escapes from big cities ? Thread would aim at weird, cool, quirky little trips.
Maybe people could post and rate things like:
- Peaceful train trip from Jakarta to Bandung, Cirebon, Bogor.
- Mountain bike thru the West Java tea plantations: transport and logistics
- Hiking on Mt. Halimun/Pangrano.
- Vespa ride to the East Java ruins ?
- Jakarta to old Banten forts and ruins ?
- Ancol harbor to Pulau En Rust ?
I think it’d be very… Seksi.
We will arrive at Lamongan 25 November 2010. We hoped to see it as a quite and beatiful place, and to meet people who are very nice and friendly. Insya-Allah.