Friday, January 09, 2009

Holiday Tipping Point

The next trip of my holiday then was to Surabaya and Sidoarjo. I went to follow my parent’s suggestion to meet our relatives and greet them Christmas. So on December 27 we dashed through an alternative eastern Malang to reach Surabaya by car. We were in the course of an escape route from the traffic jam and enrolled Pandaan-Gempol road, it was little bit raining though. I saw so many changes in people’s daily lives on the street, there were so many drifter and homeless along the street bank of Gempol, district of Pasuruan; and the traditional market was getting hectic as there were not many goods could be sold. I heard from my friend who is native to the vicinity before, that the gasoline was running out and it caused low productivity therefore lowering the living standards of the people around there. Housewives were not used to single out the LPG stove for cooking, and losing gasoline was a terrifying event for them, as they were lacking of information of the LPG stove distribution by government as an energy conversion program, not to mention the instruction of the usage is less than expected. But I couldn’t say much as I was following the road.

The first arrival were to my relative’s house on Sidoarjo, where we just hung around for about 1 hour and enjoy fried shrimp that was very tasty, it was so garlicious and saltious that I couldn’t get stuffed easy. Then we crossed the thoroughfare of Surabaya main highway and I went on a nostalgic spree on the road, I wonder when the last time I squander my day there was. On our route northern way, there were zoo with the Surabaya statue in the front, the Mpu Tantular Museum, Tunjungan Plaza Supermall, JW Marriot Hotel, Cito Mall, Pelita Harapan University, and a block of an industrial complex. After the passage, what was amazing me out is a multifaceted road consisted of colonial-built architecture. It took us to the colonial era all the way until we reached Jembatan Merah, a red-painted bridge where there was a fierce bloody battle between Indonesian troops and the more sophisticated NICA (Netherlands) militia that later marks the icon of the region.

There were not much recreation spot inside Surabaya except those superficial hedonic mall which were too glamour and rough as they displayed hyperbolic lifestyle. And oh, we just stopped by on Jembatan Merah Plaza to had a window shopping on the garment and footwear groceries, it was not kind of mall stuffs but it was still fun though. I’d rather call it a trade center where we could find stuffs with reasonable price. Well yeah it was hot and humid there inside, but I tried to enjoy myself and had a walk throughout the groceries. I remembered it was a 5 stories edifice with the classification of garment and textile retails, footwear retails, and tailor kiosks. Not to forget the food centre on the basement.

Tired of taking a walk around, we looked for a place to fill on our hunger. My uncle recommend such a famous eating place called Depot Tambakjoyo Asri if I’m not flawed, it could fit around 70 customers, they provided Javanese cuisine, but the eating place was too full of Chinese ornament and atmosphere, as the owner was Chinese. The fabulous thing was it displayed retro ambiance so that we could felt the old colonialized Surabaya “Surabaya tempoh doeloe”. We enjoyed our food on a long table; there were lots of incredibly huge aged photographs and figures which pictured the former Chinatown market.

The journey continued on the Pura Agung Jagad Karana Hindu temple. It was situated close to the center of the town, and the temple design was so Bali-ish; it established up in a large area of the district. My family intended to have a slight worship there. My impression to the temple was it was so clean and seemed to be maintained regularly. It reflected by the regular shift of the keepers there and habitual activities of the Sunday school and religious services there.

The visit to the temple marked the end of our tour there, and on the way home we chose toll highway to reach Malang in a little while. We arrived then following the railway and decided to take a brief look at the location of mud-flooded county caused by the leakage of the Lapindo Corp.’s oil-drilling activities in Sidoarjo, East Java. The splash of the leakage produced a large amount of mud and so far had drowned 5 villages since May 27 2006; and presently still continues on. On the eastern side of the Surabaya-Malang passage railway, there was a long-built stumbling block all the way of the toll to block the mud flow. The block was kept by some workers and scrutinizers there, but none of them was the expert to handle the damage that may come.

Unexpectedly, the villagers who lost their homeland were picking the visitor charge if we would like to have eye on the spot. Me with my two accompanies went up the blockage construction while paid IDR 15.000 --for about one and a half US Dollar-- to the villagers as a donation. A light rain welcomed us to see the mud lake. In the spot of the smoky and humid burst, there was a forklift machine and I had no idea what the hell was the guy driving it was doing. On a sudden moment, some fellows who introduced themselves as the collapsed village member offered us some video CD for IDR 10.000 of a series of events of Lapindo oil-drilling outburst. I refused to purchase. It was such a tragic situation where they had to exploit their own ex-village to keep the source of revenue for living.

The situation had become static since the first outburst, and nobody of the victims escapes time to look for alternatives of living. There are still a lot of refugees and it caused social problems. On the other side, it wrecked down the intercity traffic, where a piece of highway road had to be fallen and destroyed due to the incident. For just about 30 minutes watching the situation, we left that disastrous area and couldn’t find any idea about how this might come into account. The scenery had change much so that I could not capture to a larger extent about what it was really happened.

So far then, I had fun all the time in my trip, I wonder what would be in those cities when I come back someday, let’s just hope Surabaya would not drown as well, I treasure lots of memories there.


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Anonymous said...

this is quite a fine travel writing isn't it? with a little Pico Iyer's or Jonathan Raban's style, you might turn out a serious contender to the scene


santi said...

nice post