One of the best parts of an extended bike tour is the luxury of time.  Time to take it slow, drink in the landscape and stop for a chat.

But sometimes bureaucracy forces you to slow down.

That’s our current situation as we twiddle our thumbs in Surabaya waiting for extensions to our Indonesian visas.

Taking time off the bikes in a big city (over 2 million) wouldn’t have been our first choice. (Frankly, a beach on Bali sounds more enticing.)  But we’re making the best of a frustrating situation.

The call of prayer from the neighborhood mosque wakes me well before dawn each morning.  I crawl out of bed, grab my camera and head out the door to shoot some photos.  Here’s a taste of what I find on the friendly streets of Surabaya…

Hello Mister!
As I roam the streets I’m greeted with a steady stream of  “Hello Mister!”    Women are mister, too.  Even in a major city people are friendly and curious.  This is early morning traffic in Surabaya…cars, motorbikes, scooters, rickshaws, bicycles and plenty of pedestrians plying the roads.

Rickshaw Ride to School
Cycle rickshaws are a very common mode of transport in this part of Indonesia.
This girl is headed off to school in her pristine white uniform. Highly impractical for such a dusty climate.

And some people get around under their own steam. Given the heat, pollution and level of danger on the roads,  bicycles are surprisingly popular in Surabaya.  The cool kids ride around on fluorescent fixies.

Rest for the Rickshaw Man

Rickshaw drivers have a pretty rough life.  Many have no regular home and actually live in their rickshaws. You can see them at all hours of the day and night dozing in their machines. Fortunately, they are able to bathe at the local mosque.

Family Affair

As soon as a family gets a little money, they invest in a scooter.  Scooters are not solo modes of transport in this part of the world.  Babies are balanced in front and older kids grab on to the back.  I’ve seen families of 5 darting around on a tiny Honda.

In a perfect world!

Surabaya may be a massive city of millions, but in the quiet neighborhoods knows as Kampungs you’re it’s a different world.   In these crowded lanes children toss around a ball, housewives gossip and vendors go door to door plying their wares.  Everybody knows everybody else and a Bule (how Indonesians refer to we foreigners) certainly does stand out.

Fresh Vegetables

There’s really no need to leave the neighborhood since everything you need comes right to the doorstep.  There’s the bread man with his distinctive horn, the veg man who shouts out ‘Sayur, Sayur’ the donut guy, the recycling guru, the trinket seller, all the various food carts and of course the ice cream man.

Off to the Mosque

There seems to be a mosque on every corner in the crowded neighborhood where we’re staying.  I pass at least 10 on my morning walks.  By 4AM many families are up and about preparing a meal (known as sufhoor) to break the fast at sunrise.

As I finish up this photo essay, it’s nearing 6AM.  A late start for my morning walk.  Surabaya’s streets will be busy now.  It’s time to grab the camera and head out the door.

The Streets of Surabaya

4 thoughts on “The Streets of Surabaya

  • July 28, 2012 at 3:13 AM

    Dear Amaya,
    I really love your pictures! You got superb shots, and your articles is, as always, very interesting! It’s a pleasure to follow you on the web! Hope you’ll get your visas soon and have a good continuation of your trip.

    • July 28, 2012 at 4:05 AM

      Thanks, Denise!

      One week is about enough in Surabaya so we are really hopping that immigration will come through and give us our extensions on Monday as promised.

      Hope summer in Canada means lots of cycling for you.

  • August 17, 2012 at 3:11 AM

    Hi Amaya, thanks for your intro to Surabaya. We learn so much about the world out there by hiding in your panniers and peeking out every time you post. We managed a short and wonderful tour of central Washington but had to come back as Heather’s Dad, Bruce has been admitted to hospital. Our tour reaffirmed our need to get out there. Thanks for the continuing inspiration.
    Chris and Heather

    • August 23, 2012 at 3:11 AM

      So sorry to hear that Bruce ended up in hospital and hope he has recovered. I enjoyed our chats with him during our stay with you.

      Have you set the date for your bike bike tour escape?


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