After 8 years of living on the Island of Java, I  have finally stayed in the second most important city on it and maybe in Indonesia, Surabaya. Surabaya is in the east of Java and like every other city in Indonesia consists of lots of traffic, heat and bad buildings. Apart from that, the only other difference was the lack of very tall buildings.  Hows that for an introduction?

Java with Jakarta in the West and Surabaya in the East.

So, in order to explain how I came to that conclusion here is my story. Last week I attended EF English Firsts annual conference which was held at the JW Marriot hotel in Surabaya. I left Jakarta on Tuesday with my manager and colleagues from other centers and flew Citilink to Juanda airport. Our flight was at 10.00pm and we got there after 11pm.
Citilink are a good airline as their flights are normally on time and the planes are pretty good. Being the low cost carrier belonging to Garuda helps as well with that.

From the airport in Surabaya we took the 34km trip to the city (that’s what Google Maps says)  and to the JW Marriot hotel. It being late at night, the traffic was pretty good and so we were there in no time or just around an hour.

A big metal boat on the wall by reception

On arriving at the hotel, we were met with armoured cars, armed police and a tank due to the fact that the president of Indonesia Joko Widodo was staying the night which added to the fun of arriving late.
Walking down the red carpet to check in I was met by the head of the Hotel and wished a pleasant stay; He didn’t look stressed at all! My room was on the 7th floor and so I went to drop by bags and then join some friends in the bar to say hello. On entering the room, I discovered it was a smoking room and in one of the single beds in it, was a man fully dressed dozing while the blue haze of cigarette smoke hung over him. I bid him farewell and went back to reception to complain and get another room.
This action got me a new non smoking room and it was all mine for the night which was even better.

I did eventually share the room with a nice chap from Depok (a satelite city outside Jakarta) who would try and feed me every night croissants or whatever he bought downstairs. That was very nice of him.

Views from my room of Surabaya

The conference itself was highly enjoyable and there was lots of sharing and chat and a good party at the end of it. English First is celebrating 30 years being in Indonesia and that’s a very good thing. There 74 EF language centers in Indonesia now and that number is growing. Its a big organisation with over 280 attendees and there were people missing due to holidays etc so that number should have been closer to 300.

Party night taking us back to 1986

Got to love group photos. I am at the back somewhere

Friday morning arrived as did a few hangovers and after the last of the meetings and discussions, it was time to checkout and on yer way, but eat first as lunch was provided. We were flying back later in the evening and so we had time to explore the city. I went with some friends to the nearest AC mall, had a coffee and waited for time to pass. Eventually enough had passed to get a taxi back to the airport and fly home.

What did I see in Surabaya? Nothing. Where did I go? Nowhere. Will I go back? Well, maybe. The hotel was nice. That bit was OK but I really never had any time to explore and still don’t know where I could explore in Surabaya although I am pretty sure there is lots to see. So perhaps in time I will visit it again. The flight was good and the hotel was very good. There are plenty of taxis around to get you places so I might return.

Please feel free to comment and I will reply as soon as I can. Thank you

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