It’s around 8pm on a Monday and I am standing atop the roof of the Tantris hotel in Surabaya. I’m wearing cutoff jeans and flip-flops; “End Come Too Soon” by Wild Beasts is playing through my headphones. It’s warm, but the breeze tonite is strong and it feels good on my salty skin. When I squint my eyes, the city lights sparkle, just as they did on my childhood Christmas tree. My mind is racing with thoughts, but not in a harmful way. I think quietly to myself that I should like to have more moments just like this.
You may be wondering why I am acting out my inner King Kong in the big city when I should be back in my village getting ready for bed. The honest truth is that I had no intentions of coming to Surabaya this week and I especially didn’t think I’d stay two nites, but there I was and I was enjoying every minute of it. And while there is no need to bore you with the details, rest assured that my leaving site was the right decision.
As soon as I got on the bus to Surabaya, the cloud that was hanging over my pounding head dissipated…tropical storm averted. What transpired over the next 48 hours was pure joy. Generally I like to pretend I’m anti social while ridding the bus, preferring to be alone with my music and thoughts, so my first feeling when the eccentric, “castanets” playing woman tried befriending me was not a positive one. Since I was feeling better however, I decided to play along. By the end of the journey, she had introduced me to another unknown passenger named Fanni, who happens to be an English teacher at a Kindergarten in Surabaya. When we arrived at the station, the woman seemingly disappeared into thin air? Fanni and I exchanged contacts and parted ways.
My next bus ride found me sitting next to Bu Dayu, a mother of three who was keen to hear all about my experiences in Indonesia; good, bad and ugly. I didn’t hold back. We became fast friends too and before I got off the bus, Bu Dayu and exchanged contacts. I plan on meeting up with her again.
After I checked into the hotel, I went and had lunch at the warung (food stall) Elle and Co. introduced to me during one of my Surabaya visits (thank you for that, Elle!). It’s quickly become one of my favorite places to eat when I’m in town. As I was leaving, the people sitting behind me introduced themselves. They were a diverse looking group that turned out to be jehovah witness(s). Apparently they hold an English club meeting every Sunday somewhere in the city. They kindly extended an invitation and even though I have no interest in the ‘witness’ part, I will likely take them up on their offer down the road.
Next up was the ‘TP’ shopping mall. I arrived at around 3pm and promptly purchased a movie ticket (“Sky Fall”) for 6:30pm, which left me with three and a half hours to kill, which is three hours too long to be in a shopping mall. I made the best of it though, walking and talking the time away. Most people know I’m not much of a shopper, but ever since I tossed out my cutoffs and sliced up my only jeans in order to make new ones, I’ve been in the market for a new pair. I wound up finding some that were juuuust right, but before I did, I searched that mall high and low. One of the places I checked out was the department store, “Matahari.” It was there that I was blitzed by a group of workers who peppered me with questions that came in hot and heavy! The next thing I know I’m heading out to the parking garage to go on break with them. About forty employees dressed in red and me, just hanging out in a garage for the next thirty some odd minutes; and so it goes…(Richie, if you see this, apologies *I’d already told him this story).
“Sky Fall” was excellent! And since I love the movies so much, I went again the following day and saw “Wreck it Ralph,” which I highly recommend! I saw it in 3D, which I’m not a big fan of, but it didn’t take away from the experience. I stopped off at my warung one last time for a bite to eat before making my way back to the hotel. And that brings us back to square one, here on the rooftop, listening to music and watching the world below go about its business. All in all, an amazing, rejuvenating couple of days. The lesson learned? Sometimes you just need a little room to breath.