Safely in Surabaya

My bus ride to Surabaya was both eventful and uneventful.

It arrived in front of Harris Homestay a little after 6:00 PM, at which time I said my hurried goodbyes to Harris, Betty, Sophia, and Roberto. The only seat left was the front seat of the small mini-bus and I gladly hopped inside. A quick glace throughout the van tallied four adults and four small children scattered through the back. I say scattered but they were packed in pretty night. We sped off in a westernly direction and I felt confident I had made the right choice. However, about ten kilometers later we stopped again and picked up one more passenger. I had to slide to the middle of the front seat. Nobody in the van spoke english. The old adults in the back hacked, wheezed, and burped the whole way to Surabaya, creating quite an orchestra with the crying infant and noisy small children. Ah, public transportation. Needless to say, no sleep was had on this journey. The ferry ride from Bali to Java was nice, though.

About halfway there, the van pulls up to a building, the driver gets out, and we stay there for thirty minutes. Nobody knows why, when suddenly the driver reappears and tells me that I must go to another bus. I get out and see a larger bus behind us. My original driver helps me move my pack and then I’m cruising down the road in a slightly more comfortable seat in much quieter surroundings. However, since no one was able to explain to me what exactly was going on, I sat and wondered if the new driver knew where I was supposed to go. This was a dilemma that would solve itself eventually.

We arrived in Surabaya at 4:30 AM local time (went back an hour in the process of the drive) and immediately started shedding passengers. I just looked out the window at the dark concrete jungle, waiting for my turn. I was taken aback when I saw my first apartment high rise here; it was unexpected. I hadn’t seen any buildings over four or fifve stories since I’d arrived. Finally, the driver turns back to me and asks, “Where to?” I tell him the street of my CouchSurf host, and he mulls it over for a bit. A short drive later, we are driving up and down the same three streets looking for the specific one I need. Some were nice, some not so much. Finally, he leans out to ask a taxi driver. Minutes later, I’m dropped off at the gate of the house I’m looking for. Or, at least, I think so. The street looks right. The house number matches. But it’s 5:20 AM and nobody is awake to ask.

A neighbor lady walks by (many people are rising to start their day), notices my pack and general confusion, and motions me to the main gate of the house. She says some things in quick Indonesian, one of which may be ‘expected, Bali’ which would tell me that the owner of this house is expecting a visitor from Bali, me. However, she scurries off before I can get clarification. I text my host and wait. A quick survey of the patio gives me no indication that this is the right or wrong house. I sit and wait for either an expectant resident or confused homeowner, unsure of why an American is on their porch. Twenty minutes pass and a kind older lady walks out, sees me, and smiles. I’m at the right place.

I’m shown to my bed quickly, and I crash quickly. Many hours of sleep followed.

Tonight is a gathering of other Couch Surfers in Surabaya for an impromptu celebration of Independance Day. I dearly miss our gathering at home but am glad that I can celebrate in some small way here. Happy 4th of July, everyone!

About rhysfunk

Rhys Martin was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1981. In 2009, he sold everything he owned and left the country, living out of a backpack for ten months. He discovered a passion for photography while traveling throughout Southeast Asia and Europe. After returning home, he looked at his home town and Oklahoma heritage with fresh eyes. When he began to explore his home state, Rhys turned his attention to historic Route 66. As he became familiar with the iconic highway, he began to truly appreciate Oklahoma’s place along the Mother Road. He has traveled all 2,400 miles of Route 66, from Chicago to Los Angeles. He has also driven many miles on rural Oklahoma highways to explore the fading Main Streets of our small towns. Rhys has a desire to find and share the unique qualities of the Sooner State with the rest of the world. Cloudless Lens Photography has been featured in several publications including This Land, Route 66 Magazine, Nimrod Journal, Inbound Asia Magazine, The Oklahoman, and the Tulsa World. Rhys loves to connect with people and share his experiences; ask him about enjoyable day trips from Tulsa, locations along Route 66, and good diners or burger joints along the way.
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