The House of Sampoerna (Surabaya)

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The House of Sampoerna is home to a museum about the founder of the clove cigerette empire, and you get to see the clove cigarettes being made. It is housed in a Dutch colonial-style compound which was built in 1862 and purchased in 1932 by Liem Seeng Tee, the founder of Sampoerna. It is well worth a visit, if only to see how nimble hands can make over 200 cigerettes per hour. You cannot take photos though of the workers, but it is fascinating to watch.

The museum houses artifacts relating to the business and has a useful website for more information. The House of Sampoerna really shows how to stage and run a tourism business in Indonesia, and it is obvious why this is the number one tourist attraction in Surabaya.

Next to the museum is a cafe, with lovely art deco features, and you can sit in here while waiting for your bus tour. The guided tours are free, and there are at least two per day to chose from, but you can only take one per day. It was quite a good way to get a feel for the size of the city, and learn that the Dutch and the Chinese lived in quite separate proscribed areas of Surabaya.

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Our first destination was the Chinese Sukhaloka Temple. This was one of those hidden treasures where there was much to see inside but too little time to do so. The Chinese temples in Java tended to display very large candles just outside the main entrance. This was quite unlike Chinese temples in Malaysia where large josh sticks are used to demonstrate devotion (and wealth).

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Note the Mongolian-like footware on this guard. Legend has it that the Mongolians invaded Java during the Majapahit era in 1293. The symbol of the city is a shark circling a crocodile, which represent the mongols and the locals.

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After visiting the Chinese temple, we drove a short way to the Bank Mandiri Museum. This was a rather sad collection of old fading photographs in an old office setting. Upstairs there is a stained glass window of reknown, but access was blocked so there really was not much to see here.

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Immediately outside of the museum, you are back into the chaos of the Surabaya roads! Motorbikes still dominate here and well as pedicaps.

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© Helen Gray 2021