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Alun Alun Malang means Malang City Square. Our guide was very proud of Indonesian town planning, saying that the City Square has four elements: the mayor’s office, the market place, religious buildings, and people. And, as you can see here, the central mosque was next to the church, and both these communities interacted with each other. I say this because just one week later, suicide bombers attacked the churches in Surabaya where we had started our journey in east Java.

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Malang was a delightful city and felt quite liveable. We visited a busy flower market which felt so English!

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Then, we walked through a bird market. I am not too keen on seeing birds in cages, but our guide said that to be a good Muslim, you had to keep a bird for entertainment (for it to sing to you). Now I have not come across this requirement for Malaysian Muslims, but I am going to have to ask around about this.

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One feature I was starting to recognise now in Java was the every present nature of volcanoes. Although the haze often obscured a good view of the horizon, I started to see volcanoes all the time! 

I took this photo because of the variety of transportation means, particulary the horse and carriage taking local tourists around the city. But look in the distance and you will see a hill/mountain which is/was a volcano.

We drove around the city looking at new modern housing developments, and stopped at the ceramics factory. It was closed though, so we looked down some side streets and then headed out to more temples.

The first temple was Candi Singosari, which just like Candi Jago, seemed to be out of place with its surroundings. We climbed up the steps to look inside the small niches, one of which contained the sage Agastya.

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You can see in the background (below left) the ever present volcano. Was this responsible for the lack of completion of this temple? If you look at the carvings of the devils on the temple, the top one is intricately carved while the bottom one is unfinished.

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Just a little walk away are two huge plump guardian statues (Dwarapula). These are thought to have protected the Kings palace which is thought to be around here somewhere.

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Next we drove to a park area to visit Candi Sumberawan. This is a partially restored Buddhist stupa in the foothills of Mount Arjuna. The nearby springs are thought to have magical properties, and we saw them being used for bathing.

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The park was busy with young people, and it was here that we started to appear in everyones selfies. The park had been set up with photo-opportunities, such as this banner saying Ako Tresno which means I Love You, so we had to have our photo taken here!

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Finally, it was time for lunch, so we were driven to another new housing development with an idillic restaurant setting. We ate outside at Taman Indie, and had typical Indonesian food served on a banana leaf. Our lunch choices prior to today had been dire with severe consequences, so it was a pleasure to have something tasty and hopefully safe to eat!

After lunch, we visited the Chinatown area of Malang, but I did not see too many Chinamen. The indoor market was cramped and busy and very uncomfortable to be in. But coming outside I spotted this incongruous view of stuffed toys.

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We walked passed masses of motorbikes to eventually find the car for our last stop of the day.

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Our last stop was at Kampung Warna Warni Jodipan, Malang. This is the colourful village which until 2016 had been a slum area by the river. Taking inspiration from a painted village in Brazil, some students from Universitas Muhammadiyah Malang encouraged a paint company to donate tons of paint. Around 107 houses were painted, streets were cleaned up and decorated, and small shops and cafes were set up by the villagers. You pay a small entrance fee which goes to the villagers, and then you are free to wander around a very photogenic village which straddles a river. Most importantly, what was one of the poorest kampungs in Indonesia is now a clean and money-making kampung! The advent of the selfie and Instagram culture has hugely benefitted this place.

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A glass bridge has been built joining the two side of the river, but the glass was so dirty that you could not see through it!

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Since villagers here are used to having their photos taken, I managed to get a couple of shots.

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And that was the end of another busy and very varied day. Malang is a very interesting city and well worth a visit.

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© Helen Gray 2021