Travelogue : Malang

Stepping the Pujon's Ground

On October 20, 2015, I embarked on a journey to a town in East Java, Malang. As a Sumatran girl, my travel experience has been somewhat limited. I have been to the most part of Sumatera except Padang and Bengkulu. As a typical Western Indonesian, I know few things about the East. Even, Malang itself is not a part of Eastern Indonesia. It is only a town in the East of Java, which is a part of Western Indonesia. Since I do not have a job that guarantees me to travel so lavishly, so I decided to stop over to Malang before I made my way to Bali to attend the 12th Ubud Writers and Readers Festival.

Amidst my post-travel blues, I am going to share you some of my travelogues of what I do and my other impressions of Malang. The pictures will be limited, because I do not really like taking pictures when I travel. I soak them with my own eyes and write it down.

The Arrival

Taken at Selecta Park, Batu -  Malang
The day of my arrival
I have no idea what to expect in Malang. But it is a good thing to have no expectation when you travel. It was funny that I heard no boarding call to my hometown. In fact, I was going to a different airport, different destination. The first sight I saw when the plane descended at Abdul Rahman Saleh airport was a single leafless tree. The sky was clear but cloudy, the plane experienced a small turbulence thus my hands were covered in sweats. Malang is known for its hills and mountains, hence the wind was strong. So I arrived anyway, in a strange new town that I heard quite often.

Neigborhood on the Hill

I was set to spend the nights at an area called, Sengkaling, which is below Batu. Sengkaling had become my neighborhood for most of my stay. I had spent 5 days before I departed to Bali, and another 5 days after my travel to Bali.  Sengkaling is approximately 45 minutes to one hour away if travelled with motorbikes. I had stayed in a friend's kost, which means a rented room, that is in front of Universitas Muhammadiyah Malang.

Here's the thing, I had never been a social kid growing up. When I was in college, I was not busy playing around but instead I studied harder than everyone else and I achieved good grades. I stayed in a rented unit with friends and we were a bunch of reserved geeks. The house was quiet. So when I woke up at the kost, there were Indonesian 90s chart-toppers played from room to room and chatters in local dialects, Bahasa Jawa, filled the air. I am not the speaker of Bahasa Jawa myself but I felt connected.

If I was not travelling with my friends or waiting to be picked up on their motorbikes, I usually spent time at a restaurant called Kedai Assalamualaikum. Funny enough, around 9am to half past 9, the restaurant played Maroon 5 non-stop. One weekend, they even played Linkin Park on the weekend.

Eating well around Sengkaling did not cost you much. I spent less than Rp 10.000 or US$1 for a simple meal of tea and a plate of ikan bandeng (Milkfish) or gado-gado (Vegetable Salad).

The people

Good travel memories were made of good people around you. People of Malang left me marks and it is a beautiful kind. I was raised a Sumatran girl and I have been living in a rather big city, an urban. I was taught to have a pre-caution. I carry a zippered bag, never a tote bag, and I learn how to hold a pepper spray. A good friend of mine, who grows up in a Balinese household, pointed out to me that I should smile more. But this frown that I travel with upon my face, it is just a form of pre-caution.

The first time I travelled to Ubud was 3 years back and I was surprised that people locked their house with nothing, maybe only a padlock.

That happened there, as well, in Malang. I clung onto the backseat of motorbike with my totebag which carried my iPad, sacred notebook, wallet, phone and charger swaying through the air. My friends told me not to worry, so I did not at all.

Something about the kindred spirit that Malang people have.

In this trip, I was introduced to the people behind JavaJO. JavaJO is a travel company based in East Java. It is engineered by Robin Febrianto, a Business Management Graduate from Universitas Muhamadiyyah Malang and a local journo. He is supported by his friends, Tri Yuli Adriansyah a.k.a Nyit who spends his day between the office and teaching English to the Engineer Students and a Master's Candidate and a then-business journalist, Mick.

Sunrise over the Pujon Hill, Malang - East Java
These are the people I spent my days with 24/7. At one night, we even hiked and camped onto Pujon near Batu region. I went into another adventure I had never been before. We went off-road, we set up tents and firecamps. Out of all the core team of JavaJO, I also got to know more friends who were also warm and welcoming.

In-class, Universitas Muhammadiyah Malang
with I am Malala Book insight
Somewhere in this class there is a chair with handwriting, "I hate your ass", classy...
I also had a brief moment to give a small lecture in two Mick's English classes at UMM. Creative writing is still an unusual thing for most of the students. They see writing as a burden, like an assignment. For me, I breathe and I live, writing. It is sad to see that they think that way, but I guess it is the matter of how people are brought up. Some of them, despite taking studies in English, have different non-related aspirations in mind.

Though I tried my best to explain and respect their decisions. I ended up talking about creative writing in my point of view and I shared my zines. I tried my best to make them feeling inspired, and few students suddenly followed my instagram account.

Around Malang

I did not explore the city of Malang until a friend sent me to wander around the city with angkot. Despite of lack of self-confidence and cluelessness, I arrived to places like the city hall, train station and museum.

If you ever stay in Sengkaling, you go to Terminal Landungsari and you will find angkot which is a mini bus with different codes that take you to the city of Malang. I took the LG angkot, where as people can also take AL and ADL. Some of popular places you might want to see is MaTos or Malang Towns Square which is a mall and Jalan Ijen, which is a street with strands of cafes and places to hangouts. But  I skipped that and I went to the town hall and the market instead.

Batu has many atrractions such as Musium Angkut, Eco-Park and Jatim Park which are so gigantic you might want to plan your trip carefully, because you will end up spending days.

... Going Places?
A photo posted by ayu meutia (@meutiayu) on

Malang #wins in terms of proximity to other region. You can take trains to Surabaya and even to Jakarta. If you ever consider going to Bali via Malang, yes you can. If I could make the travel so can you.

You may want to google "P.O Malang Indah", that is the bus operator I travelled with. Bus fare costs Rp 130k for one single trip. Go to Terminal Arjosari to purchase the tickets on the spot but it is better if you pre-booked your journey by calling.

The trip takes 10 - 12 hours and the ferry ticket has been included. So you only need to sit back and relax. The bus will stop for dinner at a restaurant and you will get your meal.

dusty faces and teary eyes from insomnia

That's all that I can share with you about Malang. I like the city so much that I have a plan to consider moving there.  I end up spending more days in Malang after I left for Bali, both decision I thanked and regretted.

I will write more about Bali and Ubud Writers and Readers Festival. This is by far, the only writing I push myself to produce to battle the post-travel blues.



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