Today is Thursday, March 28th. We’ve been voyagers upon the good ship Viking Orion for two full days and we are two happy campers . . . if by “camping” one means having extraordinarily comfortable quarters and an obscene amount of delicious food available for our dining pleasure pretty much whenever we want it.
Our room stewards, Abdul from Indonesia and Igor from Macedonia are delightful young men and, although I know they are responsible for a number of rooms, they make us feel as if we are their sole responsibility.
Yesterday, we left Bali around 3 p.m. and sailed (steamed?motored?cruised?) through the night arriving at the port in Surabaya (the capital of the Indonesian province of East Java) about 10 a.m. Cloudy and spitting rain but who cares?
After a leisurely cup of coffee on our veranda, I got ready for the day. I decided to wear a top that I created by sewing together two scarves that I “inherited” from my cousin Diane. The scarves are about one meter square and both feature the same very bold, very bright Picasso print. I just sewed them together leaving holes for head and arms. I received at least four compliments on the top before I even got to the breakfast room. I guess I was channeling the glamour of my cousin. Thank you, Diane.
Our tour today was called “Sparkling Surabaya;” I’m not convinced it was a very accurate name. The very first stop we made was, as far as I was concerned and not because it was pouring rain, a waste of time. It was a photo opportunity at the entrance to the Surabaya Zoo. The point was to see the large sculpture of a shark (suro ) and a crocodile (boya) fighting. Somehow, that came to be a symbol of the city and the name Surabaya came from those two creatures. Interesting history but the photo op was a photo flop as far as I was concerned. But speaking of channeling absent relations, the green, flimsy ponchos that we were provided at this stop reminded me of the “Big Bus” ponchos mom, Auntie Billee and I wore in London. We thought we looked like giant loaves of Wonder Bread!
We also stopped at the City Hall. Whoa!! That was fabulous. We were met with dancers and musicians and more dancers and beautiful Indonesian ladies giving each of us pasty foreign ladies lovely scarves and beautiful corsages of orchids and some small very fragrant flower. The men each received a traditional headdress, possibly called a blangkon.
There were traditional snacks and beverages. There were orchids growing from the trees lining the streets and in pots lining the corridors of the building. It was an exceptional experience. Because I said “terima kasih” (thank you in Malay) to one of the moderators, they stuck a microphone in my face and asked me to repeat it, which I did, then they wanted to know where I was from. I was a celebrity for about 17.2 seconds. It felt great.
Stop three was at the Heroes’ Monument where we learned of the over 20,000 Indonesians who died doing battle with the British after the end of WWII when the British were behaving badly in Java.
Our final stop was even less worthwhile than our first; it was supposed to be a visit to Surabaya’s China Town. Apparently, we were in the Chinese enclave but except for one gate, there was nothing to see and we did a quick forced march (along with the other 400 people from the ship) down one block, crossing several heavily trafficked streets then back up the other side dodging motor scooters, people and cars at every step. It was silly. Oh, well, I guess one doesn’t hit a home run every time at bat.
Now, back in our room, having had a shower, sipping on a G & T and thinking about our 7 o’clock dinner reservation at one of the specialty restaurants on board, life seems perfectly lovely.