Monday, November 18, 2013

Photos from the Breezy and Laidback City of Malang in East Java, Indonesia

The chill hit my face that morning as soon as I stepped off the night train from Yogyakarta. After a bumpy, seven-hour ride which unfortunately did not allow for much sleep, I had just arrived in Malang in East Java, Indonesia. Outside the train station, I hired a becak (a rickshaw) to take me to my hostel, which I did not bother navigating to myself even if I knew it was just close by. I was hoping the hostel accepted very early check-ins. Thankfully, Kampong Tourist, a charming backpacker lodge located literally on the rooftop of a mid-range hotel, did accept early check-ins. In fact, by the looks of it, staff expected backpackers like me to roll in from the Yogyakarta train every morning.

Malang, East Java, Indonesia
A surprisingly chilly morning in Malang, a city between mountains and volcanoes in East Java, Indonesia

Over the course of the week I based myself in Malang, I would accomplish a number of things. Foremost of these is an excursion along the less traveled trail to one of the most popular attractions in the region: Mount Bromo. In between, I took in the cool, at times chilly, breeze and tree-lined streets of this old Dutch colonial outpost. Though this city was indeed popular with the Europeans during the colonial period, Malang had already been an established town way before Dutch conquest. Historical documents showed Malang was born as early as the 8th century.

Related Post: The Road Less Traveled to Mount Bromo from Malang

Hopefully, the few photos below provide a look into the pleasant and laidback character of what has become one of my favorite cities in Southeast Asia.

Malang, East Java, Indonesia
The Malioboro Express night train took me from Yogyakarta to Malang in about seven hours. A seat in the air-conditioned executive coach cost me 22.5 USD.

Kampong Tourist, Malang, East Java, Indonesia
The basic but very charming gazebos of Kampong Tourist, a lodge situated on the rooftop of Hotel Helios near Malang Railway Station

Kampong Tourist, Malang, East Java, Indonesia
I stayed in one of these gazebos for a couple of nights (before moving to the dorm). I have to say, with this view of Mount Arjuno, the rate of 11 USD a night is totally worth it.

Malang, East Java, Indonesia
One of the main landmarks of Malang, the Balai Kota stands as an old Dutch administrative structure near the city center.

Malang, East Java, Indonesia
For an old building, the Balai Kota with its colonial Dutch-Javanese architecture has been beautiful preserved and apparently, is still in very active use.

Related Post: The Road Less Traveled to Mount Bromo from Malang

Malang, East Java, Indonesia
The Jalan Tugu roundabout has some of the city's colonial-era structures, e.g., the Balai Kota and Hotel Tugu Malang.

Malang, East Java, Indonesia
Many of the streets of Malang, even those away from the city center, are tree-lined, airy, and generally pleasant for an Indonesian city of 800,000 residents.

Malang, East Java, Indonesia
Flowers at the Pasar Bunga (literally, flower market) near Malang city center

Malang, East Java, Indonesia
Bird cages, bird feed, and, judging from the loud chirps and squawks filling the air, live birds can be found sold at the Pasar Senggol (bird market), right beside Pasar Bunga.

Malang, East Java, Indonesia
Did your skin just crawl on this one? Worms of different sizes are sold as what I could only assume to be bird feed in Malang's Pasar Senggol (bird market).

Related Post: The Road Less Traveled to Mount Bromo from Malang

Es Degan, Malang, East Java, Indonesia
A refreshing es degan (coconut water) break in the middle of sightseeing around Malang city center

Malang, East Java
Spectacular views of Mount Arjuno from Kampong Tourist during Malang's blue hour

Lebaran Promos and Discounts, Malang, Indonesia
A very festive (and highly commercialized) atmosphere can be felt in the busy shopping and dining areas around the alun-alun (town square) the week before the end of Ramadan.

Ramadan Night in Malang, East Java, Indonesia
Evenings in Indonesia during the holy month of Ramadan are extra lively with people heading to street-side eateries and restaurants eager to break their fast.


Do you know of other breezy, laidback, and pleasant cities in Southeast Asia? Spill.


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