After separating with my amazing new friends in Klaten I found myself on a train headed to Surabaya with few expectations or ideas of how the next few days would unfold. I decided to schedule a few days in the city for a change of scenery, before venturing towards Bromo mountain. I figured rather than exploring on my own I'd leave it in the hands of some friendly locals, I only hoped the amazing hospitality I had experienced thus far would continue. After some back and forth on Couchsurfing, I finally settled my plans to stay with Titi (her aunt and cousin) the same girl I'd agreed to travel to Bromo with, and as an added bonus she offered to pick me up from the station. As I exited the station into the swarm of eager taxi drivers I felt a swell of relief when I could utter the words, "A friend is picking me up". This of course sent eyeballs rolling, none of the drivers wanted to believe that the little white girl had a friend coming to get her. True to her word though, Titi and her cousin Galih soon arrived, as friendly and full of life as I was expecting.
Our first stop after leaving the station was for lunch which was great seeing as all I'd eaten that morning was a piece of toast from [yet another] kind woman on the train, and yes I did accept food from a stranger. Over a few local dishes we got to know each other and talked about plans for the afternoon, except her cousin he was playing shy with his English. We visited the Hero's museum that afternoon, a new experience for all of us and a nice place to get out of the heat for a while. After picking up Titi's aunt from work we went to see Damianus Wera, but that's a whole different story. Hours after arriving in the city we were finally getting back to Titi's home where I was warmly welcomed, fed, showered and given the 'top bunk' ready for a good nights sleep.
The next day I decided to meet another girl from Couchsurfing who was eager to practice her English with a native speaker. Lucy offered to pick me up from my hosts house (convenient since I was a bit out of town) and then we headed back to the city to meet two of her friends. I spent a great day with the three of them, first stopping for lunch (of course) and then exploring the mangroves (which I didn't even know existed) where we got stuck while waiting out the afternoon rain storm. I got back to Titi's house late in the evening after another visit to the 'Doctor' and eventually got a taste of 'Tahu Tek' a local specialty, after waiting nearly an hour as the street vendor was quite busy that night. Although her aunt couldn't speak much English I always felt welcome in their home, Titi making sure to translate the important parts while we all encouraged Galih to talk more.
On our final day before heading out to Bromo we decided to visit the House of Sampoerna, mostly because they offered a free bus tour around the city. After a late lunch (restaurants opened late due to Friday morning prayers) we headed for the museum, arriving shortly before the final tour was set to leave. Galih and I went inside to explore, leaving Titi in the car with a stomach ache, we weren't watching the time and exited a few minutes after 3, only to watch the tour bus driving away. Our disappointment increased when we discovered that Titi hopped on the bus, thinking we were there and took the car keys with her. Instead of an afternoon tour around the city Galih and I had an hour and a half tour of the few blocks surrounding the House of Sampoerna. I actually suspect Titi did this on purpose so Galih would be forced to practice his English with me, and guess what, it worked!
Friday night Titi wasn't feeling so hot, the stomach ache came back with a vengeance, but she had no plans of canceling our trip to Bromo. Instead we turned in for an early night and tried to get some rest before our 4am wake up call and departure. The trip to Bromo was a huge success and my final day back with Titi's family followed the same path. I had actually thought about switching to another host, just to meet more people and give Titi's family a break from me, but chose to stay put where I was. No point in trying to fix something that's not broken. My final afternoon was spent lounging around Titi's home, trusting Galih with me on the back of his motorbike and sharing one final dinner together with the family (this time sister included). True to how it began Titi and her cousin drove me back to the station to catch my train back to Klaten the following day.
I had minimal plans or expectations for my visit to Surabaya, but was completely blown away by the hospitality I was shown and appreciate the friendships I made. As much as I want to keep traveling, exploring new locations, it's hard to do so when I have friends in the old places begging me to return. Titi has a heart bigger than you can imagine and her generosity definitely rubbed off on me. We both have plans to travel, explore, volunteer and continue learning so I hope our paths can one day cross again.
Well known as the parent to ever-famous Bali, this is a country that has so much more to offer. Similar to the Philippines the beauty is spread out over thousands of islands, which means you need time. Once you start exploring, trust me, you won't want to stop.