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Full Circle

Day 120: Mount Bromo to Surabaya

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Michael Palin - Full CircleThe people in the villages up here are mostly Hindus, pushed to the farthest end of the island during the Muslim conquest of Java in the seventeenth century. They make a precarious living in every sense of the word, growing onions, leeks, cabbages and other crops that seem to defy gravity, as they cling almost miraculously to sheer slopes.

Surabaya, a city of four million and the capital of East Java, lacks the beauty of its name. It's a city of red roofs being rapidly superseded by the bland, modern, high-rises typical of so many Pacific Rim boom towns. But like many of them, it had very little option but to modernize. Having survived the Second World War, Surabaya was almost destroyed by the peace. After the Japanese surrender in 1945 young members of an Indonesian republican party were suspected of assassinating the British General Mallaby, sent to oversee Allied occupation of the city. A battle ensued which raged for three weeks, during which the city was flattened by Allied bombing and thousands of its occupants killed by Dutch troops. It was one of the key moments on the road to independence four years later and earned Surabaya the title of Heroes' City.

As we drive into the centre we pass a roundabout dominated by the Hero Monument. It portrays a massive crocodile wrestling with a shark.
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  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 120
  • Country/sea: Indonesia
  • Place: Surabaya
  • Book page no: 177

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