Monday, June 30, 2014

Exploring Surabaya, Malang And Madura In A Flash

Just like last year, this year my office organized a Donor&Journalist Visit. This year, it's the project in Bangkalan, Madura island that took the center stage. But unlike last year, this year I got help from four other colleagues. And so, I put in one-two days prior to the visit to explore Surabaya and Malang. 

Surabaya: Late Lunch And Cheng Ho Mosque Surabaya

I arrived in Surabaya on June 21, met my colleague Devi and then dropped my duffel bag at Hotel Santika Premiere Gubeng (nice hotel, I'd say). We had late lunch at Ria Galeria, a small eatery nearby just at the corner of Jl. Bangka. I ordered Sop Ayam Jamur Es (chicken soup with mushroom), while Devi had Rujak Cingur (vegetable and cow's snout topped with shrimp paste).

We later went to Cheng Ho Mosque Surabaya for Maghrib and Isya prayers before hopping on a car to go to Malang, Devi's hometown.

 Rujak Cingur

  Sop Ayam Jamur Es

Masjid Cheng Ho Surabaya

Malang: Radjiman Wediodiningrat Mental Hospital And Jatim Park II (Batu Secret Zoo)

Before anyone asked about the hospital, let me start by explaining that Devi's mother works as a nurse at the hospital. So their house is inside the mental hospital compound. I stayed in Devi's home for two nights and it's really a memorable experience.   

At night, I could hear a man screaming (not in pain, but more like in agony). When I asked Devi about it, she just shrugged her shoulders and said,"Someone is having a fit. That's normal here." It's funny how "normal" gets its meaning in different places.

In the morning, I was about to take a walk around the neighborhood when I saw groups of men and women in green ensemble heading towards the residential area. I asked Devi whether they were the patients and whether it would be okay to interact with them. She said,"Yes, they are the patients. It's okay, they love talking to non patients. They are just lonely because their family seldom, sometimes never, visit them here. If they are walking around, that means they are well enough, otherwise they will be confined in their rooms."

I was a bit skeptical upon hearing her reply. But then as I walked around quietly, trying not to catch their attention, two patients approached me. And the following conversation ensued...

Patient #1: Hello, assalamualaikum!
Me: Err, hello, wa alaikum salam.
Patient #2:  Do you have a pen?
Me: Sorry, no pen.
Patient #1: Can you take my picture? 
Me: Okay (then took their picture)
Patient #2: Can we take a look at the picture?
Me: Sure, here you go (showing them the picture)
The patients: Thank you. See you.

Devi later took me around the hospital compound on a motorcycle. As we made a left turn, another patient ran toward us and called us,"Mbak, Mbak!" We tried to ignore him, but he managed to catch up with the motorcycle (we're not speeding anyway) and then he gave me a bunch of flowers,"Here, for you." I didn't know what to say, but,"Umm, thanks."

It was really heartbreaking to see the patients in the mental hospital. The way they just stare into the distance or doing something repeatedly, it's just sad. They may look physically healthy in the outside, but they carry their wounds inside. The invisible wounds are more difficult to heal, indeed.

Two patients who requested for a photo session :)

The flowers given by a patient

Radjiman Wediodiningrat Mental Hospital is said to be one of the largest (and perhaps, also one of the oldest) mental hospital  in South East Asia. The construction of the hospital began back in 1884 and it took 18 years for completion. Here are some photos I took in the hospital compound.

Devi later took me to around Malang. First stop was PTPN XII, the tea plantation in Malang. But since I've seen the one in Pangalengan (read here), I did not took a lot of pictures. We had quick lunch in Toko Oen Malang. Then we went to Jatim Park II (Batu Secret Zoo). Here are some photos from the zoo.

This handsome bird suddenly made appearance when I walked by :).

Madura: Wood Pellet Industry And Bebek Sinjay Restaurant

The project in Bangkalan, Madura island is about wood pellet as an alternative energy. Why in Bangkalan? Well, in the 1970s most area in Bangkalan was degraded land. There was no tree and no resources of water, it was a massive dry patch of land. Then Irham Rofii, a local kyai (Muslim cleric), encouraged his students and local people to start planting trees. Many people looked down on his efforts, but Bangkalan today nowadays is a lush green area because everyone love to plant trees. 

The wood pellet project was initiated to give local people benefit from their tree planting habit. Kaliandra (Calliandra callothyrsus) was chosen because the tree does not need a lot of time to grow and can grow in degraded land. Besides for wood pellet, kaliandra wood can be used as a fire wood, the flower can be used for bee farming and the leaves can be used for livestock feed.

Now, what is wood pellet and what is it for? Made from compacted wood dust, wood pellet makes a good substitute for oil fuel. It can be used for cooking activity at homes and restaurants as well as to generate electricity at coal-powered plant. Wood pellet is sustainable, produces less ash and reduces green house gases.

The project in Madura is a collaboration between my office, Ministry of Forestry (MoFor) and the cooperative of Gerbang Lestari, which is owned by local people. The cooperative procures machine to produce wood pellet and buys the wood from the farmers.

When we visited, the machine was still in trial mode. But it will be soon up and running. Several potential buyers have come to the factory to order the wood pellet.  
A farmer cuts his kaliandra tree

Two workers cut the wood to smaller bits

Out on the field

We closed the day with early dinner at Bebek Sinjay Restaurant, which has been basking in the limelight. It only serves fried duck and coconut ice. Quite simple eh? So customers do not have to ponder over pages of menu. 

Bebek Sinjay Restaurant

The famous Bebek Sinjay :)

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