The Daily FT participated in a familiarisation trip for media in mid-May organised by the Indonesian Embassy in Sri Lanka and Singapore Airlines, which comprised visits to Surabaya, Kota Batu and Madura in Indonesia, with transits in Singapore. The Sri Lankan media contingent was accompanied by Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in Sri Lanka Second Secretary Economic Affairs Tranmike and Singapore Airlines Ltd. PR and Premium Services Manager Shihana Cader. The first article in this series explored places of interest in Surabaya city, while this article features two places of interest we visited in Kota Batu – the Shwedagon Pagoda and Sleeping Buddha at Vihara Dhammadipa Arama and Jatim Park 2 Batu Secret Zoo and Satwa Museum
Text and pix by Marianne David
Located a three-hour drive away from the city of Surabaya, Kota Batu – the ‘Stone City’ which is also known as ‘Little Switzerland’ – is a lovely place to escape to.
On the way there, the sights and sounds of the city fade away as the cooler weather and beautiful scenery take over. The city is surrounded by mountains and visitors to Kota Batu are able to enjoy the cool and refreshing mountain breeze as they explore its offerings.
Vihara Dhammadipa Arama
We started the day with a visit to the Shwedagon Pagoda and Sleeping Buddha at Vihara Dhammadipa Arama. A quiet and peaceful place, one can spend hours walking around here or sit quietly in meditation as the monks and maechi go about their daily routine. There are 70 monks and novices and 40 maechi here.
The arama traces its beginnings to a bamboo hall in 1970 and has grown expansively since those early days. It now houses a museum and a meditation centre as well. Its statue of the Sleeping Buddha is surrounded by landscaped gardens and water features, along with small chambers for lodging.
Inside the pagoda there are seven Buddha statues for each day of the week. It is the practice here for people to pray to the statue dedicated to the day on which they were born. To listen to pirith chanting, you need to visit at 3 a.m. or 7 p.m.
Batu Secret Zoo and Museum
Our next visit was to the Batu Secret Zoo at Jatim Park 2, which started with lunch at a hotel inside the location, Pohon Inn. Built on a tree-house concept, it features a revolving floor and connects to the zoo. The walls of the restaurant are the glass walls of the zoo’s animal enclosures so one has the (rather distasteful) option of watching and being watched by tigers, leopards, lions and other animals while dining.
The zoo itself is a must-visit in Kota Batu – it has a wide and impressive variety of animals and is very clean and well maintained. Most of the friendly and welcoming staffers speak English and are full of information about the animals.
The zoo is divided into sections such as Savannah, African Village, Eagles, Fantasy Land (rest area, which includes a cafeteria, children’s pool and other amenities), River Adventure, Feeding Birds and Menacing Harimau (a tiger feeding enclosure where guests can feed the tigers while standing on top of an acrylic glass platform).
Posing with the birds and petting a white tiger cub were the highlights of the visit to the zoo and made for an exciting and unforgettable experience.
Next up was a visit to Museum Satwa or the Animal Museum. The museum is a great attraction for both children and adults and features many displays of preserved animals, including extinct species. One could easily spend an entire day at the zoo and museum and still not have enough time as there is so much to explore and experience here.
Among other places of interest are Museum Angkut (Transportation Museum), its flower gardens, historical sites, artefacts of the independence war and traditional art. One can also go apple-picking, visit rabbit breeding villages, recreational parks or handicraft villages, enjoy some adventure tourism, go camping and visit its waterfalls. Kota Batu also features traditional markets and modern shopping centres plus many interesting places to dine.
Part III: Visit to Museum Angkut (Transportation Museum), a trip around Madura Strait on the Artama III and a visit to Maduratna (batik centre in Madura).