A day out in Batu (East Java, Indonesia)

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Beep beep. Toot toot. Beep beep. Toot toot. The taxi driver attacks the horn as though his fare depends on it as he tries to race his way from Malang to Batu. He looks to be well over 70 but is probably only in his 50s. His fingers curl around the steering wheel as though they are cramped into that position. He sits forward in his seat peering out of the window, his head almost at a permanent tilt as he tries to see what is around the next bus or truck so that he can get past. It’s 45 minutes to Batu and I’m glad I opened my wallet wide enough to pay for an air conditioned taxi, rather than being squashed into a little blue mini van. It means we can take in the scenery along the road … mostly it’s urban sprawl. The taxi fare is about 75,000IDR ($AU7.50)-85,000IDR ($AU8.50) each way from Malang to Batu.

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We got the driver to drop us at the Museum Angkut (Transport Museum). I had heard about this place from my cousins who posted photos on their Facebook pages a few weeks ago from their visit here. But I still didn’t know what to expect. I was picturing a small museum. But that’s not what Museum Angkut is at all … it’s huge. And it has an amazing collection of transport including classic cars. Entry is 60,000IDR ($AU6) … beware of frauds trying to charge more.

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There is also a huge collection of interesting and unique transport such as a fire fighting bicycle from 1950 and a steam powered bicycle that predates most other steam powered land transport. These are vehicles I would probably never get to see anywhere else. And these are just a limited example of the hundreds of vehicles that they have in this museum – all lovingly restored and polished.

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But this isn’t just a museum where you can see cars. This is a fully interactive place like no museum I have ever seen before. You can stand right up next to some very cool vehicles and pretend you are the owner.

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But for me, the most fun part was riding all the cool motorbikes and bicycles. There are huge sets all over the museum. And I mean huge. Whole streets representing difference cities and countries like a movie set. There’s an Indonesian wharf, an Italian riviera town, a French cafe street, Berlin, Buckingham Palace and a Hollywood movie set.

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In the American gangster area I got locked up in jail but then redeemed myself by capturing a bank robber. And the fun thing here in Asia is that this type of caper is not something grown ups have to do on the sly. Nope – everyone visiting the museum today was an adult and everyone was taking pictures and selfies of themselves like this.

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One group of cheeky Indonesian girls even went a step further. They walked around this Bajaj testing the doors until they found one unlocked. It took all of three seconds for them to be inside the vehicle together giggling and taking selfies. Haha. I think if I were to describe Indonesian culture in one word I would say that word is “cheeky”. I notice this kind of behaviour everywhere. It’s done without malice. It’s just that people seem to want to have fun and that some rules just don’t apply. It’s the same with taking the flowers from the floats at the parade, the passengers standing on a plane as soon as it lands without waiting for the seat belt sign to turn off and they way some children still call out “Hello Mister” and then giggle when you say (for example) “salamat siang” (good afternoon) back. I think that this is what makes travel here on this loud, crowded, dusty and relentless island where a solid bowel movement is a rarity so much fun.

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Still at the museum we pay 1,500IDR ($1.50) to ride on these weird vehicles. They rock back and forward when you change direction and Paul is rough enough to find the stopper that prevents it going fully upside down. We are laughing hysterically the whole time as kitschy music plays. I think this must be so popular in Japan or Korea if they had one.

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In addition to the transport, there are also other interactive displays at the museum including this very clever mural where you can pretend to hold a paint brush and it actually looks like you are. And I got to sit next to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II (Queen of the British Empire for those not from the Commonwealth). I felt like a school boy post was most appropriate for the occasion.

We also made a green screen movie. As you can tell, we couldn’t really understand the context well, just the directions we should face. It was fun though. We were given a DVD but I managed to film most of it on my mobile phone as they played it back to us because we don’t have a DVD player with us. I missed the opening credits but you get the idea from this clip.

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After spending a good two or so hours at Museum Angkut we walked to Kusuma Agrowisata (Kusuma Tourist Farm). The walk was almost all up hill. It wasn’t far: maybe 2km (1.25 miles). Along the way we enjoyed views of mountains and volcanoes. Unfortunately, the sky was too hazy to take a good photo of the massive volcano nearby.

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Kusuma Argowisata is a big tourist fruit farm. They grow a range of fruits. Today the guava and apples were in season. You pay 60,000IDR ($AU6) for a tour of the farm including (officially) two fresh guavas and two fresh apples, a yoghurt drink, a toasted bread and a cup of juice. It’s not cheap but it is a bit of fun. And (unofficially) you will end up with more fruit than just the two you are officially allowed. And you do get shown a lot. In the guava section we tasted about three different guava fruits to see the difference in age. We also were shown how to spot a fruit fly infested fruit and to select a ripe one.

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The apple orchard is large. We tasted the sour red apples that are used for juicing and other commercial purposes. They are organically grown because fruit fly don’t strike them as much. We also go to taste the sweet green local apples with a mottled brown skin. They are quite tasty for eating.

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It was worth the entry fee to learn about the crop and spend some time eating fresh fruit. Whereas on the walk to the farm my stomach was upset, by the time we left I wasn’t feeling the urge to run (and actually running) for the nearest bathroom anymore. We took home four guava and about ten apples between us.

After our day out we returned to Malang just on time to upload some photos to Facebook and then head to our massage appointment. We had our ear wax removed through ear candling and our legs and feet massaged. My masseuse was a bit rough; he didn’t understand what he was doing so it was more painful than pleasure. But I am sure it’s still good for my muscles to be stretched. We also went to a very nice Indonesian restaurant (Harmoni Cafe and Bar) that came recommended on Trip Advisor. After barely eating a proper meal in two days due to a gurgling stomach, it was good to sit down to a full meal of nasi goreng kecaps (fried rice with sweet soy sauce), guremi goreng (fried ocean fish like snapper), satay ayam (satay chicken sticks) and a mixed vegetable dish. Including drinks the meal (for two people) was 185,000IDR ($AU18.50). And we couldn’t even finish it all. I think we will return there again during our stay in Malang.

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Then we walked out to check out whether the purple mosque we saw yesterday was lit up at night. It sure was! This might be the most beautiful mosque I have ever seen. And again, a fantastic day ends with something beautiful to cap it off.

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3 thoughts on “A day out in Batu (East Java, Indonesia)

  1. Great to be a child still? To sort of quote from A A Milne who wrote Winnie the Pooh, “Now I am 6 I’m as clever as clever, so I think I’ll stay 6 for ever and ever.” The firefighting bike looks magic, but the steam one potentially lethal.

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