Arriving in Probolinggo (East Java, Indonesia)

Our morning is fairly uneventful. We use up all but ten minutes of our midday checkout from the hotel and walk to the Java Dancer Cafe where we are the day of the parade. With over three hours to kill before our train departs, we again order cheeseburgers and orange juice. Followed by iced chocolates to legitimise our sitting there using the wifi.

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The Malang train station is just a five minute walk from Java Dancer. We wait a few minutes for the train, board our economy aircon carriage and are off to our next city: Probolinggo. Paul sleeps and I talk with a local man who comes over specifically to check out the white folks. My few phrases of Bahasa Indonesia make him smile and encourage him to try to hold a conversation with me. After an hour he gets off the train and I settle in to write a university paper. I’m so engrossed that we almost miss our stop but, fortunately, another passenger tells us to get off just before the whistle blows for the train to depart.

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Exiting the train station we are met with the bright lights of the nightly “party” at the Alun Alun Probolinggo (Probolinggo City Park). It’s all happening here. There are brightly lit children’s rides that are operated by pedal power, a cute cartoonish train and many kaki lima (food stalls). It’s just fantastic and I am excited about our stay here.

We have organised to Couch Surf with A young guy called Wijaya in Probolinggo. I am always a little nervous before meeting a Couch Surfing host because I do not want to impose and want the experience to be good for them too. Also, I can be a bit shy with new people so it’s always tempting to retreat to the familiarity and privacy of a hotel room. But I needn’t have worried. Wijaya is a really cool guy and welcomes us into his home. He has had many Couch Sirfing guests so is used to this awkward first meeting.

We drop our gear in the room he has set aside for us and join him in the sitting room for some talking. After a while I feel hungry so suggest that Paul and I go to the Alun Alun to buy some foods to share. The Alun Alun is literally outside the house so it’s no difficulty at all. Our host apologises because he hasn’t had a chance to prepare food but for us it is nice to contribute something to his having is to stay.

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And how better to contribute that with delicious soto ayam (chicken soup). We also bring a few other things that we want to try ourselves so end up with a bit of a feast. More talking follows before a late night to bed for all.

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