On the 24th of September the Awaydays team made its first football trip in Indonesia. A football trip from East to West Java! After a short flight from Denpasar to Surabaya early in the morning we got the opportunity to explore the city. Our first stop was at the second biggest mosque of Indonesia, the Masjid Nasional Al-Akbar which openend in the year 2000. A very impressive mosque filled with lots of curious and welcoming people to show us around and tell some background history.
After that the 4-men team split in 2 and both teams got to visit a monument and a fan shop of Persebaya. The first team got to visit the Monument of Suroboyo, which consists of a crocodile and shark intertwined in a battle to conquer the ‘golden river’. This age-old myth tells the story of the two animals competing for the title of “the strongest and most powerful animal”. The city symbol and that of local football club Persebaya are derived from this old tale.
The second team got to visit the Tugu Pahlawan which is the heroes monument in memory of the victims of the battle for Surabaya. On the 10th of November 1945 pro-independence Indonesian soldiers fought a bloody battle against British and British Indian troops as a part of the Indonesian National Revolution. Until now 10 November is celebrated annually as Heroes’ day(Hari Pahlawan)
After visiting the Persebaya fan shop and a quick stop at our hotel it was time for the main reason we went to Surabaya: Persebaya versus Bali United. Our cab driver took us to the Gelora Bung Tomo-stadium and the second we got out of the car we were greeted by a lot of friendly local supporters. Who wondered why on earth these ‘tourists’ came all the way too Surabaya to see their team play. After a quick snack we got to enter the immense stadium and we immediately felt the amazing atmosphere. We took our place at the stands at the North End and waited for the match to begin. To our surprise every stand had its own capo, which was really unique. For the full 90 minutes the fans kept on singing and supporting their team to victory, sharing cigarettes, food and drinks. The match ended in a 1-1 draw but even after Bali United scored the equalizer the crowd still was out of this world.
The next day it was time for more cultural highlights. We went to see the Kampung Warna street in Surabaya, which is a really colourful street which led us to a local fish market. Next up was a trip via the Suramadu bridge to the stadium of Madura United: Gelora Bangkalan. We got lucky because in this cozy stadium a local youth football match was being played! As we never get bored of football, we sat down and spoke to the people besides us on the stands about their local football passion.
After a taxi ride back (with a stop at the Madura United fan shop) to Surabaya we went to a skybar for a well deserved Bintang (or two) and so our time in Surabaya came to and as we had to travel on to our next destination: Jakarta.
We woke up in the middle of the night to catch our flight to Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital. This city has over 10 million residents and thus will make you feel really small. The local pride of Jakarta is Persija, one of Indonesia’s oldest and most succesful clubs in Indonesian history. Persija plays it’s home game in perhaps the most impressive stadium in Indonesia; Gelora Bung Karno. This 80,000 capacity beast of a stadium is home to both Persija as the national team. We can only imagine the atmosphere inside this stadium when it’s filled to the brim. One for your football stadium bucket list for sure!
Our main highlight for this day was a visit at the huge Gelora Bung Karno-stadium. Even though the stadium was closed for visitors we still managed to get in and take a few pictures of this impressive stadium.
After a quick stop at the fan shop we went to see an old friend of ours in his restaurant. He took us to a stand-up comedy place and after a stop at Beer Garden SCBD for a few Bintangs. Our plan was to travel to neighbouring Bandung to watch Persib compete with Arema but unfortunately we got the news that the match would be cancelled due to possible risk of riots between the two supporters groups. Shit!
Even though the match got cancelled, we still decided to travel to take the train to go and visit Bandung nicknamed as the ‘Paris of Indonesia’ due to it’s cozy, European looking city centre. The train ride first took us trough the outskirts of of Jakarta, and then led us to the beautiful green scenes of Bandung. Our first stop was at the Bandung Lautan Api monument. In 1946 a part of Bandung was purposely set on fire by Indonesian republicans during the Indonesian revolution. The top of this monument resembles those flames. After visiting the monument we went to see the biggest one of the three stadiums Persib has, the Gelora Bandung Lautan Api-stadium.(named after the earlier mentioned incident. This stadium is situated in the most beautiful location you can think of. Completely surrounded by green, lush rice paddies and mountains in the background, this 38.000 cap stadium is a jewel for the eye. And worth a visit for groundhoppers and football fans among the world.
The next day we continued our city/stadium tour by paying a visit to Gedung Saté which is a huge government building, built in 1920. Next up were the 2 other stadiums of Persib. The Si Jalak Harupat stadium, with its 27.000 people capacity is a beautiful stadium which has a really warm feeling due to the colourful seating, the corner buildings in the shape of old skool lighthouses and it’s location on a hillside.
This is a huge contrast with the Siliwangi stadium which has a militaristic feel, cold feel. Being fenced off on every side and actual military art can be found above the main entrance of the stadium.
After a visit at the official Persib fan shop our driver took us to the Kawah Putih. This is a huge tourist attraction of Bandung and is a 2430 meters high crater lake in a volcanic crater. The color of this lake changes depending on the concentration of sulfur and the temperature. The end of our day was at the tea plantations in Ciwidey, which were a beautiful sight to end our trip with. We hope to pay a visit to this lovely city seen, but this time to actually watch the Bobotoh(Persib fans) support their team!