Tuesday, January 2, 2018


We arrived late in the day in Malang and as it was getting dark, we took a taxi from the train station to our hotel. Unfortunately this hotel seemed to have several names and the driver had some difficulty figuring out where we wanted to go. Eventually with some questioning of locals we got there. It wasn't the best choice for any local flavour, being a former Best Western high-rise, but the price was right in a city that seemed to have few choices between expensive and very basic accommodation, and we did have a good view from our room.

It was very much a businessman's hotel with a large foyer and dining area, and a very extensive breakfast selection of hot and cold dishes. There was also a roof-top bar that made the worst martini I've ever had.

Malang on arrival was not the charming Dutch colonial city we'd been expecting, but in daylight it revealed its charm, starting with its beautiful circular lotus pond and garden surrounded by attractive buildings and spectacular trees.

Even smaller streets were clean and filled with flowering plants.

When we explored further around the city, we realized that this might be due to the influence of Malang's large flower and plant market.

Right beside the flower market is the local bird market, another colourful site, although we were turned off by the vast numbers of birds confined in tiny cages and didn't go further in.

 This was another city where it was easy to get around on foot or by becak.

One of Malang's claims to fame, Kampung Warna, is a village of gaily painted little houses tumbling down the hillsides of a steep ravine. We had glimpsed it from the train and hailed a becak to take us there.

It is easily viewed from a high bridge spanning the ravine, but for a small fee you can descend among the narrow streets and admire the vivid colours and murals from up close.

On the opposite side of the bridge, a different village has opted for an all-blue theme.

Facing this across the little stream is a cluster of houses in more traditional brown and white.

It seemed to us that most restaurants in the city centre were located in large impersonal malls. Toko Oen, a historic cafe dating from the Dutch period was an exception.  The food was interesting and the ambience was great, but it didn't seem as popular with locals as the chains in the malls.

 We loved the elegant simplicity and ice-cream colours of the chairs.

There were also quite a few food carts and street stalls offering snacks of various kinds.

 When it came to leaving Malang and continuing our journey, we decided we couldn't face another two long train journeys to reach the east coast, so we opted to fly direct to Bali on the only airline offering that route, even though it had a reputation for long delays and a spotty safety record. As it happened we had only a two-hour delay and a trouble-free flight.


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