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Indonesia - Surabaya, East-Java - A visit to my daughter

A wonderful time with my little lady and an intriguing history about the hotel

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After landing at Juanda airport of Surabaya, I was of course happy to see my daughter and her best friend there who came to pick me up, and they drove me to the hotel that I booked. My daughter was staying at a "kos", a student home close to the university, where I would visit later.

I was really hot, and although I usually don’t like air conditioning that much, it was very welcome now at the place where we stopped for a strong cup of coffee, which was equally welcome. I will be the first to admit that the late night out with my ex-colleague in Singapore may, just may also have had a little bit to do with that.

The roads were unbelievably crowded, especially with mopeds, becaks and motor bikes. It looked like a miracle that everything still moved. And this was not even rush hour yet!


Hotel Majapahit, where I stayed, turned out to be in the very center of Surabaya, close to Tunjungan Plaza shopping mall. Although the style is Dutch colonial, the first feel when entering it was very much like the Raffles in Singapore. Everything breathed the old times, like many Dutch people know it from stories and movies.


The hotel was built in 1910 as the Oranje Hotel by architect Lucas Martin Sarkies, whose Armenian family used to own the Raffles, and the Strand in Rangoon, and the Eastern and Oriental in Penang. So, this was why it reminded me so much of the Raffles.
The history of the hotel may be just around 100 years, but fascinating. Charlie Chaplin and Paulette Goddard stayed here in the 1930's. It was occupied by the Japanese in World War II (who renamed it into Hotel Yamoto). But what happened here right after the war makes me feel humble as a Dutch.

After the Second World War the call for independence in Indonesia got stronger and stronger. At the time, this hotel that was used by the Dutch colonial power. It was a provocation when the Dutch flag was raised at the building. The Dutch wanted to make a statement against Indonesia’s proclamation of independence. The angry local people gathered in front of the hotel, and they tore the blue ribbon from the Dutch flag, so that the red and white of the Indonesian flag remained.

A turbulent time followed with riots, and the unrest lasted until November 10, 1945 when the local people stormed the hotel and took it over. That day is remembered by the Indonesians as Hero's Day. The Oranje Hotel was then renamed as Hotel Merdeka (Liberty Hotel).
Later it was taken over again by the same Armenian family that built it, and was called Hotel L.M.S. (the initials of the founder). When Mandarin Oriental took over the hotel, it got its present name The Majapahit Hotel, after an ancient kingdom at Java. It is now owned and managed by independent management.


I learned this from one of the old waiters while I stayed there. Knowing the hotel’s turbulent history, it is quite special that all people in the hotel, as well as generally in Surabaya and in Indonesia, treat us as Dutch visitors so friendly and welcoming. I did not feel a trace of resentment during my entire stay. Not even from the elderly people. Many must have very bad memories from the colonial times, but some of them even wanted to speak Dutch with me. Even today, when remembering the people I met on this trip, I am still thankful for their warm welcome.
After checking in I was offered a pineapple cocktail as a welcome drink by the hotel. Because my daughter and her friend were still there we all got one. I needed a shower and fresh up a little bit, before going out with them later that day.

Posted by westwind57 17:12 Archived in Indonesia Tagged indonesia singapore java airport daughter changi surabaya clark_quai

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