Road tripping around Madura Island was one of the high lights of my 3 months in Indonesia so far. I made a 5 days road trip around the island (4 days and a half if you want to be specific;) 2 days of those 5 were spent in Sumenep; a town at the Eastern end of the island.
I started off on Wednesday evening, making my way from Mojokerto, through Surabaya, across Suramadu Bridge to Madura, and finally spent the night in Bangkalan, a town at the Western end of the island.
Bangkalan didn’t have much to offer, we arrived there at around 9 pm there were no proper restaurants in sight; only the town square did have some life with the youngsters of the town hanging out in the waroengs. We stopped also at one of the waroengs at the square to have a much needed cup of coffee, and also to ask for directions.
Apart from the normal loud talking we get when we pass through any crowded place, which we don’t understand since it is in Indonesian, we were approached by one English speaker who said he just wanted to speak English since he hasn’t used his English in years. We asked him for directions to a hotel and he told us about the best hotel in the city, which was of course too expensive for our little budget.
By too expensive I mean 30 dollars a night for a private en suite double bedroom.
We asked the hotel staff for a cheaper hotel and they directed us to a place called PKPN, which was 12 dollars for a double room. The room was, of course, not impressive, but it had AC. And cockroaches. This was the worst night of the whole trip, as my girlfriend screamed in the middle of the night when she saw a cockroach on the bed, making me scream after her like a little girl :D. It was definitely an embarrassing moment, but come on, what is your reaction when you wake up to a scream that is 5cm away from your ears?
Next day we drove along the Northern road, a road that connects Bangkalan in the west to Sumenep in the east. A beautiful road, smooth, with amazing views almost all the way. To be honest, the magnificent views started 20-30 Km outside of Bangkalan when the road became an actual coastal road along the beach and to 20 Km before Sumenep before starting to head south into the land.
We started driving at around 9am, arriving in Sumenep at 2pm. We covered 145 Km in 5 hours, this including countless stops for pictures, a long stop for breakfast, and a longer stop for a swim in one hidden beach! To give you an idea, a 15 Km drive that I do every day between Mojokerto and Mojosari where I work takes me a minimum of 30 minutes, if there is no traffic!
We instantly fell in love with Sumenep, the town is simple, but it was different and had its own charm. We found the hotel that was suggested by wiki travel by chance while just driving around the city. A simple hotel called Safari Hotel, for 10 dollars we had a clean double bedroom with AC and private bathroom. That was the most expensive room they had to offer!
Across the street from Safari hotel there was an amazing restaurant which had a good menu of both Indonesian and Western food, all with very good prices. They also made the best juice I ever had in Indonesia, for normal prices just like any local waroeng!
The town itself, like any small Indonesian town, doesn’t have much to offer. The town square at night was full of families and young people hanging out. We went for a walk and were amazed by these colorful motorbikes in the shapes of cartoon characters made for children rides!
The next day we were supposed to leave Sumenep, but we decided against it and stayed one more day. We drove North again out of Sumenep towards the beach! And although the rain ruined our plans of actually swimming, the views in that tiny village up north were breathtaking!
Driving further along the road with no specific directions we stumbled upon many small villages, salt production lakes, and places that felt like Africa!
Later on that day we tried another restaurant, which also proved to be amazing, with karaoke in the evening! It was fun, especially when the owner of the restaurant came by himself to greet us and welcome us to Madura Island and Sumenep!
Sadly the next morning we had to leave Sumenep. On a beautiful sunny morning we reached the south coast of Madura Island and drove west towards Pamekasan. I was expecting Pamekasan to be as good as Sumenep; given it is actually the biggest city in Madura Island. But I was greatly disappointed.
Firstly I was disappointed by Wiki Travel, when the hotel they said was the best one turned out to be a Salon and Spa, not a hotel. We looked for another hotel, which was also described by Wiki Travel as a good colonial age hotel with nice atmosphere. Garuda hotel turned out to be our worst option!
Well, it is not the cheapest hotel, at 13 dollars per night for their “average” room, which was way below average. We stayed only 3 hours in that hotel, and decided we don’t want to waste our last night worrying about cockroaches and sweating because there is no fan, and the AC only works as a heater!
We left Pamekasan and drove further west in the evening until we reached another hotel. A rather fancy one, with an average room that cost 25 dollars. This was definitely the best hotel we stayed in on Madura Island. Well, you get what you pay for!
Sunday morning we head west again, passed Sampang which seemed like a nice city with a few beach resorts, and drove south again towards Suramadu Bridge. And back to Java!
Our road trip around Madura Island was definitely the high light of my time in Indonesia so far! The island is just beautiful and with no tourists at all, it was amazing to feel like an explorer of these untouched lands!