As I’ve mentioned before, I spent 5 days road tripping around the amazing Madura Island! During these 5 days, 4 nights, we circled the whole island, but (almost) extensively traveled around 3 main cities which are: Bangkalan, Sumenep and Pamekasan. Well, those are the cities we spent our nights in anyway, so they are the places we drove around during the evenings and tried their restaurants and met their locals.
To be honest, we didn’t do much in Bangkalan, as it was our first stop, and we arrived there around 9pm only to sleep and leave the next morning.
We did however get lost as soon as we arrived, something which is totally expected! And this always leads to lots of driving around the city and getting to see most of it.
The city is simple, not very big, and with not much to offer. It did, however, have a very nice hotel with cool traditional decorations, but it was a bit out of our budget – $30 per night – so we skipped that one and stayed in a hotel PKPN, which was for $12 per night; cockroaches come free with the room.
At night the city was so empty, no restaurants or shopping streets/markets as the usual in Indonesian cities. Just the city square had some life with small food stalls (waroengs) all around it and the youth of the city hanging around the place.
In the morning the city did not look very impressive either. Just a normal sleepy city, we couldn’t even find a waroeng to have breakfast in, and so that was our Bangkalan experience.
Sumenep was our next stop. We fell in love with the city very fast. It was something in the air I guess. Because in fact, the city just looks like all other Indonesian small cities, but somehow it had its own charm!
Maybe it was because of the good mood we were in after driving along the beautiful northern coast of the island. Maybe it was because we found our hotel accidently while driving around without actually getting lost. Maybe because the hotel was extra cheap yet the room was clean. I have no definite answer, but we have decided to stay an extra night in Sumenep!
Right across from Safari hotel, in which we stayed, was a restaurant which sadly I can’t remember its name. But it looked so fancy, and we decided to just check its menu and see the prices. And to our surprise it wasn’t expensive at all! It had the prices of any other local waroeng in Indonesia!
A little further down the street was another restaurant which also looked fancy, still with normal prices but smaller food portions (and not very brilliant juices – amazing Madurese coffee – Ginger coffee, if you tried it there and liked it, try to buy it in Madura because we couldn’t find it in Java.) This restaurant also had karaoke at night. One of the few places (if not the only one) that stayed open till late with lively atmosphere and a very warm owner that came to welcome us himself!
Another lively place in Sumenep is the town square, which is a very big square (park) surrounded by food and juice stalls and lots of families and youth sitting on carpets on the side walk eating and drinking while the kids are playing around them. Also there were loads of these things driving around:
Also very close to Sumenep to the north and north east are very beautiful tiny fishing villages with amazing beaches. They are definitely worth exploring, and if you are lucky you will stumble across a hidden beach or two where you can enjoy a warm swim in the sea all alone!
I had very high expectations from Pamekasan. It is the biggest city in Madura Island, and our last stop on the island, I was expecting a place that is at least as good as Sumenep. Sadly this wasn’t exactly the case…Pamekasan was rather a dull city, not much to see or do. Add to that the mishaps that I have mentioned before which trying to find a place to stay in.
We left Pamekasan on the same day and went just a few Kms outside the town to a fancy hotel to spend our last night in Madura in peace.
One positive thing I have to mention about Pamekasan, however, was that it had the same fancy restaurant from Sumenep! This was the only good thing we’ve found. Only it looked a little less fancy, but the food and juices were as good!
While some of the cities weren’t as good as the others, our overall time in Madura was a blast! The only down side of all these cities that I have to mention is that none of them had alcohol on sale anywhere!