Malang is an East Javan city, that I went to just because I had time to spare, is not really a touristic destination, although Malang is where Surabaya’s residents would come to get away for a day or two. Malang moves at a more slow and enjoyable pace than the regional Capital, Surabaya.
Located 90 km south of Surabaya, the capital and largest city of East Java (Jawa Timur), Malang is the second largest city in Indonesia’s East Java province, but you don’t fell the rush of a big city, Malang is a place that welcomes you with open arms.
Malang is one of those cities that a lot of people love, and it’s easy to understand why.
My suggestion is to skip all the attractions that you see mentioned on the main sites and the lonely planet guide, and head to the amazing neighbourhoods.
On top of that you can admire some historical Dutch buildings, and sample delicious vegan food, that can be found easily anywhere in the city from street stalls to restaurants.
There are a few traditional markets in Malang that you can visit, and also night market at Jalan Kyai Tamin but don’t expect much for the food here.
The colourful villages
If you walk away from the centre of the city you will be amazed in the most unexpected way. What a few years ago were slums are now vibrante and colourful places, full of life, wrapped in a magical vibe.
As part of a project to revitalize the area that was on the verge of eviction the riverside slum was transformed into a rainbow village.
Nowadays virtually every corner has colour. This project was an initiative of some students from Muhammadiyah University of Malang. The students were inspired by the favelas of Rio.
You can easily spend a day exploring the different neighborhoods, immersing yourself in the narrow pathways, walking around and observing the surroundings.
Kampung Warna-Warni – Indonesian for Village of Colour
The Jodipan village and the Kampung Tridi village are connected by a yellow bridge over a small river and are coloured with bright colours, on the opposite side of the highway is the village Kampung Biru Arema, named after the popular Malang football team where everything is coloured blue.
These colourful neighbourhoods are not in the foreigner’s tourist route yet, but they are really popular among locals. The rise of local tourism is spurred the local economy. The tourism is giving women (who are generally uneducated), an opportunity to make a living out of selling food, drinks and souvenirs.
Around Malang, you can find great Hindu and Buddhist ruins and beautiful pal-dapples rice and corn fields. Malang is surrounded by active volcanoes, mountains, rivers, and the rough Indian Ocean.
photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha