When one mentions Indonesia as a travel destination, Bali is probably the first place that comes to mind.A few years ago, I had fallen hard for Bali but later discovered I wasn't the only woman in its life.I remember reading, with a sinking heart, that the global popularity of Eat, Pray, Love (no, I am not a fan) inspired hordes of tourists to Bali.

I was more than happy to visit the less popular locations in East Java.

Surabaya is not your bona fide tourist destination or party city.

To most foreign visitors, Surabaya may merely seem like a good place of transit to the rest of Java.

To the Indonesians however, Surabaya is Kota Pahlawan (City of Heroes), and is closely linked to the birth of their nation and battle for independence, and statues commemorating independence are scattered all over the city.

Indonesian food is a high-wire balancing act, one that pits salty, sour, sweet and hot against each other in equal and opposite measures.

To take that one step further, it empowers eaters with a table full of condiments, turning you into a sous-chef of some sorts.

A few meals into the trip, I begin to wonder how it ever got so good, how they cracked the code on one of gastronomy’s most enduring challenges: how to make food healthy, inexpensive and unthinkably delicious all at the same time.

What made the culinary experience in Indonesia so enjoyable was not only because the food tastes superb, but primarily because one can easily sense the genuine pride that the Indonesians have when they share about their culture and food.

ut spend some time here and you’ll discover a business yet family-orientated Indonesian city with traditions intact and understated attractions and cultural sights. But this volcano's beauty is in its setting, not its size.

You’ll be guaranteed a warm-hearted welcome from the unfailingly friendly Surabayans. Bromo (left) that constantly oozes out sulphuric gases, and by Mt. Batok (foreground) is often regarded as a side attraction that completes the spectacular set of volcanoes in the ancient Tengger Caldera. Surrounded by the desolate Sea of Sands, its peak is sacred and eerie.

The echoing of horses’ hoof that accompanied the low-lying fog that envelops the Sea of Sands, added to the mystery of the surroundings.