The Exotic Madura

The sea crossing from East Java's mainland to the small island of Madura takes just half an hour. Measuring some 160 km in length and about 40 across at its widest point, Madura supports a population of close to 2.3 million inhabitants, most of whom are farmers or fishermen. The island's most famous attraction is the annual bull racing (kerapan sapi), which takes place during the dry season in August and September. These exciting and colourful tournaments consist of a race between two pairs of bulls, each team pulling a rider and sled.Following a series of heats, the finals are held in Pamekasan, Madura's capital.

The town of Sumenep on the north eastern end of the island has some interesting historical remains, as well as some good beaches nearby. The city's old palace and museum are worth visiting, as is the large Jami'q mosque with its green tiered roof. Above the town is the royal mausoleum Asta Tinggi.

The two main beaches near Sumenep are Slopeng and Lombang. The former, which lies on the north coast some 21 km from the town, is a beautiful location with tall palm trees shading the edge of the beach. At Lombang, on Madura's north eastern point, a long and narrow stretch of white sand is backed by dwarf casuarina trees. A narrow but good road runs the whole way al

ng Madura's attractive north coast, from Slopeng to Bangkalan. There are many small villages and quiet beaches on the way, in particular the fishing communities of Pasongsongan and Pasean, where narrow estuaries are packed with colourful sailing boats.

Near Bangkalan is the Aermata tomb of Ratu Ibu, which dates back to the mid 17th century. The tomb is set on a hill about 4 km inland from the town of Arosbaya. Madura is well known for its Batik textile production and has its own unique style. In the'performing arts, the island is famous for its topeng dalang, a mask dance/ theatre, which at one time was only seen within the royal palace.