Kamis, 24 September 2009

Charak - Dolly Surabaya

Charak and Dolly:

World renowned prostitute districts of Surabaya. Take a bemo to Wonokromo Bus Station, then another-bemo from there to Kupang. Cross the railway tracks to the left and walk a kilometer. Charak is like a huge honky tonk Mexican border town in the orient. Best take a mate along, more fun and safer. Upon entering the complex a fake cop tries to touch you for Rp 150. See roving minstrelgroups, and once in while even a ronggeng (street dancer) who sings and dances for small change. There are row upon row of gaudy little doll-house shanties where 15,000 girls and women (of all sizes, shapes, ages, races, humors, prices) work and live. Laterns are strung out in the night, muddy streets filled with becaks, milling people, hustlers, and carts selling antibiotics. Don't need pimps, just go straightaway into the houses. The village on the island of Pucetcherie is much cheaper, but higher incidence of gonorrhoea.

The denizens of "Dolly", the red light district in Surabaya, East Java, are spreading the safe sex message.

Dolly was apparently named after the first, Dutch, brothel madam in the area, in colonial times. Its fame, or notoriety, has spread far and wide with Dolly sometimes being the first thing non-locals think of when they hear the name of Surabaya mentioned. It is worth stripping away a little of the mythology of Dolly, the best known example of lokalisasi (prostitution tolerance zoning), for the place has attained epic proportions in more than a few grubby little minds. For a start, it is categorically NOT the biggest red light district in Asia (that dubious accolade goes to the grim and gargantuan Kamathipura slum in Bombay); connoisseurs of the grimier fringes of the night assure me that it's not even the largest in Southeast Asia. But it is famous.

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