The Legend of Surabaya (Indonesian Folk Tales – 6)


A long time ago in East Java there lived two strong animals, Sura and Baya. Sura was a shark and Baya was a crocodile. They were friends and lived in the sea. But when they were quite greedy when it came to food and would not share their meal with the other. Rather, they would fight until one of them gave up and went away.

One hot day, Sura and Baya were looking for some food. Suddenly, Baya saw a goat.

“Wow, this will be my lunch,” said Baya.

“Not a chance! That is my lunch. I haven’t eaten for two days because you kept snatching my food!” said Sura.
Sura and Baya started fighting. After several hours of fight, both became very tired. Sura, by now, wanted to put an end to their meal fights.

“I’m tired of fighting, Baya,” said Sura.

“Me too. I don’t want to fight anymore? What do you think we should do?” asked Baya.
“Let’s look for food in our own territory. I live in the water, so I will look for food only in the sea. And since you live on the land, you can look for the food mostly on the land and in the rivers. So we will never have a chance to fight again. What do you say?” asked Sura.

Baya agreed. Sura and Baya started living in their own territories. May days passed. One day however, Sura could not find any food in the sea and entered a river looking for food. Baya saw him and became quite angry. He started chasing Sura away. Sura fought back saying that he was still looking for food in water, sea or not.

Sura and Baya started fighting and soon started hitting each other. Sura bit Baya’s tail while Baya tried to bite Sura’s fin. Eventually, Baya was able to drive Sura back into the Sea. Baya won back his territory and Sura never entered the river again.

In course of time, a city rose in the place where Sura and Baya fought. The city was named “Surabaya” in memory of the fight between it’s very first inhabitants.

Compiled and Edited by Elan (2012)

2 comments on “The Legend of Surabaya (Indonesian Folk Tales – 6)

  1. Ah, a classic folktale I once read in elementary school. We read lots of stories like this in Indonesian language class. 😀

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