Halo, Central Java!


Day 1: [Jakarta] Soekarno-Hatta International Airport [Semarang] Ahmad Yani International Airport, Soto Bangkong, Whiz Hotel Semarang, Tahu Pong, Paragon Shopping Mall, Lawang Sewu, and Simpang Lima

Day 2: [Semarang] Semarang Souvenirs [Pekalongan] Gren Mandarin Hotel, Museum Batik Pekalongan, Fashion Show, and Craziest Durian Time

Day 3: [Semarang] Official Residence of Vice Mayor of Pekalongan, Kampung Batik Pesindon, Kampung Batik Kauman, and Pekalongan Railway Station [Jakarta] Gambir Railway Station

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

Hello guys, what a happy weekend. I hope you all are having a good plan for your days ahead. Another trip with my lovely Putra Putri Batik Nusantara fellas, from Jakarta are Asran Aga Shady, Mia Ismi Halida, Sydney Amanda, Anastasia Praditha, Iqbal Nurman, and me; from DI Yogyakarta we got Tedy Setiana Muslich; from East Java is Jean Friska Andini; and from Central Java we have Ali Assegaf and Sigit Pramono joining. We also accompanied by Mrs. Tantie Koestantia and daughter, Mrs. Ayu Dyah Pasha, some relatives, and people from Focus Convensindo Event Organizer (Ms. Henni, Ms. Ditta, Ms. Rida, Ms. Naomi, Mr. Andre, and Mr. Dana). The main purpose of this trip was to get us closer to the central of Indonesian Batik, Pekalongan. This trip was one in many trips which I already waiting for, I could learn and experienced real things of these cultural heritage directly, from the source.

We gathered in Soekarno-Hatta International Airport around 7.30 am, because the flight supposed to be on 10.00 am (after previously resechuled, 8.00 am). We were waiting for some moments, playing cards; the flight was delayed for 2 hours. The plane will take off on 12.05 pm. This was my first time flying with Sriwijaya Air and experienced the delay for this long. On board, I sat next to Aga and found the aircraft was not really comfortable, after all. I flew SJ224 destination to Semarang, the flight was around 50 minutes. It was not the best of my flight, may be the worst. However it was, I finally arrived in Semarang, thank God.

Just arrived in Ahmad Yani International Airport, Semarang, Central Java, Indonesia

We picked up by the bus, and went to Soto Bangkong. Actually, you would easily found Soto Bangkong outside Semarang, like in Jakarta. But, this was the original, since the location was in Bangkong area. It located on Brigjen Katamso street, beside Bangkong Post Office. I ate Soto Ayam (Chicken Soup). Tasteful.

Soto Ayam Bangkong

PPBN + Mrs. Tantie + Mrs. Ayu – Iqbal in Soto Bangkong

Then, we checked in to the hotel, and took a short rest. We stayed in Whiz Hotel Semarang, a new-look, minimalist but modern, and located in the central of Semarang city. Unfortunately, or it could be the very fortunate of us, that this month, Semarang got so much rainfalls, and it comes with terrific flooding all around. Semarang people should really concern about this problem. Without no serious handling, It will turns to become huge disaster to the city.

Whiz Hotel Semarang

We got the city tour from the bus, thanks to Ms. Febi as our tour guide, which haven’t took any short break to explain us about the city. She knows a lot about the city, history, places, and any interesting parts of it. Two thumbs up for you, Ms. Febi.

So, I’d like to share you what Ms. Febi has just shared to us.

So, actually the word of ‘Semarang’ came from ‘Pohon Asem, daunnya jarang’ (Tamarind trees, rare leafy), then people got used to know with ‘Asem Jarang’, then futher shortened to (a)sem-(j)arang.  They got most of tourism interest, except natural site. In past, Semarang was hilly surrounded by the sea. Today, people called Upper Semarang and Lower Semarang as they called it in regular basis, which the boundary was the margin between the sea and the land in the past.

Moving to Sam Poo Kong’s Temple (or Warlord Cengho, or Commander Ming Dynasty). Some people believed that Kong was the Islamic missionary in Semarang, while the other still believed that he as the ancestor of Kong Hu Cu. This two different belief is growing, but does not interfere one another. There were 3 main temples, which individually developed by Tionghoa people in Semarang. They also have Ciam Si, a traditional and unique forecasting by the Biokong (temple guard). The entrance ticket is IDR3,000 and additional IDR20,000 for entering the temple.

Sam Poo Kong Temple

The only thing we can see during the rainfall is keep looking from inside the bus, or else, culinary time! Yes, not long after the city tour, we stopped to a food stall aside the street, Tahu Pong (‘Tahu’ means ‘Indonesian tofu’ and ‘Pong’ means ‘empty-filled’). They served tahu pong, tahu gimbal, and other Semarang specialties. Yummy!

Tahu Gimbal

After the city tour and culinary things, we decided to stay on hotel. Really, the flooding got us crazy; the bus can’t access many ways since it’s flooded. The group came back to the hotel. At night, we just hope for visit Lawang Sewu in dry, the well-known spooky tourism site.

Around 10.30 pm, we departed to Lawang Sewu. What is Lawang Sewu? Lawang Sewu means thousands window. Why? Because the size of the windows and the doors almost the same. The A building, was build on 1904 – 1908, and B building in behind, was on 1916 – 1919.  It used to be a railway office in Dutch colonial time, consist of 2 main storeys, and an additional lower and upper the main. The additional level was used to be an air-conditioner level, so it kept the main storeys cool. After Japanese ruling the nation, the building was turn over to become headquarter of Japanese’s commander. The building became a place for torture, massacre, and dungeon. The level -1 and +2 (basement and ceiling level) turns to be the place for torturing Indonesian war’s prisoners. You can imagine, a box of 2x2x0.5 m (width x length x tall) to kept 15 persons in squat position, then the top covered by iron bars. Another 1×1 m room for 6 persons has prominent bullheads so the prisoners couldn’t lean to the wall. If lean, they stabbed, and died. So heinous!

In -1 floor (basement) Lawang Sewu. Very sppooookkkyyy.. You should wear boots

“Squat” room, one box for 15 persons, could you imagine?

“Standing” room, for 6 persons

Second storey. Balcony of Lawang Sewu building.

We tour about an hour in Lawang Sewu, started on 11 pm and ended at midnight. Grrr. They have many spooky stories about the place. You know, many lives were gone in the place, no wonder, it could be the scariest place ever in the city.

It’s 12 o’clock, HAPPY BIRTHDAY Mrs. Ayu Dyah Pasha! We went to the Simpang Lima and ate Nasi Ayam (Chicken Rice) in lesehan (traditional style, no chair, on a mat).

Happy Birthday, Mrs. Ayu Dyah Pasha!

Me and Ditha on lesehan at Simpang Lima, Semarang

A very long and tiring day, but was so much fun. Thank and see you tomorrow!

Saturday, February 4th, 2012

We departed around 7.30 am to the souvenir center. Bandeng Presto, Wingko babat, Mochi are the things people usually bought from Semarang. All of these specialties were not originally coming within the society; it originates from outside Central Java.

The trip to Pekalongan using bus took around 2,5 hours. We arrived at Gren Mandarin Hotel and were welcomed by the people from Pekalongan Dept. of Tourism, Duta Wisata Kota Pekalongan (Pekalongan city Tourism Ambassadors), and Putra Putri Batik Pantura (Northern Coast Batik Tourism Ambassadors). We had a photo session around the hotel by local media, and then had a welcoming ceremony by the Vice Mayor of Pekalongan city during our lunch. Mia from PPBN was entertained us with her beautiful voice.

Putra Putri Batik Nusantara 2011 with Duta Wisata Kota Pekalongan

We immediately get ourselves ready for the next trip to Museum Batik Pekalongan, the biggest batik museum in the nation. Everything seems so close in the city, in less than 30 mins we arrived in the museum. We had a short tour regarding on Pekalongan batik pattern, which explained by the guide, then tried some technique of making batik, and welcomed by the official of the museum for short intro. Some of us were trying the stamp method of making batik, and then let the museum’s staff colored it.

Making Batik using Copper Stamp

Another itinerary was waiting for us, the only one first and last rehearsal for tonight fashion show. We were gonna have fashion show for opening act in Ari Lasso’s (famous Indonesian singer) concert in Dupan Exhibition Hall, near our hotel. Together with the local tourism and batik ambassador, we were trying to practice our best. Then coming the show time!

Show time!

After the fashion show, we went to explore another crazy part of Pekalongan, located in Batang area, which famous for their tropical fruit, Durian. Yes, this time for us to getting crazier! Cheap, delicious, and local fresh durian, 15 durians in less than 1 hour! I may be the winner of tonight’s durian eating. 😉


Hufft, another fun day in Central Java and we still have tomorrow’s last day here. It’s almost midnight and we should take a rest. See ya!

Sunday, February 5th, 2012

Our morning breakfast in the official residence of Pekalongan’s vice mayor, we served with local meal. I am sorry for forgetting the name, but it was delicious, made from young jackfruit and coconut.

After short chitchats, and waiting for Duta Wisata and Putra Putri Batik Pantura coming to the house, we went to Pesindon Batik village and Kauman Batik village. In batik village, they usually have batik’s business starts from the very beginning process of making batik until final sales also in their house. You will find many batik shops here. The price was much cheaper than in the city, moreover in Jakarta; because you buy it directly from the source. Pekalongan has an unique and colorful batik pattern, Buketan and Jlamprang, but they still have another nationwide batik pattern ready on their store.

Kampung Batik Pesindon

Their spirit making batik tulis were really amazing.

This is silk. The materials is absolutely more expensive, harder to stamp it.

After crazy shopping because of the cheap price, we went to the railway station took Argo Anggrek train to Jakarta. The trip Pekalongan-Jakarta was around 5 hours.

Good bye, Pekalongan!

Hmm, that was my trip to the cultural Central Java. As the previous purpose of the trip, I hope that our knowledge about batik will expand and bring a good impact on young generation to love Indonesian batik more than we should.


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