The visit to Semarang was truly a great experience. Semarang really has his own identity as a city and has a lot of culture and history to offer. Also Semarang is relatively unknown for western tourists which makes it even a better place to visit. We had not planned to go here, but I was happy that I got the chance to visit Semarang.
Day 0, The Trip to Semarang
After some days in Solo and Jogjakarta we headed to Semarang with a car beacuse we had read about the Dutch colonial history and buildings there. This was a very nice trip on which we passed beautiful rice paddies and a lot of durian trees with the very big durian fruits. After a few hours we decided to take a little break in Ambarawa to have a snack. Our driver stopped somewhere at a road where there were some small warungs and a circle K.
I saw a street vendor that was selling bakso. When I first had bakso some years ago I didn’t like it. But during the years I also took some when my wife made it, and now I enjoy it. So I decided to buy some. Since they didn’t speak English and my Indonesian is still not very good it was not so easy, but also to order what I wanted.
After that my struggle began to eat it out of the plastic bag like all the others. I managed to eat it but not without getting my hands wet. After some napkins from the Circkle K employees and taking pictures with every employee in the store we could continue our journey.
Day 1, Churches
We checked into our hotel and had a rest. I could enjoy the airco for a while 😀 After a short rest we headed into town, the Old Town of Semarang which is named Kota Lama. When we arrived in the middle of th Old Town the first building we noticed was a church. It was a protestant church and the oldest church in the province, built already in 1753. Unfortunately the church was already closed when we arrived. But we just walked around a bit and took a look from the outside.
After that we wanted to explore more of the city. We found two becak drivers that could drive us around. First we had to make clear to them that we just wanted to see some places in the city. Someone that could speak a bit of English helped us out and we were on our way!
Riding in the becak there were a lot of people waving at us and they seem surprised but also happy to see us. Although the people seemed happy I could also see that some of the people were very poor. This made me realize again how lucky I am. In this world your chances in life depend for the most part on where you are born and in which family.
The becak drivers took us to another church. This time is was a catholic church. We walked around and took a look inside. The church looked very nice. We were about to go, but I noticed another church and a school on the other side of the street. We went to the school and walked around and walked up the stairs. Up the stairs we saw several people walking inside a class room. They were very friendly to us.
A girl that good speak very good English started to talk with us. She explained us more about the school. The teenagers were having bible lessons in the school. She asked us if we wanted to join the lesson, but we preferred to continue our tour. Also she told is she was from Karimunjawa. We also talked a bit about this island because it is still on my list to go to. You can swim with the sharks there!
After that we were hungry. We heard about this really old toko from the Dutch colonial era that was still existed and owned by the same family. We went to the toko and could enjoy some bitterballs there LOL, sorry I don’t know if there an English name for this typical Dutch snack 😉
Day 2, Lawang Sewu, Religion and… Food
On day 2 we went to Lawang Sewu which means 100 doors. The name comes obviously from all the doors in the building. This is the old administrative office of the central railroad office of Indonesia from the colonial era. At the entrance it’s possible to get a guide to show you around and tell you more about the building and the history which is very interesting.
Also there are people that say the building is haunted. The story goes that an old Dutch woman commited suicide in the building and several people have claimed they saw here ghost. Also there was a Indonesian horror movie recorded at the building. So…….. watch your steps!
Lawang Sewu Building
After that visit unfortunately my friend was not feeling so well so decided to take a rest at the hotel. I went to the Central Java mosque. When I arrived I was really impressed how big the mosque was and the architecture.
There were kids riding around on there bikes screaming to me “hey mister, what’s you name!?”. This was nice because it gave me the chance to practice some of my bahasa and they could speak some English. Although we had to shout at each other because I think they were also shy so they didn’t came too close hahaha 😀
Kid at the Mosque
I walked around to check the building and then walked further to have a look inside. I took of my flip flops where I saw all these other flip flops. Then I walked around at the side and found the entrance to get in. Here they men gave me a sarong since I was wearing a short pants. I think everyone can just get in, so don’t be affraid if you want to enter and you are not muslim.
They showed me the way to go. Since it was getting quite busy I could just follow all the other guys. I could do the small washing (Wudu) and joined inside where I could see the mosque from the inside. After the Friday prayer I walked outside. Luckily I was able to find my flipflops again on the way outside.
After I managed to get away I took a cab to the Chinese temple Tay Kak Sie in the Chinese area Kampung Pecinan I heart about. I was feeling a bit tired. But when I arrived the atmosphere here was very relaxed so everything was ok. When I walked in the temple I met this guy Ko. He was also very relaxed and showed me around in the temple. In the temple Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism is being honored. Ko really took the time to explain me about the religions, the gods and important traditions. So I learned much more, but I also admit it was all a bit much for me.
Tay Kak Sie Temple
Then he asked me if I had tried the Lumpia Semarang. I still wanted try this. He said that around the corner it was the famous shop for the best ones so he showed me the way to the Lumpia Semarang in Gang Lombok and arranged a cab for me to go back to the hotel. The Lumpia tasted very good, so if you are ever in Semarang then try this!
With Ko at Gang Lombok
After I finished my delicious lumpia I headed back to the hotel for a short rest. My friend Bas also had energy to go out to the city so we went into the city. We wanted to go to the food market Semawis. However when we got there it had not started yet.
One of our friend-bloggers Yuki told us that we really should try the Bakmie Jawa at Pak Gareng so we walked that way. We passed this great coffee place stasiun kopi where I had to take a break and enjoy some really good coffee. Here you can choose between a variety of beans and how you want the coffee to be prepared.
We continued our way and reached the Java Noodle at Pak Gareng. We were told that even one of the ex-presidents (SBY) went here to eat. When we looked at it from the outside we first thought that it was probably the wrong place but entered anyway. It was good that we did! I ordered the Bakmie spesial and it was amazing 😀
Now I was feeling really good because of this good food, sometimes life can be so simple 🙂 Then we headed back to the Semawis market that had started. Not hungry anymore, so we just took a look around. We were surprised because we thought it was a Chinese market but everything looked Indonesian to us. The market had lot of different kind of foods to offer and music was playing. We stayed for a short while before we called it a day.
Let me know if you also would like to visit Semarang. Or maybe you have other recommendations? Just let it know in the comments below!
helterskelter January 12, 2017
yeay, what a wonderful post!
glad that you like Bakmi Jawa! 🙂
Jelte Homminga January 12, 2017 — Post Author
thank you Yuki! yeah the Bakmi was a good recommendation ?
Sonja January 12, 2017
Great post Jelte! It’s very interesting to read about lesser known places in Indonesia!
Jelte Homminga January 12, 2017 — Post Author
Thanks a lot Sonja! Yes I think it’s really worth to also visit the (for tourists) lesser known areas. The people are very friendly and like to see and talk with tourists, if they speak English.
Renske January 14, 2017
What an interesting story en beatiful pics. You make me want to go there right now and taste lumpia ?
Jelte Homminga January 14, 2017 — Post Author
Thanks Renske! ? Next time when we are in Indonesia we can go eat this kind of Lumpia together!
Endah Kurnia Wirawati April 23, 2017
Awesome story and pictures.
keep blogging man!
Jelte Homminga April 23, 2017 — Post Author
thanks you very much Endah! Yeah I’m gonna continue blogging ?
Bona July 28, 2017
I am thinking visiting Semarang, your post is really help.. thank you
Homminga July 31, 2017
Thanks Bona! That’s good to read 🙂
Aida September 13, 2017
Great input for my trip to Semarang this coming November.. Did u manage to explore few places surround Semarang like Mount Merbabu and Bantir Hills?
Dini October 23, 2017
very well written! 🙂