Amsterdam view from Amsterdam Tower

Amsterdam view from Amsterdam Tower
The view from Amsterdam Tower

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Semarang, City of Spring Rolls

Semarang is the capital city of Central Java province, Indonesia. I remember it by heart, thanks to geographic class at elementary school. The nickname of this city is Kota Lumpia or literally translated as the city of spring roll!

Lawang Sewu building, Semarang

Lumpia or spring rolls is originally made by Chinese immigrants settled in Semarang.  The specialty of this lumpia is the filling; bamboo shoots, dried shrimp, chicken, and/or prawn. It is served with a sweet chili sauce, chili and baby shallots. It is served either deep-fried or un-fried, as the filling is already pre-cooked.

Other than latter reason of having lumpia, my main purpose of ‘mudik’ returning home to Indonesia  was to attend a cousin’s wedding. It’s an occasion when the big family get-together. Big family means nine uncles and aunties (including my mom), cousins, nieces and nephews!

Konde - common hairstyle of Javanese Traditional Wedding
Our blended family is very Bhineka Tunggal Ika, berbeda-beda namun satu  - Unity in Diversity! It’s a mixed family of Indonesian Chinese descendent and Javanese. Some of my cousins have fair skin, some others are darker skin - purely like Javanese, and some is totally mixed. Cool, huh -:)

French twist is also possible for Javanese Wedding

Despite the busy schedule of this ‘family events’ following the traditional Javanese wedding i.e. serial of ceremony, such as;

  • Siraman: the ceremony of bathing the bride prior to the wedding. PS.: my cousin is the bride,
  • Midadoreni: the night of reading Al-Qur an prior the wedding at the next day. It is also bringing the Mahar (bride price) at this ceremony; jewelries, clothes, etc.,
  • Ijab Kabul (matrimony ceremony – morning time): signing the wedding papers in front of the minister,
  • Wedding Reception (evening time),...

Two cool cousins and I have planned to go around the city.

Lawang Sewu building, Semarang

Lawang Sewu – Pintu Seribu - Thousand Doors

When the sun was on top of our head, we visited Lawang Sewu. This old building was completed in 1907 while the rest of the complex was finished in 1919. It was initially used by the national railway of the Dutch East Indies.
Thousand doors

Are they thousand doors?

After the Japanese invaded Indonesia in 1942, the Japanese army turned the basement of B building into a prison, with several executions taking place there.

Old equipment - Lawang Sewu museum

The Indonesian army took over the complex after the war in 1945. It was later returned to the national railway company. In 2011 the newly renovated complex was inaugurated, even though some part is still closed. 

Both sides are the roof top of Lawang Sewu (different side), Semarang

Closer look - one side of roof top of Lawang Sewu

My cousin Billy who lives in Semarang has warned me and Diana (my cousin from Jakarta), about this ‘spooky’ old building. The ex-prison at the basement and the roof top are known as the areas where ‘penampakan’ happened i.e. ghost appearance, hiks.  

Ex prison, basement, Lawang Sewu - Can you see the water?
Rubber booth for rent
to the watery area in the basement

Did we dare taking the challenge to take ‘day tour’ walking the ex-prison at the basement? Thanks, but no thanks! We were sweaty enough because of the sunny and humid weather! But for sure we enjoyed walking around this old Dutch building. 

Old wagon at Lawang Sewu

Tugu Muda - Youth Monument

We ticked the box for Lawang Sewu, and next we crossed the busy road to the monument in the roundabout in front of it...

Tugu Muda, Youth Monument, Semarang

Tugu Muda is a monument to Indonesian heroes who have fought for freedom.  This symbol of Semarang is situated in a large roundabout in front of Lawang Sewu, nearby the Semarang Cathedral, and Jalan Pemuda (everyone in Semarang knows this road!).

Asli panas banget nyebrang jalan ke Tugu Muda pas tengah hari bolong, tapi gue ama Diana ngak patah semangat. Tetap eksis…

Sam Poo Kong Temple, Semarang

Sam Poo Kong (Gedung Batu) Temple

When the cousin’s wedding reception was done, the next morning we went to visit the oldest Chinese temple in Semarang. Sam Poo Kong was built in honor of the Chinese Great Admiral Zheng Ho who visited this area in 1405. There is his statue of about 10 meter tall and made of bronze.

Statue of Admiral Zheng He
Was I in Semarang or Hong Kong?....  It is a big complex over three hectares consisting five temples in a mixed Chinese and Javanese architectural.

Sam Poo Kong

Sam Poo Kong

Renovation/expansion at Sam Poo Kong

This temple is always busy in every lunar year, the anniversary of Admiral Zheng He's arrival in Semarang. Parade statues of Zheng He, Sam Poo Kong, etc., is held during this festival.

Culinary Experience  – Oen Restaurant

Every time I go to Semarang, I always want to dine at Toko Oen & Restaurants. People say it is the oldest restaurant offering Dutch, Indonesian and Chinese cuisines. Billy commented; “you are so tourist!” Still he comes with us to dine there, LoL… 

My favorite menu is Bistik Lidah Sapi or Braised Beef Tongue! Unfortunately, this menu was not available when I was there.
There are many typical Dutch cuisine on the menu, such as kroket (Dutch variety of the croquette), bitterballen (bitterbal; a savory Dutch meat-based snack)… Those typical snack that my mom or grandma used to make when I was a kid… The cake shop offers many types of yummy cakes and snacks too.

Chicken Gordon Blue, Toko Oen & Restaurant, Semarang
The above pic was what Billy had for his lunch… Thanks for taking us around and being such a nice photographer too!

Thanks for the wonderful time Semarang! Till we meet again! Sampai jumpa lagi!

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