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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Travel Semarang

Semarang lies in the northern part of Central Java. It is a bustling mid-size town with 1.5 (one and half) million population. More a business than tourism destination, it nevertheless has its own charm with contrasting modern mid-rises, Dutch colonial architecture, China town, and small kampongs jut against each other.

The city weather is hot and humid. Wear cotton clothes. You do not need long sleeves shirt, instead a T-shirt and knee-long trousers are comfortable. Some places like mosques (masjid) and temples require polite dress such as long trousers/skirts. Hot pants/mini skirts will attract people attention and might be considered impolite.

Semarang is off the tourist trail and knowing even basic Indonesian will be helpful (and courteous), although younger people can often speak some English.

Tourism Information Centre TIC:
- Jalan Madukoro Blok BB. Tel.: (62)(24) 7608570.

- Jalan Pemuda 147. Tel.: (62)(24) 3515451. Next to Novotel Hotel.

By plane: Semarang's Airport is Ahmad Yani International Airport, quite nearby from the city centre. Daily flights are available to many major cities in Indonesia. Garuda Indonesia, Merpati Nusantara, Mandala Air, Adam Air, Batavia Air, Sriwijaya Air and Jatayu Airlines fly to Jakarta daily. Merpati also has daily flight to Surabaya. Deraya flies to Pangkalanbun and Bandung. There is also flight service to Yogyakarta by Trigana Air/Kalstar. Trigana Air/Kalstar and Indonesia Air Transport also fly daily to Pankalanbun. The airport's only international flight is to Singapore four times a week by Garuda Indonesia.

By train: Semarang is connected to Jakarta, Bandung and Surabaya by trains. Interestingly, there is no comparable railway service to Yogyakarta, although a railway line exists. The Argo Muria express connects Semarang to Jakarta, and with its relatively new equipment (2002), is very comfortable. The downside is the very early departure (5.00 AM!) to Jakarta. Overnight trains are also available. The fastest train between Semarang and Jakarta takes around 6 hours. Bandung and Surabaya are also connected to Semarang with air-conditioned eksekutif class trains.

There are two main railway station in Semarang, Stasiun Tawang and Stasiun Poncol. On the northern main line, between Semarang and Pekalongan, the railway line follows the coast line, providing passengers with beautiful views of the Java Sea.

By car: Semarang can be reached by car from Jakarta. It takes around 10 to 12 hours depending on the road traffic. You can choose to leave early in the morning from Jakarta to arrive in Semarang the next 12 hours. Over night drive is faster yet more challenging and even dangerous for "Pantura" non familiar driver. Pantura derives from "Pantai" which means Beach and "Utara" which means North.

From Jakarta you can take the route eastward via Cikampek toll road. Go along the toll road until your reach Cikampek toll gate, take left and you are in "Pantura Road". In Pantura road you have to follow the direction sign to Cirebon, Pekalongan, Kendal, Semarang or Surabaya as those cities are eastward from Jakarta.

You will pass small towns like Patrol, Jatibarang, and relatively bigger ones like Cirebon. Before entering Cirebon, you can take the toll road instead of taking into Cirebon traffic if you do not want to drop by in Cirebon. After exit from the Cirebon toll road, you will drive eastward along Losari and then you will pass Tegal, Pemalang, Pekalongan and Kendal before you arrive in Semarang.

Gas station are abundant, you can see them almost every 5 or 10 kilometers along the road. They have toilet facilities. Pay Rp1,000 (US$ 10 cents). Beware of small or old gas station, they have poor lighting and terrible toilet. Choose a newer and bigger gas station with good lighting parking space and clean toilets. Please make sure that you have locked your car and do not leave your valuable unattended.

By bus: Many bus services from Jakarta to Semarang. You can choose to go in the day time with air conditioned (A/C) from Pasar Rebo Bus Terminal in East Jakarta, Kalideres Bus Terminal in West Jakarta or from Lebak Bulus Bus Terminal in South Jakarta. The overnight bus with A/C are also available with good services. You can choose bus operators such as: "Rosalia Indah", "Kramat Jati", "Raya", "Safari Dharma Raya" as the good reputed bus serving Jakarta to Semarang. Sometimes the bus route is Jakarta to Solo via Semarang, you can choose them too, but please remind the bus driver's assistant (usually male, a person who check your ticket onboard the bus) to wake you up in Semarang.

There is also the executive-class tourist bus Joglosemar, that connects Jogjakarta, Solo and Semarang (hence the name). Joglosemar picks up tourists from specific hotels and provide snacks and water for your trip. Considerably pricier than other executive buses, it is more comfortable and provides a friendly service throughout the journey.

By boat: Jakarta - Semarang (vice versa) traditionally travelled via railway, northern coast road ("pantura") or by plane. A trip by a sea vessel is uncommon due to its rare schedule and length of journey that takes too long compared with train (approx 6 hours) and over night bus (9 hours).

Tourist Destinations:

- Sam Po Kong Temple, Jln. Simongan No. 129, Phone: +62 24 7605 277.
The beautiful Sam Po Kong temple (Gedung Batu) was built to respect the Muslim Chinese commander named Cheng Ho of Ming Dinasty who visited Semarang in the early 15th century. It was extensively renovated in 2006 to celebrate the 600th anniversary of Cheng Ho's voyage to Semarang.

- Northern Semarang has a lot of old Dutch colonial buildings. This was where the old walled city located. The wall is no longer there, but many of the old building remains, especially in the area called Kota Lama (The Old Town or Oudstadt). On certain months, this part of Semarang is flooded by the rising tide (called "rob" in Javanese).

- Tanjung Mas. A busy, important port during Dutch occupation (from 17th century to 1945).

- Gereja Blenduk, Jalan Letjen Suprapto 32. The name means "domed church". A beautiful Protestant church built in 1753, it is the oldest church in Semarang. It has a baroque organ, a rarity in Indonesia.

- Stasiun Tawang. The oldest major railway station in Java, completed in 1870.

- Simpang Lima. a vast square at the heart of Semarang. At night, you can eat, drink, or just bring yourself wandering around Simpang Lima. edit Semarang has a very good landscape, some says best landscape thanks to its coastal area in the northern part of the city with Tanjung Mas as its international harbour and hilly area in the southern part streching from Candi area to Bukit Sari with picturesque Mount Ungaran at the background.

Before you get into hilly area named Bukit Sari, you will see on your left Taman Tabanas Gombel where you can stop by, drink tea and see Semarang's view from the hill. It's view is really beautiful and romantic during the night time.

- Gunung Ungaran with its tea and jasmine plantation, Gua Kreo / Kreo Cave with its interesting stalactite and stalagmite and of course Marina at Tanjung Mas are the alternatives for those who has more than 2 free days in Semarang.

- Monuments Lawang Sewu Tugu Muda, is one of Semarang's landmark. It is situated westward off Simpang Lima, one of the 5 streets crossing Simpang Lima named Jalan Pandanaran. This monument commemorated the 5 days of fierce battle (October 14-19, 1945) between Indonesian freedom fighters and Japanese soldiers who refused to surrender their weapons.

There are some Dutch colonial buildings around Tugu Muda; the most famous one is Lawang Sewu which means A Thousand Doors. It was built as the headquarter of the local railway company. During World War II, it was used as the Japanese army's headquarter. The building is now empty and in a dilapidated state (and notoriously haunted), nevertheless it is still considered as one of Semarang's most prominent landmark.

- Museum Ronggowarsito, Jln. Abdurrahman Saleh No. 1, Phone: +62-24-7602389, 8AM-2PM, except on Monday. Javanese culture and art. Rp2.000 (Mar 2008).

- MURI, Indonesian National Record Museum. Jl. Setiabudi no.179 Srondol. Website: Muri. Opening hours: Monday to Friday, 8AM-4PM.

- Nyonya Meneer. Jamu (traditional Javanese drink) Museum. Jln. Kaligawe. Opening hours: Monday to Friday, 10AM–3PM.

- Mandala Bhakti. Military Museum. Jln. Mgr.Sugiyopranoto Semarang.

- Amusement Park Istana Majapahit. Jl. Majapahit 288-290. Opening hours: daily, 06.00 AM -09.00 PM. Facility: swimming pool, children playground, small train, cultural centre (puppet show/wayang).

- Lele Park (Kampoeng Wisata). Kecamatan Tugu. Open daily. Facility: children playground, cultural and art shows, animal shows.

- Marina Beach. North Semarang. Facility: swimming pool, children playground, beach volley ball, water sports.

- Ngaliyan Tirta Indah, jalan Raya Ngaliyan Kecamatan Ngaliyan. Facility: swimming pool, beautiful plantation, flower garden, sports centre. Puri Maerokoco and Kampoeng Laut.

- Tawangmas PRPP, a clone of TMII (Jakarta). Facility: cultural and art shows, boat, water bike, small train, fishing pond.

- Sodong, 20 km from Semarang. Facility: beautiful plantation, fishing pond, swimming pool.

- Mangkang Zoo, located in the West Semarang. There a lot of animal preserve there but it lacks of attraction.

Source: Wikitravel


Semarang is a city on the north coast of the island of Java, Indonesia. It is the capital of the province of Central Java. It has an area of 373.67 km² and a population of approximately 1.5 million people, making it the Indonesia's fifth largest city. Semarang is located on the northern coast of Java at 6°58′S, 110°25′E. The northern part of the city is built on the coastal plain while the southern parts, known as Candi Lama and Candi Baru, are on higher ground. Two rivers run through the city, one on the east side and one through the west side, essentially dividing the city into thirds.

A major port during the Dutch colonial era, and still an important port today, the city is known in Indonesia for its large ethnically Chinese population. The name of the city, Semarang, may have originated from the concatenation of the words "asem" (tamarind) and "arang" (rare). Another version is that Semarang is originated from Chinese word Sam Po Lang (San Bao Loong), meaning "the city of Sam Po" (Admiral Zheng He).

Semarang's history dates back to the ninth century, when it was known as Bergota. By the end of fifteenth century, a Javanese Islamic missionary from nearby Sultanate of Demak with the name of Kyai Pandan Arang founded a village and an Islamic boarding school in this place. On May 1, 1547, after consulting Sunan Kalijaga, Sultan Hadiwijaya of Pajang declared Kyai Pandan Arang the first bupati (regent) of Semarang, thus culturally and politically, on this day Semarang was born.

In 1678, Sunan Amangkurat II promised to give control of Semarang to the Dutch East India Company (VOC) as a part of a debt payment. In 1682, the Semarang state was founded by the Dutch colonial power. On October 5, 1705 after years of occupations, Semarang officially became a VOC city when Susuhunan Pakubuwono I made a deal to give extensive trade rights to the VOC in exchange of wiping out Mataram's debt. The VOC, and later, the Dutch East Indies government, established tobacco plantations in the region and built roads and railroads, making Semarang an important colonial trading centre.

In the 1920s, the city became a center of leftist and nationalist activism. With the founding of the Communist Party of Indonesia in the city, Semarang became known as the "Red City". The Japanese military occupied the city along with the rest of Java in 1942, during Pacific War of World War II. During that time, Semarang was headed by a military governor called a Shiko), and two vice governors known as Fuku Shiko. One of the vice governors was appointed from Japan, and the other was chosen from the local population. After Indonesian independence in 1945, Semarang became the capital of Central Java province.

The population of Semarang is predominantly Javanese, though with smaller numbers of people from many regions in Indonesia. The city is known for its large ethnically Chinese population. The main languages spoken are Indonesian and Javanese.

As a result of its large ethnically Chinese population, the city boasts several Chinese temples. These include Sam Po Kong (Gedung Batu), built in honour of the Chinese Great Admiral Zheng He who visited the area in 1405, and Tay Kak Sie Temple. Blenduk Church, a 1753 Protestant church built by the Dutch, is located in the old town (called "Oudstad"). Tugu Muda (Youth Monument), a monument to heroes of Indonesia's independence struggle, is located in front of Gedung Lawang Sewu and Semarang Cathedral, at the end of Jalan Pemuda, one of the city's major shopping streets.

Semarang is home to several notable universities and high schools. A notable state-owned university at Semarang is Undip or Diponegoro University. Other notable universities are Soegijapranata Catholic University and Sultan Agung Islamic University. Among the other schools is Karangturi, a national private school which has facilities for children in Kindergarten through senior high school. Karangturi is known for having a high proportion of Chinese-Indonesian students.

Source: Wikipedia

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Palembang is a city of 1,286,000 in the south of the Indonesian island of Sumatra. It is the capital of the province of South Sumatra and its metropolitan area includes more than 1,730,000 people.

The city was once the capital of the ancient partly Hindu partly Buddhist kingdom of Srivijaya (Sriwijaya) that controlled a large part of what is now Malaysia and Indonesia. Following a 1025 raid by the Chola Empire of southern India it began to gradually decline in importance. Srivijaya's capital eventually moved northward to Jambi.

Records of its beginning are scarce while estimations range from the 3rd to 5th centuries CE[citation needed], but the earliest solid proof of its existence dates from the 7th century; a Chinese monk, I-Tsing, wrote that he visited Srivijaya in 671 for 6 months; the Kedukan Bukit Inscription is dated 683. The kingdom ceased to exist between 1200 and 1300 due to various factors, including the expansion of Majapahit. In Sanskrit, sri means "shining" or "radiant" and vijaya means "victory" or "excellence".

After Srivijaya fell, it was largely forgotten and so historians had never considered that a large united kingdom could have been present in Southeast Asia. The existence of Srivijaya was only formally suspected in 1918 when French historian George Coedès of the École française d'Extrême-Orient postulated the existence of the empire. Around 1992 and 1993, Pierre-Yves Manguin proved that the centre of Srivijaya was along the Musi River between Bukit Seguntang and Sabokingking (situated in what is now the province of South Sumatra, Indonesia).

Makara portal guardian at Candi Gumpung in Muaro Jambi

Palembang is also the origin of Parameswara, the ruler of Malacca (a state in Malaysia) who established the most important empire in Malaysian history.

The Famous Ampera Bridge
The architectural legacy of Dutch colonization is still visible in the city. Deep-water port facilities are built along the Musi River, which flows through the city.

Source: Wikipedia

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Danau Toba

Lake Toba (Indonesian: Danau Toba) is a lake, 100 km long and 30 km wide, and 505 m. (1,666 ft.) at its deepest point, in the middle of the northern part of the Indonesian island of Sumatra with a surface elevation of about 900 m (3,000 feet), stretching from 2.88° N 98.52° E to 2.35° N 99.1° E. It is the largest volcanic lake in the world.

In 1949 the Dutch geologist Rein van Bemmelen reported that Lake Toba was surrounded by a layer of ignimbrite rocks, and that it was a large volcanic caldera. Later researchers found rhyolite ash similar to that in the ignimbrite around Toba (now called Young Toba Tuff to distinguish it from layers deposited in previous explosions) in Malaysia and India, 3,000 km away. Oceanographers discovered Toba ash, with its characteristic chemical "fingerprint", on the floor of the eastern Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal.

The Toba eruption (the Toba event) occurred at what is now Lake Toba about 67,500 to 75,500 years ago.[2] It had an estimated Volcanic Explosivity Index of 8 (described as "mega-colossal"), making it possibly the largest explosive volcanic eruption within the last twenty-five million years.

Bill Rose and Craig Chesner of Michigan Technological University deduced that the total amount of erupted material was about 2800 cubic km (670 cubic miles) — around 2,000 km³ of ignimbrite that flowed over the ground and around 800 km³ that fell as ash, with the wind blowing most of it to the west. By contrast, the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens ejected around 1.2 cubic km of material, whilst the largest volcanic eruption in historic times, at Mount Tambora in 1815, emitted the equivalent of around 100 cubic kilometers of dense rock and created the "Year Without a Summer" as far away as North America.

The Toba eruption was the latest of a series of at least three caldera-forming eruptions which have occurred at the volcano. Earlier calderas were formed around 700,000 and 840,000 years ago.

To give an idea of its magnitude, consider that although the eruption took place in Indonesia, it deposited an ash layer approximately 15 cm (6 in) thick over the entire Indian subcontinent; at one site in central India, the Toba ash layer today is up to 6 m (20 feet) thick and parts of Malaysia were covered with 9 m of ashfall.[5] In addition it has been calculated that 1010 metric tons of sulphuric acid was ejected into the atmosphere by the event, causing acid rain fallout. The subsequent collapse formed a caldera that, after filling with water, created Lake Toba. The island in the center of the lake is formed by a resurgent dome.

The large volcano island in the middle of Lake Toba is Pulau Samosir (Samosir Island). At 630km², Samosir is also notable as being the largest island within an island, and the fifth largest lake island in the world.

Samosir is a popular tourist destination due to the fantastic vistas it offers. The tourist resorts are concentrated in the Tuktuk area. The island is the centre of the Batak culture and many of this people's artifacts remain on the island.

Source: Wikipedia, Wikitravel


Medan is the capital of the province of North Sumatra, Indonesia. Located in the northern part of the province along the coast, Medan occupies 265,10 km², making it the third largest city in Indonesia.

The city is bordered by Deli Serdang Regency to the east, south, and west, and the Strait of Malacca to the north. Medan started as a village called Kampung Medan (Medan Village). Kampung Medan was founded by Guru Patimpus around the 1590s. Because Kampung Medan sits on Tanah Deli (Land of Deli), Kampung Medan is also referred as Medan-Deli. The original location of Kampung Medan is an area where the Deli River meets Babura River.

Based on the diary of the Portuguese merchant in early 16th century, it stated that the name of Medan was actually derived from Medina which is actually a holy city in the western of Saudi Arabia. However, other source indicated that the name of Medan actually came from Indian language "Meiden". One of the Karo-Indonesia dictionary written by Darwin Prinst SH published in 2002 wrote that Medan could also be defined as "recover" or "be better".

The first inhabitants of Medan came from the Batak Karo community. It was not until the Sultan of Aceh, Sultan Iskandar Muda, sent his warlord, Gocah Pahlawan Laksamana Khoja Bintan, to be the Sultanate of Aceh's representative in Tanah Deli, that the Sultanate of Deli started to grow. This growth stimulated growth in both the population and culture of Medan. In the second year reign of Sultan Deli (between 1669-1698), there was a cavalry battle in Medan.

Medan did not enjoy significant development until the 1860s, when the Dutch colonialists began clearing the land for tobacco plantations. Medan quickly became a center of government and commercial activity, dominating development of Indonesia's western region.

The Dutch governed Tanah Deli from 1658, after Sultan Ismail, ruler of the Kingdom of Siak Sri Indrapura, yielded some of his once-ruled land, Deli, Langkat, and Serdang. In 1915 Medan officially became the capital of North Sumatra Province, and officially a city in 1918.

In present time Medan is governed by a mayor, Drs. H. Abdillah Ak, MBA (period 2005-2010). Medan is divided into 21 districts (kecamatan) and 151 subdistricts (kelurahan).

The city is Indonesia's third most populous after Jakarta and Surabaya, with approximately 2.5 million people.

The city has a mix of communities, reflecting its history. It is famous throughout Indonesia as the home of the Batak people, although the ancestral sites of these people are scattered throughout northern Sumatra. In addition, there is a large ethnic Javanese community (known also as Puja Kesuma or Putra Jawa Kelahiran Sumatera which means Sumatra born Javanese), largely made up of the descendants of people transported from Java in the last century as part of the government's transmigration policy, an attempt to relieve the chronic overcrowding of Java.

A highly visible component of Medan's population is the large number of Chinese, who control much of the business sector. Finally, the city has a sizable community of Tamil descent who is commonly known as keling. A well-known Tamil market is the Kampung Keling. In addition to Indonesian, Javanese, Hokkien (Min Nan), Tamil and English are spoken.

Each ethnic group contributes to thousands of tasty, mouth-watering dishes found in every corner of Medan. They offer to locals and tourists alike dozens of food streets and hawker centres to fulfill their appetite at any time of the day. From the sweet Javanese cuisine, to hot Padang dishes, from savoury Chinese noodles, to spicy Indian curry, this varied cuisine is available 24-hours a day, 7-days a week. It is obvious why the locals are so into food. The city itself is quite well known for "food-tourism", especially amongst other Indonesians. Large number of food centers and restaurants in Medan offers huge varieties of good foods. Always go out with local Medanese if you really want to enjoy the foods, local people knows better because Medanese known as food-lovers.

There are many old buildings in Medan that still retain their Dutch architecture. These include the old City Hall, the central Post Office, the Tirtanadi Water Tower, which is Medan City's icon, and Titi Gantung (a bridge over the railway).

Several historic places such as Maimun Palace (Istana Maimun), where the Sultan of Deli still lives, and the Great Mosque (Masjid Raya) of Medan built in 1906. And many more of tourist destinations around City of Medanin North Sumatra Province, such as Bukit Lawang, Parapat (Prapat), Berastagi, Tongging, etc.

So please consider to spend more days in Medan to enjoy the exotism of North Sumatra. :D

Source: Wikipedia

Saturday, April 19, 2008


Malioboro or Jln. Malioboro (Jalan Malioboro, Malioboro street) is a major shopping street in Yogyakarta, Indonesia; the name is also used more generally for the neighborhood around the street. It runs north from the Yogyakarta kraton (palace) towards the roads that lead to either Surakarta to the east or Magelang to the north, as well as Mount Merapi. This is in itself is significant to many of the local population, the north south orientation between the palace and the volcano being of importance.

The street is the centre of Yogyakarta's largest tourist district; many hotels and restaurants are located nearby. Sidewalks on both sides of the street are crowded with small stalls selling varieties of goods. In the evening several open-air street-side food-stalls, called lesehan (eat while sitting on the floor), operate along the street.

Less obvious to the tourist, but more for the local population, side streets, lanes and structures that lead on to Malioboro are as important as the street itself.

The street was for many years two-way, but by the 1980s had become one way only, from the railway line (where it starts) to the south - to Beringharjo markets, where it ends. The largest, oldest Dutch era hotel, Hotel Garuda, is located on the street's northern end, on the eastern side adjacent to the railway line. It has the former Dutch era Prime Minister's complex, the kepatihan, on the eastern side.

For many years in the 1980s and later, a cigarette advertisement was placed on the first building south of the railway line - or effectively the last building on Malioboro, which advertised Marlboro cigarettes, no doubt appealing to locals and foreigners who would see a pun with name of the street with a foreign product being advertised.

It does not reach the walls or grounds of the Yogyakarta palace, as Malioboro ceases in name adjacent to the very large market Beringharjo (on the eastern side as well). From this point the street changes name and has on the western side the former Governors residence, and on the eastern side the old Dutch Fort Vredenburg.

Source: Wikipedia

Note: All photographs were taken in the morning around 06:00 am. Not many people right? But it is an exception - at the working hours and night, Malioboro is usually full of peoples.

Friday, April 18, 2008


The Special Region of Yogyakarta (Indonesian: Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta, or DIY), is the smallest province of Indonesia (excluding Jakarta). It is located on the island of Java. It is the only province in Indonesia that is still formally governed by a pre-colonial Sultanate, the Sultanate of Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat. In English it is pronounced /ˌdʒoʊgdʒəˈkɑrtə/, which derives from its Dutch spelling Jogjakarta. In Javanese (and Dutch) it is pronounced [jogjaˈkartɔ].

The city of Yogyakarta is the capital of the province. Yogyakarta is located in south-central Java. It is surrounded by the province of Central Java (Jawa Tengah) and the Indian Ocean in the south. The city is located at 7°47′S, 110°22′E. The population of DIY in 2003 was approximately 3,000,000. The province of Yogyakarta has a total area of 3,185.80 km². Yogyakarta has the second-smallest area of the provinces in Indonesia, after the Jakarta Capital Region. However it has, along with adjacent areas in Central Java, some of the highest population densities of Java.

Yogyakarta province is administratively subdivided into four regencies (kabupaten) and one city (kota): Bantul Regency (506.86 km²), Gunung Kidul Regency (1,485.36 km²), Kulon Progo Regency (586.27 km²), Sleman Regency (574.82 km²) and Yogyakarta City (32.5 km²).
Yogyakarta (city) is located within the Yogyakarta province, Yogyakarta city is known as a center of classical Javanese fine art and culture such as batik, ballet, drama, music, poetry and puppet shows. It is also famous as a center for Indonesian higher education. At Yogyakarta's center is the kraton, or Sultan's palace. While the city sprawls in all directions from the kraton, the core of the modern city is to the north.

The Yogyakarta Sultanate, formally the Sultanate of Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat, was formed in February 13, 1755 when the existing Sultanate of Mataram was divided by the Dutch East India Company (VOC) in two under the Treaty of Giyanti. This treaty states that the Sultanate of Mataram was to be divided into the Sultanate of Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat with Yogyakarta as the capital and mentioned Pangeran Mangkubumi who became Sultan Hamengkubuwono I as its Sultan with the title of Sultan Hamengkubuwono Senapati Ingalaga Abdul Rakhman Sayidin Panatagama Khalifatullah (The Carrier of the Universe, Chief Warrior, God's Servant, Cleric and Caliph that Safeguards the Religion); and the Sultanate of Surakarta Hadiningrat with Surakarta as the capital and Pakubuwono III who was the ruler of the Sultanate of Mataram as its Sultan. The Sultan Hamengkubuwono I spent the next 37 years building the new capital, with the Kraton as the centerpiece and the court at Surakarta as the blueprint model. By the time he died in 1792, his territory exceeded Surakarta's.

The ruler Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono IX (April 12, 1912 - 1988) held a degree from the Dutch Leiden University, and held for a time the largely ceremonial position of Vice-President of Indonesia, in recognition of his status, as well as Minister of Finance and Minister of Defense. In support of Indonesia declaring independence from the Dutch and Japanese occupation, in September 5, 1945, Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono IX of Yogya and Sri Paku Alam VIII in Yogya declared their sultanates to be part of the Republic of Indonesia. In return for this unfailing support, a law was passed in 1950, in which Yogyakarta was granted the status of province Daerah Istimewa (Special Region Province), with special status that recognizes the power of the Sultan in his own region's domestic affairs. Hence Sultan Hamengkubuwono IX was appointed as the governor for life. During the Indonesian National Revolution against the Dutch after World War II (1945-1950), the capital of the newly-declared Indonesian republic was temporarily moved to Yogyakarta when the Dutch reoccupied Jakarta from January 1946 until August 1950.

The current ruler of Yogyakarta is his son, Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono X, who holds a law degree from Universitas Gadjah Mada. Upon the elder sultan's death, the position of governor, according to the agreement with Indonesia, was to pass to his heir. However, the central government at that time insisted on an election. In 1998, Sultan Hamengkubuwono X was elected as governor by the provincial House of Representatives (DPRD) of Yogyakarta, defying the will of the central government. He remains the only governor in Java without a military background: "I may be a sultan," he has been quoted in Asia Week as saying, "but is it not possible for me to also be a democrat?"

The principal residence of the sultan is the kraton (palace), sometimes called the Yogyakarta Kraton but more properly known as Kraton Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat.

Style and titles of Immediate Family Members of Yogyakarta Sultanate:
Garwa Padmi (The Queen) : Gusti Kanjeng Ratu.
Garwa Ampeyan (Concubines) : Kanjeng Raden Ayu.
Putra Mahkota (Crown Prince) : Kanjeng Gusti Pangeran Adipati Anom.
Son / Daughter of the Sultan from Garwa Padmi : Gusti Raden Mas/Gusti Raden Ajeng.
Son / Daughter of the Sultan from Garwa Ampeyan : Bendara Raden Mas/Bendara Raden Ajeng. Son of the Sultan (prior to his initiation as Crown Prince) : Gusti Bendara Pangeran Haryo (GBPH). First daughter of the Sultan from Garwa Padmi : Sekarkedhaton .
Second daughter of the Sultan from Garwa Padmi : Sekartaji.
Third daughter of the Sultan from Garwa Padmi : Candrakirana.
First son of the Sultan from Garwa Ampeyan: Bendara Raden Mas Gusti, after marriage his title changes into Gusti Pangeran.
First daughter of the Sultan from Garwa Ampeyan: Bendoro Raden Ajeng Gusti, after marriage her title changes into Pembayun.
Oldest daughter of the Sultan from Garwa Ampeyan: Kanjeng Ratu.
Titles of Extended Family Members and the Descendants:
Male family members of second to fourth generations: Raden Mas, after marriage the title changes into Raden or Raden Tumenggung .
Female family members of second to fourth generations: Raden Ajeng, after marriage the title changes into Raden Ayu.
Male family members of fifth and subsequent generations: Raden Bagus, after marriage the title changes into Raden.
Female family members of fifth and subsequent generations: Raden Roro, after marriage the title changes into Raden or Raden Nganten.
Title that is bestowed upon and cannot be passed on to the next generation: Male: Kanjeng Pangeran Haryo.

The province of Yogyakarta bore the brunt of a 6.3-magnitude earthquake on 27 May 2006 which killed 5,782 people and left some 36,299 persons injured. More than 135,000 houses are damaged, and 600,000 people are homeless. The earthquake extensively damaged the local region of Bantul, and its surrounding hinterland. The most significant number of deaths occurred in this region.

The coincidence of the recent eruption of Mount Merapi, and the earthquake would not be lost on the older and more superstitious Javanese - as such natural phenomena are given considerable import within their understanding of the spiritual aspect of such events.

Yogyakarta is served by Adisucipto International Airport and has signed a sister relationship agreement with Kyoto Prefecture, Japan, and California, United States.

Source: Wikipedia

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Visit Yogyakarta by Train

One of the cheaper and enjoyable ways to visit Yogyakarta from Jakarta is to take the train and it is strongly suggested if this is your first trip to Yogyakarta. You may experience local traveler atmosphere. And if you take the morning train, you may see some beautiful views and some of uncovered views as well. :)

Principally there are two choices: the Executive class (air conditioned) and the Business class (fan only). Traveling from Jakarta to Yogyakarta needs approximately 8 hours, so you'll eat in the train. Food is provided free, but it tasted uhmm... not preferable if you are able to spend more.

The train attendants will offer you some drink or newspaper - but remember, it's absolutely not free. You should especially pay attention if the train attendant asked you whether you want a steak of fried rice.

Usually if this is the passenger first train trip, then (s)he will take the meal. BUT as I told you, it is not free. The free meal is offered about 30 - 45 minutes later. And the free meal is plain rice with fried egg and few local vegetable, which actually eatable but not tasting good. The steak or fried rice tasted much better but it will cost you about Rp 20,000 (twenty thousand rupiahs) per portion.

My suggestion: Always ask if the train attendants offer you something, is it free or how much it will cost you. May be the sum you pay is nothing comparing with your wealth, but the feeling of being cheated is always awful, and I can tell you this because I'd experienced that once. LOL

Below is the Train Schedule from Yogyakarta

Yogyakarta Tugu Station 0274-589685
Destination Jakarta
Fajar Utama 08:00/16:20
Argo Lawu 08:53/15:58
Taksaka Pagi 10:00/18:17
Senja Utama YK 18:15/03:12
Senja Utama Solo 19:00/03:37
Taksaka Malam 20:00/04:13
Argo Dwipangga 20:53/03:55
Bima 22:10/05:56
Gajayana 22:30/06:37

there are some other routes from Bandung, Surabaya, Malang and Solo. For the more detailed information, please check the schedule at Kompas daily (one of the most popular national newspaper) or at the nearest train station. Usually the train ticket is always available as long as the day you choose is not peak season.

If you need to take a train in Jakarta - take it from Gambir station (which is reachable using the TransJakarta bus or taxi if you preferred). Gambir station is the Central train station, it offers complete routes. Some route services does not provided at other stations.

You will arrive in Tugu station in Yogyakarta (of course if your destionation is Yogyakarta, not other city). Tugu station is located at the middle of Yogyakarta city, if you walkout the station through the front gate and turn left to the east side), then you'll meet Jln. Pasar Kembang or Pasar Kembang road, there you'll meet Pasar Kembang market which is one of the tourist oriented market offering many souvenirs) and if you walk again to the southeast, you will meet the famous Jln. Malioboro (Jln. is the short writing of jalan, which means road or street in Indonesian language). Malioboro is about 2 (two) kilometers, many shops and local merchants and even malls are there.

So take the train trip and Pasar Kembang - Malioboro walk before checking in to the hotel. It will make you tired, a little confused, a bit hungry (actually there are so many food merchants in Malioboro, but who knows you see none), :D and it will became a never forgotten experiences.

Monday, April 14, 2008


Prambanan is the largest Hindu temple compound in Indonesia, located approximately 18 km east of Yogyakarta. The temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the largest Hindu temples in south-east Asia. It is characterised by its tall and pointed architecture, typical of Hindu temple architecture, and by the 47m high central building inside a large complex of individual temples.

It was built around 850 CE by either Rakai Pikatan, king of the second Mataram dynasty, or Balitung Maha Sambu, during the Sanjaya Dynasty. Not long after its construction, the temple was abandoned and began to deteriorate. Reconstruction of the compound began in 1918. The main building was completed in around 1953. Much of the original stonework has been stolen and reused at remote construction sites. A temple will only be rebuilt if at least 75% of the original stones are available, and therefore only the foundation walls of most of the smaller shrines are now visible and with no plans for their reconstruction.

The temple was damaged during the earthquake in Java in 2006. The complex appears to be structurally intact, damage is significant. Large pieces of debris, including carvings, were scattered over the ground. The temple has been closed to the public until damage can be fully assessed. However, some weeks later in 2006 the site re-opened for visitors. The immediate surroundings of the Hindu temples remain off-limits for safety reasons.

The compound is assembled of eight main shrines or candis, and more than 250 surrounding individual candis. The three main shrines, called Trisakti (Ind. "three sacred places"), are dedicated to the three gods: Shiva the Destroyer, Vishnu the Keeper and Brahma the Creator.

The Shiva shrine at the center contains four chambers, one in every cardinal direction. While the first contains a three meter high statue of Shiva, the other three contain smaller statues of Durga, his wife, Agastya, a risi, and Ganesha, his son.

The shrine of Durga is also called the temple of Loro Jonggrang (slender virgin), after a Javanese princess, daughter of King Boko. She was forced to marry a man she did not love, Bandung Bondowoso. After long negotiations she eventually agreed to the marriage, under the condition that her prince should build her a temple ornamented with 1000 statues, between the setting and the rising of the sun.

Helped by supernatural beings, the prince was about to succeed. So the princess ordered the women of the village to set a fire in the east of the temple, attempting to make the prince believe that the sun was about to rise. As the cocks began to crow, fooled by the light, the supernatural helpers fled. The prince, furious about the simple trick, had changed Loro Jongrang to stone. She became the last and the most beautiful of the thousand statues.

The two other main shrines are that of Vishnu, to the north, and the one of Brahma, facing to the south. In front of each main temple is a smaller candi on the east side, dedicated to the mounts of the respective god - the bull Nandi for Shiva, the gander Angsa for Brahma, and Vishnu's Eagle Garuda, which serves as the national symbol of Indonesia (cf. also to the airline Garuda Indonesia).

The bas-reliefs along the twenty sides of the temple depict the Ramayana legend. They illustrate how Sita, the wife of Rama, is abducted by an evil ogre. The monkey king Hanuman brings his army to help Rama and rescue Sita. This story is also shown by the Ramayana Ballet, regularly performed at full moon in front of the illuminated Prambanan complex.

The temple complex is surrounded by more than 250 individual temples of different sizes, called Pewara, believed to have been offered to the king as a sign of submission. The Pewara are arranged in four rows around the central temples, according to the rank of the people allowed to enter them. While the central row was accessible to the priests only, the other three were reserved for the nobles, the knights and the simple people respectively.

Ganesha, God of Knowledge, son of Shiva

Not far to the west are found Candi Kalasan and Candi Sari, and to the south the Ratu Boko on higher ground. Each provides further clues and details of the Prambanan complex and some of its mysteries.

Source: Wikipedia, World of Heritage UNESCO

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Cap Go Meh in Muntilan

Better late then never, I should write this article in February, but may be all of you had known that I was living in Bronze Age without internet for few months, lol. As I told you before, the Chinese Lunar New Year celebration is 15 (fifteen) days, and the day 15 is called Cap Go Meh (in Hokkian or Fujian dialect).

In Indonesia, the Chinese culture had been oppressed by Soeharto (the 2nd President of Republic of Indonesia) (1966-1998) so basically no celebration at that time. Until that suppressing law was reformed by Gus Dur (Abdulrahman Wahid, the 4th President of the Republic of Indonesia) (1999-2002).

In present time you'll be able to see many celebrations at local temple. The picture above was taken at Fu An Tang (Mandarin dialect) or Hok An Kiong (Hokkian dialect) in Muntilan, the small city located in Magelang Regency in Central Java Province - at the middle of Yogyakarta city and Magelang city. Many Chinese or local culture will be performed each day until the Cap Go Meh evening.

Amazingly the participant is not only the Chinese or Sam Kaw (Three Religion) disciples, but even the local Javanese and Moslem was participating. And this is the real performance of Bhinneka Tunggal Ika or Unity in Diversity, the slogan written at Garuda Pancasila (the national symbol of Republic of Indonesia), I think. :D

Above is kind of cat or animal dance (I'm not pretty sure). The dancers were in state of trance, while their guardian (the man in black suit) incites a prayer in Arabic language.

And here is the 'Liong Kui' or Dragon headed Tortoise (Turtle with Dragon head). At the golden scale of the turtle, written name of donator. And if you see the gold money piece at the upper side - that is where the biggest donator's name written. Personally I found out this Liong Kui was not sensational enough, not as sensational as the reported by Metro TV (one of the top and good television channel in Indonesia), which reported that the 'Liong Kui' is the biggest in East Asia.

At left below is the Dragon King, the Chinese culture believes that dragon kings rules the seas. The North Sea rules by North Dragon King, the East Sea rules by East Dragon King, and so on. (But I really don't know which one is this guy.)

If you noticed the difference, above picture was taken at daylight meanwhile below picture was taken night.

And there was a Barong or Barongsai (Lion Dance) performance at night which caused the temple was really crowded by curious visitors. Most of them look to enjoy themselves, watching something which some of them understood and some of them not.

Last but not least, I do hope that this traditions will be repeated every year forever.

Happy Chinese New Year (Hey, this is the day fifteenth; you do not need to say the regards anymore by tomorrow). :D

Handcrafted Flowers

One of the specialties of Yogyakarta is handicraft - if you come to Yogyakarta you'll be surely see many handicraft store.

Today I like to introduce you to the handcrafted flower, which is made using the corn leaf. In Central Java many farmer grow corn in dry season. But most of them never make a good use of the corn leaf.

One of my neighbor in Yogyakarta is one of the handcrafted flowers maker. She told me everything about this art. And I think I should share some to you.

The flower is made using the colored dried corn leaf; and personally I'm curious to do some research since the coloring process still using the chemical color agent. I think it will be more perfect if the corn leaf was pigmented using natural coloring agent.

Then the colored corn leaf will be made into flower, there are many style available such as: rose, sunflower, fan, etc. The process is not complicated but I think it's still difficult for me who has no such talent. Basically the leaf is formed into the form you want and then tied to a bamboo stick.

If you walk at Malioboro (the famous street in Yogyakarta) - you will see many street-hawkers / street-traders selling corn leaf flowers.

And if you are stranger or foreigner, then usually the price would be Rp 5,000 (five thousand rupiahs) each. Then you must negotiate to get a better price. :D

Since my neighbor is the crafter not seller, she told me that actually those flowers cost around Rp 2,000 (two thousand rupiahs), even lower if the buyer is a quantity buyer.

Well.... this is one of business opportunity, I think I may sell it to you with higher price, ha ha. Seriously, if you really interested to buy or learn this kind of handcrafting art. Feel free to write me, I will be happy to sell it to you with good price :D or introduce you to my neighbor (but I think you should pay the tuition fee, lol).

Living in Yogyakarta

At last I feel alive again, that's because I'd got my internet connection yesterday. It cost me Rp 220,000 (two hundred and twenty thousand rupiahs) each month for 1GB limited access and Rp 350,000 (three hundred and fifty thousand rupiahs) for the China made 2 port DSL modem. But at least I really feel not living in the Bronze Age again. LOL

Well I'd rented a house in the south side of Yogyakarta city since March. And weeks I'd spent to clean the house. The house cost me quite many but still reasonable. But the time and money I spent to make this house appropriate to live in was quite stressing. Anyhow I still think that the house I've rented will pay for itself. It has 6 rooms, 2 rooms inside the main building and another 4 rooms at the backside building. Although those 4 rooms is not big - but I'm quite confident that I will be able to rent it out.

I'd made advertising at the newspaper and internet forum. The advertisement in the newspaper was total disaster (according to me), because I'd asked Doni to advertise - and he changed all of my advertisement's content. Which made all incoming call was from the peoples who think that I provide garage and television. Hell NO..... I only tag the price for Rp 250,000 (two hundred and fifty thousand rupiahs) per room each month. How could it possible that I provide a garage and television for that price?

Anyhow it has been a month - and it's time to be serious to make a living. Guys, wish me good luck - OK?