Two Backpackers in Lawang Sewu

Lawang Sewu means a thousand doors.

It’s said that the haunted of this 116-year-old building is second famous in Asia after Tat Tak School in Hong Kong. Quiet, thick walls and neglected. But that was in the past, now this 429-door building is transformed into a leading tourism icon in Semarang City with all its artistic and historical values.

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My third night in Semarang became a backpacker reunion event where two of them met in Brunei Darussalam in April 2015, Ezra and I were that two backpackers. I purposely sent him a short message a day before my departure to Semarang. I invited him to meet in his hometown to share stories of each other’s adventures over past five years.

One of corridors inside Lawang Sewu.
One of corridors at Lawang Sewu terrace.

After returning from Marina Beach, I immediately parted ways with Mr. Muchlis. He had to go back to Gresik firstly, using Argo Bromo Anggrek train. I headed to Baiturrahman Grand Mosque at Simpang Lima as a meeting point with Ezra. I quickly arrived there at 19:30 hours. some minutes waiting, Ezra arrived and we both performed Isha prayer together..

He told a lot about his job as a lecturer which allowed him to attend a conference in United States and then his backpacker instinct drove him to Canada. He had also visited Israel and Russia. Wow, crazy, even I’m far behind from all his experiences. As for me, that night told that at end year after meet with him, I would go to Penang, Ipoh, Dhaka, Mumbai, Colombo and Maldives.

Stairs to Lawang Sewu top floor.
Watching Lawang Sewu historical videos with local residents.
Photos of Lawang Sewu renovation activities.

Riding a blue motorbike, I was taken by him to go to Lawang Sewu on Pemuda Street. On the way there, Ezra explained a little stories that the building which we were going to was the former office of Nederlands-Indische Spoorweg Maatschappij (NIS) during Dutch colonial era. When Dutch surrendered to Japan in 1942, this building became the most violent prison during Japanese occupation. After Indonesia gained independence, this building became the office of Djawatan Kereta Api Repoeblik Indonesia (DKARI) or now known as PT Kereta Api Indonesia.

After arriving at our destination, Ezra deftly went to ticket counter to buying an entrance ticket. This time, he paid all ticket fees to entering Lawang Sewu. Because this tourist spot would close at 21:00 hours, so We only had thirty minutes to explore this tourist spot.

The yard inside Lawang Sewu building.
The other side of inner yard.
The elegance of European architecture in the shower of night lights.

But that short time didn’t made me rush, I was more concerned with discussing and telling stories about each other’s experiences. It was as if Lawang Sewu was only be the background for our conversation that night. I spent most of time for sitting in building terrace. Continued to talk and explained each our plan. I also hoped that two of us can backpack abroad together next time.

At exactly 21:00 hours, Ezra and I were forced to leave Lawang Sewu because its operating hours had ended. We moved to another crowd just across Lawang Sewu. Yups, Tugu Muda area was still full of visitors. Even some communities such as reptile lovers who came here to exhibit collections such as snakes, Cuvier’s Dwarf Caiman (mini crocodiles), iguanas and several other types of reptiles in the crowd. Some clowns also enlivened situation. That time became a night which full of impressions about Semarang.

My reunion with Ezra that night was closed by having dinner together at a restaurant with a chicken menu….Ayam Pak Supar Semarang. An impressive night that brings together two old friends with the same passion.

I and Ezra at Tugu Muda.

Beautiful Spots at The Azana Hotel Airport

Almost Isha’ time….

I entered The Azana Hotel Airport gate which is located on edge of Jenderal Sudirman Street just under Kalibanteng flyover. Hotel room which have booked by my office for three days for USD 33/night.

The Azana Hotel Airport.

Thing that I know is, my colleague, Mr. Muchlis, who comes from Gresik City, had been opening the room since noon. He preceded me, because he departed earlier using Argo Bromo Anggrek train from Surabaya this morning. In fact, he had completed all kinds of rehearsals for next two days of training. Make all were easy for me, because I just accepted final concept when I arrived in Semarang….Thank you, Mr. Muchlis.

Reception desk.
Mini bar in lobby.

I got information that our room which was ordered with office name was number 523, so I decided to directly go to upstairs for quickly pausing and cleaning myself, I felt very disheveled after half a day of was exposured by capital city street dust.

I had a plan to hunt seafood with Mr. Muchlis after taking a bath, it was normal, when I had an office assignment like this, I always used it to improve nutrition….Hahahaha. But I didn’t know where we would go, I would have a discussion with him later.

Room corridor.
Guest room.
Bathroom.

It was also nice to meet friend from same company but from different branches. I worked at head office and Mr. Muchlis at Surabaya branch. We usually met once a year during Year End Party, a moment where awards are given to several outstanding employees.

That night, we decided to go to Kampung Laut in Tawangsari area. For an hour and a half, we enjoyed seafood dishes on the lake. Enjoying the taste, sitting back, relax, enjoying fruit juice, eating sea food while was accompanied by a local band amidst splash of serene lights. Releasing tired after a long journey.

After being satisfied and full, on around 9:30 p.m., we left Kampung Laut Restaurant, took by online taxi which using Wuling Confero (a brand of China car), we headed back to hotel.

And it’s not a Donny if I stop exploring….Arriving at hotel, I didn’t directly go to the room for rest. According to information from reception staff, on seventh floor or the top floor, I could enjoy the beauty of Semarang city from a height. Immediately I headed to Sky Lounge. Here were the best pictures which I have:

Sky Lounge. You can order hot coffee here….Cool, right?.
Kalibanteng Flyover was rich in color.
Great views towards beach and airport.

Not only that, I also went out to street in front of hotel. The festive colors of lights on Bunderan Kalibanteng Street have actually attracted several young people to spend their night at the roundabout. Meanwhile, at intersection point of Yos Sudarso Street and Jenderal Sudirman Street, there is a statue of Ir. Soekarno who was reading proclamation text.

Is third statue of Ir. Soekarno in Atlas City.

So on second day in Semarang, I went back upstairs to get something, here it was:

Guess!….Dawn or dusk?

Oh yes, literally, Azana means “the most luxurious“. Maybe it reflects this hotel vision. Then in general, The Azana Hotel Airport provides guest rooms on the third, fifth and sixth floors. Meanwhile, restaurant and meeting room are placed on second floor. The karaoke area and lobby are on Ground floor. Then swimming pool is placed on basement floor.

Let’s had breakfast at hotel restaurant. After that let’s worked and continued to explore Semarang City in the afternoon!