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.

Brunei Darussalam Tanpa Itinerary (part 2)

10 Mei 2015

Perjalanan pulang dari Masjid Jame Asr Hassanil Bolkiah menempuh jarak 4km dan memakan waktu 1 jam.

Sebelum Gw putuskan jalan, sebetulnya Gw sempat nemuin bus, ketika Gw Tanya orang setempat, bus gratis itu menuju ke arah BSB Bus Terminal. Gw pede aja naik dari depan Masjid dan duduk di belakang sopir bus, gw ajak ngobrol aja dan ternyata dia orang Surabaya….walah…….Gw tanya apakah benar bus ini menuju BSB Bus Terminal……eh ternyata engga. Katanya kalau naik bus ini, Gw bakal tambah jauh dari terminal dan dia saranin Gw untuk naik taxi. Akhirnya gw diturunkan di halte depan sebuah rumah sakit.

Dari situ Gw berusaha cari taxi….tapi nungguin 30 menit kok ga lihat satupun taxi lewat. Gw tanya aja ke Bapak-Bapak yang duduk di parkiran komplek ruko. Lagi-lagi orang Brebes ternyata….mantabbb….katanya taxi di Brunei kalau sudah lewat jam 17 harus pesan lewat telpon….haseekkk….mana Gw ga pernah beli SIM Card negara setempat kalau jalan-jalan (lha wong ngandalin kompas sama peta…gratis).

Akhirnya Gw putuskan jalan kaki….siap-siap pegel aja nih. Gw hanya berpatokan jalan ke arah tenggara. Si Erza kelihatan aktif bertanya ke setiap orang yang bisa dia tanya. Nanya ke security….ke orang yang lewat dijalan….semua ditanya….hahaha.

Jalanan di Brunei jam 18-an memang sepi tetapi semua terlihat aman….menurut kabar berita, Sultan menjamin keamanan orang yang berkunjung ke Brunei….keren.

Kita sempat kedodoran dan duduk lesehan di trotoar depan balai bomba Bandar Seri Begawan (Pemadam kebakarannya Bandar Seri Begawan). Karena tepat di pertigaan lampu merah, jadinya banyak pengemudi mobil yang aneh ngelihatin kita….wkwkwk.

Cukup rehat 15 menit….Gw lanjut jalan. Setelah hampir 1 jam berjalan, Gw sudah deket ama hostel….jam 19:30 banyak ruko yang sudah pada tutup….tetapi terlihat ada Mc. D yang masih buka. Gw masuk buat cari minum sama manfaatin WiFi untuk berkabar ke tanah air.

Akhirmya sampai di dormitory.

Ini beberapa foto K.H Soon Resthouse :

KH Soon1

Si Erza lagi siap-siap berangkat

KH Soon2Koridor di K.H Soon Resthouse

Breakfast

Gw kembali lagi menuju Pasar Tamu Kianggeh karena memang dekat dormitory. Ya namanya pasar pasti makanannya bakalan murah.

breakfast pasar tamu kianggehTepat….1,5 dollar Brunei cukup buat makan ini

 

Istana Nurul Iman

Setelah breakfast, Gw menuju BSB Bus Terminal untuk cari bus no. 42 menuju Istana Nurul Iman. Cukup bayar 1 dollar dan memakan waktu 15 menit perjalanan.

Sesampai di Istana Nurul Iman, Gw menuju pos jaga dan beranikan diri tanya ke tentara penjaga Istana di pos jaga. Kata dia, kita ga boleh masuk dan akhirnya Gw minta izin foto-foto di depan gerbang saja. Dia mempersilahkan dengan sopan.

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Gagal ke Tasek Lama Recreational Park

30 menit ambil foto di Istana Nurul Iman, Gw bermaksud segera menuju Tasek Lama Recreational Park….Gw kembali ke BSB bus terminal.

Dari BSB Bus Terminal Gw naik bus no 36.

Selama perjalanan Gw galau….antara tetap ke Taman Tasek Lama atau langsung menuju ke Bandara saja. Dengan pertimbangan lamanya waktu tunggu bus di Brunei, Gw fikir setelah selesai dari Taman Tasek Lama belum tentu Gw dapat Bus dengan cepat. Daripada Gw ketinggalan pesawat ke Jakarta lebih baik Gw putuskan batal ke Taman Tasek Lama dan langsung menuju airport dan killing time disana saja. Waktu boarding Gw mepet banget….jam 15 harus boarding gaes.

Gw bilang ke sopir bus keturunan Pakistan yang lancar berbahasa Jawa untuk menuju ke airport saja. Gw harus bilang ke dia begitu, karena pas berangkat tadi Gw minta diturunin di jalan terdekat dengan Taman Tasek Lama.

Akhirnya tiba di bandara:

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Ngadem disini saja……

masjid bandara

Dzuhur….masjid airport adalah bangunan terpisah dari airportnya….bersebelahan

Menjelang check-in si Erza kembali ke dormitory karena dia masih sehari lagi di Brunei dan akan lanjut ke Philippines.

Okay, perjalanan mendekati titik akhir.

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Air Asianya full seat… ternyata banyak turis dari KL datang ke Brunei hanya dua hari, Sabtu dan Minggu….karena mungkin jaraknya yang dekat.

Yang perlu kamu ketahui, pengecekan berat dan ukuran tas Air Asia di bandara ini sangat ketat. Tas harus diukur dan ditimbang satu-satu. Jika berlebih atau ukuran tas terlalu besar untuk masuk bagasi kabin, siap-siap aja keluar cost untuk masukin tas di bagasi lambung pesawat.

So…..Gw terbang lagi ke Jakarta transit KL….besok senin musti gawe lagi..