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.


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.

Sky Show at Semarang Marina Beach

In the afternoon, on my third day in Semarang, I finally created an opportunity to watch an earth show which was often sought by sky color enthusiasts….Yups, sunset.

I quickly drove from Sleep & Sleep Capsule in Dadapsari area after putting all my equipments and backpack. Using an online taxi i.e orange maroon Calya (Cayla is a brand of Toyota in Indonesai), Mr. Muchlis and I headed for Marina Beach in Tawangsari area. A young driver continued to show off his rearview mirror which was modified into a reverse camera and a road recording camera….Even though it was only a camera made in China, the price was USD 30….Hahaha.

Driving for about six kilometers in fifteen minutes, I arrived at Marina Beach gate. Passing a post and paying an entrance ticket for about USD 0.4, I was dropped off in right at beach parking area. One problem was cellphone signal didn’t get caught in beach area. “Wahhh, bad news, when I will get back, I have to quite walk far outside beach area to order an online motorcycle taxi“, I thought.

Origin direction into the beach.
Beach parking area.

It was already 17:30 hours, but the beach still stung. The sun still showed its might in that open area. To reduce the heat, I sat on a bench under a tree while enjoying coconut ice directly from its shell. Let the sun still shined and I would start to enjoy it when it started to down.

It still stings.

The sun which had started to fall, prompted me to get up and stepped on concrete embankment area as well as pedestrian area which was still reinforced by giant rocks in shoreline. Making this beach could no longer show its natural beauty.

Young people were seen sitting on giant stones, dating, taking selfies, or contemplating their fate in the midst of the characteristic wave ripples. Meanwhile, little childrens run along concrete pedestrian.

Big rocks as waves breaker.

Another sights were firmly planted fishing charts along coast, while offshore, an island-like land decorated with neatly parked fast boats, was West Marina Beach area.

To watched sunset with a perfect viewpoint, I moved closer to beach part which facing west. There were rows of angler who remained focused with their fishing rods along reclaimed pedestrian, which on this side was covered with paving blocks which made shoreline looked more artsy. Meanwhile, beverage and food stall were busy serving their customers who occupy benche rows and got ready to enjoy nature show. In southern part, Marina Convention Center looked dashing blue, giving impression that Marina Beach had been exposed to technology and modernization.

This was the best spot to enjoy the dusk.

I started to take a tripod, aimed my smartphone towards the sun which began to clearly round and slowly turned into orange color. Youth people from north of coast began to move to take up their best position on west of coast. Meanwhile Mr. Muchlis looked more relax, sitting and enjoying a portion of “lontong” (rice roll). Meanwhile, I just sat cross-legged right on beach side, next to my smartphone camera which was working to capture that special moment.

Extraordinary show.
He started hiding.
Welcome evening.…