Jan 13, 2007
CIREBON, WEST JAVA, INDONESIA
It got me several surprised responses from my friends when they knew I was going to Cirebon for a 3-day weekend. I wasn't surprised that they were surprised because Cirebon is not a popular place to visit for holiday. The reason why I wanted to go there was my eagerness to know a whole lot about any places in the world, I have a friend who lives in Cirebon who can guide and provide me with free accomodation, and it doesn't cost too much money since it's not so far from Jakarta.
Getting there on SATURDAY Dec 23, 07Mampang Prapatan - Gambir train station = Kopaja #20 .
Gambir - Cirebon Station = Cirebon Express train, 3 hrs.
(Executive Class Rp 70.000 on weekends, Rp 65.000 on weekdays).
My friend Fani picked me up in the station by car. On the way to her family's house in the Keraton Kesepuhan area we stopped by to buy some portions of Sate Kalong at
Lemahwungkung Street (Kalong is bat-like animal, but Sate Kalong is actually made of beef, where it used to be made of buffalo's meat).Sate Kalong has 2 tastes: salty and sweet. But for me, both taste too sweet.
At about 10 PM, it was time to prove one of Cirebon's reputation : the seafood! I've heard and read quite a lot of names where we can have delicious seafood. Not knowing which one is really the best one, I just went along with my host to Seafood H. Moel at Kalibaru Selatan Street.
We had :
Kailan cah, Fried squid ala Shanghai, seafood kwetiau, otak-otak, Padang Sauce Crabs, and rice.
Total = Rp 90.000,00 plus a satisfaction belch :P
SUNDAY Dec 24, 07
Breakfast : nasi jamblang at the Pelabuhan Cirebon (Cirebon Port).
The 'warung' opens from very early morning until not later than noon.
So cheap (what I ate as pictured below only cost Rp 7.500,00) and deeelicious..!!
And here are some scenery you can find at the port and at the dirty beach..
A tour around the Keraton Kesepuhan follows.
The tour guide, in traditional Javanese clothing, tells the details on every single item in the Keraton.
The Keraton itself now functions mostly as museum.
Lunjuk = petunjuk / guidance.
In the old days, when someone comes to see the Sultan, they have to be briefed here before then waiting in the waiting area.
Below are the rooms in the Keraton where Sultan has his guests.
Most of the furnitures and building here are original. For example the chairs here, only the cushions are renewed. it used to be made of rattan.
These little squares contain pictures originally from the Netherland (the blue ones), depicts the Netherland scenery and things.
The brown ones are illustrations of the prophets story taken from the Bible, but even the Keraton people aren't sure by whom they are made.
There are so many symbolic things in the Keraton. Such as:
This relief contains groups of flowers; a group of 2 flowers, 3 flowers, and 4 flowers.
Symbolizes : the number of raka'at in the Islamic prayers.
The 2 white birds symbolizes how a leader has to give a sense of peace to his followers.
The 'manggis' fruits symbolizes honesty of the leader. A 'manggis' skin always tells the number of fruit cuts inside. The skin is dark-colored, but the inside is pure white.
The 'delima' fruits symbolizes sincerity of the leader. Why? Because in the Qur'an, there is a reading of "Al Ikhlas" (ikhlas = sincere), and it has 5 'dal's in it.
Dal + 5 (lima) = delima.
The 9 colors fabrics symbolizes the "Wali Songo", 9 important messengers of Islam in the ... century.
This room is prohibited for public. Only janitors who sweep the room are allowed to get in there, appointed directly by the present Sultan.
Behind the 9 colors fabrics there's a bed where the Sultan in the old days used to take naps between his works. It used to be his study-room, by the way.
Gamelan, Javanese musical instruments. Some are still functioned in certain occassions only, such as Maulud Nabi Muhammad.
Armor's clothing of the Portuguese's army, raided by the Cirebon's army of much smaller number. The date where this happened is marked as the birth of Jayakarta (Jakarta). Some say, if you wanna know the history of Jakarta, you gotta know the history of Cirebon first.
A chair, a ladder, and a birdcage is for a ceremony when a child just starts to walk. The parent(s) sit on the chair, holding the child, and then lead the child down the ladder. Then the cage is placed, in it there are provided 7 items from which the child is gonna pick one or more items. A book and money are 2 among those items. The item that the child picks supposedly shows what he/she's gonna be good at when he/she grow up. Some children just stands there and cries and not picking anything. Some would pick almost everything. Some would throw a temper tantrum and mess everything up in there. Whatever the child does in there is believed to show the interest, character, and future of her/him.
Maybe there's nothing special in this picture. But my tour guide said that once there was a family of tourists from Kalimantan who got in the Keraton area without permission and they took a picture in the spot where I'm standing in the picture. Later when they printed the picture, there's a white crocodile showing in the picture right beside them. They sent the picture to the Keraton as a proof, but I didn't get to see it. Spooky, eh?
This wagon is hundreds years old. I forgot what it's called, but it is the vehicle of the ruling King, and is said to have a very sophisticated technology - the same technology principal that are used in modern cars (something to do with the way the wheels turn, the shockbreaker concept, etc). Other than that, the green jade paint is very beautiful with its shiny sprinkles. About 90% parts of the wagon is still original, including the green paint.
This wagon symbolizes the mix cultures of Cirebon. Trunk of an elephant is closely related to Hindu/Indian culture, dragon head and claws is related to Buddhism/Chinese culture, wings is related to Islamic culture (the Bouraq, Muhammad's vehicle).
This is the replica of the wagon which I think was made in the 90s. This copy is what's used whenever there's a Keraton Festival or any celebration that requires the King/Sultan to be carried by the wagon. The quality doesn't compete with the original one. The original one stays in the museum because Sultan doesn't want it to be damaged.
This is where the princesses would soak up their feet. But I'm sure it wasn't dirty like it is now.
This tree is about 600 years old. Hmm..would you be brave enough to sit under it alone at night?
Didn't think so :P
"Urban legend" has it that virgin girls aren't allowed to come in this area. Or else they'll be virgins forever. But actually, according to my tour guide, women aren't allowed in this area because it is where men do their "itikaf", so the presence of women would distract their concentration.
There's a 2-meter deep well that's never dry and the water is always on the same level, never more, never less. People can drink the water or just wash their faces with it. I'm not sure what it should do, but I was told not to dry my face with my handkerchief after I wash my face with it.
This is Mi Koclok. Yup, not Mi Kocok, that's from Bandung. Mi Koclok is noodles + chicken + coconut milk. We had it in a stall on Jalan Raya Sunan Gunung Jati, about Rp 6.000,00 per portion.
Less than 15 minutes after eating we arrived at the Sunan Gunung Jati gravery. People go here to pray and something like asking for signs and blessings. Although the complex is named after the legend, not just anybody can see his sacred grave. It's blocked with 4 tall walls, so all we can see from outside is the rooftop. Only male descendants of Sunan Gunung Jati can go in there.
Sunan Gunung Jati was married to a Chinese woman (was she a princess? I forgot). That's why there's a part of the gravery that belongs to the Chinese descendants.
At night, my little adventure is followed by foodvaganza in the Yogya foodcourt. I had Empal Gentong ("jeroan"/the insides of a cow in coconut milk soup-like thing)
and Tahu Gejrot (tahu=tofu). Both were yummy in the tummy! You could have the Tahu Gejrot as spicy as you want, just tell the cook how many chilli you want in the gravy.
And this is crackers with some chilli sauce on top.
MONDAY Dec 25, 07
The day was started with walking from Fani's house to the front side of Keraton Kesepuhan. Across the street was the Mesjid Agung (Grand Mosque) which is hundreds years old.
Fani's dad said that on Fridays there are 7 muadzins who holler out adzan at noon before the "Jumatan" (Friday prayer), where at other times and normally everywhere adzan is only done by 1 person.
I went along with Fani as she shopped for her Mom's cooking materials. Then we had breakfast right in the middle of that traditional market. Docang is ketupat with kerupuk kulit (crackers made of cow's skin), cassava leaves, and sprinkles of coconut shreds (gosh it's hard to describe these things in English :P ). I didn't like it mostly because of its appearance.. sorry!
Then.. after I bought some crackers for my friends in Jakarta, we went back to Fani's by becak. I loved it! I can't have the lovely experience of sitting in a becak in Jakarta anymore..
At almost noon we went out again to buy some pieces of batik cloth. Cheap stuff but pretty!
Then it was time to go pamper ourselves in the Grage Hotel and Spa. It's located halfway between Cirebon and Kuningan, about one hour of driving from Cirebon city.
While waiting for our turn to be pampered, we went lunching at the nearby restaurant called Alinda with grilled fish as their specialty. Yummy...!!
I was afraid that I might throw up or something if I was massaged with full tummy. But the masseuse convinced us that that wouldn't happen. So on we went with the massage.. Wow.. Rp 160.000,00 worth of pampering.. after the massage, I bathed in a tub of warm sodium water for 10 minutes, then ended it with a nice and fresh shower.. My first spa experience and I had it in a lovely holiday weekend.. :)
Then.. Fani had to take her sister to the bus terminal, so she dropped me off at the biggest mall in Cirebon called the Grage Mall, if I'm not mistaken. I had more than one hour wondering around just to kill the time before going to the train station. It was raining outside so there weren't much I could do.
At 5ish PM I went by becak to the station. Fani said earlier that I should just pay Rp 3.000,00 but the becak-man wanted Rp 10.000,00! A negotiation resulted in Rp 6.000,00 fare :)
My train left Cirebon at 6 PM. Goodbye town full of traditional food! Hello again Jakarta..