BREAKFAST AND CHECK OUT
Just like what I expected, we had to rush in early morning. In order to speed up the progress, we decided to pack our things and load them into the car before having the breakfast.
Since we had early breakfast, we didn’t get the buffet. Instead, we were given a choice of several breakfast menus for the day. I choose American breakfast item.
The croissant came first.
Then followed by the main course, which consist of sausage, smoked beef, home-made potato patties, omelet, and tomato.
Actually, there are some fruits included in the breakfast, but it didn’t came out in time. So they had to be packed.
After finishing our breakfast, we went to the receptionist to clear up all administration matters. It’s just pity that we didn’t stay long in this beautiful hotel. (At the end of our journey, we concluded that this hotel is the best that we had throughout our journey).
It was still very early, so most of the guests are still sleeping.
I believe a night previously, this pool lounge was very busy.
We headed straight into the receptionist to settle all of our bills (which actually there are none of them, as the hotel fee has been paid before, and we didn’t purchase any additional products).
Soon afterward, we board the car, where I drove all the way to Ambarawa. The traffic from Salatiga to Ambarawa was not really busy. There are some activities around the schools as it was school hour. Other than that, there are no traffic jams, or row of trucks.
The drive from Salatiga to Ambarawa is not very long….but longer than I initially thought. I thought the distance between Bawen to Ambarawa is just a short drive, but it turned out to be quite long, complete with a traffic jam around Ambarawa market.
But once we were freed from the jam, we could speed our way to Ambarawa, and arrived right at 7’o clock…..only to find that there was no one in the museum!
There are some cars, but I have no idea who they are, and it turned out that their presences are not related to the rail tour.
Since all of the gates are closed, we had to find way to get inside. Somehow, Paul and Hayden managed to get inside from somewhere. I managed to enter from one corner, where the gate looks lower. Later I found Geoff chatting with one Australian tourist who was not part of Bern Seiller tour.
Once we get inside, we were greeted by the sight of a short stretch of standard gauge track.
Yes, you can see the gauge difference when compared to the existing railway track.
Apparently the tracks are here to mount these standard gauge bogies. I believe these bogies were originally dumped at Manggarai workshop in Jakarta, before being rescued and brought to Ambarawa for preservation.
We went to the locomotive depot, and apparently something is brewing. Note the diesel locos, which were sent to here sometime in 2010.
A historical one, indeed!
This is the first time I see the B51 in steam. On my previous visit in 2006, the loco was still mounted on pedestal, in rusty condition. But now, it is in full steam, and ready to go!
We also went inside the loco shed to see other locos and carriages inside. Some loco are not ready for operation, and some carriages are covered.
One of the rack locomotive (B25 02) is seen placed on a mounting, due to repair work.
I peek inside one of the repair rooms, and I am really amazed by how immaculate the condition is. It looks like a throwback from Dutch colonial era.
Right on the outside, we can see where the inspection car is parked. This coach hasn’t been used for some time.
The B25 02 locomotive underwent major overhaul that require its wheels to be removed.
The B25 02 wheels are placed at one corner of the shed.
We returned back to the locomotive turntable afterward.
About 8’o clock the participants of Bernd Seiller’s tour began to arrive at the museum.
Geoff introduced me to Bernd as well as his Indonesian associate. While Bernd seemed to welcome me, his Indonesian associate seemed to be reluctant to see me, maybe he’s afraid if Bernd turned away from him and goes to me instead.
After some delays (which Bernd abhorred) the B51 loco eventually backed to the station.
Everyone are ready to photograph the B51 on its “departure” sequence.
Including this lovely lady.
I did made an approach to the lady, and introduce myself. She gladly introduces herself. Her name is Vina. She came from Berlin, Germany, but currently work in Hannover, also in Germany. She came to Indonesia with her partner, Frank. I did offered her some candy that I brought along, which she gladly accepted. But it turned out that the candy is made in Germany. She commented that she flew halfway around the world, just to have another German candy!
After several delays, which infuriate Bernd, the B51 was eventually ready for photo runpast, and now departing Ambarawa station.
We boarded the train, not from the station platform, but from the turntable area. After everyone boarded the train, we resumed the journey. But just after a few hundred meters from the station, we were asked to disembark the train for another photo runpast. This time with the scene of urban area around Ambarawa.
The train reversing, first….
…..before proceeding again.
It’s quite hard to find the spot as we had very cramped space on the trackside.
Once the first photo session completed, we resume our journey with the train. Now the countryside vista began to appear, complete with Mount Telomoyo in the background.
Our train stopped in the middle of a village near Ambarawa. Apparently for another runpast. Just like the previous session, the train reversed after all participants disembarked.
The villagers were very happy to see many Europeans coming along and visiting their village. And once everyone were ready, the train moved forward.
We only made a single run past in here, before we resuming the journey. Geoff seemed to enjoy the scenery very much.
Once our train arrived at a spot in the middle of ricefield, Bernd ordered the conductor to stop the train for photo running.
The spot is really an excellent one, where you can photograph the train with the background of mount Telomoyo in the background.
The run past was done in a single run. And once it completed, we returned back to the train to watch the scenery.
Mount Telomoyo with its huge gaping amphitheater crater become prominent background in everyone’s photo.
I think the huge crater was formed during prehistoric time, when the volcano made a very violent eruption that obliterated its summit and most of the slopes.
Leaving a fertile soil which makes a good farmland that kept the farmers busy all year.
Not long, our train is stopped in the middle of ricefield for another photo session.
This spot is even better than the previous one.
The bulk of the participants decided to take photo in a spot next to where the farmers working in the rice field.
The vastness of the place really allowed us to take the picture of the train while it run at higher speed.
Nothing really beat the scenery.
Apparently, there is a rerun for this time.
I decided to get closer with the rest of the group.
Some participants were first time visitors to Indonesia, and they are not really well adjusted to walk along the ricefield path. Some did actually fell into the ricefield. I even dipped my brand new shoes by accident!
The second run past went on flawlessly.
Once the runpast completed, we boarded the train and resumed the journey.
As we get nearer to Tuntang station, we caught the glimpse of lake Tuntang.
The lake used to be larger than what it is now, but due to water hyacinth outbreak in 1970s, the lake size has been reduced to its current size.
We stopped in one fisherman’s camp, where we took a photo run past across the fishermen area.
I took the opportunity to buy some drinks, as I became really thirsty.
Not long afterward, the train make a single run past.
Apparently, some participants took the picture from the other side of the track (which was actually against the sunlight).
Everyone was happy with their photoshoot.
The next runpast was done in a railway bridge near Tuntang.
Everyone secured their spots, just to grab their photos.
And apparently there was some confusion at the end of the second runpast. Some thought that there were only two sessions. But it turned out that there was the third one! Those who crossed the bridge after the second session were booed and jeered by others who stayed in their positions.
So this time, instead of photographing train, those who returned back to the train early were photographed by the remainder of the participants.
After we completed the photo session, everyone returned back to the train for the journey to Tuntang.
Paul enjoyed the view of the hilly terrain near Tuntang station.
Du bist so süß …..
The last photo session was quite challenging one as participants must climb up the road bridge above, through very slippery path, just to take the photo from above.
There were some participants who slipped and nearly fell, but thankfully no one was injured. Once everyone made their way to the top, the photo session begin.
But we have one more obstacle to overcome: apparently we had to walk to the Tuntang station, which is not very from our spot. But in order to do so, we had to cross a very busy highway. Some were nearly hit by passing cars!
Once we crossed the main highway, we went straight to the station where one German railfan trying his hand on the B51 loco.
I have to say that this is quite an unique moment: a German train driver, driving a German-built locomotive, in somewhere away from Germany.
He only tried several runs, before reattaching the loco to the carriages.
Soon after, Bernd Seiller’s group (including lovely Vina) went to their minibuses before going to Sragi sugar mill, leaving me with my small group to take the return train to Ambarawa.
Once the station is cleared, the loco does a run around to put the loco on the other end of the train.
The return journey to Ambarawa was uneventful, and we finally back to the Ambarawa station which was still in a process of refurbishment.
Geoff, Paul, and Hayden, went to explore the museum’s locomotive exhibitions, while I returned back to the car to start up its engine and cool down its interior.
There was one incident when I walked back to my car. Suddenly one of the station staff running after me. When I confronted him, he asked me about the receipt that he gave to the tour organizer. Since I didn’t actually organize the train trip (it belonged to Bernd’s Indonesian associate), I can only say that I have no idea about the receipt, and suggesting him to contact Sragi sugar mill, where the group was heading on that day.
After a few minutes waiting in the car, they returned back to the car, and we resumed our journey to Semarang for overnight rest.
This is the first time I traveled on the controversial Semarang-Bawen tollway. So called controversial because its construction had caused severe ecological damage, which require the killing of several water springs on the hill which are crossed by the tollway. And this time, instead of becoming a passenger, I drove my car through this (actually) scenic tollway. This is a stark contrast when compared to driving through jam-packed Ungaran or Candi area.
Once we arrived at Semarang, we browsing our way to find our hotel. We exited through Gayamsari toll gate which, according to the GPS, is located just straight to the east of jalan Pandanaran. As we exited the toll gate, we were surprised that we are not allowed to make right turn to the west. So we had to go the east first, before finding the u-turn and then head to the west.
The traffic in Semarang was very busy. The usual working day traffic in a major city in Indonesia. There were occasional traffic jams, as wall as closure. But the worst had to be the one at “Simpang Lima” junction, which is known as Semarang’s city square. Apparently there was a major event being held in this place. There were some Cheerleader acts, and parts of the main street were closed as concert stage being erected on it.
Once we struggled our way through, we eventually made our way to our hotel in Jalan Pandanaran. I kept looking on the right, to see where our hotel is. Suddenly I caught the glimpse of “Hotel Pandanaran” sign, and make a sudden stopping. Apparently the hotel frontage is small and unassuming, despite the size of the hotel’s building.
I drove my car to the hotel’s entrance, and was quite perplexed by the absence of hotel’s employee at the front. There were no security officers who would help me negotiating the traffic, no bellboy to help us carrying our bag. So, I was quite suspicious….
But Paul managed to get inside the hotel, to check in into the hotel. It turned out that most of the employees were inside for briefing. After we unload most of our belongings, I drove my car to the basement car park, where some employees eventually greeted me. Parking my car on its basement car park was very tricky as there are very little space between the cars.
I went to the receptionist’s desk where Paul had apparently checked us in, using my name. I handed in the hotel voucher, where the bellboys eventually appeared and helped us bringing our belongings to our room.
To our surprise, although we initially booked “Standard” rooms, the hotel managements generously upgraded our room to “Deluxe” standard. The bellboys showed me and Geoff’s room…..
It’s a great room. But look closely, and you will find something wrong in this picture.
We asked for twin room, but instead were given a double bed room! I have to admit, it was a nice room, had one of us travel with our female partner!
After a few minutes waiting, the housekeeping staff eventually took us to our actual room, with twin bed.
The bathroom is basic shower bathroom, and it has hot water shower.
The view from our room is outstanding. We could see the hill to the south of Semarang.
Once we unload and settle our belongings, we went to the bar lounge, where we were served with the Welcome Drinks.
It has a nice taste that made from several ingredients, which I forgot.
I briefly went to the bank near the hotel to settle some bill, while Geoff, Paul, and Hayden relaxed at the hotel’s lounge. Along the way, I saw this classic house.
Just like many Indonesian cities, where distinction between commercial and residential areas seemed to be blurred. Jalan Pandanaran was once a residential area, but after Indonesian independence it gradually turned into commercial area.
It doesn’t take long for me to settle the business in the bank, before I returning back to the hotel. Just before I left the bank, I went to the toilet where I saw this hilarious and perverted sign.
Once I returned back to the hotel, we went to one famed traditional restaurant. It is actually not very far from the hotel, but Paul decided that it would be better if we walked to the place. So there we goes!
It was a good exercise to trim down my body weight, although I am still a bit tired after driving from Ambarawa.
Along the way, we passed in front of Indonesian State Railway regional headquarter in Semarang.
Apparently, now there is one steam locomotive placed on pedestal in front of the office. I asked permission from the security to photograph. He gave his permission, so we went in to photograph this Manchester-built locomotive.
Once we finished photographing the loco, we resumed our walk to the restaurant. It was quite tricky to find our restaurant, because it turned out that it is located in a narrow alley on a upmarket residential area near Novotel hotel.
We went inside the restaurant, where the food items are spread on the table, and we only paid what we took. I ordered this one.
For the drink, I buy this one. It has supernatural themed name, but it tasted delicious nevertheless.
Once we finished the meal and paid the bill, we returned back to our hotel. It is quite a long trip from the restaurant to the hotel. After several kilometres of walk, we finally arrived at the Old Simpang Lima. Right in the middle of it there is a “Tugu Muda” monument, which was erected at the former site of the old fountain in the middle of the park.
But the real highlight of this place is “Lawan Sewu” building.
“Lawang Sewu” which literally means “Thousand doors”, was built during Dutch colonial era as a headquarter of the first railway company in Dutch East Indies: Nederland Indische Spoorwegen Maatschapij.
Unlike the neighbouring countries in South East Asia, where their first railway company was a government venture, NIS was a privately owned railway company.
We entered the compound, where we had to pay small amount of money to enter the museum building.
Right next to the ticket booth, there is a building which is said to protect the water well. The water from this well is used to supply the water for this office.
This impressive building is also well known for its dark past too. After the arrival of Japanese occupation force in 1942, the building was converted into military headquarter, where some tortures were done in this building. After the departure of Japanese, and Indonesian Independence, the building saw very little use before being abandoned in 1970s.
The building is said to be haunted since then. There are reports of apparitions at night. One of them was well documented in local TV show, back in 2004 and become an instant hit, sealing its reputation as the most haunted place in Semarang.
Change came in 2011, when the renovation works on this historic building began. A few years later, the building eventually reopened for as a public museum, where visitors can stroll along its vast courtyard, or enjoying the spaciousness of its interior.
They also have the map of the museum at one corner of the museum, where you could get to know more about the building.
It’s just pity that they don’t make the brochure of the map. Had they do so, it would have been a good advertising of this place.
The rear courtyard which was once overgrown and shady has been converted into an open air walkway, where visitors can relax between the tour.
Apparently, there is also a scaled model of an electric locomotive in here.
I remember there was some controversy over its blue livery. Some junior railfans commented that the livery is inaccurate, some said its original livery was black or dark grey, etc..etc…
I relaxed briefly under the tree. It is a really nice place to chill and relax. It is a bit unfortunate that the drinks shop closed rather early.
Apparently, the renovation work is not yet fully completed. Parts of the building is still underwent paint job.
Even the main hall and upper floor were off limits to the visitor, when we made our visit.
But inside the exhibition hall, you can see some railway artefact that dating back from previous era. Including these signal levers.
I went to one room, where there is one newspaper clipping displayed in a glass frame.
It shows a news about planned demolition of Lawang Sewu building in 1975, to make way for road widening. The plan, thankfully, never materialize.
I also marvelled Lawang Sewu’s impressive corridor.
They’re designed to reduce dependence on air conditioning system in hot air, as such device were non-existent when this building was built.
Suddenly, a hot chick turns up, and makes everything felt “hot”.
Once the lady and her entourage left, I went to the outside to see the sunset.
Right in front of the building, there is one steam locomotive mounted in front of the building.
This rare Hartmann-built locomotive is just a sole member of its class. I remember, back when I visited Ambarawa in 2004 and 2006, the loco was in a derelict condition before being repaired cosmetically, and brought to its present site.
It’s good to know that its builder plate is still in place.
But not everything are complete. Some devices are notably missing in its driving cab.
The builder plate on its firebox denoting its lineage.
As the darkness fell, all the lights were turned on.
Paul and Hayden really marveled the stained glass on the main tower of Lawang Sewu building.
I tried to get closer to see what the picture is all about.
It seemed to depict European or Indian culture, or maybe Indonesian culture according to their perspective.
I have to say that Lawang Sewu building looks very glorious at night.
We returned back to the hotel soon after to take a rest.
TO BE CONTINUE