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Saturday, January 11, 2020

Tour De Java: Semarang

The Semarang trip is a classic example of saying something often enough to others until it sounded like a good idea, haha. I always wanted to go to Semarang simply because it was the only capital city in Java that I had never been to. That's why I kept hyping about it. The plan was initially bashed by many (Semarang is boring, Semarang is hot, Semarang got nothing, bla-bla-bla), but some eventually found it intriguing and decided to join in. That, my friends, is how it happened.

Came the big day, Surianto and I flew in early from Singapore to Jakarta. We took our time to visit an old friend named Sunarto who's now selling noodles, just like what his parents did 20 years ago. And what a bowl of teenaged goodness we had for lunch! Crab Noodles Hong Tian rocked!

Hanging out at Nasi Campur Alu.

The good day got better later on, when we hung out at Nasi Campur Alu. It felt right to have the unmistakable taste of our hometown with old friends from Pontianak! Alvin and Hendra met and ate with us there. Susan and Mul also made time to join us for a while. CP, the host, suddenly declared that Susan had paid for the meal, though Susan clearly didn't acknowledge that. Anyway, free meal was definitely welcome. Thanks!

When the evening came, we made our way to the train station. Endrico said he was already at the parking lot, but only God knows why it took him half an hour to meet us. He was the last to arrive, appearing few minutes after Budiman. Then off we went. The train was punctual, clean and comfortable. I was actually impressed! And throughout the six-hour trip, we chatted, ate (again) and slept as much as we could.

The train ride, as viewed from Endrico's camera.
Left: Anthony. Right: Surianto. 

It was 1am when we reached Semarang. We headed to Simpang Lima, the landmark of Semarang, because that's where our hotel was. After checked in, we decided to have a supper. We explored the eateries in Simpang Lima before we settled with bakmie Jawa and tongseng. We called it a night after that. Endrico shared room with Alvin, I was with Surianto and the last room was occupied by the other two.

The next morning, as we were on the way to Soto Bangkong for breakfast, Jimmy and son joined us. Not long after that, Hengky came, too. Our group members were finally complete! As we had our breakfast, Jimmy suggested Eling Bening and Gedong Songo that were located outside the city. I liked the fact that we were a bunch of easy-going guys. Without a second thought, we agreed to Jimmy's idea immediately!

When we were in Eling Bening.
Photo by Hengky.

First stop, Eling Bening in a city called Ambarawa! Jimmy and team reached there first as Hengky made a wrong turn, haha. But it was nice ride. There were four of us in a car and we had a good chat, including that unorthodox but sexy way to compliment a wife, haha. 

Eling Bening is about scenery viewed from highlands. It's so high that we could see Rawa Pening Lake from afar. The view was beautiful and the weather was cool. There was a white dragon boat replica that looked as if it was floating in the air. None of the attractions could hold us for long, though. Guys being guys, after taking pictures and a short break, we left for the next destination, haha.

The first team to reach Gedong Songo.
From left: Hengky, Anthony, Hendra and Surianto. 

The second tourist spot we visited was Gedong Songo in Bandungan (and no, it's not Bandung). The same entourage travelled with Hengky again. Much to my surprise, we made it first this time! As Jimmy and friends were still on the way, we went into a shop to have late lunch and tried the rabbit satay. It tasted quite alright.

Gedong Songo is a collection of few candi or temples. The location of one is quite a walking distance from another. To make it more challenging, Gedong Songo is sitting on the hillside, so we got to hike. The first candi was the only one that could be reached by all of us. The next one was an uphill battle. When Jimmy said we were almost there, I suddenly remember him saying the same thing 21 years ago, when we were lost in the forest of Temajoh: the truth is, we were nowhere near the destination, haha. After trying for a while, the few of us who attempted eventually gave up and turned back.

At the first temple.

We had a snack before we returned to Semarang. This time Hendra, Surianto and I switched to Jimmy's car. We headed to Kedai Beringin, a spacious restaurant that sells Chinese food. The dinner was surprisingly cheap dan good, but it's also interesting to learn that such a big establishment doesn't accept credit cards. 

Then came the most memorable night of the trip. The eight of us hung out in one room, just sharing and talking about life. There was a certain but indescribable closeness, perhaps due to the fact that we were old friends from the same school in our hometown. Family life, or even life in general, is never without problems and this is the thing that guys generally suffer in silence. But for once we discussed about it among us. It was good. Funny at times, the session was also very constructive, too.

From left: Jimmy (in white shirt), Endrico and Hendra, trying their best to enjoy Bakmie Siang Kie in a very limited seating space.

We checked out the next morning and we went to Gang Lombok for breakfast. There are two things  that are famous there: the spring rolls and noodles. Both had very long queues, but the spring rolls would take hours! While waiting for Siang Kie Noodles, we explored the area. Kay Tak Sie, a temple dedicated to Admiral Zheng He, was just around the corner. There was a rest area next to the temple, too, where we had our milk coffee later on. Back to the noodles, it was quite alright. I don't mind having it again if I don't need to queue. 

After eating, we rushed to Bandeng Presto to buy local delicacies before continuing to Sam Poo Kong, another temple dedicated to Zheng He. Believe it or not, Budiman and Hendra ended up playing airsoft gun there! From the temple, we drove to Kampung Laut, a big seafood restaurant, to have lunch. Haha, ya, we could really eat! The scallops, known locally as simping, was the special menu there. 

And that was our last gathering together. Endrico and Alvin went to the airport after lunch while the rest of us embarked on our journey to Yogyakarta. There was an incident before that, but hey, let's save the story for another time. Stay tuned, okay?

With Endrico at Kampung Laut, before our lunch.

Tour De Java: Semarang

Liburan ke Semarang trip ini adalah contoh klasik tentang sesuatu yang disebut terus-menerus sehingga lambat-laun terdengar seperti ide bagus, haha. Saya selalu ingin pergi ke Semarang karena inilah satu-satunya ibukota di Jawa yang belum pernah saya kunjungi. Saya lantas berkoar-koar tentang Semarang di grup teman-teman SMA. Awalnya rencana ini ditentang banyak orang (Semarang membosankan, Semarang tidak ada apa-apa, Semarang panas, bla-bla-bla), namun lama-kelamaan ada yang tertarik untuk turut-serta. Akhirnya terjadilah liburan ini. 

Ketika hari-H tiba, Surianto dan saya terbang di pagi hari dari Singapura ke Jakarta. Karena banyak waktu luang, kita pun mengunjungi teman lama bernama Sunarto yang kini berjualan bakmie, profesi yang juga ditekuni oleh orang tuanya 20 puluh tahun silam. Dan semangkok mie buatannya bukan saja lezat, tapi juga membawa kita kembali ke masa remaja! Bakmie Kepiting Hong Tian memang dashyat!

Bakmie Kepiting Hong Tian di Pademangan.

Hari pertama liburan terasa kian menyenangkan ketika kita berkumpul di Nasi Campur Alu pada sore hari. Makan nasi campur bersama teman-teman lama dari Pontianak sungguh sedap rasanya. Alvin dan Hendra akhirnya datang bergabung dan juga bersantap bersama kita. Susan dan Mul juga mampir. Ketika kita hendak pamit, CP tiba-tiba mengatakan bahwa apa yang kita pesan sudah dilunasi oleh Susan, meski Susan tidak pernah mengiyakan pernyataan CP tersebut. Siapa pun yang traktir, kebaikannya takkan dilupakan. Terima kasih!

Saat hari menjelang senja, kita pun bergegas ke stasiun kereta. Endrico mengabarkan bahwa dia sudah berada di lapangan parkir, namun hanya Tuhan yang tahu kenapa dia butuh setengah jam untuk menjumpai kita yang sudah menunggu di gerbang masuk. Dia baru muncul setelah Budiman tiba beberapa saat lamanya. Kemudian berangkatlah kita. Keretanya tepat waktu, bersih dan nyaman. Saya sungguh terkesan! Dan selama perjalanan berdurasi enam jam itu, kita mengobrol, makan (lagi) dan tidur sebisanya.

Menanti kedatangan kereta di Stasiun Gambir. 

Jam menunjukkan pukul satu pagi ketika kita tiba di Semarang. Kita pun menuju ke Simpang Lima karena hotel kita berada di sana. Setelah check-in, kita memutuskan untuk makan lagi. Kita mengitari tempat makan yang mengelilingi Simpang Lima dan akhirnya menyantap bakmie Jawa dan tongseng. Setelah perut kenyang, barulah kita tidur. Endrico sekamar dengan Alvin, saya dengan Surianto dan sisanya ditempati oleh dua kawan lainnya. 

Keesokan paginya, selagi kita berjalan kaki ke Soto Bangkong untuk sarapan pagi, Jimmy dan putranya datang bergabung. Tidak lama setelah itu, Hengky juga tiba di rumah makan. Saat kita menikmati soto porsi kecil ini, Jimmy mengusulkan tempat wisata Eling Bening dan Gedong Songo yang berada di luar kota. Tanpa ragu, semuanya pun setuju. Saya suka gaya para pria yang cepat dalam bersepakat dan praktis dalam bertindak! Bayangkan kalau ada yang cerewet, pasti susah untuk jalan bersama.

Berjalan kaki dari hotel ke Soto Bangkong.

Pemberhentian pertama, Eling Bening, terletak di kota yang bernama Ambarawa. Jimmy dan rombongannya tiba terlebih dahulu karena Hengky belok ke arah yang salah, haha. Tapi kita gembira menumpang di mobil Hengky. Ada empat orang di mobil dan kita bercakap-cakap tentang banyak hal, termasuk cara seksi untuk memuji istri, haha.  

Daya tarik Eling Bening adalah pemandangan dari dataran tinggi. Lokasi kita cukup tinggi sehingga bisa melihat Rawa Bening yang berada di kejauhan. Pemandangannya indah dan cuacanya pun sejuk. Ada kapal naga putih yang dibuat seakan-akan melayang di udara. Akan tetapi kita tidak berada lama di sana. Setelah foto-foto dan minum sejenak untuk melepas dahaga, kita lantas berangkat lagi ke tujuan berikutnya.

Budiman di Eling Bening.

Dari Eling Bening, kita menuju ke Gedong Songo yang berada di Bandungan (ini kota yang berbeda dengan Bandung). Rombongan yang sama kembali mengikuti Hengky dan kali ini kita sampai lebih dulu. Karena Jimmy dan kawan-kawan masih dalam perjalanan, kita mampir ke rumah makan untuk santap siang. Menu hari itu adalah sate kelinci. Rasanya lumayan. 

Gedong Songo adalah satu kawasan dengan beberapa candi. Jarak satu candi ke candi lainnya bisa dicapai dengan berjalan kaki, tapi terasa menantang karena jalannya menanjak. Akhirnya kita semua hanya bisa berkumpul di candi pertama, haha. Candi yang berikutnya tidak gampang dicapai. Ketika Jimmy berkata bahwa kita hampir tiba, mendadak saya teringat ucapan serupa yang ia lontarkan 21 tahun yang lalu, sewaktu kita tersesat di Temajoh: sebenarnya kita masih jauh dari tujuan, haha. Kita akhirnya menyerah dan berjalan pulang.

Separuh jalan di Gedong Songo.
Foto oleh Endrico.

Kita mengisi perut sejenak dengan ubi Cilembu sebelum kembali ke Semarang. Kali ini Hendra, Surianto dan saya pindah ke mobil Jimmy. Kita meluncur ke Kedai Beringin, sebuah restoran besar yang menjual masakan Cina. Makan malam ini enak dan murah. Pokoknya mantap. Kendati begitu, kita cukup terkejut juga karena restoran sebesar ini ternyata tidak menerima kartu kredit. 

Apa yang terjadi selanjutnya adalah malam yang mengesankan. Kita berkumpul di kamar, berbincang dan bertukar pikiran tentang kehidupan. Ada nuansa keakraban yang begitu terasa, mungkin karena kita semua adalah teman lama yang berasal dari sekolah yang sama di Pontianak. Biasanya pria hanya berdiam diri dalam menjalani kehidupan dan rumah tangga yang tidak luput dari masalah, namun di malam itu kita berdiskusi tentang topik ini. Kita tergelak, geli mendengar komentar yang benar tapi lucu. Pokoknya serius tapi santai. Sangat bermanfaat.

Saat kita berkumpul dan berbincang.

Kita pun check-out di pagi berikutnya dan mengendarai mobil ke Gang Lombok untuk sarapan pagi. Ada dua makanan khas Semarang yang terkenal di tempat ini: Lumpia Semarang dan Bakmie Siang Kie. Dua-duanya perlu antri, tapi antrian lumpia membutuhkan waktu berjam-jam lamanya! Selagi mengantri Bakmie Siang Kie, beberapa di antara kita menjelajahi kawasan tersebut. Di balik toko lumpia ternyata ada Klenteng Kay Tak Sie yang memuja Laksamana Cheng Ho. Ada semacam kantin di dekatnya dan di sanalah kita menikmati kopi susu dan lumpia setelah sarapan. Bicara tentang bakmie, rasanya lumayan enak. Saya tidak keberatan untuk mencicipinya lagi, asalkan jangan antri seperti tempo hari.

Sesudah makan, kita lanjut ke Bandeng Presto untuk membeli oleh-oleh, lalu mengunjungi Klenteng Sam Poo Kong yang juga dipersembahkan untuk Laksamana Cheng Ho. Percaya atau tidak, Budiman dan Hendra justru main airsoft gun di sini! Setelah usai tembak-tembakan, kita pergi ke Kampung Laut untuk makan makanan laut. Yaa, kita kuat makan, haha. Menu masakan yang istimewa di sana adalah kerang simping.  

Dan itu adalah perjamuan terakhir bagi rombongan kita. Endrico dan Alvin langsung ke bandara udara seusai makan siang. Kita pun melanjutkan perjalanan ke Yogyakarta. Ada satu kejadian tak terduga sebelum kita berangkat, tapi lebih cocok bila saya simpan cerita ini untuk kisah berikutnya. Nantikan saja, ok?

Menanti makan siang di Kampung Laut.

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