Java, Indonesia

2019 HAL World Cruise

Wednesday, March 20, 2019


We docked at Semarang in central Java.  This is a port city for tours to the ancient Temple of Borobudur.  This Buddhist temple is unique.  To this day, it is an engineering mystery.  How was it built without the use of modern technology or equipment?  There are 10 massive stone terraces, each representing a different stage of enlightenment, topped by the Great Stupa.  For more than a thousand years, it lay hidden under dense jungle vegetation.  After UNESCO assisted in a large restoration project between 1975-1982, Borobudur became the most-visited site in all of Indonesia!  We were there in 2010.  However, our Captain, Jonathan Mercer, took a Borobudur tour on Wednesday and posted photos on his site.  Just click the link to Captain, Who’s Driving and take a look!

Meanwhile, let me tell you about our visit, this year, to the Sam Po Kong Temple; the historical city of Ambarawa, once a major hub during the Dutch East Indies time period and today, home of the Antique Train Museum; and the Tlogo Agro Plantation where major export crops are grown.

The photos, as always, tell the story:

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We docked at Tanjung Emas in central Java. This is the port for Semarang, the 6th largest city in Indonesia with a population of 2 million. It is heavily commercial. But there is a cruise terminal for tourists.
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The terminal is large with shopping, entertainment and tourist info readily available. We had signed up for a ship’s tour to visit a temple, take a ride on an antique train and tour a coffee plantation. So we moved quickly along to begin the adventure.
In less than an hour, we arrived at Sam Po Kong Temple (aka Gedong Batu). It is the oldest Chinese temple in Semarang. It was built in 1410 to honor the Chinese Muslim explorer, Admiral Zheng He, a significant figure in Indonesian history.
Zheng He (1371-1435) was appointed by the Chinese Emperor Yong Le to explore the seas and trade with the world. He took a fleet of 317 ships and 28,000 men to South-East Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and East Africa on his 1st expedition (1405-1433)
The Gambar Relief is 10 Dioramas telling the history of Admiral Zeng He and his explorations.
Our next stop is the Antique Train Museum in the city of Ambarawa.  Ambarawa was a military city during the Dutch Colonial times. King Willem I ordered construction of the new railway station in 1873 to facilitate troop movement to/from Semarang.
The Willem I Railway Station has two different sets of track. Originally, it was a transshipment point between the standard gauge track from the Northeast and the narrow gauge line to the South.
We boarded a heritage train consisting of several cars pulled by a narrow gauge steam locomotive. The museum has a collection of 21 steam locomotives, four of which are operational.
The museum also preserves old telephones, telegraph equipment, bells, signal, and some antique furniture. This is an old scale.
The old turntable.
The old turntable.
After a one hour train ride, we arrived in Tuntang and visited the Tlogo Agro Platation with its lush grounds.
Here, we are served a snack and tea.
Here, we are served a snack and tea.
First, a refreshing guava juice.
First, a refreshing guava juice.
Then a snack of guava chips, brownie, banana pastry and something made with egg, soy, and lots of terrific spices.
After the snack break, we were shown the processes of a coffee plantation as well as the different plants that are grown and processed in Indonesia. This is the Robusta coffee bean.
The plantation grows many other crops. This is a Durian tree: great tasting fruit, but extremely smelly and banned aboard the MS Amsterdam!
Other trees on the plantation include Lychee, Casava, Breadfruit, coconut, clove and rubber. These are rubber trees.
Rubber trees, like maple trees, are tapped.
Rubber trees, like maple trees, are tapped.
A drop of Latex
A drop of Latex
And then the rain came!
And then the rain came!
And it did not stop!  We reurned to the port and called it a day!
And it did not stop! We returned to the port and called it a day!

Our next port is Singapore.

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