Thursday, August 7, 2014


We shall take a little break from all the holiday posts with some clearing from Mama's photo library.

I told you it all started with the new comp, the one with the working webcam that Kecil can operate by herself as long as the computer was opened. But actually, I guess it had started earlier.
After all, it did not take her long of observing Mama with Mama's various gadgets before she wanted to have a turn as well. When lack of gadget became a problem, why, just use her own!
Then came the day when we needed to replace our point and shoot, we picked a kid-proof model, just so she can use the camera as well.

Well, now the latest news is that Daddy bought Mama a new iPad, one with a working (not to mention a very good!) camera. So, between her experience with the photobooth and the cameras, Kecil had since learned to turn the camera the other way around and take selfies!

Fiuh, my techie kiddo. Now I guess Mama and Daddy just have to make sure she is still firmly grounded in the real world, and not just in virtual reality.
In the meantime, I think a regular schedule of camera-roll cleaning is in order.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Holiday 2013: Semarang 3

After so many pictures in the last post, you would think we would have moved on to the next city already. We were, after all, on a road trip, no? But after spending oh so many hours the previous day just to reach Semarang..... we figured, why not just enjoy ourselves in the city before haring off again? So we booked another hotel in Cirebon (along the way to Jakarta), and took quite a big part of the day around Semarang, swimming at the hotel, visiting Lawang Sewu, followed with this one, the Sam Poo Kong temple.

Just like Lawang Sewu, actually Mama did not know anything about the temple, and since there was no guided tour or anything, even our visit did not do much in enlightening us. We did manage to overhear snatches of history from a tour guide who was bringing along a group of Russians to the site.

Still, we did try our best to 'educate' Kecil about how the temple is one of the places where people pray etc. Mama fondly remembers her childhood days when she used to tag along her grandparents to such temples.

We meandered around the complex for a while, peeking at the pyre, climbing staircases and generally poking around. You might see a few of the Russians I mentioned earlier also doing their part of 'poking around' the site.

For some inexplicable reason, Kecil was thoroughly enamoured by the yellow lion. Well, I guess they kind of look cute together. Hihi....

Anyway, after a while, we decided to follow something that caught our eyes earlier. Get dressed up!

On site, there was a vendor offering rental of 'period costumes'. The site was a Chinese temple, so obviously they only provided Chinese costumes, albeit from various eras. Kecil was pretty psyched about the whole thing.

Oh, but she wasn't the only one getting dressed up, though.

Mama and Daddy too! Well... since we've never done this kind of thing before, why not, right? Anyway, with Kecil along, it was more fun.
So, basically what the vendor offered was photography package. For about $8 per person, you get to 'borrow' the costume and they will take pictures of you, of which you can get a total of 3 printed out. For a small additional fee, you can also get the soft copies of ALL the pictures. Why, if you have your own camera, they can also take some pics using your camera. All in all, it was a good deal.

It was quite interesting to 'get dressed', as the clothes were all made in such a way that they will fit most people. We love the bellowing sleeves. I guess it helped that both Mama & Daddy used to watch all kinds of period gong-fu movies and series.

Kecil took to her role as a princess like a duck took to water. Seriously. I guess all the pink costume and accessories helped. She especially liked her poses near those flowers as they matched her dress, according to her.
Daddy, too, made a pretty convincing Chinese warrior/King/whatever. Unbelievable!
Mama, on the other hand.... good Lord. I guess Mama was neither fish nor fowl. Too friendly to look like a proper dragon lady, and yet, too stout to fit the image of a demure Chinese royal. They even tried to have Mama doing those hand postures like what Kecil did. Gah.... awkward did not start to describe the resulting pic. So... just this pic for Mama, OK?

Still, I think there were a few family pics that turned out all right.
Then we started goofing around.

Haha... this Mama can't help it. You simply can't put Mama into those billowing sleeves without her doing this.

Done with all the picture taking, we went off to get changed and collect our print out. Obviously, we also took the option of getting the soft copies as well.

As happy as Kecil was pretending to be a princess, I think she was even happier in her own skin (clothes) haha...

These are some detail shot of the temple.

We had lots of fun pretending to be Chinese aristocrat from the olden days, even if we did not learn a whole lot of things or anything.
Anyway, the temple was our last stop in Semarang. So, we continued our roadtrip by driving towards Cirebon straight from the temple. We still arrived at our hotel pretty late at night, but at least the drive was not as harrowing as our first day on the road.
Of course, that will be another story. So... until then.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Holiday 2013: Semarang 2

On Mama's list for outing in Semarang was this big, beautiful building, Lawang Sewu, which used to be the office of the railway authorities of the Dutch East Indies. Now, Mama is no history buff or anything, but having known almost nothing about Semarang, this particular spot topped Mama's search result for activities to do in Semarang. Since it was not that far from the hotel, why not? Of course, we did not regret our decision to go there at all.

The whole complex consisted of 2 huge buildings (A & B) and a couple of smaller ones. Unfortunately one of the big building (A) was closed for some electrical work, but we did manage to have our fill of sightseeing around anyway.

The first 'surprise' we encountered was at the loo (while we were answering nature's call). This Mama seriously had never seen a bigger urinal before, and from the look of it, it came straight from Netherlands! Even the wash basin came from Netherlands. Did you see the stamp at the corner pic of the collage? I guess the Dutch weren't joking when they built this place. But even then, it was said that the building was in pretty bad condition when it was taken over by the railway authorities of Indonesia (PJKA). I guess someone had enough vision to turn it into a tourist attraction, and I would say they did a pretty impressive job on repairing the complex.

Within the complex was a courtyard where a group of traditional musician were playing. These guys ranged from very young to quite old, but they were really quite good.
Since it was nearer, we went for Building B, which was fully open for public.
On the first floor, there were models of the complex and its surrounding.

Then there were also some drawing/painting(?) of the whole complex. We do appreciate the pictures, especially since we couldn't get into Building A, where the beautiful windows were.

Building B was basically a long, rectangular structure with veranda all around. Half of the second floor was then divided into smaller offices, I guess to house the clerks running the company back in the days. It was clear that the building had yet to be fully renovated, but even at its current state, it was pretty impressive. Having been raised in Catholic schools (which were usually situated in a similarly built structures), Mama & Daddy had a good time just walking around the building.

The tour was not complete without the trip into the 'basement'. Originally built for the express purpose of cooling the building (it was constantly kept partially flooded so that the evaporation will help to keep the building cool), it was also used to house prisoners during the Japanese occupation.

Given that the basement was kept partially flooded, we needed to wear boots to go down. The boots were available free of charge, and they were pretty good. They were high enough not to let a drop of water in, and they even came in kids sizes (in red, no less. Adult sizes were only available in black).

It was quite eerie downstairs. I was quite surprised that Kecil was willing to go down, but she did, and we were a pair of proud parents.

The basement ran along the whole length of the Building B. From the basement, we washed our feet then we went up all the way to the attic, which turned out to be some sort of sports hall. As I said, these Dutch weren't joking when they built this place.

Going down, we decided to see what was available on Building A. These pics were taken at the outside veranda (both buildings were built similarly, with veranda all around the building). As you can see, Building A was in much better condition than B. We loved the floor tiles, the bricks on the wall (varnished! Can you see them shine?), the tall ceilings, the painted (solid!) wood ceiling, the accents.... and just look at the thickness of the walls!
OK, I think enough gushing about building quality and such. I don't even know when we started noticing all these building details. We couldn't have been so scarred by bad masonry, could we?

Actually, parts of Building A was still open for public that day, only the main hall (where the beautiful windows were) was closed. It would seem that the hall can be rented by the public for functions and such. Our guide did mention that in receiving this complex, the PJKA landed itself a gold mine of sort. Not from buried treasure, no. But in the potential of the building itself, as a tourist attraction, public hall of sort, why, there were even talks of turning building B into some sort of public facilities. Still remember the sports hall on top of building B? Gold mine, indeed.

Now, since the building is owned by a railway company, part of building A was dedicated to some exhibition about.... guess what.... the railway company, of course. There were train models, a few real stuff from days gone by (things such as ticket machines, phones, etc), but Daddy and Kecil made a beeline for the set shown above, where Daddy showed Kecil what people do with naughty little girls. Lay them flat on the train tracks in front of on-coming train, yeah right.

It was approaching (or slightly past) lunchtime then, so we went back to Building B where we saw two food vendors. Daddy got the lontong while Mama shared the noodles with Kecil (no pics of the lontong because Daddy was VERY hungry).
By the way, did you see the biggest meatball in the bowl? Kecil actually managed to drop the ball on the floor on her second bite.
Such a waste of a perfectly nice meatball.
We had since trained her of the 'proper' use of forks when eating meatballs: Don't bite too close to the fork!

Before we finally left the site, there was one more photo-op, this time at the real locomotive and carriage train outside.

By the way, I think Daddy was still having some hard feelings about the meatball. He was trying to put Kecil into the fuel compartment!

All in all, it was a good morning spent immersed (ha!) in culture and history. We had a very good time poking around the place (minus one meatball, that is). Despite the plethora of ghost stories about the building circulating around the net (especially in Indonesian), we assure you that we did not see any apparition or anything resembling ghost of any kind. Maybe ghosts are averse to little girls wearing pink.

Should you be interested to visit the site, apart from pointing you to Wikipedia and Google Maps, I'm afraid I can't do much. Just look up under Lawang Sewu, Semarang. That's what we did, anyway. Oh, and parking was a bit of an issue, so what we did was to park at a nearby office compound and walk a few minutes to the site. The place has yet to really cater to international tourists (read: non-Indonesian speaker), so... if you don't speak Indonesian, you might want to find a translator or a tour guide to take you around. For all that, it was still highly recommended for history (or masonry) buffs.

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