Tuesday, 5 September 2017

#alivegurlmudik: History of Ambarawa

The line reads: "Meeting Hall for the Police and the People"

Stone relief of Van Imhoff, the fortress and Prince Diponegoro

Around 2 weeks ago, one of my cousins was getting married and, naturally, I was going to attend it. I thought this would be a great opportunity to explore a nearby town that I had yet to visit—Ambarawa. My Stepmom—originally was to attend another wedding prior to our cousin's—agreed to accompany me for a day in this small town in the Semarang Regency—around an hour from her hometown of Semarang. As usual, being a crazed traveler, I just had to look up historical sites we could visit. Our first stop was Willem II Fort, since it's located in Ungaran—a small town on the way to Ambarawa. At first, we thought we got lost, but apparently, we missed the building because it is now used by the local police department for medical tests and driver's license application—probably also a place to live for some of police officers. Originally built in 1786, the place has gone through some considerable renovations and now looks quite well-tended—although very, very empty, despite its function. It had been used for various functions throughout the centuries—apparently with no direct connection to Willem II himself. Although now it belongs to the local PD, people are still allowed to take a look inside—though there's barely anything of note there—and snap some shots.

Ambarawa's witty station master who let me take photos in the ticket booth :')

Amsterdam ain't the only one with this shiz

Our next stop was my main destination: Ambarawa Railway Museum. It is the most famous landmark in town—so much so that we saw a few Russian (?) guys who seemed to be train-enthusiasts. It was built in 1873 as a train station to transport troops to Semarang—previously known as Willem I station—up until 1976 when it was officially converted into a museum. It was perhaps in 2010, when it was made a heritage building, that it underwent a considerable renovation to its current state—my Stepmom had been there before and she said it looks much better now. The museum houses so many models of trains—and a timeline of Indonesia's train history—including steam and diesel trains. Most of the trains seemed to have come from Germany—even Kassel! The station building itself is definitely still the original one from the 19th century—restored through the paint from time to time. At the back, they even preserved some smaller train stops—not big enough to be called stations, I suppose—from smaller towns, before they could be mooched off by the locals. On the weekends, you can join a trip to Tuntang with their diesel train. You can also rent their steam or diesel trains for a group trip, for up to 80 (steam) or 120 (diesel) people—for quite a price, really. The most amazing part is not just the station master or the guides know what's what there—even the janitors were knowledgeable!—impressive, right?

Thrifted shirt + denim jacket + loafers // drsv batik pants (giveaway!) // old sunglasses // Sis's purse // outfit photos by Stepmom

Last stop of the day—well, for this post anyway—was Willem I Fort. Yes, it's an older fortress to the first one we saw. This one is located not too faraway from the railway museum, although was quite tricky to get to. Built in around 1834-1853, it was originally used for a military defence point, but during the Japanese occupation, it was turned into an internment camp. Since the 1950s, it seems to be used for military barracks—with some parts renovated to function as military prison—although when I arrived there some parts remained in ruins—but seems to be a home for some people. Now, as you may have guessed, because it is in military use, to get there—by car, at least—one must go through the military housing complex. If you are denied access, then that's the end of your journey. You can also go by motorbike through the back door, though—but this road is quite secluded. When we went there, my Stepmom and I spotted a lot of couples amongst the ruins, so this must be quite a famous dating spot. Personally, I love the ruined quality—reminding me of the one in Kassel. As for culinary, we went to Tahu Campur Pak Samino in Ambarawa for lunch and picked up Sate Sapi Pak Kempleng in Ungaran for dinner. It was my first experience and they were swell!

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