January 25, 2009

Semarang "Religious" Tour - part 1 : Temples (Kelenteng)

Semarang is the capital city of Central Java. It is known to have a huge ethnically Chinese population compared to other cities in Indonesia. Therefore it is not surprising that there are many temples here (temple in Indonesian = Kelenteng). Two well-known temples are :

1. Sam Po Kong temple
Address : Jl. Simongan no. 129, Kedong Batu

This temple was built to commemorate the Chinese commander Zheng He/Cheng Ho. Legend has it that the admiral stopped at this place during his journey because one of his crew members was sick. While treating the sick crew, many other crew members entered into marriage with the local people. Before Zheng He continued his voyage, he gave his crew members who stayed behind lessons on farming and on how to live prosperously.

Tip: Don't go there on a Sunday morning, as I did. Prayers were still in session so I couldn't go inside the temple.

To read more info on this temple, please visit : http://indonesialover.blogspot.com/2008/01/sam-po-kong-temple.html

2. Tay Kak Sie temple
Address : Gang Lombok no.62

Tay Kak Sie means "Great Conscience". This temple is used to worship various Tao gods and goddesses. What I found interesting about the place is that near the temple you can also find a replica of Sam Po Kong's ship. And also, when visiting here, don't forget to try the famous Lunpia Gang Lombok, a Semarang specialty, located at the front of the alley.

Dragons, Dragons and more Dragons...

An old temple next to the new one

Replica of Sam Po Kong's ship

Lunpia...Semarang's specialty

January 24, 2009

Religion in Indonesia

When it looked like I had to go to Semarang, I was quite excited because it would be my first time there. I googled Semarang's places of interests and found out that most of the places mentioned were places of worship (more on this in my next post). But to my surprise, unlike usual, where a city had either a famous mosque or church noted as worth seeing, in Semarang, all the major religions in Indonesia were in the list of "places of interests".

In Indonesia, it is uncommon for someone to not have a religion.

Please note though: although you identify yourself with a certain religion, it doesn't necessarily mean that you practise that religion. That is why some people may joke around and say that their religion is "Islam KTP" (KTP is an abbreviation of Kartu Tanda Penduduk = ID card...remember, Indonesians LOVE their abbreviations), which means that their Islamic practise is only limited to it being stated for ID purposes.

Having a religion is not only needed for your ID card, but it is intertwined in almost all of life's activities, for example, you are required to state your religion on your CV. Your religion may even affect your marriage plans since inter-religious marriage in Indonesia is not allowed.

So what are the major religions in Indonesia? Well, around 80% of Indonesians are Moslems, however besides Islam, I was taught in elementary school that there are 4 other main religions formally recognized in Indonesia: Catholicism, Protestantism, Hinduism & Buddhism. Nowadays, Confucianism is also recognized again as a formal religion in Indonesia (correct me if I'm wrong).

January 21, 2009

Creativity in Semarang

Last week I was in Semarang to monitor a project, when I noticed these big blue "vases/flowerpots" in front of the houses in one of the streets I was going through.

As I walked closer to this "thing", I saw what it actually was :

It was a garbage can made out of used car tires.

When I commented on this to the supervisor who accompanied me, she said it is common to find them in Semarang. It is usually made by the neighbourhood's PKK group (a government initiative that focuses on family welfare).

Very creative!

January 10, 2009


Happy New Year! (I know, it's a bit late)

The first week of January has passed and all I remember of it is work, work, work. Even during the holidays I had to go to the office to finish off a few reports :(

I thought that things at my office would slow down after the holidays, but I was wrong. I even have to go to Semarang on a business trip next week. But because I've never been there before, I'm quite excited about it. Although it is a bit difficult to go sightseeing when on a business trip, this time I'm determined to see at least 2 places : Lawang Sewu, which is an old Dutch colonial building that has "1000" doors (and is supposed to be haunted) & Nyonya Meneer factory/museum (a famous Indonesian jamu brand).

Well, more on that next week. Actually I have a few topics in mind I want to write about, but I don't have the time yet :(
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