26 Oct - 30 Oct 2013 Semarang

Republic of Indonesia (CPI = 32/100 and BPI = 7.1/10.0)
Central Java aka Jawa Tengah
Jalan Imam Bonjol 177 B
Clean and new standard a/c single room with modern shared bathroom (bak mandi and Southeast Asian squat toilet) and good wifi for IDR 110,000.- or US$ 9.90 per night.
Laundry service: IDR 5,000.- per kg, washed and dried (minimum charge per load: IDR 15,000.- or US$ 1.35).
Staff: raw beginners but highly motivated and helpful; reasonable English.
Beer: 620-ml bottles of chilled Anker Beer (4.9 % alc./vol.) for IDR 24,500.- or US$ 2.20 per large bottle from the brand-new Indomaret convenience store (24/7 service) on the hostel’s ground floor - world of bliss.

Click below for an interactive road map of the Imam Bonjol Hostel in Semarang and for directions:
S 06° 58.80' E 110° 24.65'

Matt: Suffering an unexpected reverse culture shock and speeding through its four distinct phases (Honeymoon, Negotiation, Adjustment and Mastery) when, coming in from backward Kalimantan, entering the modern and bustling Javanese port city of Semarang with her (i) pothole-free but clogged avenues and manicured green spaces, (ii) glitzy shopping malls and stylish boutiques stocked with well-known international brands, and (iii) with the usual chains of polished 24/7 convenience stores and well-maintained institutions of invocation, some of them intermixing the spook of choice, where the registered members of Indonesia’s six officially accredited pancasila religions (Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism - that's all) can conjure their spirits, angels, demons, gods and goddesses.

Matt: Time-travelling back 250 years into Java’s colonial past, strolling through Semarang’s richly atmospheric old Dutch port quarter with many buildings in an advanced state of decay and bribing the security guard at the 1753 CE Protestant Gereja Blenduk aka Gereja Jemaat Imanuel Semarang with IDR 2,000.- or US$ 0.15 in order to get in and to admire its baroque-style organ.

Matt: Time-travelling back 600 years into the legacy of the Hui-Chinese eunuch and mariner Cheng Ho, who commanded expeditionary sea voyages to Southeast Asia, the Middle East and East Africa from 1405 to 1433, and burning eight evil-smelling incense sticks at the huge and colourful Sam Po Kong Temple +62247605277 (admission: IDR 10,000.- per foreigner) for all cruising yotties: "Fair winds and following seas!"

Matt: Time-travelling ahead into the monochromatic future of a Muslim world, visiting the rather new, 10-hectare Central Java Grand Mosque aka Masjid Agung Jawa Tengah, the greatest mosque in Java and a combination of European, Middle East and Asian architecture, contemplating about the weak correlation between high-flying Eastern Islamism and a more down-to-earth Western engineering/maintenance culture (revolving restaurant: halted; trick fountains: emptied; hydraulically operated sun umbrellas: closed) and keeping a sharp lookout from the mosque's 99-m high control-tower shaped minaret for flying carpets made of green silk with a golden weft.

Well, you don't know what
We can find
Why don't you come with me little girl
On a magic carpet ride…"

Matt: Touring the modern, Tionghoa-owned Nyonya Meneer jamu factory +62243547532 which produces traditional Indonesian herbal medicine and health-care products for women and for men, discussing the exciting business opportunity of selling specially formulated health-care products to lgb people and to transgenders, reading in the company's proud and bilingual 40-page product list about “herbs to promote fertility” aka jamu bibit and “herbal contraceptives” aka jamu kering istimewa and concluding that (i) if one believes in science, chemicals will help, (ii) if one believes in nature, herbs will help and (iii) if one believes in magic, placebos will help too (…the best bet is to always firmly believe in your own belief system).

Matt: Sipping my most expensive cup of breakfast coffee during this trip through Indonesia, paying IDR 100,000.- or US$ 9.30 for one cup of this very special coffee, in a country where a cup of regular black coffee aka kopi pahit averages only IDR 3,000.- or US$ 0.30, and realising, unfortunately far too late, that I have contributed with my luxurious cup of civet-shit coffee aka kopi luwak to the miserable life of these poor Asian palm civets (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) who were taken from the wild, have to live like battery chickens and are brutally force fed the coffee beans - damn, I should be wearing sackcloth and ashes for supporting this case of animal cruelty!
Edward Cole (Jack Nicholson): Kopi Luwak is the world's most expensive coffee, though, for some, it falls under the category of too good to be true. In the Sumatran village where the beans are grown lives a breed of wild African tree-cat. These cats eat the beans, digest them, then defecate. The villagers then collect and process the stools. It is the combination of beans and gastric juices of the tree-cat that give Kopi Luwak its unique flavor and aroma... - You're shitting me?” Carter Chambers (Morgan Freeman): “Cats beat me to it.”
(Justin Zackham: The Bucket List)

Matt: Flagging down, right in-front of the hostel, one of the many battered no-name regional buses to Salatiga (c. 50 km, 2 ½ hours, IDR 10,000.- per person), taking a comfortable P.O. Safari express coach +62298314743 (c. 60 km, 1 hour, IDR 13,000.- per person) from Salatiga through densely populated Central Java, along rice paddies and coffee plantations, to Solo’s modern Tirtonadi bus terminal, 3 km north of the city centre, and thereafter a becak (IDR 20,000.- or US$ 1.75 for the exciting ride through a horrific traffic chaos) straight to my pre-booked homestay in the shadow of Surakarta’s kraton, once a majestic palace and the hub of an empire, but in today’s Indonesia in very poor condition and clearly surpassed by the better guarded, ultramodern BNI, BRI and BCA palaces with their well-oiled ATMs.

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From the 2013 Moral Travel Compass for Our Grand Children's Journey of Life:
It’s bad to follow any ideology;
Its good to believe your gut feelings.
Keep your bearings!