Spiegel Bar and Bistro, an old building in Old Town (Kota Lama) in Semarang
Spiegel Bar & Bistro, Kota Lama, Semarang

My dad was born in Semarang but he hates the city, for the reason that I don’t know. Whenever we had a family gathering in the town, my dad planned the days spent in such way that I could not enjoy sightseeing or even have a cup of coffee in a random cafĂ© there. So, in 2010, I went to the town with my cousin and stayed in our uncle and aunt’s house. It was okay yet I want more. In 2019, I went to the city once more. This time I secretly planned my trip, told my dad I went to Madiun (it was a half lie, because I actually went to Madiun for a transit) and visited Semarang without anyone knowing for the first time. I started to fall in love for the city.

Semarang is not a place you want to spend if you don’t like hot weather. Located in a tropical country, it’s awfully humid. You will definitely hate this town because it’s broiling hot especially when you walk on the road in the mid day. I can assure you that you will get a first degree burn if you don’t protect your skin. Finka, a friend of mine, rode a motorbike that day and picked me up. I was so shocked that the heat stung my skin. I could feel my body melting when I was on the ride.

What makes Semarang special is its culinary. It’s so rich. Really, you cannot do a lot in the town other than having a culinary tour with natives. The food is great. The main city attraction is Kota Lama or Old Town and Pecinan or China Town. If you stay there in a day, I can say, it’s enough for you to enjoy the city trip. However, the food! You need a whole week to discover cuisines from the city. They have savory-sweet kind of cuisines and I really love it. Especially the pork!

Another thing I love from Semarang is its boringness. I really enjoy the mundane lazy big city activity there. What else can you do in the town if you cannot visit the restaurants due to COVID-19 restrictions? You can always order online and enjoy the food in the hotel. Seriously, that was so boring for some people, yet it’s special for me. I can say I’m not the most interesting person you meet. I’m boring sometimes and I embrace my boringness. I enjoy silence. There was a time when Finka and I sat together, enjoying ourselves, sitting in a silent blissfully. It’s great to have such friend who can enjoy silent as much as you do without getting awkward. Another friend of mine who accompanied me when I visited the city was Ara. Ara said it was impossible for her to be silent with another person by her side. She is the cheerful type of friend, indeed. I think, Ara and Finka are just like yin and yang in friendship. If you need time to be silent (yin) then you can go with a friend like Finka. Otherwise, if you want more energy and have some fun, you can call a friend like Ara. There is nothing wrong with being yin or being yang. There is nothing wrong with silence. It’s always okay to embrace boringness.

Visiting Semarang is definitely not for everyone. Some people might not enjoy yourself as much as you do. When my mom asked me what did I do in the town and I answered, she said to me that the trip was just like “the usual”. A trip is supposed to be a different routine and allow her to take a lot of pictures. I disagree. For me, a trip is a moment of discovery. Sometimes, it has to be mundane, uninteresting, and sometimes embarrassing. All feelings are valid. It’s okay for me to have a less ideal trip. Whose standard is it that everything should be thrilling? Life is just like that. It allows us to feel a gamut of mixed feelings. It can be exhilarating yet disappointing. It can be dull yet relaxing. It doesn’t have to be always interesting. A trip to Semarang might not the best version of trip for some people, but I feel grateful because I can enjoy the town so much. It’s a blessing when you can enjoy yourself, observe peacefully, and allow yourself to feel.

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