Chinese New Year 2015 - Grebeg Sudiro

    This Chinese New Year is a bit special for me. Not only did I get to see the festival celebrating Chinese New Year in Solo, I also got to travel with some awesome travel mates during a trip called #ImlekNusantara. Thanks to the Ministry of Tourism, we were privileged to participate on the trip, work and all. Fun, festive, and friendship is what I call it and, fo sho, funtabulous!

    Grebeg Sudiro

    Grebeg Sudiro is a festival that has been going on for a while. It’s a celebration held by Chinese descendants that have settled in Indonesia, Solo to be exact, and acculturated with the local Javanese ethnicity. It’s centered at Sudiro Prana Village, where a lot of Chinese people used to gather and live.  The whole festival is basically a carnival with performers to see, dragons to feed angpao (envelopes containing money), and cakes on mountain-like structures. The streets were painted red with it being the color of the celebration.

    Grebeg Sudiro

    People come from near and far just to see this carnival. Rich or poor, old and young, gay or straight, every type of people were there. I was happy to see the diverse kind of population gathering and just having a blast. The mayor and the minister of tourism even attended the opening of the carnival. Standing in the crowd, I can say, it’s the people’s party.

    During the event, I was part of a sub-committee of the trip. The little time I had during the event, I paid up with a hanging out with the carnival folks after the show. They’re a fierce bunch of people, dedicated towards lifting heavy costumes and drenched in make-up for show. These were the carnival regulars. When the city’s party comes up, they’re in their costumes.

    Hendi the shoe maker

    Hendi, one of the fierce carnival participants designed and made these fantabulous shoes. Guess what?! I could run in them (yes, I tried them on). They were surprisingly comfortable with no balancing issues, no matter how scary they seem. I found a new perspective and benchmark on high shoes. Truly! Now I understand how Lady Gaga does it! She probably was wearing his shoes. The rest of the gang was as friendly, entertaining my travel mates with their costumes, that we could try on.

    Preparation and celebration of Chinese New Year carnival Solo


    On a different page, I was on the trip partially to help a project called #ImlekNusantara. It’s a campaign on social media and Indohoy was there to fiddle around with the itinerary, participate, and wake Alex up in his private suite. *cough

    This is the third project from the Ministry of Tourism taking a chance on the new digital generation. Finally, it’s time we catch up with the world. The trip lasted for 4 days through Semarang and Solo, Central Java. We visited temples, ate local food, rumbled through the landscape and got drenched all the way through. On the trip we had travel social media ‘selebrities’ and instagramers with crazy numbers behind them. For Instagram we had @puanindya, @rianassaaf, @niseng and @konservative. For Twitter we had @TrinityTraveler, @aMrazing, @TravellerKaskus and @Catperku. On board was @FerryRusli, aerial and underwater photography extraordinaire, and @werdhap as videographer. Not to forget boss @Madalkatiri, Boele, and @exploresolo as local organizers. A lot of people, a lot of new found friendship.

    What I learned on this trip was that you can never please everyone. The project had a slight bad rep for reasonable reasons, but it built good insight for myself seeing the ‘traveling’ world in Indonesia. I also learned that photographers, even for those on Instagram, have a different sense that probably can be taught, but more from talent. I remember Puan slobbered in her own sweat running back and forth taking pictures of landscapes, or Rian making something out of regular burning incense, or how humours Trinity by posting a weird photo of herself on Instagram. There’s a different instinct for creation from each person that was a joy to watch and learn.

     Work is play - Chinese New year Solo

    And traveling with a good vibe is key for a great journey. Things happened. Cuts, bruises, sprains, and gassy stomach were a few things along the way but we managed to laugh it all off and enjoyed each other’s company. I enjoy traveling with great people, as they usually are really nice people.

    My last note would be that it finally occurred to me that we have a national movement of a certain ethnicity in Indonesia. The Chinese New Year is celebrated all through the nation, wherever you can find Chinese descendants. Every city has their own way of celebrating, which makes this holiday a little more interesting wherever you travel. Awesome!

     Chinese alculturation

    Finally, In the event of celebrating and acknowledging the Chinese ethnicity around Indonesia, the Ministry of Tourism is opening a photo contest on the Chinese New Year celebration. There’s a free trip up for grabs. You can read it all here, adding #PesonaIndonesia, #WonderfulImlek and #ImlekNusantara.

    While some might be in bed just because it’s an Indonesian national holiday, some might be out there celebrating. How are you celebrating this year?