Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by viravira on 12 August 2012 • Itinerary
This birthday trip to Bogor was traveled in March, 2012
Somehow, I’ve always wanted to spend my birthday somewhere special, somewhere far from home. But on my last birthday, which was in March, Bogor was as far as I could go. It’s only about 50-60 km from Jakarta where I reside, but discovering new places is always fun, moreover I got to do it with one of my best and silliest travel mates: my boyfriend Diyan.. *blushing*. (I promise, this is as mushy as you will get here, so you can keep that puke bag back.)
Batutulis epigraph. It’s from the 16th century when Pajajaran Kingdom was still ruling. Some people believe it has a superficial power and is considered sacred, along with accompanying smaller stones planted near it. Located on Batutulis street, across the Soekarno villa.
Botani Square. A shopping mall that we visited mainly for the Serambi Botani store. It’s where you can get many kinds of ‘healthy products’ produced by the Bogor Agriculture Institute (known as IPB).
Istana Bogor (Bogor Palace), the historical presidential palace, known for its collection of deer grazing on the vast lawn. It was closed for public, as it is rarely open, so we only walked around the fence.
Simply stroll around town. We enjoyed walking on Bogor’s well-taken-care-of sidewalks under shades of trees and seeing a lot of parks and old buildings. Gee, are we getting old?
MP Lasagna Gulung (translates to Rolled Lasagna). Sells various rolled lasagna and sandwiches with price range IDR 30,000 – IDR 72,000 / portion, as well as many other kinds of Indonesian or mixed style food with cheaper prices.
Pangrango Street. We took a stroll on this street and couldn’t decide where to munch. So many choices, so stuffed tummies!
Guan Tjo fried rice eatery. Located on Jalan Surya Kencana. Famous for the petai fried rice, around IDR 15,000 / portion. They also sell black sticky rice pudding and mung bean porridge.
GETTING THERE AND AROUND
We departed from Jakarta by Commuter Line from Cawang station at 12.30 pm. Ticket was IDR 7,000 / pax.
The route stretches from Jakarta Kota or Jatinegara to Bogor, as you can see the map here.
Batutulis simply means a stone to write on. It was having written by a King of Pajajaran Kingdom in West Java, Prabu Surawisesa, to honor his own father, Prabu Siliwangi. The writing content is praises of the nobility and greatness of the father in Old Sundanese letters. Beside the big stone, there’s a smaller one that symbolizes Surawisesa himself, denoting how incomparable he was to the father. In front of the big stone, there are foot prints of Surawisesa marked on another stone.
These stones are said to be from the 16th century when Pajajaran Kingdom was still ruling. Some people believe it has a superficial power and is considered sacred, along with accompanying smaller stones planted near it. Therefore some believers occasionally do a ritual with the stones, and hoping to get their wishes granted. Diyan tried the ritual steps and I decided to just watch.
The site keeper told us that usually the place is quite full of visitors on Thursday night cos that’s the night that many Indonesians think the most sacred night. Mystical believers usually do their rituals on that night in general. These aren’t the tree people that barely wear clothes and refuse democracy, these are people who are primarily educated and may already be in Facebook, among others. The integration of modern and primitive life is still very close in our lives.
A small hut is built to house the main stones. Outside, stones planted on the yard from the same era. This site is located on Batutulis street, across the Soekarno villa. As you’ve probably guessed, the street was named after the sacred stone. Although it might sound that important, you could easily miss the site cos it doesn’t really stand out among other buildings. So watch for the sign with the stone picture on it.
What dragged me into this site was none other than curiosity when I was researching about Bogor for my work. I had never heard of Batutulis epigraph before, and I guess it’s the Indonesian in me, interested in somewhat mystical stories. I was surprised to find that the actual site was that small and such a humble place. I expected something more of a grandeur. Disappointed? Maybe a little. But if you’re a history buff or are interested in old letters and language or are perhaps looking for some spiritual belief and whatnot, this Batutulis site may be an interesting place for you to visit 😉
ISTANA BOGOR (BOGOR PALACE)
History wise, Istana Bogor was originally named San Souci or Buitenzorg, which is said to translate to “stress-free” (hakuna matata?), which was based on the way the locals lived back then. It was at first built in the colonial era as a getaway ‘villa’ for the Dutch Governors. But the palace that we see today is a newer building that was erected in 1850 after an earthquake resulted from the Mount Salak eruption.
Today, it’s one of the Indonesia presidential palaces, and it’s famous for the deer grazing on the lawn for as long as I can remember. People of Bogor like to feed the deer from outside the fence with vegetables sold on the sidewalk. The palace itself is open for public tour based on appointments, which I’m not sure how and whom to contact.
We tried to approach the gate until the guard told us not to step any closer and that the palace was closed for public. “Why?” I asked. And he said “Ada Bapak.” It means, “The Master is inside.” It took me quite a while to finally figure out what he meant by ‘Bapak’ or ‘Master/Sir’. And Diyan confirmed it, “Mr. President is in there.” Oh, okay. Hmm. It doesn’t seem so fun being a president, does it? Your Saturday has to be paid off with a rifle-carrying guard being so stiff to your people, no matter how pretty the green grass in your backyard is. You’re always paranoid that somebody might just kill you instantly.
Anyhoo, taking pictures of the palace from the fence was as good as we could get. We finally got a permit from the guard to take TWO steps closer to the gate! Yay!
Botani Square is basically a shopping mall. We went there for the Serambi Botani store, where you can get many kinds of ‘healthy products’ produced by the Bogor Agriculture Institute (known as IPB) or by local producers under the supervision of IPB. Everything is made of organic materials and in organic way, or so I read. So, Vegans! You can sleep tight in Bogor!
Soaps, honey, incense, and many more items are available in various fragrances, tastes, shapes and sizes. They even sold papayas! The store was quite packed with visitors, I guess IPB is making a good business, also judging from the many Serambi Botani outlets in Jakarta malls. I felt like purchasing so many things cos they looked and smelled good, *exhaaale… inhaaaale* but I ended up justu buying an air freshener at IDR 14,000.
SIMPLY STROLL AROUND TOWN
We enjoyed walking on Bogor’s well-taken-care-of sidewalks under shades of trees and seeing a lot of parks and old buildings. Gee, are we getting old? Nah, it’s more because we don’t get to do that a lot in Jakarta for the lack of comfortable green zones. We saw people playing ball in a park, but not really a lot of people taking strolls like we were. It’s a shame…
Though I didn’t have a chance to visit the Kebun Raya Bogor (Bogor’s Botanical Garden) on this trip, I would recommend it to you guys. It’s a huge botanical garden with 15,000 kinds of plants and trees. I had a picnic there once…when I was 2, haha. And the garden is still a favorite to locals, can get crowded on Sundays.
MP Lasagna Gulung
Not knowing much about Bogor and not having researched on it before the trip, we took an angkot that passes Baranangsiang street, where we heard a lot of eateries and food shops are located. But we decided to get off before it got there and took a stroll on the sidewalk instead. And then we saw a huge “lasagna” writing and our growling tummies steered our feet to enter the restaurant 😛 Now who in the world can resist lasagna? *hi-five Garfield*
Lasagna Gulung means rolled lasagna. But the restaurant sells many kinds of food, ranging from Indonesian to western food, as well as mixed styled food. Prices range from about IDR 30,000 – IDR 72,000 / portion. A bit more than our prepared budget, but the size of the portions look like something that can stop a truck from rolling down a hill.
Instead of having lasagna which was the most expensive menu if I’m not mistaken, we had a salad gulung (rolled salad) and nasi timbel gepuk (rice cooked in banana leaf plus some sort of savory beef), and both were delish! We were so hungry that we also ordered fish satay, which we ended up having it wrapped to go cos our tummies just couldn’t take any more food. *burp!*
We enjoyed the restaurant’s ambience as much as we enjoyed the food. We chose to sit lesehan on round cushions at the gazebo in the garden. It was a sunny day and the wind was blowing just about right to make us feel sleepy. I would’ve probably fallen asleep if it weren’t for a cat approaching and got comfortable near our table. Oh boy, how happy I was to be playing with a cat again! I haven’t had any cat pet since..almost forever L I’m not sure she was happy to be my toy judging from her expressions, but she didn’t mind us taking pictures of her, heehee.
By the way, it’s a common thing that stray cats are roaming around anywhere in Indonesia, as you’ve probably seen or heard about stray dogs in Bali.
On our way to take an angkot at the end of the road, we took a turn to a street that looked like it had so much going on, it’s the Pangrango Street. Walking up the street we realized that this could be Bogor’s center of culinary tour! There were endless restaurants and food shops there. Many of them looked so tempting, unfortunately we were too stuffed, so we could only save Pangrango culinary street in our to-do list next time we’re in Bogor again 😀
Diyan was once involved in a culinary TV show where the host would give recommendations on good food around Indonesia. He once told Diyan about this Guan Tjo petai fried rice, so we took the advice cos his recommendations often to hit jackpot. Hence, off we went for the Guan Tjo quest, asking for directions to an angkot driver.
Guan Tjo diner is located on Jalan Surya Kencana. It was 8ish PM when we got there, the street was quite empty. There was a blackout for a few minutes when we just arrived, but Mr. Guan Tjo kept on preparing and cooking his famous fried rice. We ordered none other than the famous specialty, nasi goreng petai. It translates to stinky beans fried rice – these green beans will make your breath and urine stinky afterwards, it’s a bit bitter in taste and has a soft crunchiness. It just proves how weird Indonesians are, liking the obviously stinky food.. *LOL* Totally not recommended for a first date, or if you’re planning for a stay over.
The fried rice was good though, but that was it, we didn’t find it any more special than other nasi goreng petai which is quite common in Indonesia. Mr. Bondan Winarno, with all due respect for your mastery in the culinary world, sorry, I have to say that you’ve failed us this time. *sob*
Nasi Goreng Guan Tjo
Jalan Surya Kencana
Around IDR 15,000 / portion of fried rice.
They also sell black sticky rice pudding and mung bean porridge, two of Indonesian’s favorite snacks.
It was Saturday and it was my birthday, so I had the privilege to procrastinate however long I wanted. So the plan of leaving early in the morning did not come to realization as I was still happy in my bed. But not wanting to ruin the plan, we finally got our butts up before noon.
We took the Commuter Line from Cawang station, South Jakarta, at 12.30 pm and arrived in Bogor an hour later. The train was not air-conditioned and it was not so crowded, perhaps because it was a day off for most people.
You see, a lot of Bogor people commute to Jakarta. They jam-pack in the train, buses, or go by private cars. Our route was like half the distance from the furthest station to Bogor, and that took us an hour to get there. So many of these commuters would spend about 4 hours back and forth from their homes in Bogor to their offices in Jakarta, EVERY SINGLE DAY. Phew! I thank God that I work so close to home 🙂
The Commuter Line ticket was IDR 7,000 / pax.
The route stretches from Jakarta Kota or Jatinegara to Bogor, as you can see the map here.
As Bogor is known as the city of 1000 angkots, naturally we went around by this mean of transportation. Average fare was IDR 2,000 per trip.
The streets of Bogor kinda got me lost. Many of them are one-way streets, so we kinda went round and round the town to get to different places..hahaha… or probably it was just me and my bad spatial memory 😛