Sunday, October 10, 2021

Sawahlunto Tours Destination Steeped in History

WHEN TOURISTS used to ask about places to visit in West Sumatra, one of the most common answers was the city of Bukittinggi. Today though, that answer includes Sawahlunto.
The next question would then be: “What is  there to see in Sawahlunto?” And the answer is that the city has as many – if not more – tourist objects than Bukittinggi.
Sawahlunto, like Bukittinggi, is a small city, but it has a rich historical heritage. It is home to seven museums and old buildings from the Dutch-colonial era that are quite well preserved. They all reflect that past way of life in the coal-mining town.
In 2015 Sawahlunto was shortlisted on the tentative UNESCO World Heritage list as an Old Coal Mining Town. And in 2019, the government will include Sawahlunto in its list of proposed sites to the World Heritage Committee.
The list will be expanded to include the remains of the supporting infrastructure for coal production in the 19th century. These include a 155.5-km railway crossing six regencies and towns in West Sumatra, all the way to Teluk Bayur Seaport, which used to be called Emma Haven, a docking location for coal bound for exports.
Sawahlunto is situated in a valley. It was founded by the Dutch in 1888 when a big reserve of high-quality coal was discovered in the area. Until today, the coal is still mined in small volumes; large-scale mining activities, or deep mining, were halted in the early 2000s.
Mining-related building boasting Dutch style architecture are common sight in the region, including the main office of the coal mining company founded in 1916 and now the icon of Sawahlunto. There are also three silos in the form of giant concrete cylinders 40 metes in height that were used to store coal.
Tourists can also visit the Cultural Building, which in the colonial era was dubbed the Ball House. It hosted billiard tournament s and cultural events. Another building is a cooperative building called Ons Belang. Constructed in 1920, it was used as the office of the cooperative whose members were the Dutch and the Indo-Dutch. Hotel Ombilin, meanwhile,was constructed in 1918 and used to house Dutch mining engineers, and the graceful St. Barbara Church was built in 1920.
But one of the more popular sites among tourists is the Mbah Soero mining tunnel, the area’s first coal mine that opened in 1898.
The mining tunnel’s attractions include a sad story of the “chained people”, thousands of convicts sent to West Sumatera from prisons in Java and other regions in Indonesia. They were shipped by the Dutch colonial government, their feet in chain, to work as miners. Many of these chained people lost their lives in Sawahlunto.
Tourist can enter the tunnel accompanied by a guide for only 56 US$ cents per person. Outside the tunnel is a statue of the chained people, and in the building’s Info Box, tourists can view various tools used by the miners.
Related to Mbah Soero is the Goedang RAnsoem Museum. Constructed in 1918, it was used as a soup kitchen for mine workers. Visitors can see the cooking utensils used in that era, including stoves and cauldrons.
The Train Museum, meanwhile, is located where Sawahlunto Station used to be. This is the only train museum on Sumatra and the second in Indonesia, after the first one in Ambarawa. The musem houses a collection of train equipment and devices used in Sawahlunto from 1918. In the yard, visitors can view the legendary locomotive dubbed “Mak Item”, and a wooden carriage that reminds us of the American carriages from the Wild West.
In front of the coal mining company building, PT Bukit Asam, is the Ombilin Coal Mining Museum, which is managed by Bukit Asam’s Ombilin Mining Unit. The museum also functions as the company’s documentation and archive center.
In front of the museum, viistors are greeted by the statue of Ir. J.W.Ijzermen, a Dutchman who held the Ombilin Coal mining project in Sawahlunto until it become productive in 1892. Inside are pictures of Willem Hendrik de Greve, who discovered the coal reserve in Sawahlunto in 1867.
Three other museums in the city are not directly related to the history of Sawahlunto, but they can offer visitors an enjoyable day of culture and entertainment. They are the Etno Kayu Paint Museum, which display modern paintings and wooden crafts; Museum Seni Musik, which houses a collection of musical instruments from various regions in Indonesia and abroad; and Museum Tari, displaying a trove of accessories for Minangkabau traditional dances.
 Tourists can visit all seven museums and historical buildings in one day on foot as they are located in the Old Town area.
Sawahlunto also has family entertainment facilities located some 12 kms from Old Town. One of these is Kandi Zoo, wehre visitors can not only see animals but also paly paintball and engage in other outbound activities.
Every December, to commemorate its anniversary, Sawahlunto holds a horse race at its 1,400 –m track, the second-longest in the country. The arena can accommodate 30,000 spectators.
Other family-friendly destinations are the Rantih tourism village, Fruit Garden and Waterboom Waterpark, as well as sites to enjoy the area’s beautiful scenery, such as Cemara Peak and Polan Peak.
Also in Sawahlunto is the grave of national hero Mohammad Yamin. The grave is situated in Talawi, 15 km from the center of town. Yamin was one of the early concept writes of Indonesia’s ideology and a proclaimer of the historic Youth Pledge.

Sawahlunto is only 95 kilometers from Padang and 88 kilometers from Bukittinggi. If visitors don’t have time to stay the night, they can still enjoy what the town has to offer by making a one-day trip from either of these cities in a rental car.
Backpackers can easily visit Sawahlunto on a budget. From Minangkabau Ekspres airport train to Simpang Haru Station (the last station). Currently tickets for the Minangkabau Ekspres cost only $0.8.
From the station, visitors can walk 350 meters or take an ojek (motorcycle taxi) t oa minibus shelter. From there, they take a minibus to Sawahlunto in Tugu Api. The bus fare is 1.3$ and the minibus is available every hour from morning until late afternoon. The minibus stops at a terminal in the center of Sawahlunto, and visitors can stay at one of the budget homestays that are abundant in the area.

 [Sources : by The Jakarta Post |Words: Syofiardi Bachyul Jb]

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Nuart Sculpture Park | Where art is for everyone

IF YOU LIVE in Jakarta, Bandung or Bali, most likey you would have come across an artwork created by Nyoman Nuarta. Among his pieces are the Garuda statue at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, the Arjuna statue just outside Monas and the hand sculpture in Setraduta housing complex in Bandung, to name a few.
Born on Nov. 14, 1951, this Balinese artist does not look like he is slowing down, escpecially with his latest work, the Garud Wisnu Kencana, which will stand up to153 meters tall in Ungasan, Bali, and is due to be completed in August 2018 as a gift to the nation. It is so tall, especially compared to the surrounding resorts and residential area, you could see it from a landing plane.
Nyoman Nuarta’s Balines roots might explain his talent, with Bali culturally known to be home to stone and wood scultors, however Nuarta decided to choose a different media: copper, brass and steel. Being a big fan of his publicly displayed art, it was only a matter of time before I visited Nuart Sculpture Park located within the Setraduta complex in Bandung.
Living up to my expectation, the gallerycum-park was beautiful. Entering its gates, we were welcomed by a few works in his signature style. Nyoman Nuarta, in my opinion, has this gothic eerie feel to his work whether the piece is made of metal or other material. His art contains a lot of emotion and movement, not to mention detail that could lead one to marvel for hours. He alwasys has a concept behind his work, which in the art world, to my understanding, is not a necessity. There’s a story behind every piece of art.
Roaming around the gallery shows the wide skill range and creativity of Nyoman Nuarta. Many of the pieces are inspired by his family, especially the strong women around him, the environment and important events. The faces of his children and grandchildren are muses, which clearly pop up in his work. A mother orangutan holding her baby amongst tree stumps tells the story of the dying species along with its environment. One of the most prominent pieces is “Nightmare”, located in the middle of the plastered indoor gallery, which reminds us of the women mutilated not long after the 1998 incident in Jakarta.
“Moral of the story: We should cherish the women in our lives that have given us life,” says one the interns on duty that day.
Listening to the stories behind some of the pieces I realize that despite the work being made of strong elements, there is a deeply sensitive man caring and observing the world that we live in today. Well, there is also a cute seemingly-fluffy sheep made of metal, inspired during a trip to New Zealand, which doesn’t necessarily need any explation.
The gallery itself is a piece of art.
Covered top to bottom in plaster and wood, as is the current trend for houses, cafes and restaurants. It balances out the details of Nuarta’s work and creates the perfect canvas for its shadows. It is also a well-designed place as a the spaces are not just room after room, but more of an open space where you can see most of the artwork. The exterior façade is far from plain, decorated with blue glass combined with detailed walls. In addition, there is an amphitheater for art performances, surrounded by a lush green environment overlooking a gushing river. Amongst the greenery is some of Nuarta’s larger works, including my favorite, a blue whale with its disconnected tail not too far from its head. The sporadic artwork becomes a kind of hunt, as you don’t know where you’ll find the next piece. Not to forget the restaurant, where visitors can take a break, because surely the park will take a lot of time. Whether you enjoy art and Nuarta’s work, or not, the park has a way to entertain anyone who visits.
And of course, Nuart Sculpture Par has a souvenir shop, probably unlike any other. Aside from books and park memorabilia, the shop also offers various and interesting artworks and wearable items such as clothes, watches, notebooks and wallets from local artist. So there’s a little bit for everyone, leaving us to believe that art is for everyone. [Sources : by The Jakarta Post |Words: Murni A Ridha]

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Haven of Exotic Beaches

Gunung Kidul, located in the southeastern part of Yogyakarta, has long been known as a haven for tourists in search of beaches, which span over 70 kms, from the west to the east, along its southern coastline.
Beaches in Gunung Kidul offer more than just breathtaking views. Visitors can also relax by snorkeling, checking out coral reef and decorative fish under clear waters or just playing on the white sand.
“It’s really fun, watching fish swimming here and there under the water. I couldn’t help but try to touch them,” visitor Dian Retnanindyah of Sleman regency said after enjoying snorkeling in Sadranan Beach waters, recently.
Sadranan is among beaches in Gunung Kidul that continue to lure travelers. Along with Ngandong and Slili beaches, Sadranan is suitable for snorkeling and rowing.
Other beaches in the area have their own charms and appeal, serving as a magnet for travelers from far and wide.
Baron is also popular among fishermen. As the “entrance gate” to other beaches in the area, visitors can see fishermen returning to shore with their catch, apart from the beautiful scenery of the hills that surround the area.
Visitors can also find and underground spring that directly goes into the sea. People are also welcome to buy fresh fish that can be cooked on site to enjoy right away or to takeaway.
Next to Baron is Kukup, which offers an overlay of white sands and scenery of colorful decorative fish and other sea biota. What makes this beach special is the coral hill with an observation post on top of it where visitors can observe the beauty of the surrounding panorama as well as of offshore activities in the distance.
Long coasaatline
Sepanjang is one of just a few beaches in Gunung Kidul that  has a long coastline. With an overlay of white sand, sports overs will see it as the perfect place to play beach volleyball. Facilities to play so are available on the site.
Drini, which is located next to Sepanjang, is named after the numerous drini trees that grow on the beach. The trees are believed to have to have the capability to get rid of snakes. Fish auctions are also held and an array of culinary treats are available from vendors. Krakal Beach, next to Drini
Also offers an overlay of white sands, where visitors can enjoy sunrise and the scenery of fish and other sea biota during high tide. Sunrise can also be enjoyed from Pok Tunggal Beach.
Other beaches offering beautiful white sands as well as calm and clear waters are connecting Ngrenehan. Nobaran and Nguyahan in Saptosari district. Although one is located next to the other, these three beaches offer different charms.
If in Ngobaran visitors can visit a Hindu temple built on the beach, in Ngrenehan and Nguyahan, visitors can enjoy beautiful panorama, buy fresh fish from vendors, or enjoy various seafood items on offer at food stalls.
Those with a desire to take part in outbound activities can pay a visit to Sundak, where local instructors are on standby. Visitors can also take a dip in the water and choose to just relax on the beach.
Gunung Kidul tourism Agency’s planning subdivision head, Supriyanta, said Gunung Kidul regency was home to beaches, but only 40 had been developed for tourism purposes.

“Of these 40 beaches, 28 have been fully developed, meaning that they already have the required facilities as tourist destinations,” said Supriyanta, adding have among the must-have facilities included parking areas, restrooms, food outlets and souvenir stalls.
Thanks to the development of access roads heading to these beaches, Gunung Kidul has for the last few years been enjoying a steady increase in tourist visits to the regency by up to 400,000 tourists a year.
If in2015 it saw only some 2.2 million tourists, in 2016 it saw 2.6 million of them. It saw a further increase to 3.2 million in 2017, of which some 21,600 were foreign tourists, thus exceeding the target of receiving 2.69 million of tourists the same year.
Supriyanta said the majority tourists visiting Gunung Kidul had chosen beaches as their main destinations, especially those on the central part of the regency’s coastline.
How to go there
To get the beaches, visitors can take different routes from Yogyakarta (Yogyakarta-Pathuk-Wonosari-Baron); from Bantul (Parangtritis-Trowono-Kemadang-Kukup); from Wonogiri (Pracimantoro-Baran Rongkop-Jerukwudel-Jepitu-Wediombo) or (Pracimantoro-Girisubo-Sadeng-Wediombo); and from Kalten (Ngawen-Semin-Karangmojo-Semanu-Panggul-Jepitu-Wediombo).