Here is a lesson to you folks-make sure you check if a country is in the middle of monsoon season before you fly there. I’m currently sat in a hotel in Semarang, Indonesia listening to the severe downpour through the window as I type this… and it makes it worse that I wasn’t even aware it would be raining, in fact I couldn’t wait to get to Bali and lie on some beaches. I know, I know how could I not be aware, well Malaysia’s weather is gorgeous and Indonesia isn’t too far away so I thought we’d be fine; so consider that lesson learnt.
Despite the monsoons we’ve decided to hang in there and explore the island of Java a little more as it would be a real shame to waste this opportunity. Plus, just because it’s monsoon it doesn’t mean it rains every minute of every day; in fact it doesn’t usually downpour until late afternoon so this morning was absolute glorious sunshine (top tip, for anyone willing to get a little wet, the flights are so much cheaper in low season).
Semarang is a hidden gem of Java and I have absolutely no idea why people don’t choose to come here. I tried doing research in this charming little place and found very few western bloggers who’d dedicated posts to Semarang; I don’t get it…there is a major airport here and flights are crazy cheap- don’t fly to Jakarta, fly to Semarang I beg of you. I didn’t think it would happen on one of Indonesia’s largest islands, but it seems like most of the locals have never seen a white person- Joe and I have been celebrities for the day and it’s been VERY surreal. Literally everyone in the street will stop to look at you, locals will stop their cars just to lean out their window and say hello, crowds of school children will giggle and point at you and the bravest of them all will ask you for a photograph- we took around 5 photos with various strangers in the space of about 10 minutes. I’m not joking I felt like Taylor Swift or something, soon I might start carrying around signed photographs of myself to hand out to people.
Semarang itself; despite the rain is absolutely beautiful- which means a lot coming from me, I am the ultimate Sun worshipper, if it’s raining I automatically hate wherever I am. There is evidence everywhere you look of it’s colonial past and the Dutch architecture which is really present here is honestly some of the best I’ve ever seen. There are plenty of activities on Trip adviser such as; complete the Zip wire, go to the infinity pool etc. which sound great…just not in the rain, so we had to find alternative ways to entertain ourselves.If you come to Semarang, and please do, I URGE you to explore the old city, it really is like nothing I’ve ever seen. The town remains completely untouched from what it used to be, yes it’s a little dirty, a lot of the buildings are abandoned and the government can’t afford the upkeep- but it’s real, it’s raw and it’s a true depiction of what life is like here. UNESCO heritage sites are great, I mean most of them are absolutely fantastic, but too often they can look too ‘done up’ a little fake, plastic almost. Semarang shows a stark difference to that and I’m really grateful I have had the chance to see it, it truly has inspired me.
I’ve also had some of the most delicious food whilst staying here; head to Karuna Vegetarian for a buffet that will blow your mind and only cost you £2 for a mountainous plate and a lemon ice tea. If you’re looking for something a little upmarket then Spiegel is for you; located slap bang in the middle of the Old City, Spiegel was built in the 1800’s and is stunning inside- think Soho cool combined with Manchester hipster and you’re right on the money.
If you’re planning on visiting Indonesia then add Semarang to your list, it’s amazing as you’ll literally be the only tourists here and how often do you really get to experience that? It makes a great hub for onward travel to Bali and is honestly one of my favourite places I’ve ever been to, which is really saying something. Thanks for surprising me Semarang you beauty!