Cirebon: From Historical Sites to Family Park

One of the most challenging part in writing is to write the opening sentence. The beginning is always the toughest to figure out. Well, at least for me. Even after being a professional writer for a decade now, I still occasionally found myself spending hours staring at the empty white page on my laptop screen.

Wait a minute, a decade? Does time really fly that fast? Apparently, it does. One minute you’re here, the next minute you’re there. Unaware, you have traveled through moments built by a day to day circumstances. And, as a melancholic guy who tends to get clingy over precious memories or unimportant details, I have always loved to treasure the moments I had in the past.

In fact, that is one of the reasons I asked DR to partner up with me and started this blog: because I simply didn’t want all the memories I gained from every single travel experience I had last year vaporized into thin air. I wanted to savor it.

Anyways, I’m not here to write about time or memories. Well, probably later in another blog post. I’m here to savor all the highlights and memories I gained from the Cirebon trip, which kind of surprised me that the trip actually took place exactly a month ago. Again, time does fly really fast, eh?

The Perks of Being Twenty - Travel - Cirebon - Lifestyle

Speaking of Cirebon, I had a hard time moving on from the culinary experience that they offered. The moment I heard or read the word Cirebon, my brain would bring forth the pleasure I tasted from the famous Nasi Jamblang, Empal Gentong, Mitang, and the other fellas. It is there in my brain, permanently stuck, along with my first kiss experience.

Okay, enough with the preface. Let’s get down to business.

Keraton Kasepuhan was the first place we explored in Cirebon. According to the local guide, this is the oldest keraton (Sultan’s palace) in Cirebon as it was built in the 1447. The outer walls, as you can see from the photo below, were decorated by ceramics. Some areas are opened for public, while some are closed because the Sultan still lives inside the keraton.

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The front yard.

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Entering the palace.

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Afternoon chill in the pendopo.

After you paid for the entrance ticket and made your way into the keraton, you’ll be greeted by several pendopoAs you walk further you’ll find a white pavilion and a small garden at the center of the keraton. There was also a small museum in the area that displayed hundreds of ancient weapons, furniture, armors and even carriages.

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Keris, one of the ancient weapons.

As DR was busy exploring the museum, I let my feet took me a few steps further into what seemed to be the palace’s backyard. This is one of the favorite parts of traveling for me: a little quality time between me and my camera. The backyard was huge, it’s like a little forest (yeap, not even a garden) inside the palace. Some local kids were there playing kites and getting wet in a small river.

I often used this solitude moment to have a little talk with God and myself. I used it to count all the blessings I have, and to have my perspective towards my dreams and goals refocused. More importantly, to remind myself to never give up in pursuing those dreams.

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A horse made out of tree branches, stood graciously in the backyard.

Ten minutes later, I walked out of the backyard to find DR standing among a lot of other tourists in front of the main pavilion. I was curious because they were all camera ready, like paparazzi who wait for a famous Hollywood star to come out of  a bar. Apparently, the sultan was about to walk out to the mosque for Friday prayer. His guards were all waiting for him in front of the pavilion, they were ready to escort his walk to the mosque.

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The guards

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The Sultan

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Marching to the Mosque

We joined the crowds escorting the respected Sultan to the mosque before we drove to the the next place, Kejawanan Beach. The place was crowded with local tourists due to the long weekend, so we didn’t go the beach. I Googled what’s interesting from this beach, and apparently it’s best to visit Kejawanan at dawn to watch sunrise. In other word, there was not much to see from this beach in the afternoon.

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Golden hour.

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Solitude.

Apparently, deciding not to walk to the far end of the beach had its perks. Another “playground” (the better one, in fact) welcomed us. Not far from the entrance there were plenty of local fisherman’s boats, inviting us on board.

The view took me back to a particular memory lane. When I was in 5th grade, I used to go fishing on the weekend with some of my school friends. One of them had a boat and her parents used to take us with them for fishing. So the moment I saw those boats, the little kid in me came out and wanted to play make believe immediately. Probably, as a pirate, lost explorer, or a treasure hunter.

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Because Titanic had sunk down.

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A little bit closer to the edge.

As soon as we parked our car, we hopped into one of the boats. And just within a few minutes, we found ourselves hopping from one boat to another, climbing up stairs, and taking tons of photos. We got lost in this little world, accompanied by the salty-scented air and beautiful golden hour.

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Just chillin comfortably.

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Little explorers.

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Delete. Delete. Keep. Delete.

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Nope, not the local fishermen.

It was two hours away from sunset when we finally finished exploring all the empty fishermen boats in Kejawanan. Part of me was already wishing for a refreshing cold shower plus a nice power nap at the hotel, while the other part of me wanted to explore more places in this city. The later part won.

Our search in Instagram brought us to this newly opened recreation park, Ade Irma Water Park. Basically, it’s a family park with 18 units cottage, three swimming pools, and one Japanese restaurant built in a huge ship. Disappointingly, the place was very crowded. It was real tough for us to capture a good panoramic photo.

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The dock.

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One of the rented cottage.

The afternoon breeze led us to the end of the dock, which was the emptiest spot in the whole area. You had to pay for another IDR 10,000 to be in the dock. Satisfyingly, the entrance fee was bundled with a free bottle of cold drink. Just exactly what we needed.

The walk on the dock was almost a bit hypnotic, I suddenly found myself at the end of it. DR was already there, sleeping. Snoring, to be exact. I joined him sitting there, watching several jellyfishes swimming underneath the dock, before I decided to also have a quick power nap.

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Getting the much needed power nap.

On the next day, we only managed to explore one historical site of this city. It’s Taman Sari Gua Sunyaragi. Can anyone take a guess what was the original purpose of this place?

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What’s left of the Taman Sari Gua Sunyaragi.

It was actually a 37,5 acres resort slash villa, made in the 1703, for the Sultan’s family. The royal family of Cirebon used to enjoy their weekend and holidays in this place. It was kinda hard to imagine that there used to be princesses running around climbing up and down the stairs from one room to another. We tried to explore the whole area despite of the super hot temperature that made us all sweaty just for the sake of getting good photos for this blog.

Another fact about Gua Sunyaragi is that this resort was originally surrounded by lakes. But, as centuries went by, the lakes had drained and transformed into Cirebon’s main bypass road, buildings and houses.

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Ready to explore the ancient resort.

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The entrance.

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At probably the highest tower of Gua Sunyaragi.

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One of the best selfie spot.

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Pardon the sweat stains. Nothing worth having comes easy.

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Candid shot by @sevencrow.

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Another candid shot by our photographer friend, @sevencrow.

To sum it up, our places exploration was as thrilling as our culinary exploration in Cirebon. However, we only see this as a one-time thing, unlike the culinary part which left us craving for more. If you want to do something different over the weekend, hopefully this kind of exploration would work for you as it had surely worked for us!

Write to you later,

HG. (@gersonhenry)

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