Semarang Is Easy to Forget!
Semarang, Indonesia will not be a place to rush back to. In spite of having one of the most ancient temples in the world, the traffic, the state of the roads and bridges and appalling poverty makes it a forgettable city.
Needing almost eight hours to travel less than 60 miles made it an easy decision to avoid the ship tour and travel only into the centre of the city. Even that was an adventure in itself. While other Indonesian cities have a mix of cars, trucks, bicycles and scooters, here it seems everyone has a motorized scooter. There are no lines marking lanes on the roads and there is another roundabout coming up at the next turn.
Highly illegal in North America, it was not uncommon to see a mother, father and two children on a scooter carrying the shopping of the day. While the parents wore helmets, the kids do not—go figure.
The majority of the residents live in shacks alongside the roads. Women, for the most part have their heads covered. As distinct from Bali where 85% of the population is Hindu, in Semarang the majority is Moslem. As the ship was leaving we could clearly hear the “call to prayer” being broadcast over tower loudspeakers across the city.
We did, however, visit a very modern and exclusive mall for some retail therapy. In the midst of all this poverty, someone has built a shopping mall with every high end shop you could imagine. Ships’ passengers seemed to love the batik shop as most passengers that night seemed to be wearing traditional patterned Indonesian designs.
Tomorrow is a sea day and then we enter the busiest shipping channel in the world as we dock in Singapore.