August 27, 2008

Nice Touring Cilegon – Kuningan Via Ciater


Ciater Spa Resort is laid in Ciater - Subang - West Java. It is provided for everyone who wants enjoy staying submerged in the natural hot spring water pool.

On last week, 13 - 17 August 2008, we were going to attend my brother in law marriage in Kuningan, West Java. Usually, if we went to Kuningan, we took “Cikamurang” route. However, last week, I insisted my wife to go to Kuningan via Lembang, Subang - West Java. According to my wife’s friend, if you through this way, you’ll find lots of beautiful sceneries, although you must carefully drive in the curves road. My wife didn’t want to go to this way, since she was afraid that we would be lost somewhere in the place that we don’t familiar. However, I convinced her, that we have our GPS with us. So, after had some arguments, we decided to go to Kuningan, with our first destination is Ciater Spa Resort, Subang – West Java, may be we will try to Ciater Spa Resort, that the place only I know from the website. Yes! It’s time to try the GPS! I had installed the Garmin maps on my nokia E65 and bought GPS receiver “Navibe”. The GPS receiver is quit cheap enough, I think, only Rp. 600.000 (about USD 60).ay to go to Lembang. However, due to we want to enjoy the beautiful scenery, we exit in the Sadang toll gate and continue drive to Subang. In Subang city, turned right to go to Subang – Ciater road. Exit the Subang city, the road is very good, clean and smooth, although it is curves road. No wonder, I think, it is the tourism lane, so the government city will always provide good infrastructure. Soon, we also smell the fresh mountain air surrounding us.

To go to Lembang, the Garmin showed us route via Cipularang toll road, may be it is the short way. Far away, we could see the high mountain standing. May be it is Mount Tangkuban Perahu, but I’m not sure. Along the road to Ciater Spa Resort, there are tea plantations in our left and right side. Hmm, the air is so fresh! We opened the car window, let the wind blew inside our car. It’s so fresh and chill. The view is very magnificent, sometimes, in the green of tea plantation, we watched there are trees with red flower bloom. Beautiful combination! Green tea plantation, the blue of mountain and red flower bloom on the high trees!

Near the tea plantation, there are always some places to rest. These stalls provide some food for the tourist or sightseer who wants to take a rest and take some food while enjoy and feel the fresh air and the green tea plantation. Usually these stalls sell boil noodle, fried noodle, coffee, tea, etc. However, due to we were in rush, we didn’t stop awhile although we really wanted. Next time, I said. We must hurry to Ciater Spa Resort.

Then after about 5 hours driving from Cilegon, we arrived at our first destination, Ciater Spa Resort on the
left side, surrounding by the green hill of tea plantation and slope of Mount Tangkuban Perahu.

Well, the enter gate to Ciater Spa Resort is not describe the luxury of this resort. We hesitated to go inside, but then we decided to enter the gate. The road inside is ro
ugh and slope down, and then we met the second gate entrance where we must pay for the ticket. It is quite expensive entrance ticket, Rp. 14.000/person (USD 1.4/person) and for the car Rp. 11.000 (USD 1.1) since we had to buy ticket also if we want to use the hot spring water pool, Ciater Spa Resort. The road to the resort now is quite good with the nuance village inside and chill wind. Inside Ciater Spa Resort, we can feel that it is absolutely managed well. Flower bloom everywhere, colorful; luxury wood house; and sometimes, we met horse riding renter in passing on the resort.

The entrance ticket to the natural hot spring spa water pool, Ciater Spa Resort is Rp. 25.000/person (USD 2.5/person), children Rp. 15.000/child (USD 1.5/child). The price of the ticket is different when weekend. We bought 2 tickets for me and my daughters – Azka and Aqeela. Actually we should bought 1 ticket for adult and 2 ticket for children since my wife didn’t swim she didn’t necessary to buy ticket. However, the ticket officer said, they made it 2 tickets for adult.

After getting the tickets, we continue to the hot spring water pool. Inside we noticed that there are four pools
in Ciater Spa Resort hot spring water pool. It could be seen the water steam came up from the hot water in the pool. Due to, the weather was cloudy, the steam was clearly seen. The Japanese tourist we met there kindly told us that the 2 pools near the entrance are not too hot, so the children can enjoy submerged.

Not so many people in the pool in the time of our visit. May be because it was still workday. There were only 1 Japanese tourist who were so kind to us, and in the back pool, there were 3 western tourists had a chit chat while put their leg into the hot water. However, then came up a couple tourist, I don’t know for sure where they came from, I thought from Greece because they didn’t speak English. Wow, it seems that most people come here are international tourists, we probably in the wrong pool? We couldn’t take a swim and submerged any longer since the rain was start to coming. The weather became more chiller than ever. So, although my children, Azka and Aqeela still want to play in the water pool, we must finish since the rain became harder.

While waiting the rain stop, we took dhuhur prayer in the mushola that provided near the hot spring water pool. Then after took some lunch, we continued to go around the Ciater Spa Resort area. Oh, in fact, that in the east of this area, there are also hot water pool and a large area playground and small lake which is usually used for outbound activity, e.g. playing fox, etc. In the playground there are many facilities for children to play, like swing, water bike, sliding, etc. I think children will be happy in this place. If you want to ride a horse, there are some people offering riding horse. The cost is not too expensive, you can ride a horse with only Rp. 20.000/horse. The hot water pool itself was still in reparation, so it was closed when we arrived there. Near the playground, there is a camping ground and also Kunang – Kunang café. But the café was closed, again may be because it was not weekday. It is very beautiful area, next time I want to go to Ciater Spa Resort again.

August 26, 2008

Surosowan Palace

(PART – 3)


2.5 km from Tasik Ardi artificial lake, we entered the Old Banten city area. Across the bridge over the canal (oh, this is the canal that used to be sailed by small boats age century ago, I thought). Just passed by the bridge, crossing the crowded of people and public transportation, on our left side there was the ruin of Surosowan fortress! Inside of the fortress, here there was the palace been standing! Wow, so, this is the only left of the famous Sultan Ageng Tirtayasa’s palace!? It was the about 3 acres area which surrounded by fortress at about 2 meters in height.

With the hot sunshine, I and my wife walked around the ruin of surosowan palace inside the fortress. Thanks God, my wife didn’t forget to bring an umbrella. It was very hot day.

This palace is built in several steps between years 1522 until 1570. The palace is largely ruined, however the beautiful of the palace still could be imagined when we see the remained buildings inside of the fortress. They are the rounded gate of royal palace, royal pool “Roro Denok”, which was built for the princess bathing, completed with the Bale Kambang (it is like gazebo, placed in the garden pond, usually used for take a rest) in the middle of the pool, 3 royal stairs made a half circle from terracotta and Pancuran Mas (Golden faucet/fountain) in the back which water from Tasikardi came into the palace beside the plumbing system around the palace.

In its time the palace was surrounded by watery canals that connected to the Java Sea. The canals could be sailed by the small ships. There was also a hydraulic gate that used to be the place for controlling the things or person that came and out the city gate. It could be imagined how beautiful the palace was.

Firstly, Surosowan palace was built by sultan Maulana Hasanudin (the first sultan of Banten) in 1552 – 1570. Then, sultan Maulana Yusuf (the second sultan of Banten), built the gate surrounding the palace. The palace gate was made from red brick stone and corals. Surround the gate was dig to make a ditch and also built princess royal pool inside the palace. In the time that sultan Ageng Tirtayasa (the fourth sultan of Banten) ruled the kingdom, he hired Dutch architect Hendrik Lucaszoon Cardeel to strengthen the gate by additional of Bastions at each corner of the gate.

When you came to Surosowan palace, don’t imagine that you will find a complete building like Borobudur temple or other historical building in Indonesia. All palaces or fortress you can find here are just ruins. The Surosowan palace and Kaibon palace has been destroyed several times under the Dutch administration. It was crushed the first time in 1680 by Dutch colonial, when sultan Ageng Tirtayasa fought against his betrayer son (sultan Haji) and the Dutch administration. The next, Surosowan palace and Kaibon palace must have experiences to be crushed again in the time of sultan Syafiuddin (the last sultan of Banten) ruled the kingdom.

Out from the enter gate of the fortress, in the north about 50 meters (It supposed to be city square in the past) we could found the flat stone which called “Watu Gilang Sriman Sriwacana”. This stone was belong to Padjadjaran Kingdom (on of the great kingdom in west java). When Banten attacked Padjadjaran Kingdom in the 1579, this stone was moved to Banten city by Maulana Yusuf as his father’s order (Maulana Hasanuddin). Watu Gilang Sriman Sriwacana was symbol and place for inauguration of the new sultan of Banten. It was said that Maulana Hasanuddin has ordered Maulana Yusuf not to move the “Watu Gilang Sriman Sriwacana” which was placed in the middle of the city, even a bit. Move it a bit was the sign of the kingdom collapse.

We could also find the almost the same stone nearest, in the east of the great mosque. This stone was called “Watu Singayaksa” where along time ago was used to announce the sultan’s order or sultan’s regulation.

To gain more information about Banten Kingdom in the past, in front of the Surosowan palace, there is a museum. Enter this museum, you only have to pay Rp. 1000 (0.9 USD). You can find diorama of Banten kingdom in the 15th century, near the entrance door. There are also displayed old coins that used to for trading. Some pictures and diorama are also displayed describing the situation Banten in the past, e.g. situation of market, situation at Tasikardi Park when used to welcome the guest, diorama of traditional football game (the ball is made fromrattan), etc. In this museum, porcelains that collected during the excavation the ruin Surosowan palace also displayed. Most of the porcelains had broken into pieces although some of them still in better condition.

Actually it is sadden, to see the condition of the old Banten city, one of the old archaeology sites in Indonesia. It is poorly managed. It is not because of the government doesn’t have goodwill, but the property status of the archaeology site itself still remain some problem. You can see and read, not far from the museum, there is a sign of “This land is belonging to Kampong Kebalen society”.

August 05, 2008


(PART – 2)

In the Islamic kingdom period, there are 3 main characteristic of the government city. They are Palace, Mosque and Garden. The Garden of the Banten kingdom is believed to be Tasikardi. It is about 2.5 km from Surosowan Palace.

Driving from Cilegon for about 7 kilometers, we turn left in Kramatwatu intersection. Our first destination was the Tasikardi. It is an artificial lake that was built at period of Sultan Maulana Yusuf (the 2nd sultan of Banten) and then Sultan Ageng Tirtayasa (1651-1682) built the clean water distribution pipeline for the resident’s need. It is also said that the bottom of this lake (reservoir) covered by red floor tile. In language terminology, “Tasik” means lake while “Ardi” means artificial. In its time, the lake with artificial land completed with garden was provided as recreation place for the family member of sultan.

Arrived at Tasikardi, it could be seen from the roadway on the right, it is big reservoir with green big trees surrounding on it. Getting closer to that lake, our eyes caught up on water bikes that swam across along the lake. Unfortunately, the water of Tasikardi is brown dark color, dirty and the surrounding is poorly maintained. It is really hard to imagine that long time ago, in the sultanate period, this artificial lake was beautiful, along with its park so it was used for recreation place of palace members. In the middle of the lake there is squares area which is an artificial land/garden about 5 acres, where the sultan and family used to visit for recreation. The ruins of building, park and bathroom still can be seen here.

Tasikardi Park was used to welcome guest from Netherlands in the period of Sultan Muhammad Syifa Zainal Asyikin. One of the guest was Cornellis de Bruin, which was in this reception he had been shown the tayuban dance performance. This situation was captured in the painting that displayed in the Banten Museum now day.

Not only used as the recreation place, the water of Tasikardi was being used for irrigation and fresh water supply to Surosowan palace. No wonder that along the road from intersection of Kramatwatu, we could see rice fields in our right and left side, just like green and gold-yellow thick carpets. When most of rice field in Cilegon and Serang nearly dried due to long-dry-season, near Tasikardi you’ll find the opposite condition.

The water from Tasikardi also was the main supply of fresh water for the palace resident. Before entered to the palace, the water has been refined through three steps. The water flow via terracotta/clay pipeline to the first refiner which was called as Pengidelan Abang (Red Refiner), than the water from Pengidelan Abang transferred to Pengidelan Putih (White Refiner), and last the water being refined in Pengidelan Emas (Golden Refiner) before it was transferred to Surosowan palace by terracotta pipeline system. Don’t imagine that the color of the refiner is the same as each name. The name just indicates that the red one was dirtier than the white one, and in the golden one, the water was the cleanest. These pengidelan were the white-four sides building which have a cubic measure of length + 20 meters, width + 7 meters, and height + 3 meters. The principal of this refinery are precipitation and filtering.

The three buildings of refiners could be found between Tasik Ardi and Surosowan palace. You can find the first one near Tasikardi, about 500 meters, just in the right side of the road. The pengidelan were laid down in parallel, connected to the royal pool and golden fountain. The architect of this sophisticated plumbing system at the time was Hendrik Lucaszoon Cardeel, the one who also involved in the development of Surosowan palace and the great mosque.

To enter this area, you have only to pay Rp. 2000/person (about 0.25 USD/person). Inside, you can find some rest area made from bamboo. You can also take a walk to go around the lake/reservoir, enjoy the dense of leaves on your right and left side.

On the day of our visit here, there wasn’t many people seen here, or maybe it was still early in the morning. Usually, this area always crowded by young people, especially in the Saturday night. People come here for dating, fishing, family gathering, etc. This are also full in the Lebaran day (Islamic day, after fasting month), most people gather here since the ticket is cheap enough.

Continue – Surosowan Palace, the sultan’s residence


(PART – 1)

Talking of the glorious of Islamic period in Indonesian history is tasteless without mentioning Banten kingdom which reached the glorious moment at the time of Sultan Ageng Tirtayasa ruled the kingdom. Here is my journey to the old Banten which called as Bantam in the European perspective long century ago.

In the 12th until 16th century, Banten has already known as a big, famous harbor as connection among the islands in Indonesia and also across the country region. Banten harbor was lively and busy with traders or merchants that came from various countries, especially from Gujarat (India), Malay, Chinese, Portuguese, England, and Dutch.

Banten already has important roles in its time. Its strategic function due to Banten was laid in the international’s voyage and trading. Banten is located in the Sunda strait coastal, made up Banten as a crossing gate of Sumatra and Java islands. Banten was also known as the exporter of black pepper during the 15th century.

The arrangement of the Banten city was also interesting. The 2nd sultan of Banten, Maulana Yusuf, placed the citizen in order based on ability and region. The foreign village was placed outside the city gate, for example “Pakojan” village in the west of Karangantu trade market was occupied by traders from mid east, “Pecinan” village was occupied by Chinese traders, “Kepandean” village was occupied by blacksmith, “Kamasan” village was the center of gold manufacturing, etc. There were also villages based on social strata, e.g. “Kademangan” for Demangs (village headman in Java); “Kesantrian” for knights, Senapati (Commander in Chief), and royal soldiers; etc.

The sultan ran his kingdom from his royal palace, known as Surosowan palace. The sultan also made his ritual religion service in Great Mosque that placed not far from the palace. However, today, the only left just the ruins, except the great mosque which until today is one of the main destinations of Indonesian people for “ziarah” (visiting sacred place). The other left behind are the great mosque, artificial lake (reservoir) “tasik Ardi”, ruins of Kaibon palace, ruins of Speelwijk fortress, and other are house of worships.

The first sultan of Banten was Sultan Maulana Hasanuddin. He is the son of “Sunan (title for the holy man who first brought Islam to Java) Gunung Jati”. Maulana Hasanuddin was succeeded by his son, Maulana Yusuf. Just after Maulana Yusuf died, there was power struggle between Jepara prince and Maulana Muhammad (son of Maulana Yusuf). Maulana Muhammad won the struggle by the support of religious leaders.

Banten kingdom reached the glorious period in the time of Abdul Fathi Abdul Fatah which is famous as Sultan Ageng Tirtayasa. In his time, Banten harbor became the international trade center. Sultan Ageng Tirtayasa is also known because his struggle to fight the Dutch Colonial. Due to his struggle, the surosowan palace was destroyed during VOC attack lead by governor general Daendles in 1808. The Banten sultanate was completely ended by the British administration under the lead of Thomas Stamford Raffles in 1813 when Sultan Syafiuddin (the last Banten dynasty) was forced to abdicate.

Feel as one of the citizen of Serang – Banten and tried to image the ancient of Banten civilization, this week August 3, 2008, me, my wife and kids went to the old Banten region where the ruins of the kingdom still exist.

Continue – Tasikardi, the nobleman recreation garden & the sophisticated water plumbing system.