Cirebon in Four Days (Day Three)

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

After – let’s say – exploring Kuningan, which is located outside the city of Cirebon, on the previous day, we decided to go around the city on the third day of our traveling to Cirebon.

Cirebon used to be one of major and busy trading port in the north coast of Java. People from different parts of the world sailed overseas to this place, brought along their cultures, traditions, and of course, faiths.

First place to go was the oldest Chinese temple in the city. It was named Klenteng Dewi Welas Asih, after the Goddess Kwan Im (Guan Yin), built in 1595. Surrounded by old Dutch colonial buildings, the temple was easy to find as it was located in the old quarter of modern Cirebon.

We didn’t go further to its interior as we were forbidden to take pictures inside. So we ended up walking around its front yard and left for the Arab quarter. Cirebon is just a small town. It didn’t take long for us to reach the quarter.

The Arab quarter of Cirebon didn’t really create the sense that we’re in an Arabic place except the fact that many Arabs descendant walked around the place. Instead of finding an Arabic style mosque, we found an old Hindu style mosque, built with exposed red bricks. The red color was so dominant people named the mosque: Masjid Merah or Red Mosque.

The old mosque was sacred. The main hall was closed and open only at prayer times. We couldn’t go inside the main hall as it was still in the morning, so we just peeked through the holes in the wall.

The main hall looked pretty nice. Like many old mosques in Java, there are four huge wooden columns supporting the roof adorned with some ornament details on each of its top. I found that the interior walls were also dominated with exposed red bricks. So it is true, the mosque is red!

Since the main hall was closed, we wandered in the terrace, capturing the beautiful gate or entrance which looked more Hindu than Arabic. The walls were adorned with Chinese and European ceramics. No Arabic! So I guess the people in the past, particularly in the north coast of Java, were very open. They got great senses of tolerance and humanity. Maybe what some people said about the spreading of Islam in Java was true; it was spread by Chinese traders.

We left the mosque for Kampung Batik Trusmi, an old village well known for its batik industry. It was said that the industry has been there since the early time of the coming of Islam in that region, perhaps in the 15th or 16th century. Trusmi itself was derived from a man named Ki Gede Trusmi. Until now, his remain was buried in a grave sacred by the people.

Batik trusmi is a typical Javanese coastal batik. It’s colorful and the pattern is obvious rather than symbolic. Flowers look exactly like flowers, and so are leaves, plants, humans, and animals.

We stopped by at a workshop and witnessed the making of batik. Not like Batik Lasem where all the process was completely done by hand or manually painted, Trusmi was a combination between manual and printing.

Within the area of Trusmi, there were many shops with various price, and of course, quality. Don’t get too excited with the low price shirts. Many times, they would end up torn apart, just like a paper.

Leaving Trusmi, our driver, Arief, brought us to Kuningan. He wanted to show us a natural lake situated in the foot of Mount Ciremai. Along the way to the lake, we saw many beautiful rice fields with some mountains as its background.

We even asked Arief to pull over the car on the road side so we could take some pictures of the rice fields.

The place was located deep in a village, in the middle of pine forest. The air was amazingly fresh and it was so quiet I could hear the wind blow. But hey, where’s everybody? I didn’t see anyone around.

The only activity that I saw was a man throwing the net to catch some fish in the lake. Other than that, there was nobody around. Even the food stalls and shops were all closed. Arief told us that the place used to be popular and became a favorite place to go. But then, things changed. Nearly all the attractions were out of order, and then abandoned.

Before dark, we left the lake for the hotel we stayed in Cirebon.

You Might Also Like