"Balongan, Cirebon and Indramayu" Cirebon by DSwede

Cirebon Travel Guide: 44 reviews and 86 photos

I don't know why people are so amazed to see white faces, but its like I'm a celebrity. All the people want to say hello, many have even come over to my side, just to have their pictures taken with me before running off like giddy little school girls. It even happens in the larger cities of Jakarta and Surabaya, but is enough to stop conversations and people walking in smaller towns. This last weekend for example, some old man, said hello, and without speaking another word of English, had me stop, placed what I assume to be his granddaughter next to me and took a photo of both of us, smiled and walked away. Its not the first time or first place for this type of thing to happen, but it is a lot more frequent here.

By coincidence a friend of mine, Steve, was assigned to the same customer during my stay. Since he was still here, but staying in nearby Indramayu, he got a room for the night in Cirebon. We wondered aimlessly and sweated profusely for the weekend. As previously mentioned, Cirebon is a quiet, boring town. As we wondered the poor streets and absorbed the daily routine, we decided to spend $2/ea and made custom ball caps that said "Hello Mister". Quite apropos, since even the most English challenged Indonesian in Cirebon will wave and scream Hello Mister from the opposite side of the street. After walking through slums, dirty streets, past rows of street barbers with their stools surrounded by months worth of clippings, countless little kiosks and make-shift store fronts, we decided we needed to cool down by the pool. Saturday and Sunday were the same, only with a few drinks at a local watering hole to separate them.

Later in the week, Steve handed me his Indonesian Lonely Planet guide. The first two sentences on Cirebon pretty much sum it up quite well. "Well off the tourist trail, on the sunburnt north coast... . Hot and isolated, this pleasant town rarely features on travelers' itineraries, with most visitors experiencing it as little more than a sweltering stop on the long train ride between Surabaya and Jakarta". And as if they editor had read our minds, our caps became all that much more appropriate "with few travelers making it to Cirebon, you will doubtless be a novelty. Expect your fair share of 'hello misters'."

During my stay in Cirebon, I used this as a starting point to explore some of Central Java, like Magelang, Prambanan and Yogjakarta).

Visit my Java Island page for more general comments.

(for more pictures, feel free to visit my Indonesia Gallery. If you enjoy the pictures, please leave a comment.)

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:The people do not know tourists, so you will be treated as one of them for the most part.
  • Cons:If you don't speak the language, entertainment will be sparce.
  • In a nutshell:A hot and dry coast line, mostly for fisherman.
  • Intro Updated Mar 27, 2011
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Comments (1)

  • SLLiew's Profile Photo
    Jan 21, 2008 at 4:12 AM

    Superb photos. One of my friends married a Caucasian and when they came back to Penang and I went to pick them, I noticed a motorcyclist make a u-turn just to take another look at her white husband.


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