Brief History of Wonosobo
There are many interesting places around Java and visitingjava chooses Wonosobo as the main article for this month. That’s not an easy choice since Central Java has other points to share but this town got something which can seal your heart once you have visited Wonosobo. So, this is the story of Wonosobo, city of carica.
The name of Wonosobo came from sanskrit word, Vanasabha which means a gathering place in the jungle. That’s an interesting name and Javanese turn the word Vanasabha into Wanasaba surely with the same meaning but in Javanese word. Wonosobo long time ago known as a jungle which located in Dieng Plateau and the old people of wonosobo came to build a settlement there. Mountains and hills are the main characteristic of Dieng Plateau as well as Wonosobo since it is located about 1000m above the sea level. This land contour simply ideal for farming and large plantation area such as tea plantation, potato farm and carica farm.
Since July, 24th,1825 Wonosobo officially became a regency of Sultanate Jogjakarta. After Diponegoro War era, Wonosobo grows into a promising town which led by a regent Kyai. Moh. Ngampah or also known as KRT Setjonegoro (a noble title from Sultanate Jogjakarta). Supported by powerful kingdom (at that time) and blessed with amazing environment points such as fertile soil and main river (Sedayu River), people of Wonosobo lives with peace and harmony with the mother nature.
During Indonesian Revolution, Wonosobo which connected to major cities in Central Java such as Semarang, Purwokerto and Jogjakarta became an ideal checkpoint for Indonesian guerilla soldiers before they joined a fierce battle in Ambarawa. Today this city became a favorite tourist destination in Central Java and let’s see what Wonosobo could offer for worldwide travelers.
Wonosobo, clean, cozy and friendly environment
With total area reached 984,68 km2 (square-kilometers) and total population around 810,000 people, Wonosobo is perfect for city explore activity. Low air polution, Medium traffic intensity and Cloudy environment is what we need to take gentle walk around a city and Wonosobo provides all of those privilleges. Foggy and rainy day become a common situation for people who lives here. I can see clearly people in Wonosobo are really enjoying a rainy day
(when i was there, the rain starts to tear down around 10 AM and it ended aroud 08 PM). This city is very clean and you can enjoy take a walk at City Courtyard. Similar to other city courtyard in most cities of Java, the courtyard surounded by pedestrian area and big trees. Important buildings such as government offices, banks and supermarket are easy to find next to the City Courtyard. Some foodstalls also can be found surrounding the city courtyard and many people gathering in this place especially at weekend (it’s a saturday night fever).
Finish with City Courtyard exploration, we can continue our journey to the famous Dieng area and visit Arjuna temple. This temple is the place to held special ceremony called Rambut Gimbal ceremony which traditionally passed down among generations in Dieng, Wonosobo. The ritual is a kind of grateful expression of Wonosobo people to god for all goodness and prosperity of their land. Legend said that there is always a special child who will born in Wonosobo as a successor of their ancestor’s spirit. This special child will have a reggae hairdo since he/she is born as a sign for the people and explained the role of this child who will be the spiritual protector for all people of Dieng, Wonosobo. No matter he/she will born either from a noble family or a common family, life will always find its way and the child (with regae hairdo) will be blessed first by the eldery before they cut the hair. Every year the local government of Wonosobo held a festival called Dieng Festival and that is the time when those reggae hairdo children taken to the Arjuna Temple to be involved in the Rambut Gimbal ceremony.
Besides Arjuna temple, the Dieng area offers an exclusive eye relaxing activity with its beautiful scenery and lung recharging treatment with its fresh air. Sure you can take photos of the twin sisters Mount Sundoro and Mount Sumbing from this area. Those beautiful sisters are often picked as the main idea for drawing project at Elementary School (I am still remember how desperately i tried to draw that mountains and my teacher “flatly” said what is that? from that moment i realized that i am not good at drawing so i am writing now). Mount Sundoro and Mount Sumbing are active volcanoes so dont ever mess up with the girls otherwise they will throw anything they can and you’ll get burnt heavily boys.
For travelers who wants to see a giant greenfield area, they can visit Tambi, the biggest Tea Plantation area in Wonosobo. There are many beautiful spots in the middle of Tea Plantation area and you can enter the Tea Processing factory which located next to the entrance of the tea plantation area. We can stay at guesthouse which can be found around Tambi and interact with local people to learn more about culture in Wonosobo. Tambi is a good attraction but if you want to find a challenge to pump up your adrenaline, the watersports at Serayu river could be an ideal choice. This main river often used for local watersports championship and some of adventure clubs in Central Java regularly visit this place to challenge the waves of Serayu river.
Other nature attractions which can be found in Wonosobo is Telaga Menjer (Menjer Lake), this one is absolutely good for your health. The Lake is located before the Dieng area and there is also homestay near Menjer Lake which offered (to tourists) around USD 10 – 15 / night. Local people said that Lake Menjer was once a mountain but its not active anymore and transformed into a huge lake. The water from this lake is processed to support fresh water supply for people of Wonosobo. It is not suprisingly that major brand such as Aqua took fresh water from Wonosobo to be processed into mineral water, packed nicely and distributed around Indonesia. Some of Aqua’s product even exported to other countries and today Aqua (as a brand) is considered as one of the most successful brands ever created in Indonesia.
Physical activities to explore the city of Wonosobo surely brings another consequence, yes its a crying belly. So, this is the perfect time to go for a traditional meal adventure. Don’t worry, people of Wonosobo are really good with cooking and they got many dishes to offer. Start from Mie Ongklok, this one is the traditional noodle of Wonosobo and you have to try it. The characteristic of Mie Ongklok is a bit slimy noodle which served with sate sapi (beef satay), tempe kemul (lets say its a fried powder mixed tempe) and geblek, a local snack which made from coconut mixed with cassava flour (the name is very funny for some of us here since people of Jakarta also used phrase geblek to say someone that nearly hard to understand something a.k.a. dumb).
The mixture of soft noodle and slimy sous which made from Ebi (shrimp) totally amazing and sure you can put some chilies if you like a spicy dish. Mie Ongklok can be found (almost) in every corner of Wonosobo area and the price for a bowl of it may vary due to the place where you buy it. Common price is about 5000 rupiah but there are also places that sold a bowl/plate of Mie Ongklok around 7500 rupiah. Better came to Mie Ongklok food stall before 12 AM otherwise the stall will be crowded by High School students and you won’t get a seat.
Other interesting points of Wonosobo are Carica and Purwaceng. Have you heard about those things before? We might find Carica (or also known as Mountain Papaya) in Malang, a city in East Java. This small version of papaya (with latin name : Caricaceae Vasconcellea) became one of the best commodities from Dieng and Wonosobo besides potato. Lots of Carica trees planted by people of Wonosobo and they took the fruit (only) to be processed into syrup. Yes, a special syrup with (sliced) fresh carica fruit in a bottle is more popular rather than gennie in a bottle in here.
Guess what? the taste is very good, somehow the taste of Carica is similar to jackfruit (some people said the taste is similar to mango) but in a texture of papaya, wow what a perfect mix of fruit and surely its perfect for a gift. So, what about Purwaceng? This one is as crazy as your boyfriend/girlfriend fantasy. Just try a cup of it either mixed with tea or coffee and you will understand why local people of Wonosobo said this Purwaceng powder is a kind of Viagra in herbal version. Since centuries ago people of Wonosobo took Purwaceng regularly (everyday) and there are no bad side effects since it is a herbal powder. The goodnews is, some of local businessmen created special product of Purwaceng and this herbal Viagra is packed nicely before distributed to many stalls around Wonosobo. Yes, you are absolutely right, Purwaceng also a hot choice as special gift especially for honeymoon couple.
A route to Wonosobo
Wonosobo city and its regency located about 120 kilometers from Semarang and the route to this city can be accessed either from the West Side of Java or East Side of Java Island. Wonosobo can be accessed by road trip since there is no airport there and if you start the journey from Bandung then you can use a shuttle bus service which operated by local travel agencies. It is a good choice to start the trip from Jogjakarta since Jogjakarta is considered as the nearest tourism city to Wonosobo (so you can spend few days in Jogjakarta before leaving to Wonosobo). Semarang also a good point to start the trip and you can use a shuttle bus service from local travel agency.
For bus fans don’t be worried, you can take a bus service from every cities which located in East Java, West Java and Central Java.. Start points could be Jogjakarta, Solo, Semarang, Bandung, Cirebon and even Jakarta. The bus service will arrive at Mendolo bus Terminal in Wonosobo and that’s the checkpoint for bus travelers. Once you are arrived at Mendolo Bus Terminal in Wonosobo there are some hotels that quite good (in service) and you can stay there during your adventrure in the city of carica. From Mendolo bus terminal you can take other shuttle bus (small one) with route Wonosobo – Dieng – Batur if you want to go to Dieng directly and stay at resorts around Dieng. The bus trip will cost you around 15000 rupiah to 90000 rupiah (depends on your start point) and for the small shuttle bus to Dieng its about 7000 – 10000 rupiah.
As for suggestion, Wonosobo is good for a second line destination right before Jogjakarta and after you leave Bandung so you can get extraordinary (bonus) experience during your trip to Jogjakarta. Small city which features some of the best nature attractions (that you can find in Java) could be a simple word to describe Wonosobo. Since almost everyday is a rainy and foggy day in Wonosobo so you don’t have to wait until dry season to visit this city but it is recommended to spend times in Wonosobo during the Rambut Gimbal Ceremony (Dieng Festival) on July (dry season). At least you need 2-3 days to explore Wonosobo completely and don’t forget to see the beautiful sunrise and sunset while you taking photos in Dieng.
By Amar Pujo Wicaksono
(Contributor at visitingjava.com)