Cirebon (pronounced: “Cheer – i – bon”) has begun to receive a bit more attention from scholars and artists, mostly because of her very colourful past and her wealth of traditional performing arts and crafts. Some of the contributors to this book were in fact involved in a project to study Cirebon’s history and culture. The result is a small bilingual booklet (English/Indonesian) entitled Ceribon (Sinar Harapan/Mitra Budaya: Jakarta, 1982) that is highly recomended to all visitors and can be purschased in most bookstores in Jakarta for US$6. The book discusses Cirebon’s history, historical monuments, music, theatre, painting, cuisine and batik.
Cirebon is about 4 hours (260 km/160 miles) overland from jakarta, only 3 hours by road from Bandung. There is a small airport with two weekly flights from Jakarta, but trains and mini buses are generally more convenient.
There are two air conditioned first class trains operating on the Jakarta – Cirebon coastal route. On these, however, you must pay for a further destination just to occupy the seat as far as Cirebon. The Bima Express leaves Jakrta’s Kota Station daily at 4 p.m. and arrives in Cirebon at about 8 p.m., costing US$25 one way (the fare to Yogya). The Mutiara Utara leaves from Kota Station at 4.30 p.m. and arrives in Cirebon at 6.45 p.m., coasting US$17.50 one way (the fare to Semarang).
Two non air conditioned second class trains also serve Cirebon. The Gunung Jati makes two daily runs, leaving from Jakarta’s Pasar Senen Station at 7 a.m. and agin at 2.27 p.m. and arricving about 5 hours later. Tickets are US$4 one way. The evening Snja Utama also departs from Jakarta’s Gambir Station at 6.15 p.m. and arrives in Cirebon at 9.50 p.m. Ticket are US$7.50 each way (the fare to Yogya).
A more convenient way to go is by none seater “colt” mini bus. They will fetch you in Jakarta and deliver you to your hotel in Cirebon, approximately 4 hours later. Departures are hourly 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. dailu; the fare is only about US$6 each way. Some companies offer air conditioned buses; ask your hotel to book a seat for you one or more days in advance of departure (try Libra Express). Mini buses also operate Bandung – Cirebon, and on from Cirebon to Semarang via Pekalongan. You have to change in Semarang to get to or from Yogya.
Numerous eastward – bound inter city buses leave Jakarta in the late afternoon (between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.) from Pulo Gadung terminal, arriving in Cirebon 4 hours later. The fare is about US$3 one way. From Bandung’s Cicaheum Terminal, buses to Cirebon generally depart in the early evening (between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.) and arrive 2 hours later. Fare is about US$1.50.
Everything in town is pretty much within walking distance. You can also take a pedicab (beack) almost anywhere for Rp 300. For trips out to Gua Sunyaragi, Trusmi and Gunung Jati, you can rent a car or “colt” from your hotel (between US$20 and US$25 per day) or simply catch one of the local mini buses headed in that direction.
First choise in hotles is the venerable old Grand Hotel, with a variety of rooms, ranging in price from the huge air conditioned President’s Suite for US$50 all the way down to a small room in the back with a fan for only US$7.50. The Patra Java Motel has more modern (but tacky) rooms for between US$30 and US$70, as do the nearby Omega and Cirebon Plaxa.
Budget travellers will find a variety of accommodation in the US$3 to US$7 range right next to each other all located along Jl. Siliwangi around the train station and farther down pass the Grand Hotel (Hotel Baru, Hotel Familie, Hotel Semarang, Hotel Damai, etc). Also around the corner along the canal on Jl. Kalibaru (Hotel Asia).
The Pertamina Cirebon Country Club (Ciperna) located up on the hill beyond the airport, 11 km from Cirebon on the road to Kuningan, has an Olympic size swimming pool and an 18 hole golf course. Bungalows may also be ranted here for as little as US$7 a night with a nice view of the coast.
First Class (over US$20 a night)
Cirebon Plaza Hotel (34 rooms), Jl. R.A. Kartini 54, Cirebon.
Grand Hotel (66 rooms), Jl. Siliwangi 110, Cirebon.
Omega Hotel (64 rooms), Jl. Tuparev 20, Cirebon.
Patra Jasa Motel (55 rooms), Jl. Tujuh Pahlawan Revolusi 11, Cirebon.
Intermediate & Budget (under US$20 a night)
Hotel Asia, Jl. Kalibaru Selatan 33, Cirebon
Hotel Baru, Jl. Siliwangi 159, Cirebon.
Hotel Cordova, Jl. Siliwangi 75 – 77, Cirebon.
Hotel Damai, Jl. Siliwangi 130, Cirebon.
Hotel Familie, Jl, Siliwangi 76, Cirebon.
Hotel Priangan, Jl. Siliwangi 122, Cirebon.
Hotel Semarang, Jl. Siliwangi 132, Cirebon.
Cirebon is famous for its seafood (the city’s name means “shrimp river”), and the best seafood restaurant in town is Maxim’s Jl. Bahagia 45 – 7, Tel: 2679, 3185), just a short walk back along the road next to the Thay Kak Sie Chinese temple. Giant teamed crabs and prawns here are fresh and cheap. They also serve tasty Chinese food.
For spicy Padang food, there’s Sinar Budi Jl. Karang Getas 20, Tel: 3846) not far from the Grand Hotel, where they also serve good fresh fruit drinks. For a simple lunch, try the local speciality, nasi lengko (rice with bits of fried tempe, tahu, vegetables and sambal) at the Kopyor across the street (Jl. Karang Getas 9, Tel: 4343.
For western style breakfast od dinner, the Grand Hotel and coffee shops are adequate. Or, after a hot visit to the kraton and the mosque, stop in at the air conditioned Corner Restaurant Jl. Pasuketan 31 A, Tel: 4375) for a cold drink and a local version of a western snack.
To get the best Batik, you must visit Ibu Masina’s studio in Trusmi, 12 km (7 miles) to the west of Cirebon just off the Bandung road (there is a small sign marking the narrow lane in Weru where you turn off to the right from the main highway – from here it’s about 1 km to the showroom and workshop). Ibu Masina has revived many of the traditional Cirebon court designs, which incorporate a variety of Chinese, Javanese, Indian, Islamic and European motifs.
For Cirebonese topeng masks, visit Pak Kandeg at Suranenggala Lor village about 15 km (3 miles) north of Cirebon on the road to Gunung Jati. Topeng masks and paintings on glass incorporating Arabic calligraphy are also produced in Palimanan and Gegesik villages to the north – west of Cirebon. They are also interesting villages for all sorts of local dance and theatre traditions, including the sintren trance ritual.
–> Read Also : Accommodation and Dining of Pekalongan