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Sarangan,  Indonesia - flag Indonesia
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Sarangan is Cool (Central Java)

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Sarangan 's big surprise are the smoking chimneys on the roofs and the carrots, onions and cabbages that grow on terraces on either side of the steep road leading up to the town. When the sun is down people put on woolly hats and padded jackets.


Working in the field, growing onions, carrots and cauliflower. A more European than tropical crop.
Working in the field, growing onions, carrots and cauliflower. A more European than tropical crop.
If I hadn't known better I would never have guessed that I was in tropical Java.

Sarangan is a hill station favoured by the Dutch in colonial days. It is half way between Madiun and Solo. The village straddles the southern slope of Mount Lawu, an inactive volcano. At an altitude of 1,287 meters evenings are chilly. That's why we were very happy that our room in Hotel Sarangan had a fire place and sufficient logs to last all evening.

The town is centred around the crater lake, Tekaga Pasir, and the views are stunning. Guesthouse owners invite newly arrived tourists to stay in their guesthouses which clutter around the lake's shore. Horsemen hire out their ponies for daytrips or shorter excursions. It is all very gentle. Their approach is soft sell, nothing is forced on to the tourists.

Sarangan is also popular with domestic holiday makers and day-trippers on tour buses who arrive mainly at the weekend. During the week you have the place to yourself, which is often the case with tourist destinations or 'objek wisata' as they are called in Bahasa Indonesia.

The best time to visit is in the dry season from April to October.

Favourite spots:
daytrippers
daytrippers
The crater lake, which supplies the lower lying paddy fields with irrigation water, is Sarangan's main attraction. It is popular for boating and water cycles

A walk around the lake takes 40 minutes and some 30 minutes on horseback. A paved road extends three-quarters around the lake at the end of which a path leads to a waterfall.

Boats and horses can be hired at € 2 per hour.

Telaga Wahyu is a smaller lake, a few kilometres downhill towards Madiun. It less popular because legend has it that (courting) couples will separate when they visit.

What's really great:
Drinks and snacks can be bought along the roadside.
Drinks and snacks can be bought along the roadside.
Sarangan and surroundings are good for hiking: beautiful scenery, friendly people and a cool climate.

We went for a 6-hour hike (there and back) up Mount Lawu, a now extinct volcano often wrapped in clouds. Guides can be hired at Blumbang village near the mountain pass, halfway between Tawangmangu and Sarangan.

The trail is clearly marked and we did not hire a guide because we didn't go right to the top (which takes 5 hours) but only to the crater, Kawah Lawu. This took us 3 hours.

The climb begins 300 meters northwest of Cemoro Sewu (5 kilometers from Sarangan), where you will see several radio/TV towers. The start of the trail is right beyond the bridge.

At the weekend you will not be the only hiker as it is popular with the daytrippers. It is impossible to get lost. Follow the people, the litter and the sound of radios. The trail is also heavily used by local people on their way to the Hindu-Buddhist temple near the summit to place offerings.

Sights:
Giant bamboo plants
Giant bamboo plants
When it is full moon you can go on climb to the top of Mount Lawu in semi darkness, a spooky experience. In this case it is wise to engage a guide. You will leave Sarangan at 4 a.m. It is very cold at this time of day and you will reach the peak by 9 a.m. There is plenty of time to descend before night falls, which is between 5.30 and 6 pm.

Accommodations:
Hotel Sarangan, dates back to Dutch colonial days. That's why we wanted to stay here. Our room had a bay window, a perfect panorama across the lake. But best of all was our personal attendant. He brought us wood logs for the open fire and our breakfast in the morning, tea in the afternoon. All this for only €18 for a double room (not including tips).

The first morning we had only cold water as we forgot to ask our attendant to heat the water. Each evening we reminded him and each evening we gave him a tip.

The hotel is easy to find. Walk down the main road in the centre, when the road reaches the lake, turn right and right again. Halfway the slope you will see the hotel.

Nightlife:
Warungs with fried fish
Warungs with fried fish
None. The lounges at Sarangan Hotel and Hotel Telaga Mas are good places to while away the afternoon if you are not on a more exiting outing.

Hotel Telega Mas is the most upmarket in Sarangan. It consists of two part and is right on the lake. There are family rooms and standard doubles. Prices range from €20 to € 40.

Walk down the main road, when it reaches the lake, turn left and Hotel Telega Mas is 500 meters up the road that borders the lake.

Hangouts:
None, but beer is served in Hotel Telaga Mas.


Other recommendations:
Arrive early in the day to get best rooms at the weekend. On weekdays there is plenty of accommodation available. Bargain for discounts of 30-40%. Hotels on the lower slopes are less expensive.

In the European tourist season all the prices double. There are tour groups of Dutch tourists in Sarangan Hotel once a week in the peak season. They only stay one night and like to be here for nostalgia’s sake.

Restaurants:
Most hotels have dining rooms and meals are included in the room rate, plus free tea and coffee. Low-cost Indonesian food is available in rumah makan (simple restaurants) in the main street.

Published on Friday December 16th, 2005


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Sat, Dec 17 2005 - 09:20 AM rating by jorgesanchez

very nice and enjoyable report!

Sat, Dec 17 2005 - 05:47 AM rating by ravinderkumarsi

excellent report

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