IO – As the capital of Central Java, Semarang is also known as one of the five biggest metropolitan in Indonesia after Jakarta, Surabaya, Medan, and Bandung. Since the Dutch colonial era, Semarang has developed rapidly to become the Port of Java. This coastal city is also traversed by many rivers within the city; it is not surprising that the Dutch East Indies government called Semarang Venetië van Java or Venice in Java.
The Dutch East Indies government left a lot of architectural heritage which is still well maintained, one of which is the Dutch East Indies railway company which was once headquartered in this city; now, its legacy can be seen directly through its iconic former head office building, Lawang Sewu.
Through Bersukaria Walk, an independent touring community in Semarang, exploring every inch of the 474-year-old city becomes enjoyable.
“There is always a story behind every historical building in Semarang,” said Fauzan, one of the founders of Bersukaria Walk, to the Independent Observer.
Bersukaria Walk was founded by Fauzan and his friends in 2016. His experience in Colombia inspired the young man who was born in 1994 to create the Bersukaria Walk with the concept of a walking tour. Through Bersukaria Walk, the journey through Semarang feels more meaningful and rich in stories.
Bersukaria Walk invites participants to walk around certain routes with a guide who tells stories, shares facts and historical data related to the buildings. Fauzan is one of the storytellers in this tour community, along with eight other people.
Currently, Bersukaria Walking Tour has a number of regular tour routes that participants can follow on foot on every weekend or holiday, including the Old Town, Chinatown, Kampung Kota, Kauman, Spoorweg Journer, Kali Village, Bodjong, and Multi-Cultural tours.
The duration of each tour lasts 2 to 3 hours, passing through several points. Besides regular routes, there are also special themed tours, such as Suka Snack, which seeks out Semarang culinary routes.
On June 1, Bersukaria Wak held a special Pancasila tour, starting from Pancasila Square. In addition, to commemorate Heroes’ Day or the anniversary of Central Java, usually, Bersukaria Walk also holds special tours with limited participants.
“In total, we currently have 18 regular routes covering classic stories, from Chinatown to Kota Lama, to the contemporary world on the Jatingaleh route. We are trying to explore things that have been hidden and not many people know about Semarang,” he said. Fauzan in a telephone interview some time ago.
In addition to the classic route in the middle of the city, Bersukaria Walk since 2021 has developed new routes that are more focused on nature, such as walking through the city forest and along the coast. “We have opened the Banyumanik route which goes into an urban forest and a seaside route which has many historical spots,” he said.
During the pandemic, Bersukaria Walk has now begun to limit the number of participants on weekends and holidays. Each route is limited to a maximum of 10 people per group. Most of the Revelers Walking Tour participants are 17 to 50 years old. As a memento at the end of the tour, participants usually also get a sticker with an iconic design of the route they take.
To reach a wider audience amid the pandemic, Bersukaria Walk has developed a virtual tour, which currently includes schools that require field trips and can be accessed from home. “We have made virtual tours with different and unique themes such as tours to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina as well as underwater tours and tours to outer space. Usually, virtual tours are attended by around 70 people; this number is generally a combination of 3 classes at school,” he added.
Bersukaria Walk is developing a “Love Sharing” program which invites participants to donate while protecting the environment by planting trees in the mangrove forest. “Semarang almost drowned because of the contours of the land that fall every time by sea tides; thus, through ‘Love Sharing’ we invite participants to love Semarang in different ways by providing new experiences and involving local farmers.”
Through Bersukaria Walk, one by one, Semarang’s secrets have been revealed. Among them is a century-old coffee factory in the Chinatown route. On an Earth Day-themed route, participants were invited to walk through a Dutch honorary tomb complex in Semarang at night.
Curious to join the tour which has a pay-as-you-wish concept? You can register directly through their social media. During the pandemic, don’t forget to wear a mask when on tour! Also, keep your distance from other participants, and always wash your hands with running water and soap.
Are you ready to explore Semarang this weekend? Let’s join together with Bersukaria Walk! (Freddy Wally)