Feb 2, 2009

Ambarawa Train Museum

Since the days of the Dutch Occupation Era, Ambarawa had been known as a military area. That's why King Willem I decided to built a railway station, to make it easier for his troop to go to Semarang. Ambarawa Railway Station was built in May 21 1873.

The glory of the Ambarawa Railway Station (also known as Willem I Railway Station) started to fade with the closing of Ambarawa-Kedungjati-Semarang route. Then, finally in 1976, the Ambarawa-Secang-Magelang and Ambarawa-Parakan-Temanggung route were also closed, marking the end of Ambarawa Railway Station as an operating station.

In April 8 1976, Mr. Supardjo Rustam, then the governor of Central Java, decided to turn the Ambarawa Railway Station into a Train Museum. It now has a remarkable collection of 21 old locomotives which used to be troop carriers during the Indonesian Independence War.

Ambarawa Train Museum is located in a hilly town of Ambarawa, about an hour driving south from Semarang direction to Joyga. In comparison with various Train Museums have visited abroad, this particular Museum is definitely not well maintained, except the ones which is still being used commercially. The grand looking Old Steam Trains left rusted outside, instead of putting them into a kind of hangar (under the roof), as most other train museums do.

However, the station itself is very much still looked as good as any old stations, as far as my memory could tell. Punctuality in any trains system, especially during those good old colonial days is highly respected, therefore a grand old looking clock was always presence in any station. Amazingly, it is still perfectly working. Good old stuff !

However, in those colonial days, these trains traveled back and forth in a rather hilly terrains, serving passengers and carrying produce to the many plantations estates around the area, therefore it equipped with "gears", that were installed in the middle of the rails, in order to be able to climb up the hills.

These days, however, one of the old engines is used primarily to satisfy the tourists curiosity, who like to feel how is the traveling in those good old days might be. The Museum put up a price tag of some 3.5 Million Rupiah (approximately around USD 400.-) for a trip with The Old Grand Dad dragging two equally ancient looking passenger wagons, for a maximum of 40 people. The journey into the history, from the Museum to a village called Bedono, around 20 kilometers and back, takes approximately 2 hours.

This old museum with its old stuffs is apparently also popular for a so called pre wedding photography especially amongst the ethnic Chinese. While others happily uses the platform to walk the dog.

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