A millennium and some change ago, three explorers made three mistakes when traveling north from one of the ancient Javanese capitals to settle the city that is now Salatiga. Or so says the myth of how this town came to get its name which means the three wrongs. Last weekend we spent one night in this neighboring town that’s about 30 miles south of Semarang. Its location amongst the high peaks that constitute the volcanic spine of Sumatra and Java , provided a small but welcome relief from the heat of our steamy, coastal city.
Laras Asri Resort and Spa, where we stayed, exhibits tons of Javanese charm and lush jungle atmosphere. With the jungle comes wildlife, some captive like the toucans and fanged deer and some wild including plenty of long leggy spiders spinning webs. The resort is expansive enough that you can while away a lazy afternoon roaming the grounds or in one of the many lounge areas by a bar, pool or swim-up pool/bar if you’re feeling indecisive.
Salatiga is an agricultural market town, which is very apparent when detouring from the main strip and exploring the warren of alleys and backstreets that splinter off in every direction. A tranquil city where banana stand co-exists peacefully with competing banana stand next door. The colorful markets, with their peeling paint jobs, faded signage and crumbling facades, showcase everything from clothing, toys, local fruits and vegetables and of course, chicken heads. We even found an old ad for Washington Apples next to a giant pineapple marquee.
The residential streets are a rainbow of tropical greenery, bright iron gates, pink accented concrete walls and murals including the ever-popular SpongeBob. The bridges over the canals leading to the homes were reminiscent of a provincial, dilapidated Amsterdam. Wandering down these homey corridors we got a glimpse into the Salatiga lifestyle.