Steam Train Journey - Tlogo Agro

Trip Start Feb 22, 2013
Trip End Mar 21, 2013

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Flag of Indonesia  , Java,
Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A early start today, our tour leaves the ship at 7.30am. We are heading to a coffee plantation followed by a train journey in an old steam train through the lush tropical landscape of rural Central Java.
As we disembarked we were greeted by Indonesian musicians and beautiful dancers welcoming us to Semarang.
There were 4 coaches going first to the plantation and then the railway journey, and another 3 coaches doing the same trip but in reverse. As the coaches pulled away from the quayside each group had a police escort, at first we wondered if this was a security measure but our guide explained that the police were there to help us speed through the morning rush hour traffic. In actual fact we had the police escort all the way there and back just to ensure that we were back in time before the ship departed ! Seems it is only The President and Cruise ships that get this special escort, so it made us feel quite important for the day.
As we drove to the plantation hundreds of motor cyclist on their moped/scooters weaved in and out of the traffic on their way to work, often with 2 or 3 riders on board and sometimes a complete family including the dog.
We passed rice fields, mosques, fish farms, local towns on our outward journey as our guide explained about the area of Semarang. A lovely lady but just a little bit too difficult to understand so you needed to keep a good ear to catch all she had to say.
We arrived at Tlogo Agro Plantation about 1300 feet above sea level which was founded in 1856.
David & I had visited a coffee plantation once before in Colombia which we found very interesting as we saw in depth the process of producing coffee from seed sapling to the final roasted & packaged coffee beans. Unfortunately at Tlogo Agro whilst we were shown coffee plants and a display of some of the processes it was all based around a resort type complex, which was very pretty with little bungalows scattered through the tropical gardens but not quite the plantation we had expected.
Following our guided tour we were given light refreshments which were welcomed as the temperature was now in the 30's.
Following a short break we boarded the coach for the Highlight of the day for us, the steam train journey passing through rice paddies, small creeks, local houses and the stunning Rawa Pening Lake.
The lovely old train with wooden bench seats, no windows and so much character sounded it's whistle as he chuffed out of the station.
It was difficult to know which side to look as we passed workers in their coolie hats tending the rice crops, the fisherman along the waters edge, the birds as they hovered and then swooped down to catch the fish before the fishermen. It was such a memorable sight.
The train chuffed along, I managed to stand at the back of the carriage so was able to get some great video shots as the train twisted and turned along the rickety track and the views became more and more spectacular.
Suddenly a large hoot as we approached the trackside villages, little children waving, old folks smiling as they went about their daily tasks.
All manor of items were along the trackside drying in the sun, spices, vegetables and even washing. We could have been on a movie set !
Sadly our journey came to an end as we chugged into Ambarawa Station which is also home to a railway museum and featured a collection of locomotives some dating back to 1891.
Everyone said they would have preferred to go back again on the train but the coaches had driven to Ambarawa to collect us and take back to the ship, complete with our police escort.
A wonderful experience absorbing the natural beauty of Indonesia.
This trip also brought back memories from my business trips to Indonesia several years ago.
Certainly today has been a memorable one.
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