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The hinterland of Semarang, capital of the province of Central Java is lush green: a beautiful scenic landscape of rising volcanoes, green valleys and fertile rice fields. Cruise lines call on Semarang to allow passengers to visit the nearby 9th century Borobudur Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
One and a half hour’s driving from Semarang on a smooth road towards Salatiga, one enjoys the true Javanese rural life all the way to the town of Ambarawa , some 17 km north from Salatiga. This is the halfway mark to Borobudur.
Here in Ambarawa you can find Indonesia’s Railway Museum, home to 21 old steam locomotives, the oldest of which is the 1891 Hartmann Chemnitz, in use until the 1970’s when the railways here were closed. Nearby is also a natural grotto to the Virgin Mary and the Stations of the Cross, surrounded by flower gardens and fish ponds.
Slightly further west in the Dieng plateau are the ancient temples known as Gedong Songo, or "the nine buildings", constructed between 730 AD -780 AD during the Sanjaya Dynasty.
Also not far from Ambarawa are the Losari Coffee plantation and the hill town of Bandungan, favorite recreation area for people from Semarang and Yogyakarta.
But Ambarawa also has a grimmer side to its history when during World War II, the Japanese interned European families in camps here.
The bus terminal in Ambarawa is called Bawen Bus Terminal. If you are in Yogyakarta, go to Giwangan Bus Station, the largest type-A bus terminal in Indonesia. The bus to Ambarawa usually goes to Semarang. If you are in Semarang, proceed to theTerboyo Bus Terminal. Going to Ambarawa, the bus usually continues to Yogyakarta.
The recommended buses are: PO Raya, Kramat Djati, and Nusantara.