Friday, July 13, 2012

Dieng Plateau (Dieng Festive) 30th June to 01st July 2012

Dieng (Plateau) is one of the largest plateaus in this planet, along with Nepal Plateau. Name of Dieng is from the Javanese words “Di Hyang” means the place of holy spirits, gods and goddess. Dieng Plateau is located 2,000 meters above sea level and for sure it makes the weather chilly and the sun even felt warm but could burn your skin in the afternoon. 
Apart from many stunning landscapes, Dieng has unique phenomena called Anak Rambut Gimbal (kids with beggar hair), who can be found only in Dieng. Anak Rambut Gimbal has been found since many years ago and the reason of the most famous event in Dieng held, called Pemotongan Rambut Anak Gimbal (haircut for Anak Rambut Gimbal). The festive also commonly recognized as Dieng Festive along with many art shows held before and after the main event.
Dieng also is the biggest supplier of potatoes (including red potatoes) in Indonesia with best quality, beside Carica fruit (only grows in plateau). Dieng also exports wasabi to Japan and also has a unique mixture herb spices called Purwaceng for your coffee, tea, milk, etc.
Dieng Plateau was told exist because of a massive explosion of Gunung Perahu (Perahu Mountain) about 2 million years ago and because of that Dieng Plateau has many of telaga (telaga means bigger than pool but smaller than lake) and craters.

DAY 1 (start at 06.30 pm) & 2

Joined with JJ Narsis (backpacker community) we were 14 people plus 2 of ANTV crews (local television) on Friday evening (29th June 2012) heading to Wonosobo by public bus (start from IDR 75.000,- with dinner/supper – economy class and available in executive class start from IDR 120.000,- including dinner/supper). The bus ran into the crowded Jakarta’s traffic and we started our 12-13 hours journey to Wonosobo (including a quick break for about 20 minutes in Indramayu area). It turned out that the traffic was so bad and there was 2 point road constructions in Subang and near Brebes which made our bus got delay for another 2 hours before we entered Terminal Mandala (spelled as Mendolo), the new bus station in Wonosobo City at 09.30 am. Thank God, our rented car already stood by for us in bus station parking area.

What a bad morning! We faced other traffic on the way to Dieng from Wonosobo. We already missed the breakfast and had to deal with some parade. It took about 45 minutes to an hour (without bad traffic) by rented car to reach Dieng Plateau from Wonosobo downtown with plantations and mountains view.

Fun Facts:
If your rent a car with driver in the same package, sometimes you will get driver, guide and a pretty good photographer, they know the spots to take good pictures, I know one named Toha. Unfortunately for those who are not speaking Indonesian, you need to hire a translator or additional guide who can speak English well.
One car for one day cost IDR 300.000,- include driver and gasoline but exclude tips for driver (about minimum IDR 75,000,- per day) and driver’s meal during the tour.

Dieng also can be reached by train from Jakarta to Purwokerto then take bus to Wonosobo.
From Wonosobo there’s mini public bus to take you to Dieng (inside bus station or main street) for less than IDR 10.000,-
We stopped at Gardu Pandang (Viewing Terrace) on the way to Dieng Plateau, about 1,789 meter above sea level to see the view of Wonosobo City and Sindoro Mountain with plantations surround.

Fun Facts:
All admission fee of sightseeing and attractions in Dieng cost you less than IDR 10.000,- only each per person.
All parking fees are about IDR 2.000,- only.

The journey to Dieng continued directly to our hostel in Dieng called LESTARI (room rate start from IDR 75.000,- per night for two) which already served our meal for lunch with nasi goreng (fried rice) and fried egg, yummy. It took a quick time for us for a quick refreshment and lunch before we started to explore Dieng at 1 pm.

Fun Facts:
We can order through the hostel for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack or just for hot beverages with affordable prices.

First stop was Kawah Sileri (Sileri Crater). This crater seems not a famous sightseeing because it’s almost empty. There were only us and two guys (one of them is also my friend with different group). The crater was just okay with great views of mountains surrounded the crater.

Next destination was Sumur Jala tunda (Jala Tunda Well, looks like a nature well) which has been famous by a folktale about two princes competed for a princess. The myth told that the well is a wishing well by throwing rocks between 3 (min) to 9 (max) pieces. If you are a male, you have to throw the rocks until it reach the other side of the well. If you are a female, you just have to throw the rocks until the middle of the well (as long as you can see with bare eyes the rocks sink into the water). One rock was sold in IDR 500,- and yes we (male) tried for many times and none of them reach the other side of the well but some chicks did see the rock sinking into the water.

Telaga Merdada is quite beautiful, especially when we took the pictures from higher level. The telaga is located nearby a bankrupt mushroom plantation which was belongs to former Indonesia 2nd President. Unfortunately we were forbidden to enter the abandoned plantation.

Finally we reached Kaliasa Museum which shows many statues, artifacts and more which can be found inside Candi Arjuna complex (Candi means ancient temple/shrine made from stone like the word wat in Thailand). Candi Arjuna has several of small candi(s) (with its own name) but the main shrine called Candi Arjuna, so commonly the locals call them as Candi Arjuna Complex. Inside the museum there was a mini theater played a short video about Dieng Plateau with English subtitle (also available in Dieng Theater).

Candis inside Dieng area named as Mahabarata’s character because of influence from the religion back in the day the candis built, which was Hindhu with Shiva owned the center shrine.

Fun Facts:
Dieng has several of Candi beside Candi Arjuna Complex but unfortunately (for me) they are not in well maintenance even they are categorized as a small and simple candi. Pathetically, in some candi you still can see vandalism in candi and my heart cried for that.
Couple of Candis beside Arjuna that we visited is Candi Gatotkaca and Candi Bima.

Next stop is Kawah Sikidang (Sikidang Crater). Sikidang means deer in Javanese and it describes the natural gas from volcanic mountains pops up in some shuffle places. The local describe that like a jumping deer.
Sometimes you could see some local elders which are like a shaman in the local area, did some praying ritual very close to the crater (only them allowed to cross the safety lines or fences). 

Left Kawah Sikidang, we were heading to Telaga Warna and Telaga Pengilon which were very near each other. We spent quite long time here walked around Telaga Warna to find good picture’s spots which were so many. Unfortunately, we could not walk close to Telaga Pengilon because it’s surrounded by swamps and trees. That’s why we moved to higher level by car to Dieng Theater (you can see the short movie about Dieng Plateau just like at Kailasa Museum) and did some short tracking to the topest of the rock around this area, so we could see both the telagas (like twins telaga with different color) from above and yes indeed, the view were so stunning, it made us stay until sunset to take many pictures.

Please do ask your driver and/or guide to company you, through the path to the top.

In Dieng Theater parking area there were deep fried potatoes and mushroom sold by locals. It was quite cheap with good taste.

When the day gone dark for any sightseeing, we decided to go back to hostel but before that, we stopped at a local store selling many local snacks. One of them is Carica fruits which were very difficult to find outside Dieng area. Commonly, Carica fruit is made as sweets in simple syrup (starting at IDR 5.000,- per pax). Sweet and very refreshing came from the fruits and the syrup.

Back to the Hostel, we felt so exhausted but after refreshment and yummy dinner, we were ready to see nightlife in Dieng. Nightlife in Dieng is almost none haha! Well, there was Wayang Kulit shows, but we felt not interested at that time, so we skipped it.

Wayang Kulit is a common entertainment in Java, especially in Central and East. Wayang Kulit from the word Wayang means character and kulit means leather which is used to make wayang. Wayang Kulit commonly told about Mahabarata fragment which is sometimes combined with Indonesian Javanese folktales (Perwayangan Jawa).

Did not know where to spend the night, then me, one of my group friends and two friends of mine who joined me on that night (they came to Dieng in different group with mine) decided to spend the night in some local restaurant enjoying Dieng’s famous herb combined with our beverage called Purwaceng (start on IDR 5.000,-).

Purwaceng is like a herb and spice raw powder which is mixed with any beverage, like coffee, milk, ginger and other. Purwaceng is told that could add stamina to male’s sex life.
Personally I’m not a fan of Purwaceng but a lot of people do like this herb.

It was getting late and we had to go back to hostel and took some rest because we had to wake up early at dawn to catch sunrise in Sikunir Mountain.  

As we knew that Plateau has chilly weather. While the day on early July is a little bit warm outside because the sun is so warm, the temperature at night is getting down. Let say the temperature inside the house was about 10ºC and constantly dropping until dawn.
In some area, sometimes the temperature can drop to minus 2ºC, made the dew became an ice. So yes, jacket/winter coat, gloves, socks and sun block was really needed.


Waking up at 03.15 am in a chilly weather is always not easy, but we got to do it to catch the sunrise.

We decided to catch the sunrise at the highest level of Sikunir Mountain, which took about 45 minutes to track up in the dark through a small nature path (flashlight is a must to use by one of two people).

The highest level at Sikunir Mountain is about 2,668 m above the sea and we had to track up early so we could get the front area to welcome the sunrise, if we’re late, our pictures would not be optimal, because there would be hundreds of people there.

The sunrise was stunning not only because the sunrise but the view around. You can see part of Perahu Mountain, Kembang Mountain, Sindoro Mountain and Merapi Mountain. You also can see land above the clouds (included that where we were standing) and land under the clouds. In some areas, you can also see another telaga with plantation surrounds it. It is beautiful and mesmerized.

We spent a quite long time in Sikunir Mountain taking many pictures from several spots because we decided to track down and enjoyed our breakfast in some local tent for Sate Ayam (grilled chicken in peanut sauce with steamed rice cake) and Lupis (steamed sticky rice cake with palm sugar simple syrup).
Back to Dieng village area, the city started busy for Dieng Festive called Pemotongan Rambut Anak Gimbal (PRAG). In a little bit rush we got back to hostel for refreshment then walked about hundred meters to the elderly house (like the shaman for locals) where the ritual process started.

What is Anak Gimbal (kids with beggar hair)?
Like I told you before that anak gimbal are only found in Dieng and found since hundred years ago. Anak Gimbal’s born like any ordinary baby, but after that (none specific ages but usually when they were toddler) they got high fever that medicine couldn’t cure. The fever after days suddenly disappeared and the gimbal (beggar hair was not washed for years, a little bit like rasta hair) start to grow in some area in their head, so the gimbal isn’t filled all of their hair but just in some area mostly in the back.
The gimbal once told represent a bad luck, so they need to cut the gimbal with what Javanese called Ruwatan. Ruwatan is some kind of ritual that they have to do before they can cut the gimbal. The ritual is a little bit complicated for us (common people) but for sure there is a lot of sadjen and praying that Javanese called this ritual is one of Kejawen Beliefs.

When the ritual is held?
The ritual can only be held when the kid asked for removal of their gimbal by their own will. Not only that, the parents should provide what the kids wish for a thing that they ask for after they wake up from their sleep in the morning, three times in a row, and those wishes will be the same thing.
What happen if the ritual breaks? The gimbal actually is available to be removed anytime but if the removal doesn’t go through the ritual before then, the kids would get higher fever than the first time and the gimbal would start to grow again.

Isn’t it a unique phenomenon? Well for me, it is indeed a unique phenomenon.

The ritual starts from the shaman house at about 10 am with some closed process, then the kids with their parent (one of them or relatives) will be riding a Dokar (cart which is pulled by horse) and join the parade to all around village before ending in Candi Arjuna complex.
The parade is consist of elderly group, the kids, and followed by many local dance groups.

Arriving in Candi Arjuna Complex, the kids will take a “bath” with water from the holy well (not literally take a bath) then go to the Candi which represents Shiva for the main process cutting the gimbal off.

Yes indeed, the kids were celebrity for one day and thousand pictures of them have took by hundred of photographers and thousand of audience.

The cut of the gimbal would be packed in some ritual and washed away in river towards to the estuary.

The ritual was interesting but unfortunately the event was not organized well enough. There was some chaos moment in holy well and some moment in Candi represented Shiva.

We were not able to see the ritual till the closing ceremony because we had to catch our bus in Wonosobo to get us back to Jakarta.

It was a quick vacation but it was amazing, truly mesmerized moment with the people, the landscape and the festive. It all was stunning and someday I definitely get back to Dieng.

Thank you to JJ Narsis for inviting me to join this fabolous trip and great participants.
Thank you for the hospitality of Lestari Hostel (Mr Yanto and family).
Thank you for Mr Toha, our driver, our photographer and our guide. 
Last but not least, thank you for the people of Dieng, you were so kind and polite.

Special thanks to Resviana for my English translation review.


  1. I was here too at the moment! Too bad we couldn't meet up though :|
    You got to mention that some phone providers can't be activated at all at this plateau; including mine T.T

    1. yeah too bad we couldn't meet up.
      Nyahahaha #phoneproviders

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. someday, I'll be there alone