Cirebon: Java’s best kept secret

by Will Wiriawan

Here’s what Wikipedians say about Cirebon:

Although surrounded by Sundanese-speaking areas in West Java, linguists have stated clearly that Cirebon (and the historically related region of Serang city in Banten Province) are Javanese language areas. In addition, this is supported by the Cirebon people referring to themselves as “wong Jawa” (“Javanese people”), and to their language as “basa Jawa” (“Javanese”). However, the Cirebon dialect is sufficiently different from the dominant south central Javanese dialect that it is sometimes assumed to be non-Javanese by outsiders.

What I can tell you firsthand:

  • It’s a nice coastal city around Java. People are friendly and the city is clean.
  • Ancient people believe that it was the center of the universe (the name Cirebon, derived from such notion).
  • The city is one large natural symphony, try riding one of its tricycle and you’ll see what I mean.
  • It’s the only place where people commonly speak two major, often conflicting Indonesian dialects — Javanese & Sundanese, whom most people speak either of them, not both.
  • It’s a coastal city, so it’s warm all year long. 10 km up, lies a smaller city of Kuningan, down the hills of the Mt. Ciremai, It has one of the world’s best natural spring spas & swimming pools.
  • Due to its warm weather and hot sunny day, napping is a common culture during the day.
  • It offers Nasi Jamblang, a common mixed-rice dish served on top of teak tree leaves.

Read my article in The Jakarta Post about Cirebon.