Last September would be my second time visiting Tegal. I had to take a 6 hour train ride from Jakarta to get here. I got to know about this little city because my foster family moved here in regards to their work as Missionaries/Pastors. The city is not very developed yet and in fact, their first ever Hypermart supermarket just opened the month that I was there and they only have ONE McDonald’s restaurant in the entire city! Eating McDonald’s is actually a luxury to the people of Tegal.
Though it only has one McDonald’s Tegal is famous for its food, especially the WarTeg’s, which are an abbreviation of Warung Tegal. Warteg’s are small food stalls that sell a wide variety of food (mostly Javanese food). It is one of the most famous kinds of warung and you can easily find them in all the cities of Java including Jakarta. Wartegs are a good choice if you want to taste local foods, but not a great option if you are looking for delicious food. They are mostly there to full up your stomach, not satisfy your taste buds, though some of Warteg do have delicious food. Anyways, I digress…
What I fell in love with was in fact their local food! My ultimate local favorite has got to be Sauto, which is Soto plus Tauco. It stinks actually. Like pee, but the taste is out of this world! So unique, rich in flavors and very filling even though the bowl is quite small (I actually complained when I first saw it. I came hungry).
The people of Tegal are very polite and calm. They are so calm, they sometimes speak so softly, it’s inaudible. Since I am not certified to drive legally and Taxis in Tegal are scarce and expensive, I usually go around with Becaks. At night, when it’s cool, is the best time to take a ride on it. Tegal is beside Pantura (Pantai Utara, if I’m not mistaken) and that is why it’s scorching hot during the day and very cooling by evening time.
During my two weeks stay, I made some same-age friends with the locals from church (the one my foster family owns – which is actually the biggest GPdI church in Tegal). These friends brought me to hangout in “lesehan” cafes and I was in love! There’s this one called Nakula Cafe at Jalan Nakula (No. 47) that looks very bare from the outside, but when you get inside the vicinity, you’ll see it bustling with “anak gaul“. The lifestyle here is as simple as that. They do not have movie theaters or bowling alleys in this city! The nearest one would be in Semarang – 4 hours drive away.
So if you’re looking for a place to relax and unwind and not see buildings taller than five storeys high, come to Tegal. The grandest hotel in Tegal is a 3-stars hotel called Karlita and the owner is a very friendly down-to-earth big guy who loves to sing! Just saying. I don’t know anyone who has actually been to Tegal so if you know of more interesting places in Tegal, let me know! I can’t wait to visit there again to get my dose of Sauto!
About the author:
Angelica Sharon K was born in Indonesia, but raised in Singapore since she was 3 years old. She can speak Bahasa Indonesia, English, Chinese and Korean. She loves food and traveling around Indonesia (She really want to visit Bromo hopefully in the near future!).