From an unassuming slum to a rainbow village: Transformation of an Indonesian community

Indonesia is one of the favourite tourist destinations in the world. And there is more to Indonesia than the fascinating Bali. The country’s Rainbow Village has caught the imagination of tourists, thanks to social media. 

And guess what’s that? A simple colourful makeover to a cluster of grimy villages, streets, and its lanes. The Indonesian village Kampung Pelangi is now one of the most favoured tourists’ destinations with their houses and streets painted in all colours of the rainbow.

The Central Java community of Kampung Pelangi or ‘Rainbow Village’, located in a southern district of Semarang, was tired of the grime in which they lived. They wanted to find a way to attract more tourists and inject life back into their town. The overhaul was initiated by a 54-year-old junior high school principal named Slamet Widodo. Widido was inspired by the similar transformations in towns across the country such as Kampung Warna-Warni, Kampung Tridi in Malang and Kampung Kali Code in Yogyakarta.

Rainbow tinted homes

The houses, streets, lanes, bridges, roads, walls, and roofs are all printed in various colours of the rainbow and it’s one of the prettiest sights in the world. Around 350 homes have been given this colourful restoration, making each of them a beautiful piece of art. 

It was the locals who decided to give a bright overhaul to the otherwise dusty and filthy exteriors of this village. They were allotted 20k dollars from the govt for this purpose. Every house in that village is painted in rich colours and walls adorned with beautiful murals and paintings. The whole ambience gives out a special calming vibe to the visitors. The results have been incredible, drawing people from around the world to the colourful, joyous streets of Kampung Pelangi. Local vendors are experiencing higher sales. Those who can’t make it to Kampung Pelangi can experience it online, as Instagram has been flooded with gorgeous pictures of visitors and locals alike enjoying their new, vibrant surroundings. Residents already say their livelihoods have improved since the makeover, as they can now give tours and sell souvenirs.

You can catch some charming murals at every corner of the village. And this village is also a photographer’s delight. Even on the roads, you can see lovely paintings hanging all around. There are further plans to improve the infrastructure of the town, to accommodate its newfound popularity amongst International tourists. Other plans include building a food court, car repair shop and parking area. 

Here are a few places in Indonesia that should be on your bucket list if you are planning a visit.

Mount Bromo, Java (most hiked mountain in Indonesia): If you love trekking, you cannot possibly miss a visit to Mount Bromo. Positioned in the province of East Java, it also one of the active volcanoes in the country. By the way, you don’t need to spend too much to visit here. Then of course the joy of climbing mountains!

Mount Bromo volcano
Mount Bromo volcano during sunrise from viewpoint on Mount Penanjakan in Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park, East Java, Indonesia. Photo: Ijam Hairi/Shutterstock

Jakarta, Java: Indonesia’s capital and the largest city in the country is a historical mix of cultures – Javanese, Malay, Chinese, Arab, Indian, and European. And all these cultures have had a profound influence on their architecture, language, and cuisine. Do check out its remarkable temples, the National Museum (a neat collection of relics and remnants) and the old town, Kota Tua which is home to Dutch colonial buildings, Glodok (Jakarta’s Chinatown) and the old port of Sunda Kelapa, where traditional wooden dinghies dock.

Lake Tiga Warna, Flores island: Said to be one of the nine wonders of the world, Lake Tiga Warna is one of the most picturesque places in Indonesia. The volcano Kelimutu close to the small town of Moni in central Flores island in Indonesia is home to three lakes which lie next to each other with waters of different colours – the red lake is called Ata Polo, a blue lake named Tiwu Ata Mbupu, and a green lake which is known as Tiwu Nua Muri Kooh Fai.

Tangkuban Perahu, Java: This is another mountain worth visiting, with its unique inverted boat shape. The panoramic sights of the mountain and the forests are also a beautiful experience. But unfortunately, this peaceful mountain exploded in 1969 and Kawah Ratu is the main hollow or the Queen’s crater.

Tangkuban Perahu
Tangkuban Perahu, Java. Photo: Raga Genta/Shutterstock

Krakatau Volcano: It is still considered as one of the most tragic natural disasters in the world—the explosion of this volcano in 1883. It left the entire region covering the volcano in darkness. The volcano which vanished immediately after it exploded resulted in the formation of the little island around the area. You can take a boat ride to the volcano to get a closer glimpse.

Borobudur Temple: Did you know that this Temple is the largest Buddhist sanctuary in the world? There is no way you can’t be impervious by its spiritual aura and beauty! With tropical forests, faraway hills, and ornate stone carvings, this structure is certainly a sight to behold. The main statue is nothing short of amazing.

Borobudur Temple
Borobudur Temple. Photo: Adel Newman/Shutterstock

Komodo National Park: Three islands make up this national park - the Komodo, Padar, and Rinca islands - and it is the place to be if you love Komodo dragons and other types of wildlife. And if you climb to the top of the hill on Padar island, you get an outstanding view of three incredible bays, each one a bit more unique than the others.

Lake Toba: One of the many things that make this lake so amazing is its size. It is twice the size of Singapore and it is the largest lake in Indonesia. Best of all, you can view the lake from many different angles, thanks in part to its size and is encircled by lush greenery and beautiful hills. There is even a tiny island in the middle of it called Samosir. The villages close to the lake are amazing because they offer tons of tourist attractions with artistic worth.

Raja Ampat: This tropical paradise has more than 500 species of coral, 1300 types of fish, and 700 species of mollusc. It is a remote location; therefore, its waters are flawless and gorgeous. Even though it is known for its amazing diving opportunities, it is also a great place to enjoy photography, birdwatching, and simply being on an outdoor adventure.

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