Scotsabroad's Weblog

February 9, 2015


Filed under: Jakarta — scotsabroad @ 4:21 pm


The boys drove down to Kota’s Fatahillah Square yesterday. We have a list of a few places we would like to see before our departure. It has been about two years since we visited the square. The ex-governor of Jakarta, now President of Indonesia has taken action to promote and develop the area of old Batavia into a major tourist attraction. I think they are trying to get it World Heritage status. He has warned the owners of the historic buildings that if improvements, and restoration, is not carried out – they will forfeit their ownership. For some buildings this action has come too late.


The first thing we noticed was the new prominent position of Canon Si Jagur. It used to be tucked away at the back of the Jakarta History Museum. Will this deter women who think their chances of conceiving are increased by straddling the cannon on a Thursday? There are still the unmanageable, fluorescently-painted bicycles for hire and a lot more street performers. The side streets were also packed with vendors.


We headed for the Fine Arts and Ceramics Museum. This was a lovely building dating from the late 1860s. A wing of the building was being restored and we were unable to get access.

fine art museum

Maybe that was where most of the ceramics were because we didn’t see a lot. An eclectic selection of paintings with a couple of stand-out pieces. Didn’t get the artist’s name who painted the beautiful breast-feeding child.


Big painting by Dede Eri Supria called Urbanisasi.  Although painted in 1977 it still carries a powerful message that changes are still not having a positive impact on those who live beside the fetid canals of Kota. What does urbanization really mean to them? And, what will happen to them as the intended regeneration of the area gathers momentum?


We went looking for a Portuguese church down past the train station but the traffic fumes were getting to Lucas. We were also looking for a Rumah Abu, or Ash House, where Chinese families house the ashes of their ancestors. Originally, these resting places were meant to be temporary until they could be returned to the original home villages of the deceased in China.


So, we headed into the Museum Bank Mandiri. This was the headquarters of the Nederlandsche Handel Maatschappij Bank, Batavia – and opened in 1933. This was a beautiful old building in need of some new ideas and a good clean. However, we had an enjoyable time exploring this massive old bank. Impressively barred teller counters and a magnificent stained-glass staircase up to the boardroom. Mannequins in advanced states of disrepair were scattered among the rooms representing customers, tellers, bookkeepers, managers, guards and computer technicians.



We walked into rooms displaying old computers, telephones and display cabinets full of paper punches and the same leaflets. An old NCR machine but no evidence of it originating from Dundee. The next room had samurai swords. Then some exquisite scales. There were several photo shoots going on. Some real-life models in 1920s costume and a graphic novel exhibition among those mingling on the ground floor. Brilliant. We headed down to the vast vaults. Deposit boxes behind impressive combination doors. Interesting to see the mechanism from the other side of the door. Had security ever been breached?


We wondered if any of the boxes have remained locked, the key holder long dead and the key misplaced – their valuable contents forgotten. The vaults were used as a prison during the Japanese occupation. 



We headed to the Batavia Cafe for a snack. We still wouldn’t risk the street food. World Heritage prices already in the cafe. This time we meet Sean Connery on the stairs. Well, actually…


Then it was a quick walk round the Museum Wayang. We are not really into Indonesian puppets and the music but the independence Puppets of the 1940s were pretty cool. The building was interesting. It was built on the site of the Old Dutch Reformed Church and is the burial place of Jan Pieterszoon Coen, the first governor and founder of Batavia. Wonder what he would think of the place today?


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