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?


Rubbish Bins

Filed under: Jakarta — scotsabroad @ 7:44 am


While visiting Kota’s Fatahillah Square yesterday we couldn’t help but notice the eye-catching rubbish bins scattered everywhere. Choice of triple watermelons, polar bears and penguins among others. They are incredibly tacky and ugly. Whoever commissioned these needs to be kept away from any other decisions involving the regeneration of the square.


July 6, 2014

Out of Jakarta

Filed under: Jakarta — scotsabroad @ 12:37 pm


May 5, 2014

Raffles Rust

Filed under: Books,Jakarta — scotsabroad @ 6:56 am


The name Stamford Raffles is famous for being the founder of a settlement that would become the city-state of Singapore. Hence the iconic hotel bearing his name in Singapore… and also our theatre complex at school.

However, Victoria Glendinning’s blurb, on the back of her biography about Raffles says … the life of the man defies definition: an English adventurer, disobedient employee of the East India Company, utopian imperialist, linguist, zoologist, civil servant and troublesome visionary. He was quite amazing. What he endured and the losses he suffered are unimaginable. He died of apoplexy in 1826. All biographers make it clear that he adored his first wife, who he married in England before sailing to Penang in 1805. Raffles took over the island of Java by force, defeating the Dutch,  in 1811 and became Governor. However, the island was to be unkind to him, as he lost his best friend within days of reaching Batavia – and Olivia died while they lived at Bogor in 1814. That same year he had to leave Java when Britain handed the island back to the newly formed United Kingdom of the Netherlands. We still drive on the left though. Batavia was known as the white man’s graveyard. Distempers were common. The Dutch had built canals that became stagnant and breeding areas for nasty stuff in the heat. They’re still there and they stink. The joke at the time was, if you met a guest for dinner that person would most likely be dead before you met them again. From malaria or dysentery usually, but also typhoid. Unfortunately, some things don’t change, the poor of Jakarta are still suffering from all of these.


We found the graveyard where Olivia Raffles rests at Taman Prasasti. The graveyard is a lovely place just beyond the national museum. The majority of the gravestones in the cemetery are, not suprisingly, Dutch. They begin with the words, Hier Rust… There are a few old cannons and carriages on display at the entrance and an old horse-drawn hearse inside. It took a while to find Olivia’s grave. There is nothing to direct you to the left side of the cemetery by the railings. Cairo spotted it first. Her grave has some ugly concrete bollards around it.


Needless to say the Scots get everywhere. Very close to Olivia’s grave is the chest-tomb of their very dear friend Dr. John Casper Leydon. He seems to have been quite a character and it is said, in love with Olivia. From Teviotdale in the Borders. Not always in good health, Jakarta had him dead in two days. He was friends with Walter Scott back home who wrote and published a poem as a memoir to him:

Quenched in his lamp of varied lore,

That loved the light of song to pour;

A distant and deadly shore

Has Leyden’s cold remains.

Today the weather was hot but we stayed and walked around the graveyard. Some interesting memorials. Ship’s captains and merchants. One large tomb had Dutch writing as well as some unusual text. There was a replica skull on the top of it – impaled on a spearhead. Fallen hunters of head-hunters? A Japanese memorial to their soldiers during WW2. I was wishing for some more references to the East India Company and the Dutch East India Company (VOP) but couldn’t find any. Around the back things were not so tranquil and ordered. There were numerous broken gravestones piled up against a wall. Has the graveyard been desecrated in the past?


We come across the grave of a banker from Broughty Ferry. No change there.

December 15, 2013

Kampung Wall

Filed under: Jakarta,Signs — scotsabroad @ 12:38 pm


November 22, 2013

Hidden Vespas

Filed under: Jakarta — scotsabroad @ 3:04 pm


November 3, 2013

Infectious Laughter

Filed under: Jakarta — scotsabroad @ 4:19 pm


That’s the way to spread it … at the Science & Technology Museum.

June 25, 2013

Out of Jakarta

Filed under: Jakarta,Signs — scotsabroad @ 4:53 pm

Levi Med

March 17, 2013

Melancholic Moth

Filed under: Jakarta — scotsabroad @ 6:51 pm


An Atlas Moth crash landed in the school grounds last week. The world’s largest moth doesn’t eat and has only two weeks to mate before their energy reserves are spent. This moth had no energy left to get off the ground. The moth’s body was the size of my thumb with each wing as big as one of my hands. Beautiful – but I walked back inside feeling quite sad.

February 16, 2013

Uncomfortable Reading

Filed under: Jakarta,politics — scotsabroad @ 5:55 pm

Feeling very spoilt and guilty having read Andre Vltchek’s words in Counterpunch Newsletter.


And then…

Fifi and her baby at home in Jakarta

the Guardian today has a very distressing article on formula milk companies and the pressure they exert on the poor in Indonesia. 45% of Indonesians have no access to clean water.

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