Archives for September 2014

Malang City and its diversity

History of Malang, East Java, Indonesia

The Dutch influence on Malang is clearly visible by the houses, cemeteries, schools and other buildings with high windows and many floor levels, which is not the Indonesian way.
A town with a Dutch colonial history, cool climate and a laid back feeling, but also many boulevards bordered by old green trees and good local food.
The only similarity to other cities is the everyday afternoon showers.
The city got its first mayor in 1919, the Dutchman Bussemaker and under his leadership the Dutch areas got extended. He was also involved in the creation of the so-called “Orange neighborhood” that brought even more Dutch influences to this town. This city is especially famous for its cool air and as a result many vegetables and fruits like apples, pears and strawberries are growing. The Dutch married in this town, bought a House, had children and died also here.

Many old colonial buildings are still in good condition and surrounded by wide and less crowded streets. There is more greenery, parks and plants here than in other cities in Indonesia which give the people more space and enjoy the clean air. Even the very old trees alongside the lanes are well taken care off.

There is more greenery, parks and plants here than in other cities in Indonesia which give the people more space and enjoy the clean air. Even the very old trees alongside the lanes are well taken care off.

Malang is also very diverse with its shopping centers, but just a few miles outside the city and you see the rice fields (sawahs).

ross from the city hall is the monument Tugu, which is surrounded by a big and beautiful lilies pond.
The city has also five temples of thousand years old to mention a few like the Candi Singosari, Candi Sumberawan and Candi Badut.

The surrounding area of Malang city are covered by the volcanoes the Bromo, Tenegger and Semeru located in a National Park, the quiet beaches of Balekampang and the apple orchards of Batu in the mountains north of Malang.

My wife and her family (Weise and Lavalette) have lived in the northerly part of Malang, on the road to Batu, which is called Djenggrik.

Lately Malang city was named as one of two National Heritage Cities in Indonesia alongside Sawahlunto, west Sumatra.

Fort de Kock and Bukittinggi, West Sumatra

History of Fort de Kock, today Bukittinggi, the capital of the Minangkabau people on West Sumatra

A small city had its origin created by five villages that served as the basis for a marketplace. In 1825 this little town became a Dutch outpost and fort, which was founded by Captain Bauer and later named after the then Lieutenant Governor-General of the Dutch Indies, Hendrik Merkus de Kock.
Today Bukittinggi is the second biggest city in West Sumatra in about the center of the Minangkabau Highlands and because it is at 930 meters above sea level, the city has a cool climate.


The city is the birthplace of some of the founders of the republic of Indonesia, such as Mohammad Hatta. But it was also the chosen home-town of my great-great-grandfather Antoine Cezar Chevalier, who was born in Paris, France on dec.-6-1780 and died in Fort de Kock, Sumatra on april-24-1881, and a couple months over 100 years.
The city has become the center of government, both at the time of the Dutch East Indies and during the Japanese occupation. Later on Bukittinggi has been the capital of Indonesia during the Emergency Government of the Republic of Indonesia (PDRI).
During the Japanese occupation on the Dutch-Indies in World War Two, Fort de Kock was the headquarters for the Japanese 25th Army, the force that occupied Sumatra.
The city was officially renamed to Bukittinggi in 1949 and became the capital of a province called Central Sumatra, which encompassed West Sumatra, Riau and Jambi. In 1958 during a revolt in Sumatra against the Indonesian government, rebels proclaimed the Revolutionary Government of the Republic of Indonesia (PRRI) in Bukittinggi. A couple months later the Indonesian government had recaptured the town.
In October 2007 a group of Muslim men had planned to bomb a café in the city frequented visited by foreign tourists, but the plot was aborted due to risk of killing other Muslims in the vicinity.
Today most of the Minangkabau people still live according to their old family traditions.




But Bukittinggi is also a well-known town under foreign tourist and a favorable visited spot is the Jam Gadang, a clock tower located in the heart of the city, which is also a symbol for the city.

Antoine Cezar Chevalier was born in Paris, France on dec.-6-1780 and died in Bukittinggi (before Fort de Kock), on Sumatra on april-24-1881, a couple month over 100 years. He is my great-great-grandfather from mother’s side.

Padang Panjang, west Sumatra

Padang Panjang (means “long Field”) is located in the cool highlands of West Sumatra and the main road through Padang Panjang, which links coastal capital, Padang and the highland capital, Bukitttinggi.
It sits on a plateau beneath the Mount Marapi and Mount Singalang.

Padang Panjang is a university town and houses a famous performing arts conservatorium. There are many tiny cafes around the campus where you can have interesting discussions with students and/or just meet some artists.

Or go to the market and charter a horse and cart called a bendi to have a scenic tour.

You also can take the main road between Bukittinggi and Padang and get off at Simpang Lubuk Bunta between Kayu Tanam and Sicicin abt and at the turn there is a bamboo shelter. Somebody there will take you to the water hole Lubuk Bumta. Here is a spring and one of the few clean bathing spots with a little waterfall and is a favorite among locals. This is a spot where male and female bath together recreationally to wash them self, so do not strip here and take your cue from other bathers.

Antoine Cezar Chevalier, my great-great-grandfather had 3 homes and a large piece of land with many fruit trees in this nice small town.

Padang and its history

Padang and its harbor Emma Haven with a population of more than 1,000,000 people is the largest city and the capital of west Sumatra. From the 16th century on Padang was a trade center and in 1663 the city came under the Dutch authorities, who built a trading post n 1680.
The main trade product was gold, but when the mines were exhausted, other products like textiles, coffee and salt became important. Later on copra became also an important trade product produced by farmers. Also the development of the Ombilin coal mine and field in Sawah Lunto had Padang as its outlet and was an economic improvement to the city Padang as well as the province of west Sumatra.

The cuisine of the Minangkabau people is given the name of their capital Padang food. Padang restaurants are now common throughout the country and are famous for their spicy food. Padang food is served in small portions of various dishes, but constituting, with rice, a complete meal.
Customers take only what they want from this array of dishes. The best known Padang dish is randang Padang, a spicy meat stew, often cooked for 6 to 8 hours in a mixture of coconut milk and several spices.
The liquid has to evaporate fully and the spices and meat are nearly dry and black/brown. Other well-known dishes are soto Padang, beef in spicy soup, sate Padang in a curry rich sauce with ketupat, sambal idju, a chili condiment and Gulai Tunjang, gulai of the cow foot tendons.
The biggest different between the food from Padang and the other islands is not only the hot spices but also the use of sugars, which you will find on most of the other towns and island of Indonesia. Especially the people of Java like to add sugar to their dishes, but not the dishes from the Minang people.

Claire Elisabeth Chevalier, my mother, was born in this city on 3-22-1915. Her father Cezar Chevalier and her mother Jacqueline Beljaars were very successfull and built up many businesses like a hotel, restaurant and a car business.

Gedicht: Wat is een Indo?

Gedicht: Wat is een Indo?

Verdreven van ons zonnig geboorteland
Zijn wij samen hier gestrand
Om elkaar te vinden in dat ene bloed
Indo , een Ardjoeno vol edele moed.
Indo, half Europees, half Aziaat
Indo, wereldburger, apart, Gods eigen piraat
Indo, bescheiden als de melati
Indo, djahat als de piso blati
Indo, opschepper als de sri Goenting
Indo, scherp als een beling
Indo, pienter boesoek als de oeler welang
Indo, gul en daarom altijd koerang oeang
Indo, lenig als een monjet
Indo, indolent als een kampret
Indo, wantrouwend als een matjan toetoel
Indo, een wajang van Njai Loroh Kidoel
Indo, mysterieus als de tropennacht
Indo, een tempel van stille kracht
Indo, snel gekwetst als de ries koetjing
Indo, strijd ontwijkend als de bruine loewing
Indo, lankmoedig als de perkoetoet
Indo, goedlachs als si Gendoet
Indo, schuw als een kadal
Indo, sluw, vindt altijd wel een akal
Akal boeloes wel te verstaan,
Als edele Nimrod staat hij bovenaan.
Indo, muzikaal als de tjoetjarawah
Indo, rijk als de padi op de sawah
Indo, trots als een merak
Indo, tevreden met pedoh en warme kerak
Indo, rijstepikker als de glatik
Indo, een bijzonder patroon als Tjangs fijne batik
Indo, een nostagie als de zang van de tonggeret
Indo, gezellig dongeng als de djalak oeret
Indo, een shag, een stopfles, koppi toebroek, slaapbroek en kebaja
Indo, fantast, dromer, denker, geslepen boeaja
Indo, een bamboe, een kali, een botol tjebok
Indo, stil, geduldig, meditatief als een blekok
Indo, inventief als de manjar
Indo, een zwerver tussen Dublin en kali Anjar
Indo, kunstzinnig als de angrek boelan
Indo, een lied, een traan, een gamelan
Indo, sterk als een karbouw
Indo, door d’eeuwen trouw
Indo, mysticus onder de waringin boom
Indo, ontwakend uit zijn lange droom
Indo, niet meer vertrapt, vernederd als een semoet
Maar Indo, bewust een kleurrijk wezen van dat gemengde bloed

Indo’s aller landen frank en vrij
Beseft, dit alles, dat zijn wij.

Geschreven door Rita Schenkhuizen in 1964.

Dutch Comfort Woman.

An elderly Indo-Dutch single woman lay dead in Rotterdam apartment for nearly 10 years.

The neighbors have told the media they noticed nothing wrong. “We did not smell anything or see vermin”.
After breaking down the front door, police found the body of a 74 year old woman, who appears to have died of natural causes. They were able to determine how long she had been dead by the dates on the stack of the unopened mail.
Because the woman was not officially dead, she continued to receive her pension and all the other bills were automatically paid.

A 68 year old woman living in the south of the Netherlands recognized her mother’s apartment that shown on the tv-news and travelled with her spouse to Rotterdam. In front of the mothers home she told the news media: I do not know why I am here.” “My mother was a closed person, but I thought she had some contact with a few people”. “My mother was 16 when I was born, in the Dutch-Indisch, at the time of the Indonesian independence war. And I never knew my father.”Of course I thought of her but she did not want to see, meet and talk to me”. “I was an unwanted child and she showed me that continually”!
Her husband told the media his mother-in-law suffered from a serious trauma dating back to the bersiap war period, but she refused to talk about it.
Her mother was pregnant in 1945 and the conclusion was that she has been raped and used as comfort woman by the Japanese.

History of Sawahlunto

Because Sawahlunto was my birth town, I tried for many moons to find the history of this town and especially what were there first the place Sawahlunto or the Ombilin coal mines. Then I found the here below article from Hans David Tampubolon from the Jakarta Post that gives me the best answer.

Sawahlunto: A small town that dreams big

Change is the only constant thing — a principle used by the small town of Sawahlunto in West Sumatra to preserve its communities, history and culture.
What used to be a mining town has now turned into a haven that offers its visitors a window to the past.
Surprisingly, the radical change from a mining town into a tourist city began only 10 years ago — a speedy pace considering that mining had been Sawahlunto’s backbone for more than 100 years.

The history of Sawahlunto as a mining town began in 1858, when Dutch researcher C. De Groot van Embden visited the area to look for coal. Van Embden’s effort was later continued by Willem Hendrik de Greve in 1867 and soon after, he discovered there was at least 200 million tons of coal hidden underneath Sawahlunto.
De Greve’s findings prompted the Dutch government to start establishing all the necessary infrastructure for coal mining and in 1888, the area was officially named as the town of Sawahlunto.
Coal production in Sawahlunto began in 1892 and miners started building residences. Most of the miners were “criminals” coming from all over the country after being arrested by the Dutch authorities. Some came from Java and others as far as Papua, making the town highly diverse.

After the country’s independence in 1945, coal mining and production in Sawahlunto were assumed by the newly founded Indonesian government. The Dutch mining company, Ombilin, was nationalized by the new regime and became PT Bukit Asam.
Mining continued until the late 1990s and just like any other natural resources, coal in Sawahlunto depleted so significantly that Bukit Asam decided to stop all operational activities in 1998. Their workers were transported to other mining areas where coal were more available.
The sudden stop in mining in Sawahlunto changed everything. During its peak mining period the town had around 45,000 residents but some 7,000 families left not long after the mining stopped.
Slowly, the town became a ghost town and many predicted that no one would inhabit it after 2005.

But the Sawahlunto administration then took a bold move — radically shifting the town to focus on tourism as its economic backbone.
“We knew we could no longer depend on mining but we also knew that our heritage — gained through our long history and its contribution both to Indonesia and the world — was something significant that we could use to bring in tourists,” said Sawahlunto Mayor Ali Yusuf at his official residence.
The effort to shift Sawahlunto’s paradigm and way of life began in 2001, when then mayor Subari Sukardi, along with the city’s council, of which Ali was a member, issued a regulation on the city’s mission and vision.
The regulation then became the base for further instruments that allowed Sawahlunto administrations to provide all the necessary training for residents to help shift the town into a tourist hub.

“Since 2004, we have provided regular training for farming, building home industries, historical objects, preservation and how to provide tourism services,” Ali said.
Slowly, Sawahlunto regained its economic heartbeat and its residents grew to around 65,000 by the end of last year.
The city’s main incomes now come from tourism and farming.
Ali said that from the city’s Rp 45 billion of real regional income (PAD), some 29 percent came from tourism and 23 percent from farming.
Each year, he said the number of tourists visiting Sawahlunto stood at around 750,000 people per year. “Most of them are domestic tourists at 87 percent,” Ali said.
The Sawahlunto administration utilized the town’s rich mining history as its main tourist attractions.

For example, the Mbah Soero mining tunnel, which was excavated in 1898, has now become one of the town’s major tourist destinations. The tunnel was closed in 1930 and reopened in 2007 to become a tourist attraction.
Despite the tunnel’s popularity, tourists must watch their behavior while visiting.
According to the town’s urban legend, the tunnel is haunted as around 14,000 miners were left for dead without proper burial inside it.
The legend said that in 2007, museum staff found a large human bone inside the tunnel and planned to exhibit it as a tourist attraction. At night, one member of staff dreamed that a spirit came to him, asking him to properly bury the bone.
The exhibition plan was immediately out of the picture and the staff member decided to do what he was told in his dream.
Ali acknowledged the truth behind the legend. “It [the legend] is a fact. It happened. Therefore, behave inside the Mbah Soero tunnel. Stay humble so you do not offend the people who died in there,” Ali said.

Another interesting tourist attraction in Sawahlunto that focuses on its rich mining history is the train museum.
The museum, formerly a train station built in 1918, features a legendary black locomotive called Mak Itam as one of its main exhibitions. During its heyday, the locomotive transported coal from Sawahlunto to Teluk Bayur Port.
At the museum, visitors can also see a variety of train equipment from the Dutch colonial period.

Sawahlunto contributes more than mining to the country’s history. It is also the birthplace and the final resting ground of Muhammad Yamin, who is considered one of Indonesia’s founding fathers along with Sukarno, Mohammad Hatta and Sutan Sjahrir.

Sawahlunto does not stop remembering the past to develop its tourism but it also takes a leap into the future by adding modern tourism spots, such as a 4D cinema and a water recreation complex.
The town also holds an annual international music festival every August to attract more foreign tourists.

If there is one element that needs improvement to boost the town’s tourism, it is probably its accessibility. Currently, visitors have to drive three-and-a-half hours from the province capital Padang on an uphill road with plenty of sharp turns.

Ali said the town aimed to be recognized as one of the world’s heritage sites by UNESCO through its tourism.
“We believe we can do this. It’s our dream to become a recognized world heritage town. We deserve it. We’ve contributed so much to global industry through our coal and natural resources for more than 100 years,” he says.

I place above article on this site because my father Eddie Geenen and I, Ronny Geenen and many other Geenen’s saw the world for the first time, when they opened their eyes in Sawahlunto.