Saturday, June 28, 2014

Pabrik Rokok Praoe Lajar Semarang

The office building of Maintz & Co. in Kota Lama, Semarang, 1927. Now used as the office and assembling factory of Praoe Lajar cigarettes | Inzet: a pack of Praoe Lajar cigarette (source: Leiden University Library |
A bad news coming for smokers in Indonesia on last tuesday, since the guvernment told cigarette makers on to start putting graphic warnings on cigarette packaging, the government's boldest step to reduce smoking in the world's third-largest cigarette market. Arrrghhh...finaly, these disgusting picture come to the cigarettes pack here. Well, but some people said especially those who joined anti-smoking campaign that the rule was widely ignored. Widely ignored or lack of socialization? 

According to an articles in, Indonesia currently has 672 cigarette companies that consist of 669 domestic companies and three importers. Wow! Such a great number isnt? I thought that the government should have a good willingness to give the socialization to those hundreds of cigarettes company. I guess it gonna take a long long time. Anyway, despite smoking such a bad habbit, but for me, these kinda cultural product that sometimes we have to maintain it. Indonesia, have a one kind of cigarettes that very popular around the world, its cigarettes made with a blend of tobacco, cloves and other flavors, simply known as Kretek. (See also: The story of Nitisemito, "The Kings of Kretek" )

An advertising of Maintz & Co. in Isles of the East,
An illustrated  guide to Australia, New Guinea,
Java, and Sumatra
 book,  published by
Koninklijke Paketvaart Maatschappij (KPM) in 1912.
Partly due to favorable taxation compared to "white" cigarettes, kreteks are by far the most widely smoked form of cigarettes in Indonesia, where about 90% of smokers usually smoke kreteks. In Indonesia, there are hundreds of kretek manufacturers, including small local makers and major brands. Most of the widely known international brands, including Sampoerna, Djarum, Gudang Garam, Wismilak and so on, but here in Semarang, we also have our own local brands, Praoe Lajar. Eventhough its not as popular among another major kretek company, Praoe Lajar have a loyal consument that spread over Pantura (eng: north coast of Java). Praoe Lajar office and also its assembling factory is located in Kota Lama, Semarang, made it one's of the iconic place in Kota Lama. The visitors in Kota Lama also could visiting inside the factory and see the production process of Kretek cigarettes, every weekdays from 8 a.m till 12 a.m.

Only a few people realized that Praoe Lajar office and factory once is a office for Maintz & Co.  a private energy company that firstly developed the electricity in  Dutch East Indies. Maintz & Co. produced electricity and had her work in Central and East Java, especially Surabaya, Semarang, Yogyakarta, Pasuruan and Salatiga. Maintz & Co. have some subsidiaries one of it is N.V. Algemeene Nederlandsch-Indische Electriciteits-Maatschappij (ANIEM) that founded in 1909. Maintz & Co. just like the others foreign company in Indonesia, by the late of 50's decade come's to an end through the nationalization policy. Its nationalized in May, 2nd 1959. Likely after that, the office in Semarang used as the office and factory for Praoe Lajar, until now.

Friday, June 27, 2014

The Old Voyager

A photos from Leiden University Library archives depicted MS. Marnix van St. Aldegonde, a Stoomvaart Maatschappij Nederland (SMN) luxury liner with the heavies about 19.000 tons, servicing line between Amsterdam and Batavia. Later used as a troopship in the Central Naval Force of the allied forces during World War II. Tragically, She was torpedoed by German bombers in the Mediterranean on November 7, 1943 and sunk. | inzet: SMN lugage label
Entering Kota Lama from the west sides, from Jalan Pemuda, we'll welcomed by several iconic building lies along Jalan Mpu Tantular. One's of the building is Djakarta Lloyd building, that not so many people pay attention to this. Despite the activity is not as crowd as the building beside it, Bank Mandiri, the Djakarta Lloyd building in Kota Lama once become the office for the largest shipping company from Netherlands. Yap, Djakarta Lloyd building in Kota Lama once is a office for Stoomvaart Maatschappij Nederland (SMN). What we see today is the new building that designed by Thomas Karsten and accomplished in 1930. A luxurious building as the symbol of the glorious of the company, see the videos below from the film titled Zoo reizen wij naar Indie, Java-Bali 1938 that depicting the SMN office in Semarang. The SMN itself later nationalized by the government of Republic Indonesia, and their asset were taken over by several state company, just like in Kota Lama, its owned by Djakarta Lloyd.  

The story of NV Stoomvaart Maatschappij Nederland (SMN),  Amsterdam begin in 1870 while its started to operate a regular steam shipping service between Amsterdam and Batavia. SMN is one of the oldest and largest shipping companies in Netherlands. The SMN established to fulfilled the demand of sea transportation, which is increasing significantly from Asia to Europe after the opening of Suez Canaal in 1869.  

A ship from the SMN leaving  the passenger terminal
of port Tandjoengpriok, taken before 1952 (source: Tropenmuseum)
From 1870 to 1970, together with the Rotterdam Lloyd, millions tons of goods were delivered, especially from the Dutch East Indies. Also hundreds of thousands of planters, businessmen, soldiers, officials and adventurers with and their families moved to the Dutch East Indies as well as others place of Dutch colony. The passenger ships, such as MS Orange, Ms. Johan van Barneveld and Ms. Marnix van St. Aldegonde, were known for their luxury and comfort for that time. SMN ended their operation on January 20th, 1970, while its merded with three other companies to form the Nederlandsche Scheepvaart Unie (NSU). NSU later changed its name into Koninklijke Nedlloyd or simply known as Nedlloyd, until now.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Renew Old Memories in Purworejo (part 2)

Purworejo Train Station in 2014 (in the left) and the condition on 1910 (in the right). (source: Leiden University Library)

Hello world! Long time no see, well I've gotta continues my story when I was renew my old memories in my childhood city, Purworejo! Well, the journey continues, 

After having lunch, we continued our journey to Purworejo Train Station. Passing through Jalan Jendral Sudirman, on the right side there's an old building complex that is still in good condition. The building is the former Hollandse Kweekschool (HKS) that now used as SMA Negeri 7 Purworejo. The building is established in 1914, as the continuation of Kweekschool in Bandung. Kweekschool is a formal education to become a teacher during the Dutch East Indies period, and its used Dutch language as the language of instruction. In 1930, this school were merged into Hollandsche Indische Kweekschool (H.I.K) in Bandung, and the building of HKS in Purworejo become Meer Uitgebreid Lager Onderwijs (MULO), a Junior High School at that time. After the independence, the building used as an institute to educate the teacher or known Sekolah Pendidikan Guru (PGS). Thus until now, even my Mom, recognize it as SPG building. But in 1991, the building used as SMA Negeri 7 Purworejo until now.

The Hogere Kweek School (HKS), Purworejo dated 1930 taken
from Achmad Nangim collection.  two pilars as a gate in front of it
still depicted the symbol of HKS, a proof that once
this building was used as HKS campus, a school for .
A couple minutes from the HKS, we arrived in Purworejo Train Station. According to the text that now displayed in the main hall of the station, not so many changed occured in Purworejo Train Station. This station which is built in 1887 by Staats Spoorwegen (SS) are representing the architectural style of the train station in the 19th century, simple and counted heavely on its function rather than the aesthetics aspect nor certain architectural style. Thus, the PT Kereta Api Indonesia (KAI) as the operator of the railways services in Indonesia now categorized it as a cultural heritage site.

Once, when I was 5 years old, I became the witnessed of  this line was reactivate by the Ministry of Transportation at that time, Haryanto Dhanutirto in 1996 after it was inactive for several years. The people celebrate it by coming to the station and saw the incoming train from Kutoarjo, a city that located in the main line of Jakarta-Jogjakarta line, the nearest station from Purworejo. Only one train arriving and departing from this station , that is the feeder train serving the lines between Purworejo-Kutoarjo. Since November 2010, the feeder train is no longer operated due to the condition of the railroad that getting old and havent been renovated for a long time. Thus, the line now became inactive again until uncertain time.

Fort and barracks of Kedoeng Kebo, Purworejo in 1880 (source: Leiden University Library)
From the station, We moved to visit my childhood house that located in Jalan Kesatrian, behind the military complex of 412 Batalyon, or well known as Kedung Kebo military facilities. This was one's of the military complex that inisiated built by the Dutch in order to repelled the Diponegoro rebellions during the Java War using the Benteng Stelseel (eng: Battlefield Fortification) strategy. It was implied since May 1827, the Battlefield Fortification means that fort was not only have a passive role in the military defense, but it’s emphasized that the fort has active and important role as quarter for offensive operation, military command and control and logistic purposes.

 Balai Prajurit building in Purworejo, 2014.
The complex later equipped by housing complex, hospital, sport facilities and so on. Made it a compact military facilities that also made the Purworejo city developed well. Until now, several military assets thats is coming from the colonial period were still well preserved when another where torned down or decayed. Now here I stand in Balai Prajurit, a big hall that almost 19th years ago, my family as well as my neighborhood doing our Tarawih prayers every Ramadhan, since there's no mosque available yet. I feel slightly sad when I see this decaying or going to waste. This place have held so much memories, but now they are just left there, abandoned and slowly forgotten...

Monday, April 21, 2014

This Antique House Belongs to Thio Thiam Tjong

The house of Thio Thiam Tjong on Jalan Gajahmungkur Selatan 11, Semarang. This antique indisch house were designed by Thomas Kaarsten, the famous architect during the colonial period. (source: Mas Khrisna)
Have a friends that works in architectural agencies which is have specialized in preservation old building, were so helpful for me in order to complete my articles about the history mainly in related with Semarang. Its my friend named Yohanes Khrisna H P, that asked me about "who is actually Thio Thiam Tjong? How come this man afford to hired Thomas Kaarsten, the famous architect at that time in order to design His house?". I was so long time ago known this house but just now, by the info from Mas Khrisna actually, know that this house once belongs to Tho Thiam Tjong, and its designed by Kaarsten. Then I found who is Thio Thiam Tjong as its written in "Prominent Indonesian Chinese: Biographical Sketches" by Leo Suryadinata. 

The preparatory commission and the welcoming commission of Chung
Hwa Hui at the assembly table, 1927. Thio is in the left most position
on that picture. (source: Chinese Indonesian Heritage Center)
Thio Thiam Tjong was born on April 4th 1896 form the wealthy peranakan (native-chinese) family. His father was the owner of the export-import firm in Semarang, Thio Siong Liong Maatschappij, which Thio Thiam Tjong inherited and expanded after his father had retired. Thio was Dutch-educated, first in Semarang and later in Delft Technical College, Netherlands. Before graduating, he returned to Java, presumably to take over His fathers business, He became very active in the local chinese community named Chung Hwa Hui (CHH). Founded in 1928 CHH is a political organization that carried the ethnic Chinese Nationalism oriented to Dutch East Indies authorities, this was contrary to Tiong Hoa Hwe Kwan (THHK). This movement is getting support from so many peranakan intellectuals. CHH take a cooperation sides against the Colonial authorities and actively participate in local political institutions included in the Volksraad (People's Council). Here, Thio was elected to its central board, where after that elected as President of the Semarang branch in the 1930s and served as the Provincial Council of Central Java.

participants of Chung Hwa Hui Congress came together for dinner
at Hotel Du Pavillion (now Hotel Dibya Puri), 1927.
(source: Chinese Indonesian Heritage Center) 
Beside His political carrier, Thio Thiam Tjong  also concerned with social and educational affairs of the Chinese community. In 1928, He became the chairman of the Chinese-English School (Now used as SMA Negeri 5 Semarang). Following the Japanese occupation of Manchuria, He inisiated the Jiogou Houyuan Hui (Save the country from the back line) movement and later the China Charity Fund (Semarang Branch) in order to support the resistance against Japanese in Manchuria. It was reported that for every donation drive His Thio Siong Liong Maatschappij was alway the largest donor. Before the Japanese invasion of Java, the Colonial Government organized a local defence force in which He was appointed as the Chief Commander. Thus, following the fall of Java into Japanese force, Thio was detained in Interneringskamp (eng: consentration camp) from 1942 until 1945.

The Chinese English School "Hwa Ing" in Bodjong Straat (now Jalan-
Pemuda) Semarang. Thio became the Chairman of this school on 1928.
Now its used as the SMA Negeri 5 Semarang. (source:
When the Revolution for Independence broke up. Thio was invited by Governor-General Van Mook to became His personal adviser, considering Thio's popularity among the Indonesian chinese. In 1948, Thio established Persatuan Tionghoa (PT) with the aim of organizing Indonesian Chinese readiness for the changing situation. Nevertheless, the complete withdrawal of the Dutch forces and the coming power of indigenous Indonesians diminished Thio's influence. His past record as van Mook's adviser made Him labeld as anti-nationalist movement. Thio's PDTI (the new name of the PT after 1950) was declining and replaced by Baperki. Thio later concerned in His busines and education activity. In 1957, he together with another Chinese-Indonesian, formed a committee to established the Tarumanegara University. Thio Died in Netherlands on December 22nd 1969.

His House in Semarang once used as Singapore International School (SIS) before its moved to another place in Semarang. Now its remained empty, and wished this antique indisch house, still preserved for a long time. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The story of German Mercenaries in Indonesia

The Württembergisches Kapregiment Kaserne in Jurnatan, Semarang. The headquarters and the base of Wurttemberg Cape Regiment, unfortunatelly this complex has been demolished and now used as Semarang Plaza shopping centre.
(source: Tropenmuseum)

Being a soldier in the past is a profession that is not very popular. Very few people wanna be a soldier in the army especially those who were sent to the expedition to the east. The solution is hired the mercenaries in order to overcome this problems . During the colonial period, one's of the mercenaries is a people from Württemberg, Germany that being one's of the mercenaries during the VOC rules as well during the Dutch Indies. These regiment known as Württembergisches Kapregiment (eng: Wurrtemberg Cape Regiment), its named after firstly this units was stationed at the Cape of Good Hope or now known as South Africa.  

Taken from Wikipedia , Württemberg Regiment soldiers contracted into the Dutch East Indies in 1790-1808 and consist of 2,000 troops. In the beginning of November 1786 came the commander ( responsible for the fund) the officers of the Staff of the I. Battalion and the first regimental quartermaster their service to the recruits met by little one . After its formation in Ludwigsburg, the first battalion on 2 was May the Second Battalion on 26 October 1787 in Vlissingen on the V.O.C. sworn . A regiment remained nominally the whole time the reigning Duke of Württemberg , but neither Carl Eugen nor his successor, to whom the respective regimental commander regularly (as far as the political situation allowed boat transport to the mainland in Europe) sent reports , attending more to the regiment .

VOC Soldiers eqquiped with musket
The French set the Dutch Republic as their Client State on 1795 with the Louis Bonaparte with the accession of Louis I to the throne of Holland. Thus the Dutch being the French allies opposite the British and their allies (Spain, Portugal, Austria, etc), and these conflict also occurs in their colony. The Württembergisches Kapregiment  also take a part during this conlict, where almost all of these companies were moved to East Indies in 1791.

In Java island, the battalion headquarters and three companies of Württembergisches Kapregiment stationed in Semarang , one company in Surabaya, one company in Meester Cornelis (now: Jatinegara, Jakarta). Thus in Semarang there is a place named Württembergisches Kapregiment Kaserne ( eng: military barracks of Wurrtemberg Cape Regiment) situated in Jurnatan, on the south of Kota Lama Semarang. The facilities were so large but unfortunatelly this complex has been demolished and now used as Semarang Plaza shopping centre.

Due to the climatic conditions the Württembergisches Kapregiment mortality rate as well as the dessertion rate was very high. Exact figures of the total losses can no longer be determined . Around 2,300 of the disengaged were killed in the regiment. Only about 450 were in British captivity and were partly in local services, 229 were taken in Dutch services, about 50 have been adopted. ; on their fate is almost nothing known. Only about 100 are likely to be returned

 Replica of a VOC galleon in front of the Batavia Town Hall during
 the event of Pasar Malam Gambir 1938 (source: Tropenmuseum)
The regiment was on 1 March 1808 on the orders of the Dutch Governor-General, General Herman Willem Daendels , officially dissolved , then the surviving remaining 229 men, including the officers were incorporated with the local Dutch troops. Many of these former German soldiers and officers who later lived and married in Dutch Indies, later Indonesia. Thats why there are several generations here, in Indonesia who have a German surname. Perhaps its also why the Indonesian people have the words "Cus" on their conversation as a term to say goodbye, and its similiar with the German word "Tschüss" who have the same meaning.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Forgotten Abattoir of Semarang in Kabluk

The Semarangsche Slachthuis during its construction on 1927 and the current condition on 2014. Designed by Thomas Kaarsten, These Abbatoir inaugurated on July 1929, serving for the demands of the animal agricultural sectors in Semarang and surround it, replacing the traditional slaughter industry on Jagalan. (source: Leiden University Library)
Inside the Abattoir, complete with hanging equipment for
 processing line on 1938. (source: Tropenmuseum) 
Long time ago, here in Semarang, its already have the modern Abattoir or in Dutch its known as Slachthuis. Its built in order to serve the consumers better considering the hygiene aspect as well as to improve the financial status of the Semarang city municipalities. In the middle of 1929 its inaugurated the modern Abattoir in Kabluk region, which at that time belongs to outer part of Semarang. These facilities replaced the traditional slaughter house that existed in Jagalan, which for long times, its become notable slaughter industry, even the name Jagalan, is came from word Jagal means slaught. The Indische Genootschap wrote on their journals that in the year 1913, the plans for built these Abattoir begun but then its delayed had its financial difficulties. One's of the man who were keen to realized this idea were dr. Jan Stapensea, the first veterinary in Semarang and also Hoofd directeur van den Veterinair-Hygienische Dienst op Semarang (eng: General Director of the Veterinary-Sanitary Service in Semarang). Unfortunatelly, it seems that Stapensea, could see the realization of His idea, if we read the inscription in the main gate of this abattoir, here written "Aan De Nagedachtenis, van wijlen dr. J. Stapensea" (eng: To the memory, of the late dr J. Stapensea). 

The inscription of Semarangsche Slachthuis
inauguration on July 1929.
dr. Jan Stapensea were a notable veterinary during Dutch Indies period. He's concern on the developing of Animal Agricultural sectors made Him popular among the scientific society at that time, including His idea of against having milk pasteurized, considering the tropical conditions. Thus, He declined the idea of establishing Central Milk Depot inisiated by dr. B. Vrijburg, than municipal veterinarian of Batavia also the owner of the dairy farm De Friesche Terp in Pengalengan, a place South of Bandung. Adel P. den Hartog a researchers about the Acceptance of Milk Products in Southeast Asia wrotes that for Stapensea, the idea of Central Depot, which all milk would be mixed together, the payment of the supplier according to the quality of his milk would become impossible. This would lead to a considerable price increase and to a decline of the quality of milk, and it will gave less incentive for the producer to feed his cattle properly and to treat the milk hygienically on the dairy. Another Stapensea idea for the better milk quality is he persuade the consumer should boil the milk and if possible only once, to keep the good nutrition.

Back to the story of the Abattoir, this modern slaughter house that designed by Thomas Kaarsten now faced the hard condition. On early of 1990's these Abattoir closed and most of the building were demolished, only spared the front office building. Now the building is abandoned and decayed, its become likely a haunted place surrounded by modern structures. When I visited last weeks, this spooky building become a based for the construction workers of the newly build office complex behind it. Then when I asked why its zinc fence around the sites, one's of the workers said, "shortly it'll built appartment here". Well, seems like we'll lose one of the historical sites in this city again, may God save this building through the City Municipalities hands. Hopefully, we'll see together

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Baronese Van Hoevel, Emancipation Activist from Semarang

The Committee of Koloniale Tetoonstelling 1914 in Semarang, taken from the Gedenkbook of Koloniale Tetoonstelling.
Mevr. E Byleveld Baronese van Hoevel, was the only women in the committee, standing in the back, dead center.
My mobile Phone rang on that silent noon,  strangers talks in English and I felt very upset. She explain that She just arrived in Semarang and got my phone number from my Blog. Her name was Ellen van Os, coming from Netherlands to seek an information about Her great-grandma and also Her relatives that buried here, in Semarang. Her Great-Grandma was a victims during Japanese occupation, died in Interneringskamp (eng: internment camp) somewhere in Semarang. Then we set a meeting on Ereveld Kalibanteng, where most of the victims during the Japanese occupation as well during Indonesia Revolution buried.

The grave of Mevr. E.H. Bijleveld
Baronese van Hoevel in Ereveld
Kalibanteng, Semarang.
This was my first time coming to Ereveld, or literally it means “field of honour”. A cemeteries managed by Oorlogsgraven Stichting (OGS) to give a respect for those victims during the Japanese occupation and also during the Indonesia Revolution period. Its not easy to visiting here as the Indonesian, because of its already belongs to the land of Netherlands. Yap, besides their Embassy and Consulates, this Ereveld that also existed in Jakarta, Bandung and Surabaya, its belongs to the Kingdom of Netherlands extra teritories. Thus, there I found the portrait of Prins Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima, not my President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, LoL!

I met Ellen and also Olivier, they come here in Semarang for the first time, after got holidays in Bali several days. We explore through the gravestone lines in Ereveld to found the Ellen Great-Grandma tombs. Then She show us where is it, then She start to explain how is Her Great-Grandma is, something that I couldnt believed! Her Great-Grandma was one’s of the committee of Koloniale Tetoonstelling 1914 in Semarang, the only women in the committee! Wow, what an odd! Because of I have Her Great-Grandma photos in my files about this Koloniale Tetoonsttelling.

An open class in the De Vrouw pavilions. The picture depicting
 Van Hoevel giving Her lectures.

Her name was E. H. Baronese van Hoevel, a word “Baronese” showed that She comes from the noble families. Ellen told me, if van Hoevel have a good relation with Austro-Hungarian Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and once He visiting va Hoevel residences somewhere in Sulawesi. Van Hoevel have a lots of collection of shell, and its displayed on a several cupboard. This were really impressed Franz Ferdinand, thus He wanna bought it, and Franz Ferdinand owned one of that cupboard filled with Van Hoevel collection of Shell. Nowadays, that cupboard being displayed in Museum and one another is on the Ellens house.  Couple months later after Franz Ferdinand visiting Van Hoevel in Sulawesi, He died in Sarajevo, killed by a Serbian extrimist, and the World War I begun.

Van Hoevel was also belongs to the Women Emancipation movement. She initiated the Pavilions for women named De Vrouw during the Koloniale Tetoonstelling, displayed the several activities belongs to woman emancipation. But during the Japanese occupation, everythings got changed. Van Hoevel sent into Internment camp, just like another Eurasians on that time. Also together with Her grand-daughter. She Died there, likely caused of the bad condition in the Camp, but another sad stories coming from Her grand-daughter. When we examines Her tomb, several tomb have a same date of death, then Ellen told me, “Could be, She has been executed”. For what? Both of us dont know but once again, there’s something that u couldnt immagines happend during the war.

“Hun Geest Heeft Overwonen”
Their Spirit Have Overcome
We’ll always remembered them

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Renew Old Memories in Purworejo (part 1)

Sop Senerek, the Javanese version of Dutch cuisines, the Bruine Bonen Soep. Typically Kedu Residents cuisines who consist of Temanggung, Magelang, Purworejo, Kebumen and surround it.
Hello World!

This week were getting so awesome for me! Yap, just because of its really-really full of adventures. Since my friends Wisnu Pratama got his Kuliah Kerja Nyata (kinda form of community service activities by students in the rural areas) or simply called as KKN  that located in Salaman, Magelang and its near my birthplace city, Purworejo, so I quickly made an appointment with Him in order to accompany me visiting this city. I really excited to go there now, due to I must have "me-time" over there, not like my previous experience. Have my own vehicles, have my own destination to renew my Old memories that already left there for 19 years, so here we go!

“Deze weg is daargesteld onder het bestuur
der Residen van Bagelen Ionkh JGOS Don Schmidt
Auf Altenstadt En R De Filletaz Bousqet En
onder mederwerking van Raden Adipati Tjokronegoro
Regent van Purworejo In de jaren 1845-1850”.
Start at 10.30 am, the bus arrived at Magelang and Wisnu picked me up, then we got our breakfast with the famous Magelang culinary, Sop Senerek Karesidenan, the stall is near the former office of Karesidenan (eng: Resident) Kedu. Its named after senerek, the red beans. Serving in the forms of soup, containing meat/offal, potato, carrot, spinach and of course, rice. This is the example of the acculturations between the local culture and the europeans. Its looks like typical Dutch cuisine, bruine bonen soep, a soup who also named after the bruine bonen, the brown beans. Hmm...yummy, start from this breakfast, its already renew my old memories, because of this Sop Senerek were typically a cuisine in the Kedu region, who consist of Magelang and another cities in the south of this city, also Purworejo.

On 11.00 am, our bikes already down to the Magelang-Purworejo main highway. I love every part of it, because of its offering the enormous scenery, a combination of valley, mountainous and rural area. Then we stoped in Tugu Bener, a monument to commemorate the construction of the highway between Magelang and Purworejo which took a place between 1845-1850. This monument condition seems like never been restored nor preserved. I guess, not so many people knows about the story behind this monument. Taking several photos and the journey continued. After 45 minutes of riding, we arrived in the city of Purworejo.

"Indlansche en Afrikaansche Troepen"
a picture depicting the native (left) and
African (right) mercenaries om KNIL
Not so many changes happend in this city. Even in my memories, several building and several places, just like in their condition during my childhood. This small cities, is rich with the history, just like my stories before here, at least i could mention two of the things that people here must be proud of their city, there's the biggest Aloon-aloon and Bedug in central java is located. here 

Here in Purworejo, once there's a kampoong that populated by african descendants, mainly from Elmina, Ghana that recruited as mercenaries for the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army or simply known as KNIL. This people so-called Zwarte Hollanders, the Black Dutchmen, the Javanese recognize them as Londo Ireng literally also means Black Dutchmen. Between 1831 and 1872, over three thousand Africans were recruited, this recruitment was in fact an emergency measure, as the Dutch army lost thousands of European soldiers and a much larger number of "native" soldiers in the Java War against Pangeran Diponegoro between 1825-1830. Following the independence of Indonesia, many of this african descendants flew back to Netherlands or to Africa, few of them choose to stay in Indonesia, one of their settlements were in Purworejo. 

The street inside the Kampoong even named as Gang African (eng: African Alley) to commemorate this. Located near RSUD Purworejo (city central hospital), here still a lot of houses typically 30-40's tropica architectures could be founded. But now, you couldnt find any Zwarte Hollanders anymore here. I found one's of the residents and said the last remains of this was already passed away in 2008. She only have one child, still looks alike an afro's people, but unfortunatelly, he's suffering for mental disorder even frequently He stay until fall asleep in Kerkhof (Dutch Graveyard) Purworejo, for unknown reason. We try to find Him in Kerkhof but found nothing. 

An old Gardu Listrik/ Tranformator Huis in front of
Gang African. inzet: the noticemen in Three Languages. 
Uniquely, near the Gang African, We met the Tranformator Huis (eng: Transformator House) or here in we call it as Gardu Listrik, that still in complete condition. Here in Purworejo, we could find a noticemen in three languages, Dutch, Indonesian and Javanese to prevent the people from the electricity danger. This noticemen made of Tin and you couldnt find any of these in Semarang, because it must be already taken by the collectors. I wish this noticemen will always there, please God save them from both the collectors and vandalist ;) 

(To be Continued)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

De Escompto Bank in Semarang

De Escompto Bank office in Hoogendorpstraat or now known as Jalan Kepodang, Semarang, simply recognized by its dome-shaped tower. The year when photos taken between 1925-1930. (source: Leiden University Library)
Nederlandsch-Indische-Escompto-Maatschappij or simply known as NIEM or just Escompto Bank, is the second largest Bank operated in Dutch Indies during the colonial period. Escompto Bank formed in 1857 and continues to operated until 1958, while all of the Dutch companies were nationalized by the government of Republik Indonesia. Then it changes into Bank Dagang Negara (BDN), and following the 1997 economic crisis, this BDN merged with another 3 govenments bank formed Bank Mandiri until nowadays.

A mozaic formed by decorated tiles illustrated the city coat
of arms of Semarang and Surabaya.
In Semarang, in Kota Lama section, the office of Escompto Bank were very luxurious with the tower as its icon. Located in Hoogendorpstraat or now known as Jalan Kepodang, the Escompto Bank building with its tower always appeared rights in the form of photos or postcards. There’s an unique characteristic over the Escompto Bank officebuilding. In its wall, always there’s several city coat of arms illustrated by a mozaic formed by decorated tiles. In Batavia (Jakarta) we’d see the coat of arms of Amsterdam, Semarang, Bandung, Surabaya and Batavia. In Semarang, only 2 city coat of arms are illustrated in its wall, its Surabaya and Semarang. The Escompto Bank building in Semarang, situated in the street that once crowd with the business activity because of along the street in front of it, situated the Head office of Oei Tiong Ham Concern, The Geo Wehry Co., Butterworth Co., and so on.

De Escompto Bank, current condition. The Dome were
dissapeared, but dont know when and why did its happend.
The tower with its dome that so famous as the landmarks along the Hoogendorpstraat were no longer existed. Dont know exactly when its been torned down, but now its changed into a simply roof. This art deco style building seems faced many renovation that changes the appearance of the building that built in 1912. Talking about the Escompto Bank, there’s an interested story about it in the Escompto Bank of Surabaya I got from National Geographic.

A legitimate banknote from the 1941, has been left for until today. The banknotes belongs to NV Carl Schlieper , an importeur for the guild tools from the Remscheid, Germany to the several cities in Dutch Indies. The banknote stated the amount of 400 Yen and that amount must be available on monday,February 17th 1941. The Bank have legitimate it thus the cashier could took the cash for the owner of that banknote. But then, the representatives from NV. Carl Schlieper never return to that place to take out the cash. Even after the Escompto Bank changed into Bank Dagang Negara, the cash still neatly stored in the bank safes. Now, this 400 Yen bills were displayed as the collection of Museum Bank Mandiri Surabaya.

Nowadays this building seems to still belongs to state-owned company property. With a lot of projects to developed the Kota Lama section, we waits, when it will become a Museum Bank Mandiri Semarang? We’ll be waiting for (again) 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Lasem Station, Application of City Identity

The Lasem Station building current condition, abandoned and decayed. The station emplacement now used as the truck parking yard and none of the railroad were remains. Here also available a videos from Nederlands Filmarchief about Station Lasem.
 Railways, a mass tranportation modes that here in Indonesia has been existed since 1867. Even now until this January, 21st in Lawang Sewu, held the exhibition about the History of Railways in Indonesia from time to time. For me, Railways is not only a locomotives hauled several carriage over the railroad, its also a matter of culture. How the railways development affected the society, the timelines educated people to disciplines, and also the construction of this infrastructure.

An information from Pak Tjahjono Rahardjo, a Railfans who also a cultural activist about the Station Lasem always made me curious. A station that the facade adopted the chinese houses shaped. If its true, I guess this were the second station that I know, built in Indonesia during the colonial age but not using the european style building, but the local building characteristic. The first one it was the Stasiun Solo Balapan in Solo, which adopted the luxurious taste of Javanese Joglo shaped building.

I got  so curious about this fact and realize that the station, in every city has its own characteristic based on where the station is belongs to. Here some examples like, adopted the Gereja Blenduk as city icon, perhaps made the Tawang Station in Semarang have its cupola as the roof in main hall.  In order to show about the importance and getting the title of one of the busiest port in Asia after the Suez Canal has been open, in Batavia (Jakarta) built the luxurious Tanjung  Priok station that its design of curve remind us to the King Cross Station, that used by Harry Potter series as its movie sets. But here in Lasem, the building adopted the surround architectures as the city with nicknames Le Petit Chinois, the little Chinese.

The lines here once belongs to Semarang Joana Stoomtram Maatschappij (SJS) that serve the railways connection between Semarang and Juwana, start in 1881. According to the sites of, SJS  was the first of the 15 tramway companies in Java. The tramways were usually related to agricultural developments, especially sugar plantations and factories, tobacco and rubber plantations, and forestry. The lines also acted as feeder to the main lines. These tramways were built according to certain standards, allowing some exchange of rolling stock with the state railways, and some lines were indeed later upgraded to main-line railway standards.

Here in lasem, famous for its Batik craft product, this station must be the important things to distribute the Batik all over the major city in Java. In Semarang, the building of Gabungan Koperasi Batik Indonesia (Indonesian Batik Trading Society) situated not so far from the Jurnatan station, one’s of the station placed in the SJS lines of Semarang-Juwana, I believe its related.

Thanks anyway for Forum Komunikasi Masyarakat Sejarah (FOKMAS) Lasem mates, for take me here. Felt so glad to trace back the glory of Lasem city in a days, see you next mates! J

Monday, January 13, 2014

1st Lopen Semarang Anniversary on Spoorlaan

The publication of the events 
Its been a years since @lopenSMG established ( see my post here ). From simply utilizing the power of social media that growing stronger in order to increasing awareness of Semarang people about its the city history, now its turn into a community. A community where the youth who have interest into any historical object or so-called historical freak could have its place, to discuss, to explore and to learn more.  

On December 27th 2013, we celebrating our 1st anniversary, but since it was during the christmas and new years long holiday, we delayed it until January, 12th 2014. Together with our monthly agenda called #Blusukan there are visiting the historical objects in the city of Semarang, we celebrated our anniversary on a kampoong called Spoorland. Sounds weird eh? A kampoong with such an european names? Yes here is the sites of the first Railways station in Indonesia, thus its named after spoorland, taken from Dutch languages Spoorlaan means track lane or in the terms of railways its the emplacement.  Here we accompanied by Mr. Tjahjono Rahardjo, a railfans who also the members of Indonesian Railways Preservation Society (IRPS) and Mr. Rifai, a former train operator, the witness of this station while still in the active condition before it turns into the settlement.

Mr Tjahjono Raharjo from IRPS (black shirts with hat), explaining the
remains of Station Samarang, the first railways station Indonesia, the 2nd
in Asia after India (1853) and before Japan (1872)
The event, started by the presentation from Mr.Tjahjono, to explaining what He and His friends efforts in 2008 found the sites of this Station Samarang, who believed being misplaced from those who are written of in the history books. Its like a found a treasure for Him, because of he even not to expect any remains of this building, considering it was turns into dense settlement area, also the location suffered of land subsidence causing by the decreassing environmental condition from an uncontrolled reclamation works. Its a common phenomenon in the north coast of java island cities. But the fact it was, he found it! Even it turns into densely settlement area, but the facade of the station itself could be simply recognized (see here)

The first lane of railways in Indonesia, lie from Semarang to Tanggung along 25 Km. Built by Nederlandsch Indische Spoorweg Maatschappij (NIS) to fulfilling the needs of better transportation to transporting the goods from the southern vassal kingdom area (Vorstenlanden) to Semarang, the important harbour city. Its officialy opened on August, 10th 1867 by Governoor General, Van De Belle. This was the first railways established in South-East Asia, and in Asia itself its took the 2nd place, after India in 1853 and before Japan who established on 1872. 

All of the participant take a photos with Mr. Rifai (with a beard in the center),
the witness of the Station Samarang while its still in active condition.
Back to the event, as the presentation and the discussion was over, the event continues with visiting the remains of the station. Mr. Rifai, who have been there for almost 30 years, explain us a lot about what its looks like before. All of the praticipant felt so interest with the explanation, and for me it made me immagined how luxury is this station. The main building have been divided into housing, the emplacement have turns into an alley and as the land subsidence problems, what we seen now is already "sunk" +/- 2,5 meters, from its original heights.

The event closed by our anniversary celebration with "Tumpengan". A Javanese tradition to celebrating something with a cone-shaped rice dish like mountain with its side dishes (vegetables and meat). After the people pray, the top of tumpeng is cut and delivered to Mr. Tjahjono and Mr. Rifai as the appreciation of their efforts in the social and cultural works. Then after that, the tumpeng enjoyed by all of us. With tumpeng, people express the gratitude to God and appreciate togetherness and harmony. Well, I wish, our achievement in this one years in oreders to preserve the cultural and historical resource, specifically in Semarang, could be continues forever. Thanx for this one years, keep up the goodwork mates!

Its time to proud, its time to to preserve. :)