Jakarta 484 years: sad images from an old city


Holiday in Jakarta is not my everyday idea. So when I stopped by Jakarta early last week with my family, we decided to, for once, be a tourist. We went to the old city area just a few hundred meters walking distance from Kota train station. And it was a good decision. I actually enjoyed the scenery and the atmosphere. The old city area was actually the center of Batavia administration established by the Dutch in (correct me if I’m wrong) 1619. As such, a typical European setup can easily be noticed: a central square (currently named the Fatahillah Square) surrounded by a city hall, financial office (now Museum Mandiri), and post office. The city hall also has a prison inside. There is a defunct fountain at the center of the square.

What is needed by the government is another restoration for this splendid place. We may be able to learn something from Hoi An, Vietnam, with its management of the old city that is considered as one of UNESCO’s world heritage.

Big palm trees in front of the governor's office is a popular hang-out spots.

A sign on the fountain: "Do not write on this wall and do not urinate here".

To date this is still Indonesia's central post office.

There are more than enough old bicycles for rent on Fatahillah Square, complete with matching colonial-style hats for the ladies and gents.

This ancient Portuguese cannon finds home on the north side of Fatahillah Square. It was brought to Fort Batavia in 1641, where it stood until the fort's demolition in 1809. A large fist protrudes from its posterior, believed by Indonesians to bring fertility. Some women would sit on the barrel hoping for a child. According to legend, a man named Si Jagur was transformed into the cannon upon his death. His better half, also transformed, was taken to Banten to avoid the catastrophe believed to be brought about by a side-by-side burial.

JASINDO building, waiting to collapse. JASINDO is Indonesia's first insurance company, a result of nationalization of Dutch-owned companies after our Independence. It has a very good reputation in claim payment; it has paid a sum of more than USD 60 million to failures of some parts of PALAPA satellites, and also USD 100 million for Garuda satellite. in 1997 it received a BBB rank from Standard and Poor for Claim Paying Ability, and in 2009 received a very good credit ranking from an international credit ranking agency, A.M. Best, for Financial Strength Ability (Stable Outlook) and Issuer Credit Ability (Stable Outlook). As a reputed company, it is sad to see that the place where it grew went abandoned and unattended.

Another abandoned building on the side street north of Fatahillah Square.

A closer look showing precious old tiles on abandoned building.

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