Category Archives: West Java

Puncak in Ruins

A photographic tour of the modern ruins of Villa Kota Gardenia at Puncak with evocations of Dieng and the ancient world.

“there is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism.” —  Walter Benjamin

Villa Kota Gardenia entrance sign

Villa Kota Gardenia entrance sign

Driving through Puncak Pass in the mountain resort area of Cianjur in West Java, Dezant and I pulled over into a large abandoned lot with broken oddly-shaped buildings to wait for the other cars in the family caravan to catch up. The family of Dezant’s brother-in-law owns a Puncak villa, and they let Dezant’s entire family use it for the weekend to celebrate his sister’s birthday.  We called his brother-in-law to confirm the location—a development called “Villa Kota Gardenia”—only to discover that the apparently abandoned lot where we parked was Villa Kota Gardenia’s main entrance.

Villa Kota Gardenia Main Entrance

Villa Kota Gardenia Main Entrance

.

The entire complex—overgrown, desolate, wrecked—looks like it was built in the late 1970s and without any maintenance since the early 1980s. I don’t actually think Kota Gardenia was built in the 1970s, but the security post—a swirling abstract two-story catastrophe—and the administrative and recreational buildings behind and off to the side have a tasteless grandeur reminiscent of the era. A wide and weedy circular boulevard leads up to a dense patchwork grid of villas, but from the entrance the villas remains entirely hidden behind a line of trees, leaving nothing to suggest signs of habitation.

Villa Kota Gardenia:  Administrative or Recreational Building Villa Kota Gardenia: Administrative or Recreational Building Entrance

Villa Kota Gardenia:  ???

I’m writing about the architectural ruins we found at Villa Kota Gardenia because I found myself gripped by their terrible eeriness. I explored the whole complex; Dezant took pictures. I will describe in a future post (“Puncak in Ruins, Part 4”) what we found among the actual residential villas behind the trees—an absolute show-stopper—because that deserves a separate discussion of its own. For the final images in this arrival scene near Villa Kota Gardenia’s main entrance, here is the stagnant scummy swimming pool we discovered next to the recreation building:

Villa Kota Gardenia:  Swimming Pool with Sunken Bar

Villa Kota Gardenia: Swimming Pool with Sunken Bar

Villa Kota Gardenia: Overgrown Archway Entrance to Pool

Villa Kota Gardenia: Overgrown Archway Entrance to Pool

Although the ruins we “discovered” at Kota Gardenia felt disturbing and even a little menacing, I was compelled to explore them with the same interest that I would explore the ancient Hindu shrines at Dieng Plateau or the Greek and Roman temples at Paestum. Ruins are good to think with, material fragments that signify loss and evoke absence. Aestheticized objects for contemplation, ruins stimulate the imagination to fabricate histories and memories, monumental achievements and colossal failures, inspirations for living and whispers of death, to fill in the blanks.** Ruins generate nostalgia, an uncanny sense, for something one has never known. There is something incredibly uncanny about the Kota Gardenia ruins that itches me. So far, I only have recourse to two associative resemblances from popular film with which to scratch it.

To be continued:

“Puncak in Ruins, Part 2:  Lost Detour” (coming soon)

“Puncak in Ruins, Part 3:  The Year of Living Dangerously” (coming soon)

“Puncak in Ruins, Part 4:  Return to Villa Kota Gardenia” (coming soon)

** Dirks, N.B. 1998, In Near Ruins: Cultural Theory at the End of the Century, in In Near Ruins: Cultural Theory at the End of the Century, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, pp. 1-18.

Puncak in Ruins is brought to you by Indonesia Matters, where you can book flights in Indonesia, and features listings of Indonesian hotels, like Kuta hotels, Sanur hotels, hotels in Jakarta and near Jakarta airport, and more.

Puncak in Ruins

A photographic tour of the modern ruins of Villa Kota Gardenia at Puncak with evocations of Dieng and the ancient world.

“there is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism.” —  Walter Benjamin

Villa Kota Gardenia entrance sign

Villa Kota Gardenia entrance sign

Driving through Puncak Pass in the mountain resort area of Cianjur in West Java, Dezant and I pulled over into a large abandoned lot with broken oddly-shaped buildings to wait for the other cars in the family caravan to catch up. The family of Dezant’s brother-in-law owns a Puncak villa, and they let Dezant’s entire family use it for the weekend to celebrate his sister’s birthday.  We called his brother-in-law to confirm the location—a development called “Villa Kota Gardenia”—only to discover that the apparently abandoned lot where we parked was Villa Kota Gardenia’s main entrance.

Villa Kota Gardenia Main Entrance

Villa Kota Gardenia Main Entrance

.

The entire complex—overgrown, desolate, wrecked—looks like it was built in the late 1970s and without any maintenance since the early 1980s. I don’t actually think Kota Gardenia was built in the 1970s, but the security post—a swirling abstract two-story catastrophe—and the administrative and recreational buildings behind and off to the side have a tasteless grandeur reminiscent of the era. A wide and weedy circular boulevard leads up to a dense patchwork grid of villas, but from the entrance the villas remains entirely hidden behind a line of trees, leaving nothing to suggest signs of habitation.

Villa Kota Gardenia:  Administrative or Recreational Building Villa Kota Gardenia: Administrative or Recreational Building Entrance

Villa Kota Gardenia:  ???

I’m writing about the architectural ruins we found at Villa Kota Gardenia because I found myself gripped by their terrible eeriness. I explored the whole complex; Dezant took pictures. I will describe in a future post (“Puncak in Ruins, Part 4”) what we found among the actual residential villas behind the trees—an absolute show-stopper—because that deserves a separate discussion of its own. For the final images in this arrival scene near Villa Kota Gardenia’s main entrance, here is the stagnant scummy swimming pool we discovered next to the recreation building:

Villa Kota Gardenia:  Swimming Pool with Sunken Bar

Villa Kota Gardenia: Swimming Pool with Sunken Bar

Villa Kota Gardenia: Overgrown Archway Entrance to Pool

Villa Kota Gardenia: Overgrown Archway Entrance to Pool

Although the ruins we “discovered” at Kota Gardenia felt disturbing and even a little menacing, I was compelled to explore them with the same interest that I would explore the ancient Hindu shrines at Dieng Plateau or the Greek and Roman temples at Paestum. Ruins are good to think with, material fragments that signify loss and evoke absence. Aestheticized objects for contemplation, ruins stimulate the imagination to fabricate histories and memories, monumental achievements and colossal failures, inspirations for living and whispers of death, to fill in the blanks.** Ruins generate nostalgia, an uncanny sense, for something one has never known. There is something incredibly uncanny about the Kota Gardenia ruins that itches me. So far, I only have recourse to two associative resemblances from popular film with which to scratch it.

To be continued:

“Puncak in Ruins, Part 2:  Lost Detour” (coming soon)

“Puncak in Ruins, Part 3:  The Year of Living Dangerously” (coming soon)

“Puncak in Ruins, Part 4:  Return to Villa Kota Gardenia” (coming soon)

** Dirks, N.B. 1998, In Near Ruins: Cultural Theory at the End of the Century, in In Near Ruins: Cultural Theory at the End of the Century, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, pp. 1-18.

Puncak in Ruins is brought to you by Indonesia Matters, where you can book flights in Indonesia, and features listings of Indonesian hotels, like Kuta hotels, Sanur hotels, hotels in Jakarta and near Jakarta airport, and more.

Shoot on Sight in Cianjur

Authorities in Cianjur take a tough stance, formally, to any possible outbreaks of sectarian type violence.

The police department of Cianjur in West Java has proclaimed a ‘shoot on sight’ order for those who might attempt to violently upset the apparently ‘conducive’ atmosphere of inter-faith harmony in the city, as of 20th February 2011.

Djoko Hariutomo giving orders
Djoko Hariutomo

The chief of police, Djoko Hariutomo, said the order was in accordance with national police instructions regarding the prevention of any further violence against religious minorities, as had occurred recently against the Ahmadiyah sect in Cikeusik, Banten, and against Christian owned property in Temanggung, Central Java.

There are about 650 Ahmadiyah people in Cianjur city and surrounds.

Djoko said police would not hesitate in shooting down provocators or rioters, although he naturally hoped that things would never come to the point of the order having to be enforced.

He went on to say that incidences of inter-faith disturbances in Cianjur were on the decline, falling 3.4% year on year, according to police records. [1]

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Bandung Protests: Ariel & Cloud 9

The Mass Movement to Hang Adulterers and the People’s Alliance against Pornographic Devils not put off by driving rain in Bandung; Cloud 9 bar targeted.

Ariel

Two groups, spontaneously brought into life over the Ariel Peterporn case, the “Massa Gerakan Rakyat Gantung Penzinah” (Gergaji) and “Aliansi Masyarakat Penolak Iblis Pornografi” (Ampibi), demonstrated outside the state court of Bandung on 13th January while inside the trial of Nazriel Irham alias Ariel Peterpan dragged on for its nth week.

Despite driving rain in the city the protesters strutted about, even jumped up and down, sang nationalist songs like “Halo-Halo Bandung”, and gave speeches demanding the presiding judge give amateur porn star Ariel the severest penalty, preferably hanging. The rain wasn’t enough to dampen their desire to see justice served, said a spokesman:

Maybe there are some who’d say that this rain would make us stop. They’d be wrong, we are going on with this protest anyway.

The trial is ongoing, with the defence beginning to plead its case on the 13th. [1]

Cloud 9

Meanwhile in other Bandung news the popular cafe and restaurant Cloud 9, owned by a British businessman, was shut down on 30th December after protests by – depending on which report is to be trusted – local residents of Bunisari kampung, or outside militant groups.

The reports go on to say protesters were unhappy that the bar served alcohol at all hours of the day and night, and was located too close to a mosque. [2]

However our man in Bandung, Madrotter, says it is likely a local business rival hired thugs to force the closure of Cloud 9, and that some of the protesters and even the police were apologetic towards the owner of the bar over the action.

Andi, the British owner, is now said to be attempting to satisfy the local government on some permit issues. Cloud 9’s 72 staff remain idle in the meantime.

Bandung Protests: Ariel & Cloud 9 is brought to you by Indonesia Matters, where you can book flights in Indonesia, and features listings of Indonesian hotels, like Kuta hotels, Sanur hotels, hotels in Jakarta, and more.

On the Rampage

Rampage by militant groups in in Bandung & Tasikmalaya, while a senior Democrat Party figure calls for their banning.

On the morning of 12th December about 250 men from militant groups Front Pembela Islam (FPI), Forum Umat Islam (FUI), and Gerakan Reformasi Islam (Garis) raided seven houses believed to be being used as informal or illegal churches in the Rancaekek area of Bandung, West Java.

Front Pembela Islam (FPI) in Bandung

One house church, belonging to the often besieged Batak Protestant church (Gereja Huria Kristen Batak Protestan (HKBP)) Bethania was afterwards ‘sealed’ by public order officials, to prevent its further use as a church. Church authorities later admitted they did not have proper permits for the building. [1]

Gereja Bethania

Christian congregations in West Java and other Muslim majority areas of the country often find it difficult to obtain legal permission to build a church, and instead make use of ‘temporary’ premises like houses.

Meanwhile on 9th December elsewhere in West Java, in Tasikmalaya, a religious school belonging to the Ahmadiyah sect was also ‘sealed’ by police and local authorities, who had information that, again, the Front Pembela Islam (FPI) was planning an assault on the premises. The authorities claimed that the forced closing was done to prevent any violence.

Ulil Abshar Abdalla

Speaking of the incident in Tasikmalaya a spokesman for the Demokrat Party, Ulil Abshar Abdalla, complained that the reasoning of the authorities made no sense:

They are criminalizing the victims, they’re letting violence take place.

Ulil questioned whether the FPI should be banned:

We all have to ask whether an organisation that consistently uses violence can be allowed to continue and cause disharmony in society.

Ulil Abshar Abdalla is the chairman of the Demokrat Party’s policy development division, was once a senior figure in the Liberal Islam Network/Jaringan Islam Liberal (JIL), and is a scholar of Islam. [2]

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Green Tourism Award Winners

Taman Nasional Tanjung Puting

Tanjung Puting national park in Borneo among the winners in the inaugural Citra Pesona Wisata (Cipta Award) tourism awards.

Registration for the Citra Pesona Wisata (Cipta Award) tourism awards was opened in July 2010, with 89 tourist sites from fifteen provinces being submitted; a verification team then narrowed the list down to fifteen finalists, five in each of three categories: government owned; privately owned by a company; privately owned by LSM’s or individuals.

The winners of the Cipta Awards for 2010, as declared by the Destination Development Directorate of the Department of Tourism at the Hotel JW Marriott in Jakarta on 4th November:

Government Owned Properties

  1. Taman Nasional Tanjung Puting, Central Kalimantan
  2. Tanah Lot, Bali
  3. Taman Laut Iboih, Sabang, Aceh

Finalists Ujung Kulon National Park in Banten and West Bali National Park were unplaced.

The winner, Tanjung Puting, is a 400,000 odd hectare national park under the control of the government of Central Kalimantan, the larger part of which initially received protected status in colonial times, in 1936, while in 1984 it was expanded to its current size and officially set aside as a National Park by the Indonesian government.

Tanjung Puting

About 14,000 hectares of the Park are set aside for tourism facilities, like the Rimba Orangutan Eco Lodge, where visitors can get up to close to the Park’s famous inhabitants – orangutans and proboscis monkeys.

Privately Owned (by companies)

  1. Elephant Safari Park, Bali
  2. Amanwana Resort, Moyo Island, near Sumbawa
  3. Kebun Wisata Pasir Mukti, West Java

Bagus Agro Pelaga in Bali and Sari Ater Hot Springs in West Java were unplaced.

The winner, two hectare Elephant Safari Park in Ubud Bali, is a commercially operated elephant theme park and hotel, which is a member of the World Zoo Association.

Elephant Safari Park

Visitors to the Park, which was opened in 2000, can go on an elephant ‘safari ride’ among landscaped botanical gardens, surrounded by national forest.

Privately Owned (by community organisations or individuals)

  1. Rinjani Trek, Lombok
  2. Sangeh Monkey Forest, Bali
  3. Penyu Berau, Derawan Island, East Kalimantan

Gili Trawangan Ecotourism in Lombok and Gitgit in Buleleng, Bali, were unplaced.

Winner Rinjani Trek Management Board (RTMB) oversees mountain climbing and other tourist activities at the 40,000 hectare Gunung Rinjani National Park in northern Lombok, where is located the 3726m high volcano Mt Rinjani, inside of which is the Segara Anak lake and an active volcano called Gunung Baru.

rinjani

For serious trekkers RTMB offers 3-5 day treks up to Mt. Rinjani’s summit, including the crater rim, Segara Anak Lake, and the hot springs and caves. Less sturdy travelers can take “soft treks” and walks over several days, which take in the fields surrounding the volcano, and in altitude terms only go as far as Pegasingan hill, at 637 m high.

Green Tourism Award Winners is brought to you by Indonesia Matters, where you can book flights in Indonesia, and features listings of Indonesian hotels, like Kuta hotels, Sanur hotels, hotels in Jakarta, and more.

Human Error & Train Crashes

In the early hours of October 2nd a high-speed collision occured between two intercity trains in West Java that killed 36 people and injured about 40.

Several train cars derailed and flipped after the Argo Bromo Anggrek, on its way from Jakarta to Surabaya, slammed into the rear car of a second train, the Senja Utama, which was sitting on the track at Petarukan station, Pemalang, Central Java.

Police Inspector General Iskandar Hasan said:

We suspect the cause was a mistake with track control, while the Argo Bromo should have gone onto the right track to overtake the Senja Utama, instead the Argo Bromo entered the left track and collided with the Senja Utama from behind.

The conductor/driver of the Argo Bromo, Halik Rudianto, has been arrested and faces criminal negligence charges, with Transportation Minister Freddy Numberi having publicly accused him of failing to stop at a red signal.

Meanwhile later that day in Purwosari, Solo, Central Java, another very similar accident occurred, with the KA Bima train crashing into the back of the KA Gaya Baru, killing one person and injuring four others.

It appears that the Gaya Baru train had not been properly ‘parked’, with its rearmost carriage still protruding into a track intersection, and the path of oncoming trains.

Some are blaming the mistake on the ‘tense’ situation at the station at the time of the accident, with hundreds of Persib Bandung soccer fans crowding the area waiting for the Surabaya bound KA Bima, obstructing and distracting railway officials. [1]

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Suryadharma Ali on Discrimination

Who is winning the race to build the most houses of worship: proof minorities are not discriminated against.

Suryadharma Ali

Suryadharma Ali

In the light of recent forced closures of churches in Bekasi and Bogor, West Java, minister of Religion Suryadharma Ali has denied that the law on the building houses of worship was discriminative towards religious minorities.

According to Ali from 1977 to 2004 the growth in Islamic places of worship was the lowest of all, with the complete figures being:

  • Hindu temples: + 475%
  • Buddhist temples: + 368%
  • Catholic churches: + 152%
  • Protestant churches: + 131%
  • Mosques: + 64%

The raw numbers as of 2004 stood at:

  • 640,000 mosques
  • 44,000 Protestant churches
  • 24,000 Hindu temples
  • 12,400 Catholic churches
  • 7,100 Buddhist temples

He said

You can see from these figures that the law is not discriminative, so please don’t get that impression.

Meanwhile on the recent stabbing of two Huria Kristen Batak Protestan (HKBP) officials in Ciketing, Bekasi, Ali said the matter had nothing to do with inter-religious conflict, but was a question of abiding by the law. [1]

There have to be rules. Don’t think that religious freedom entails that you can do whatever you please.

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Top Tweeter: Fahira Idris

The world’s most inspiring ‘tweeter’ is Fahira Idris it seems; her battles with FPI leader Habib Rizieq.


The winner of a poll on Twitter.com called “The Most Inspiring Tweeter” is Indonesian businesswoman Fahira Idris.

In the poll users of micro-messaging site Twitter.com were asked the question:

Who is The Most Inspiring Person on Twitter?

Winning 71% of the votes cast it appears Fahira Idris’s most inspiring ‘tweet’ to date to her legion of 9000+ followers and the one which sealed her victory was a status update in the general direction of the leader of the Islam Defenders’ Front/Front Pembela Islam (FPI), Habib Rizieq:

Dear FPI, apakah seperti itu Islam yang diajarkan Nabi Muhammad?
[Dear FPI, is that how Islam was taught by the prophet Muhammad?]

Which was likely in reference to the FPI’s recent attack on a congregation of the Batak Christian Protestant Church (HKBP) in Bekasi, West Java.

Fahira Idris

Fahira Idris, dialoguing with the FPI’s Habib Rizieq Syihab

Her initial ‘tweet’ sparked off much debate between her and FPI defenders, finally ending in a meeting between Fahira and Habib. [1]

The runners up in the poll were Diana Adams (@adamsconsulting), who has over 31,000 ‘followers’, and Malaysian internet marketing entrepreneur Aaron Lee (@askaaronlee), who has 140,000+ followers.

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Keong Racun: Sinta & Jojo

The variations of the “Keong Racun” song, Sinta & Jojo; Santo and Johan; the mystery bule version.


“Keong Racun” (“Poisonous Snail”), penned by Bandung songwriter Buy Akur, as lip-synced by Bandung teenagers Sinta and Jojo, the video below having gotten over 2.6 million views on Youtube since being uploaded a month ago; if views of copies are included the view count reaches around 5 million:

Thanks to the video the two 19 year old university students are now national stars:

And they have imitators, like “Santo and Johan”:

Their fame has reached abroad, modestly. The “bule version” of the song, features an apparently 6 year old and a 14 year old from an indeterminate European country:

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