European Invaders

The Indonesians still have a thing against the European invaders. It must have been due to those Dutch people who used to be the overlords in Indonesia. A lot of monuments have been built all over Indonesia commemorating their struggles for independence. In surabaya the most famous was the Heroes Monument (Tugu Pahlawan) which is the most well known of all heroes' statutes all over the city. Surprisingly it is not as big as you thought or even not as ornate or decoratve as you expect it to be. Its simplicity says it all.

Another monument is the Red Bridge (Jembatan
Merah) where apparently the bloodiest battle in the history of Indoesia took place - the Battle of Surabaya. Near the Red Bridge is the China Town where it is only open at night, during the daytime, it is a very busy trade area. The China Town surprisingly is known as Kembang Jepun in Surabaya which literally means Japan Blooming or if you want to be a bit insulting the Blooming Japanese, read in the spirit of anti-invaders, this may be it.

One celebrated hotel is the Mandarin Oriental Majapahit Hotel. It's one of four of a kind hotels built throughour the region. The others are Raffles Hotel in Singapore, Eno Hotel in Penang and one more which I can't remember. The Surabayar one had a bitter history known among others it used to be known as LMS, Orange Hotel (orange being the Dutch colour), Yamato Hotel, Hoteru Hotel and used to be the European and Netherlands center and during the Japanese occupation became a Japanese centre as well. Apparently sometime in 1945, there was a 'flag incident' when the Indonesians tore the white, red and blue of the Dutch flag to become the white and red of Indonesia. This incident made the Netherlands very angry.

Of course, the clincher of anti-Europeans are the labels in my hotel room at the Shangri La Surabaya. The first is the label in the bathroom above the washing basins. The label says 'tap water not recommended for drinking' which is obviously the hotel politely telling you, if you want the drink the water from the tap, go ahead, but we are not recommending it. The label was bilingual. The Indonesian version however says a more sternly 'tidak layak diminum' - translated as 'unfit for consumption'. That's like a major difference between "not recommended for drinking" (not drinking is optional) and "unfit for consumption" (there is no choice)! Whereas the label near the kettle - "we recommend you use the tap water in the kettle" - that same unfit for consumption water. I guess that's the Indonesian way - we hope you get sick drinking our water - serve you right for invading us all those years ago.


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