Amsterdam view from Amsterdam Tower

Amsterdam view from Amsterdam Tower
The view from Amsterdam Tower

Saturday, October 22, 2011



My last visit to museum in Jakarta was to Fatahillah Museum (Batavia Museum).  All my life in Jakarta, I visited this museum twice only.  The first one was during a school trip many years ago.  The second one was during my Dutch friend’s visit to Jakarta.  If he did not request for this specific trip, I would not have thought to go. 

Fatahillah Museum, Jakarta

The official name of this museum is “Jakarta History Museum” (Indonesian: Museum Sejarah Jakarta).  But it is also known as Fatahillah Museum or Batavia Museum.  It is situated in the Old Town (known as Kota) of Jakarta, Indonesia.  The building was built in 1710 as the city hall of Batavia (Jakarta).  Link to Fatahillah Museum: and

It is still clear from my childhood memory that there are underwater rooms underneath the museum.  They are actually cells which located beneath the front portico were used as dungeons.  A Javanese freedom fighter Prince Diponegoro, who was treacherously arrested, was imprisoned here in 1830. Takut banget deh ngebayangin penjara bawah tanah ini....

Cannon in front of the museum

I like the public square in front of the museum.  The square is now known as Fatahillah Square (Indonesian: Taman Fatahillah).  It reminds me of Dam Square in Amsterdam.  Dam Square has frequently been the location of events of all kinds, and a meeting place for many people.  There were some performances like singer/guitar performance, pantomime artists, etc.   Just sitting there, watching people passing by, acting like a fashion police - was quite entertaining.

If we stand in the main gate of Fatahillah Museum and look at the Square, we will see Café Batavia in the opposite side.  It is a nice old building from the colonial past in 19th-century.  First floor is as a coffee shop and upstairs for dining.  This place considered as one of the hottest places to hang out the 90’s.  It is still nice to go there for afternoon coffee after visiting the Museum.

Cafe Batavia at the opposite of Fatahillah Museum

Going back to Fatahillah Museum, during regular weekend, we can rent bicycle (such as sepeda onthel – this type of bicycle was commonly used in most cities in Indonesian until the 70’s) to go around the ‘old town area’ or just to take pics.  In some other weekends, there have been events held in Fatahillah Square.  I think they were held during the Jakarta Anniversary Day or Indonesian Independence Day. Let’s dream big - Jangan mau kalah sama Dam Square, Amsterdam!  Taman Fatahillah itu sesuatu banget lho...

Crowds during a bazaar at one Sunday afternoon

May my personal wish came true as this museum will be closed for two years to allow for conservation work to be carried out on the badly damaged museum complex.  Conservation work will begin in 2012 and is expected to finish in 2014.



As far as I recall, my first visit to museum was when my teacher organized a day trip.  I was maybe 11-12 years old.  I vaguely remembered exactly when and what we did the whole day.  But I remember we visited Satria Mandala Museum or Armed Forces Museum.

This museum is the nearest to our school anyway.  I could even go there by cyclo!  It is located in Jalan Gatot Subroto, one of the main business streets in Jakarta business district.

This museum was opened in 1972 and has collection of arms, including Japanese fighter planes of World War II vintage, Russian and American guns and armored cars.  Dioramas give the visitor an insight regarding the role of the Indonesian Armed Services in this country.

Another part that I remember clearly about this school trip; my mom purchased a small thermos for me, so that I could bring cold water.  Thanks Mom, it took years to say this to you.

Mom..., this little girl has grown up from an ugly little duck to a beautiful swan.


I started to like museum only after I grew older. Is it a matter of getting wiser or because I know more interesting museums?  

Fine Arts Museum

I have not visited enough museums. Others would have visited many more than I have had. However, I am still keen to write this story in order to overcome my guilty feeling of not being able to visit more. 

There are two museum buildings in the museum area

Let me start from the last museums I went in Saigon, and going backward to the first one in Jakarta (please refer to MUSEUMS (part 2) – JAKARTA) – which is not a long list!).

When I visited the Fine Arts Museum by myself, I had to rely on the ticket girl to take my pic. Just a standard pose.


Location is very strategic i.e. within walking distance (< 10 minutes) from the Ben Thanh market.

Different parts of the museum

I visited this museum twice during my two month living in Saigon. The first time I went there, I was by myself. The second visit was when my two Indonesian girlfriends came to town and it was more fun! We took turns taking pics of the three of us -:). Thanks girls!

Prior to my first visit, I only knew that the museum occupies an old beautiful French style building. Indeed ‘she’ is beautiful. LOL… The building is so feminine “to me”. As it was built by the French, I give ‘her’ a female identity….

Main lobby, just right after the entrance

I walked around the museum building, did ‘sweeping’ from the ground to the third floor. I love the ground floor area where there are many lacquer paintings. It opened my eyes about Vietnamese lacquer paintings. I am not sure the right translation of ‘lacquer’ to Bahasa Indonesia, menurut internet terjemahan lacquer yaitu pernis atau lak tapi kita pakai kata lacquer aja yaa... Anyway, going back to lacquer paintings, there are many beautiful ones in this museum. I spent some time to stare at them. Paintings about people and the day to day life amazed me the most.

The building is very much French style. The stairs to second and third floor seem like stairs in Europe. There is a wooden lift that does not function anymore, but it is still fascinating to me.

Looking down at the stairs from 3rd floor (left). The old wooden lift (right).

The building corridors are beautiful... There is a corridor at the back building on second floor which was painted in lovely abstract green. My girlfriends took many shots at this area -:)

Museum corridors. Different area has different types of tiles. Voila!... Corridor looks nicer with someone there.

During the second visit, my girlfriends and I bumped into some young Koreans sailors in their white uniform...  We could not resist of not taking pics with them...! They were friendly and willing to take our pics as well-:) PS: taking pics in this Museum is allowed but no flash, that’s the info from the lady at the front door.

This is my favorite art work displayed at the museum yard

As value-added point after visiting this museum, it is worth to cross the street toward Le Cong Kieu. It is a small street, a joint Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street and Pho Duc Chinh Street. There are antique shops along this street offering an abundant choice of antique from colonial and pre-colonial times. Even Mrs. Hillary Clinton visited this street.  I could say to everyone now that I visited the same street in Saigon as Mrs. Clinton did!


Museum of History, Ho Chi Minh City


The first time I went to “Zoo and Botanical Garden” in Saigon, I noticed an old building on the left side right after the main entrance. It is where this museum is located. As additional note, right across the entrance of the museum, we can also see the beautiful Temple of King Hung Vuong which is dedicated to the ancestors of Hung Vuong, the founding king of Viet Nam.

Temple of King Hung Vuong

The museum building was opened in 1979, and occupies a building constructed by the French in 1927. It is a nice museum that starts with early stone tools and ends with the French period. It has everything from Roman coins to cannons, including items from the ethnic minorities.

It is interesting that there is a mummy room in this museum! It is the Xóm Cái mummy from Ho Chi Minh City. In 1994, at Xóm Cái, District 5 in Ho Chi Minh City, a mummy was discovered in a rather big 60 square meters.  The corpse was buried with the style of traditional Vietnam; in a coffin, on a sarcophagus, with full of shroud and grave goods, and soaked in red solution. If you see below pic, please guess why I could not take a closer one; because I am a chicken. I was frightened. Takut!

Xom Cai Mummy, Ho Chi Minh City

Museum admission ticket in Saigon is relatively inexpensive. Ticket to enter this museum costs 15,000 VND. They do allow photos, but we have to buy a 30,000 VND camera ticket in addition to the admission ticket.

Vietnamese Water Puppet at Museum of History, Ho Chi Minh City

There is a regular performance of Vietnamese Water Puppet. Additional ticket is required and can be purchased in front of the performance room. I watched one show in one afternoon, it just happened there was a group of college students – I think they are Malaysians – because I heard them talking Malay. 

People behind the scene of the Water Puppet

The show was held in a pool which I thought less than 10m x 10m and around 0.50 deep. Pool is surrounded with three rows of wooden chair for the audience. Be careful of sitting in the first row which is closer to the water, you might get splash… The show was performed by six persons. Each plays different type of puppet. The puppet is made from wood shaped in different character. It is a standard shape either human or animal.  I could not really tell the story, as even though there was some sound of the presenter but it was all in the local language. The Vietnamese music is used for background.

There is souvenir shop inside the museum sells Vietnamese handicraft and small place where we could have cold soft drinks.

Nice decoration on top of one of the doors

Leaving the museum, I noticed there’s a huge vase on the left side of main entrance door of the museum (i.e. it is at the right side before you get in). I love this vase which was made from 200,000 of coconut scoops! It is equivalent to eight tons of raw coconuts. H: 3.62m, D: 2.55m, W: 623kg. Four stories of the Hung King period and six modern figures were expressed on the vase.

"Huyen Su Doi Hung" Vase (left). Noticing the vase closer (right)

Like this corridor, left side of the main entrance

Monday, October 17, 2011

Cham Museum (Da Nang Museum of Cham Sculpture)

During my 3 day 2 night trip to Hue and Hoi An last September, I passed Da Nang. Its location is within 100 km of several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Imperial City of Huế, the Old Town of Hội An, and the Mỹ Sơn ruins. Da Nang is the largest city in central Vietnam and one of the country’s most important ports.

It was raining when I arrived at the Cham Museum. Still the museum attracted quite a number of tourists including three Indonesian whom I met at the ticket counter. Small world… Anyway, perhaps Indonesians are not stranger to Da Nang, as I found out from the history that the city’s origins date back to the ancient Champa Kingdom, established by Indonesian settlers in 192 AD. Click this link for more info:

The Museum

The museum is officially known as the Museum of Champa Sculpture. It is a nice museum building which first building was opened in 1919. 

A little bit history about the kingdom of Champa; it was an Indianized kingdom that controlled what is now southern and central Vietnam from approximately the 7th century through to 1832. See more info on Champa kingdom:

Entering the museum, I started seeing beautiful sculptures. They somehow remind me of Museum Gajah in Jakarta, Indonesia. 

The museum collection was begun by French archaelogists and experts from L’École Francaise d’Extrême Orient (EFEO). Some artefacts were sent to Paris and others to the Ha Noi and Sai Gon (now Ho Chi Minh City) museums, but many typical objects were left in Tourane (now Da Nang).

There are so many goddess sculptures in this museum. They are beautiful!! The word “goddess” represents beauty to me. Could it be that those goddess sculptures were made based on real women as models in that century? 

This is my favorite goddess sculpture. She is very pretty and elegant in her pose.

There are lots of Garuda bird sculptures. I am interested in Garuda bird as the national emblem of Indonesia is called Garuda Pancasila. My favorite Garuda sculpture is this Garuda and four-head naga. In Bahasa Indonesia, naga means dragon. So a Garuda bird carries a “four-head dragon”, doesn’t it symbolize its strength..?

This museum trip was not too long, as I had to continue to the next one. Personally, going to a museum is as a refresher to my school lessons, to test my history and geography, oops...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Hue and Hoi An (Part 2 - Hoi An - The Ancient Town)


History: In the 16th and 17th centuries, Hoi An was the international trading center in Southern Vietnam. Right in this town, Japanese, Chinese, Dutch, Indian traders set up their emporiums or established their town quarters for permanent habitations.

The town is now a wonderful living museum of architecture and urban life style.


As part of my 3 day 2 night trip to Hue, I included a day trip to Hoi An. It is a long trip from Hue to Hoi An via Da Nang. Not to mention that it was raining since I woke up. More water than the previous day and it continued all the way from Hue, Da Nang and Hoi An.

My original travel itinerary was to drive to Lang Co Beach Da Nang through Hai Van Pass. However it was changed to Hui Van Tunnel. The hotel staff did not recommend driving through Hui Van Pass due to heavy rain. Being unfamiliar to the area, I had to respect to that decision.

Hai Van Pass has beautiful scenery which reminds me of Puncak in West Java/Indonesia. However the twisting road on the pass has long been a challenge for drivers traveling between the cities of Hue and Da Nang. More info on Hui Van Pass:

However, as I had to drive through a tunnel…. Voilà… The tunnel is 6.28km, lies on highway 1 between the two cities of Danang and Hue in central Vietnam. It was officially opened in June 2005. 3G signal works at the front and end parts of the tunnel by the way, no signal in the middle. More info on Hai Van Tunnel:

Indeed the rain continued, no way to see the beautiful mountains surrounding, but I still enjoyed the greenery view, residential areas, open field which I assume they are rice fields, farming areas, animal farm, people in the raincoats and traditional hats and of course the fog…


My driver for the day is Thanh. He is young, polite and speaks very decent English. During the peak season in Hue, he drives tourists from Hue to Hoi An (just exactly like my itinerary) twice to three times a week. We talked about Hue, Da Nang and Hoi An. Answering to my query, he said that distance from Hue to Ho Chi Minh City is 1,000 km and it takes 18 hour to travel by train. It is a single track railway, the train has to stop and wait for other to pass. He also told me that Hue and Hoi An is 130 km and it takes 3 hours to drive due to the rain and road condition.

Due to rain, another itinerary had to be changed. No point to stop at Lang Co beach in Da Nang. Passing the beach along on the left side, I could see the foggy beach, strong current, dark clouds in the sky and strong winds… I am sure that Da Nang beach is very beautiful in dry season.

Da Nang city looks cute in the drizzling morning. There is a long street that reminds me of Hai Ba Trung Street in Ho Chi Minh City. The street has many shops: florists, church, clothes, banks and a cute Pizza Hug restaurant -:)

That is all I could say about the city, as I only drove through.


Kota tua ini sungguh menakjubkan, luar biasa! – This ancient town is very astonishing, remarkable!

I underestimated myself by only having 3 hour trip in Hoi An, as it is part of the day trip from Hue. As the minute I walked into this ancient town… I realized that I should at half a day and preferably until the dark comes. Never enough to admiring this town.

My mind wondered around; I was confused about where to start my walk, which place should be visited first, how did people use to live in those years? Oh no…it rained again, where my driver parked his car - otherwise I would not be able to find him, oh God - I was physically tired but at the same time I was so excited, how big this place is,…. also I was confused how to take pictures. On top of that, deep inside my heart, I regretted traveling by myself – first it is because this place is so bloody damn romantic even during the day! – Second reason: who would be patient taking my pictures? -:)

My driver parked his car at the Tourist Service Office. That is the limit of where he could go to the area. No car/bus is allowed to get into the ancient town. I like this idea as it is one of the ways to keep the authenticity of the town.

At this Tourist Service Office, I purchased a ticket of 90,000VND which includes five tickets to enter special historical buildings. There are some types of tickets; we can walk around the ancient city and visit the buildings with no additional charge – and there are some other ancient buildings require additional charge/ticket.

Finally I started to walk… Unfortunately I found this Hoi An map after the trip, however it is still worth to be shared:

Hoi An Market

Visiting a market is a good idea to start my walk! LOL… Rain was following me or I was following the rain, no one knew.

The market is still functioning as a market with shops, buyers, sellers, tourists, etc. This fact astonished me. This ancient town is an active town with all of the day to day activities, but with the fact that it is an ancient town that started to rapidly develop since the 16th century.

Tan Ky House

It is an old house and was built nearly 200 years ago. The person who built the house was a Minh Huong (a Chinese native) who came to Vietnam to do business in the 17th century. Seven generations of owners have successively lived there.

The house has been lovingly preserved and today looks almost exactly as it did in the early 19th century. The design of Tan Ky House shows some evidence of the Japanese and Chinese influence on local architecture. 

See this link as reference:

Nha Tho – Tran Family’s Chapel

It is a place for all family members of the Tran clan to worship their ancestors. Tran Tu Nhac, an intelligent mandarin who lived during the reign of King Gia Long (around 200 years ago), built this house.

Annually, all of the clan gather in the house, in front of the altar to show their gratitude and piety towards their ancestors and to pray for happiness. On this occasion, they recall the past, discuss the future and teach their offspring to do good things. The meeting is organized in a joyful and warm atmosphere. Parents educate the children about the clan's traditions.

There's a souvenir shop at the hack of the chapel. I bought a compass in a shape of a turtle. One of the ladies who guided me in the chapel explained that turtle is a symbol for longevity.

House for Ceramics Trading

Apparently ceramics have been actively trading through Hoi An. History says that Hoi An port town and the “Silk road” and “Ceramic road” on the seas attracted lots of merchant boats form China, Japan, India, Thailand, Portugal, Holland, Britain, France...

No wonder there is a “House for Ceramics Trading”. There is a souvenir shop in this house selling ceramics and other types of souvenirs of which I bought myself some ‘very small’ cutlery. It just happened that I needed that thing to hold the chopsticks.


Another way to keep the authenticity of this town – instead of light, lampion is used in the evening. They are hung in the streets and buildings. This is the reason why preferably it is better to stay until the dark comes.

Walk Continued

I just walked, took pictures, took deep breaths, opened my umbrella when it rained and closed it when it stopped, and walked again… I saw many attractive building such Hoi An Museum which is petite and beautiful, many souvenir shops, food sellers selling Vietnamese donuts, General Assembly which was founded as a place to hold community meetings… I passed a small bridge – the bridge has unique gates at both sides of the streets and it has roof top…. I walked inside the gate to the other side of the street; I had interesting feeling and felt the spookiness. 

Then I returned back to exactly the same the street that I previously took – because I was tempted to grab a bite at the restaurant a few block before I saw the bridge. Fried Vietnamese spring roll was yummy – especially I was tired and it was a good idea to sit down and cool down…

While sitting in that restaurant, I saw many tourists walking around and some of them rode their bicycles, very rare I saw people on motorbikes. There were two men pushed a wooden trolley full of wood and the road climbs up. Right away two young men in the road voluntarily helped them to push the trolley. That is the spirit of the people living here.

I looked at the map given by the Tourist Service Office, there is apparently a well-known Japanese Covered Bridge. Is it the one I visited before? Somehow I was not sure and I wanted to go back after finishing my spring roll…

Mmm… I went back to the bridge and I tried to peep from outside, nope, it is not the same one as the Japanese Covered Bridge, so where is that bridge? Mmm… I think this is the bridge but silly me I just could not take nice picture from outside as my legs did not want to move…

I continued my walk by turning to the left as I saw a river. There is another bridge passing Hoai river. It is an open bridge with no roof top. But this bridge has lampions hung along the side. 

On both sides of the road, separated by a river, there are restaurants/coffee shops where people can sit outside enjoying the view…. In between the restaurant there are gallery/shops… Some boats and fishermen were in the river. This view is gorgeous…

There are some performances around town which unfortunately I could not enjoy. The Hoi An Art Craft Manufacturing Workshop has morning and afternoon sessions for traditional music show. Hoi An Traditional Art Performance House performs folks songs/dances and traditional music presentations in the evening. In some performances, visitors have to dress decently, sleeveless blouse, drawers and over knee skirt or dress are not welcome inside the show places.

As I continued walking and rain poured again, I decided to stop and overcome my caffeine addition. I stopped at a coffee shop, ordered for cappuccino and sipped it while observing the rain and witnessing how lovely the ancient town of Hoi An is... 

That day, throughout the morning, I had to cancel some travel itinerary due to rain, my legs were tired, my left shoulder hurt for carrying a camera – all of these paid by joy being able to visit Hoi An. If there is a second chance to revisit this town, I would take it in order to take nice pictures of and with the Japanese Covered Bridge…. Normally good people deserve second chance. Hoi An, till we meet again.

Some websites of Hoi An for reference: and