Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by viravira on 24 March 2014 • Destination
People, it was so nice to be back in Tugu Hotel, I tell ya. This time I was staying there with Mumun, as a little detour from our excursion to Blitar. There were a lot of things I wanted to do on my first stay there but didn’t have enough time. So I was happy that I could have a history tour around the hotel, to see what’s really behind these antiques. Are they haunted? Are they real? You can always guess but why not hear it from the hotel’s side?
As I’ve mentioned in our old post about Tugu Hotel, they are teemed with so many antiques all throughout the hotel interior. But I could only guess what they were because I didn’t take the history tour. This time, Mbak Yudha from Tugu Hotel, took us around the property and explained the interesting backgrounds of their collection.
We were staying in Zamrud Suite, which is a typical of East Java traditional elegant atmosphere, combined with modern luxury. Again, we were astonished with the high bed, like the one we got in Hotel Tugu Blitar. The royals and the rich of the old days loved high beds. The one in Babah Suite next to our room was even higher. “It was designed a long time ago for the purpose of being safe when flood happened,” was Mbak Yudha’s explanation. Hm, residing in Jakarta that’s used to annual floods, I wonder which part of East Java had experienced flood long time ago and what had caused it.
The Raden Saleh Suite is just next door to us. The suite is named after the prince of Java, who pioneered the modern painting in Indonesia. His most known work is the “Capture of Prince Diponegoro”, which replica is hanged in the suite’s living area. It is one of the works that inspired the creation of “The Fall of Java” painting in Tugu Kunstkring Paleis. The suite is a pool of Javanese furniture from the 1850s, the era in which Raden Saled had lived in, including an authentic bed fram from the time, which was my favorite piece in the suite.
The most breathtaking room is the Apsara Residence. It depicts the romance of Apsara goddess, who was sent down from Nirvana, to be the beloved wife of Jayawarman, then a prince of Khmer. Upon entering the residence (get that? It’s much more than just a suite, let alone a room!), you’ll be welcomed by a red carpet, just like those in award events, that’s sprinkled with jasmine flowers. I didn’t even have the heart to step on the carpet ‘cos I was afraid to crush the flowers!
Beyond the red carpet, you’ll be walking through another door to the living room. Inside, there’s a small roofless garden, where Apsara flew down to Earth. On one of the corners, a canopied low bed is set with pretty cushions, as the site where Prince Jayawarman and Apsara met and first fell in love with each other. A romantically set dinner table is provided next to the bed, as is a bathtub that’s decorated so gorgeously. It’s separated by colorful curtains and carved double door, and the water comes out of a statue, because regular faucets are for regular people, not for a prince and a goddess.
As if that’s not overwhelming enough, there’s still another room in the residence, which is the main bedroom. The bed is about 2,5 meters wide, enough for a whole family of 5 to lie down side by side! And the headboard, oh my god! A fully carved wood, I can’t even start to imagine how much work has to be done just to keep it clean from dust! Little Apsaras are placed on the dining table, dressing table, and embossed on the stained glass door that separates the bedroom and the living room.
There are five dining places in Tugu Hotel. Five! Looks like they truly appreciate food, especially Indonesian. Some of the restaurants are connected to the meeting rooms, in which you can have your meals when they’re not in use for meetings.
The main dining area is Melati Restaurant, where breakfast is served. There’s not much history told about this restaurant, but when you enter the Sugar Baron meeting room, which is connected to the Melati Restaurant, you’ll see this painting of a Chinese-looking lady in white with her long black hair down to her legs reflected in the mirror behind her.
A lot of Indonesians would have chills seeing this painting because it reminds us of a scary mythical being with similar (meta)physical look. But she is actually a legend. Her name was Oei Hui Lan and she was the daughter of Oei Tiong Ham, the richest man in Indonesia in the 19th century, known as the Sugar Baron of the South East Asia. In the time where airplanes were rare, she and her family had become a citizen of the world and later married Wellington Koo, one of the founders of UN! No ghost story there!
We’re then taken to a candi. Yup, a candi is within the hotel! I was, like, “What? Is it allowed to include a historic building in a private property??”
But then Mbak Yudha explained that this candi is still in the progress of building, initiated by none other than Pak Anhar Setjadibrata. There are a couple of statues from Cambodia, I have no idea how they could have them moved there. And just before getting to the candi, there’s a capacious garden where people sometimes hold a wedding party. The roofed part is inspired by Gaudi. I’ve never seen Gaudi’s work directly, so here’s what Mumun thinks of it:
I’m not much to say about art, especially that correlates with Gaudi. But, I do see some resemblance in it. There were a lot of circular accents between intricate patterns. The blue also rang a bell. This hall reminded me of the of Gaudi’s house in Park Guell or Casa Batllo.
An antique shop slash boutique is located on one end of the swimming pool. It has various kinds of collection, from batik to tea sets and statues. This shop was made as an ode to a Chinese man who made a store around north Jakarta. Although I don’t remember the detailed story, I do remember the fact about the pillars within the shop, which were originally from the Chinese man’s store. And mind you, we’re talking about metal pillars. I know, right?
The items in the shop are no doubt interesting. A set of kebaya and batik cloth really caught my eyes, and I am not a big fan of batik. I’m not sure whether it’s the whole ambiance or simply the clothes that got me interested. But I didn’t end up shopping because, well, the kebaya top alone costs IDR 900,000 and the batik is IDR 6,000,000! Maybe some other time 😀
I find the whole historical background interesting. I see that a thing is often not just a thing, especially if it’s made with a purpose other than commercial, with high skill and then being cared for and displayed in harmony with other things. There are so many antique collections in Tugu Hotel that I wouldn’t know what they actually are if I only stare at them even for an hour. Just like in any gallery or museum, it’s always better to have a guided tour.
The tour around Tugu Hotel is free for any guest of the hotel. But if you’re not staying there, you can still sign up for a tour by paying IDR 50,000 per person. When you’re in Malang, I would totally recommend you to take the tour. I mean, how else could you know what Kubilai Khan is doing in one of their restaurants? 🙂
* The stay was a complimentary from Tugu Hotel, but the opinions are all our own.