New Pages: July 2011

Monday, July 25, 2011

Muntok - Old Lady with Trace of Beauty and Charm part 2

Walk the City, then you will get the soul…

...and you may find more hidden beneath...

Filled with otak-otak and es kacang, we continued our walk around Old Muntok.

Few houses from Petak 15, there is a weird signboard : "Lorong Babi".

We laugh at the funny words in the beginning and follow the direction it shows.

We found a newly built kiosk in a dead-end narrow alley.

In there, 3 men are selling pork. They were smiling and told us to come in.

I asked them if this place is new and they approve.

"We are moved here when they (the government) move the old market to the new one across the river"

I could see the new market from their stall…across the river.

All of you are not joining the others to the new market?

"No, this is the location for us"

I didn't ask further. It is clear to me.

Johannes Widodo, our Keynote Speaker, coined "Meeting Pot" for Muntok. According to him, differences for centuries manage to live side by side in Muntok, without trying to convert each other. Islam is Islam, Buddhist stays as Buddhist, and so on. "Melting Pot is not the right phrase for Muntok" he added during his lecture.

Lorong Babi shows different condition. The Melting has just started.

I can't dismiss the thoughts of threaten pluralism in Muntok.

Walking out from Lorong Babi feeling slightly sad, I moved on towards the sea.

Petak 15 is in dead end road. According to Ai Nie before they could directly access the beach. Houses are now blocking the view.

I walk a little further into the houses then I saw a middle age lady waving at me from her window. Her house is a semipermanent wooden house.

She was kindly asked my origin and what I was doing in Muntok.

Conversation started and I could tell that she is a Javanese from her accent.

I asked but she said,

“No. I am originally from Mentok”

I told her that I heard strong Javanese in her accent.

Later on she explained that both her parents are Javanese but she is no longer a Javanese since she was born in Muntok.

"Saya orang Muntok asli. Suami saya Cina asli!"

(I am real Muntok. My husband is real Chinese) she said lightly and pointing to the veranda where her husband was working on something.

I took a peek to the veranda that faces sea, yes her husband looks very Chinese with dark skin.

This old wooden house own a great view to the sea which rich people from Jakarta will pay trillions rupiah to have a house like that.

I wonder if this couple enjoyed the view, too.

I always trust that in daily life people can embrace differences. Some even do not recognize its existence. Things get worse when a higher level –whether government, political parties, religious leaders –sometime teachers do!—interfere that innocence with their unnecessary worries on differences.

Issues on religious or race intolerance have been there for long in Indonesia. In these last few years, this issue is getting more transparent after democracy. Political Party with strong religious sentiment starts to openly criticize activities and culture that is not inline with certain religion, although most of them have been part of Indonesia richness since time of our ancestor.

Acceptance of differences even appears in Bugis historical epic I Lagaligo.

Sawerigading, son of Batara Guru and ancestor of Bugis people , tied knot with a Chinese princess, We Cudai. La Galigo is their son and become the center of this long epic.

This epic shows for centuries diversity is part of our inherited culture.

All political leaders and government should position their policy and decisions carefully within this given context.

And in my opinion, Lorong babi shows Muntok new city leader has taken a not-so-smart first step to deal with this.

to be continued

Friday, July 22, 2011

Muntok - Old Lady with Trace of Beauty and Charm part 01

My trip to Muntok is made possible by mAAN.
This year the design workshop subject is Mentok (or Muntok) a Tin Mining City.
Some background of the workshop can be found in mAAN Mentok Tin Mining City Design Workshop official website.

Muntok's golden moment was back in 18th century until the day of New Order, where national development was centralized in Java.

Similar to other places outside Jawa, Muntok losing its importance, despite its richness as on of Tin mines in Bangka Island.

Yesterday I didn't manage to walk around the city much. Yet, thru stories from Brain Team we can quickly assume the city loses it's main energy: Youth.
*it will be really nice to have more facts from detailed demography statistic data...I will post it as soon as we get the data.

Before discuss further on this assumption, I should underline that Muntok has important role in Indonesia Tin Mining Industry. Tin Mining sector considers as the largest contributor for this city income.
With total area of 436 km2, PT. Timah area covers half of the land for their factory, port, offices and settlement. Around 700 people are fulltime worker in this company and about 255 people works as PT. TIMAH outsource.
*imagine other supporting sectors like retail shops and market to support their daily needs*

Yet, we are informed that in 10 years time, there will no more tin in Bangka.

So Muntok, not just losing its youth also its income.
Meanwhile, a city needs economic resources and productive age to ensure it sustains.


This morning I took a walk around the old city of Muntok.

We started with a delightful breakfast at a coffee shop in Petak 15, down south nearby the old port.
*trust me, coffee shop is the best place to get local information, gossip or facts its your ability to classify*

We are lucky. Not just the food and coffee are good, shop owner daughter was there and willing to seat and share her views about her hometown.

Her name is Ai Nie. (asking age is never in my agenda, but I predict she is in her late 20s)
This mother of Joshua (easier to ask little kid's age, he is 3 y.o) is just visiting Muntok to accompany her mother while her father is away for medical check-up.

She moves out the city since senior high and continued her study in Jakarta. Meeting her husband in Jakarta, she now lives in Gading Serpong, Tangerang.

My main intention is to cross check my assumption on 'brain drain' issue in Muntok.
She approves it (yey!!) by saying it is a 'mindset' of young Muntokers (let's put it that way) to leave the island and chase better future in Jawa (mainly Jakarta and Bandung).


hmm... there is no choices for better higher education (Bingo!) around here.

But there is Universitas Sriwijaya in Palembang?

I think it is also part of our mindset, that to get better future we need to be out of this city. Many of my friends now are successful in Jakarta or Bandung. They have more choices to be creatives.

That is part of our conversation with her... I'll upload the voicenote *still finding way to do it* soon.

Ai Nie is a full time mother that has big concern on children education. She is now doing homeschooling not just for Joshua, but also some other kids (the haves and the have-nots) in her garage in Jakarta.

The way she tells story about her small 'school' (she calls it 'bimbel') shows her passion.
(back to Muntok) She then mentioned lack of better education not just for higher education but also for little kids.

According to her, this city is now mainly consist of both old and very young children.
It is a good idea to give intention to young kids education in Muntok.

She told us story of her childhood memory of Muntok. The coffee shop where we eat stands at riverside next to the estuary. According to her, it was mangrove site years ago, until the city build new market (Pasar Baru) on mangrove site leaving nothing but narrower river. River water was clear back then, where she and her brother loved to swim and do fishing.

*she is willing to look for old pictures...that's also another Bingo!*

After meal, she showed us their back of house with direct connection to the river. River condition is sad: sedimentation from mud and waste piles up, no more clean water, no more childhood fun.

*luckily, it is not yet as smelly as Cikapundung or Ciliwung*

She took us to her neighbour house, an old chinese not-yet-renovated rowhouse owned by an old man (I predict he's 80s) lives there with his grandchild. All rooms are still as it was. The wooden porch on riverbank is old but still can give us idea on how it was during old days.

I imagine the old man used to sit on the porch drinking tea watching kids swimming in the river... what a gracious picture.

We continued our trip, but before that I asked Ai Nie last question if she is willing to attend our mid-crit to give us (the outsiders) feedback on our proposals. She is eager to do that...and I am getting more excited to continue this workshop.

to be continued.