Back to Malang
It was on the 30th of September that we went looking for the plantation Bendoredjo, but as expected, the plantation didn’t exist anymore. There was nothing left of my uncle Pierre’s house.
The road from Blitar to Malang was beautiful, back in East Java, back home.
But I didn’t recognize my town when we drove into Malang, I felt completely lost and disappointed. My friend Agnes who had been there in 1988 told me that when you walk through the streets, it will all come back again.
Julius brought us to Hotel Splendid, a very cosy family hotel just opposite the “Balai kota Malang” meaning the town hall from Malang.
From there on I began to remember, this was the hotel where my parents, Henny and I had stayed for several days in 1936. Agnes was right, when we walked through the streets in the afternoon, I found my much-loved town Malang back again.
We went to TOKO OEN to eat and drink something. This was the restaurant where I had asked my parents in 1936 if I could to go to school in Malang and if I had to go to a boarding house in this beautiful town. I felt it all over again; oh yes, this was the town I loved above all other towns in the world.
Many foreigners visited TOKO OEN, there were several Dutch but also some Australians. Many happy memories came back, just as if I was walking through a dream yet this was only the beginning.
We woke up at 5 o’clock the next morning since there was some loud military music been played in front of the town hall. After a shower we had breakfast in the garden with all sorts of birds around us. There were very nice people, mostly very young staying at the hotel. Breakfast was really good, and very tasty.
After breakfast Julius was waiting to drive us to Batu, a very beautiful place in the mountains. Before World War Two, my parents ordered some apples and pears from Batu once a year.
The climate was just right for this Dutch fruit. I never told my parents that I preferred the nice and sweet Indonesian fruit.
After Batu we went to Selecta another beautiful place in the mountains. I have been there several times before the Japanese occupation. It has a nice swimming pool and a very beautiful garden. The garden looked even more beautiful than I remembered, Julius told us that the owner was a Chinese. I saw many orchids in all sorts and colours in the garden and many lovely birds as well, while the three of us were sitting and enjoying our cup of tea. I kept on thinking that it couldn’t be real, that it was all happening in a dream.
Being back in Malang, back to all those places where I grew up, was too wonderful to be true. Those volcanoes, all those flowers and plants, and the pleasant scent in the air, everything around me made me feel at home again.
In the evening we went back to town, there were lights everywhere, the town looked very pretty. On the bridge over the Kali Brantas, the river from Malang, stood many bookstalls. Mostly with schoolbooks but also with quite some old books. We even found some very old Dutch books and dictionaries. Several Indonesians started talking to us and wanted to know where we came from, they asked us if we liked Malang and if we were coming back next year. It was nice talking with them.
When we came back to our hotel Splendid several guests were drinking a beer or something else and since it all looked so cosy we decided to join them.
Tomorrow I will visit the Lowok Waru prison, the place where my father was killed.
I knew that visit was going to touch me deeply, I had to be brave.
Julius, our wonderful driver and guide
The Town Hall from Malang
TOKO OEN before the Japanese occupation
TOKO OEN today