Friday, 13 January 2012

Bogor Presidential Palace

This morning I went to the central post office in Jakarta, hoping that they'd have a neat philately corner that sells better postcards. Well that was a disappointing visit overall, but the old man who takes care of the philately shelves (SHELVES!) happened to have this card.



This is the Bogor Presidential Palace. It's not the main palace, because the main one is in Jakarta, whose name is Istana Merdeka (lit. "Palace of Freedom"). But this is the second in popularity after Istana Merdeka. I have had some luck to get inside twice. The palace itself is quite nice. It's white, clean, and full of artworks, mostly paintings and statues. Our first president, Soekarno, was a huge art fan. His favourite subject? Nude women. Tasteful nude women, I must say, because Soekarno was a painter himself so he must knew quite a bit about art. Additionally, he was much of a flirt, so I bet he understood one or two things about feminine beauty.

Si Denok, the most popular statue on the palace grounds.

A bit of history: The Bogor Palace was built on August 1744 during the Dutch colonial era. It was named Buitenzorg (Dutch: "without sorrow", after the French summer palace Sanssouci) and served as a retreat mansion for the Dutch governors. After the independence, it was largely used by Soekarno, and since then the palace has seen a number of international guests.

The palace has a vast front yard and an even bigger backyard, the Botanical Gardens itself (which merits a separate post). The front yard is filled with deer (and deer dungs). There are also foreign vegetations, gifts from foreign presidents, kings, and ministers. It's sunny and peaceful, very unlike the Jakarta palace. Of course, Indonesia being Indonesia, there are some local horror stories surrounding this palace; reputedly only our fourth president dared to spend a night there.

The deer of Bogor Palace. The large gap is to separate the yard from
the pedestrian outside a tall fence (invisible).

Inside the palace, there's the Hall of One Thousand Mirrors. It's really a pair of mirrors, but placed face to face, so that when you stand between them, you will have endless reflections. It's cool but kinda creepy.

If you happen to visit Bogor, West Java, I'd be happy to take you to see the palace. It's right across my old school so I used to pass it frequently (and still do, when I'm home).

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