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Full Circle

Day 116: Bandung to Yogyakarta

Michael Palin - Full CircleMox Salvus Redeas - 'May you soon return safe' - is a fine motto for any traveller, especially for those, like ourselves, plodding round the Pacific Rim with many thousands of miles still to go, but it is not one I would expect to find in a hotel in Java. The words curl comfortingly round the top of an arch as you leave the Savoy Homan Hotel in Bandung. It is a colonial hotel and, as the Dutch were the colonizers of much of Indonesia, it is not surprising that its extraordinary art-deco design is the work of a Dutchman, Aalbers. Completed in the 1930s, the Savoy Homan's elegant lines and stylish decoration would not look out of place in the swankiest parts of Manhattan. In fact its current state of health is largely the work of an unflaggingly enthusiastic American, Frances B. Affandy. She describes its concrete curves as 'Streamlined Deco' on the outside and 'Tropical Deco' inside. She has restored rich, detailed decorative work, including a fine fifteen foot bas-relief mural, designed in the 1930s, which superimposes the brave new world of European technology onto a giant map of agricultural Java.

Colonial affinities still influence the patterns of tourism. As we leave, a group of Dutch people arrives. They stand in the lobby marvelling at the optimism of their forefathers. But it was only six years after Aalbers completed his work that the Japanese invaded. Here, as in the rest of South East Asia, the Japanese lost the war but dragged European colonial rule down with them. In 1949, defeated in a war of Independence, the Dutch pulled out of Java for good.
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  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 116
  • Country/sea: Indonesia
  • Place: Bandung
  • Book page no: 168

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