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07 March 2021

Indonesia - Jakarta - MONAS - National Monument

Selamat pagi, that's the morning`s greeting in Bahasa Indonesia. Good morning.

Today it will be a bit philosophical ...

I invite you for a short trip to the southern hemisphere to Jakarta on the island of Java which, as you probably remember from this article, is the most populated island of the Indonesian archipelago.

Why philosophically? Listen up.


Living and working in Asia, moving between many countries over the past six years, I constantly wonder what all these countries have in common?

What is this "something" that makes when you stay a little longer here, you start to understand the culture, people, and at the same time feel comfortable in Asia.

There are Asian episodes in the biographies of many famous people, that I will quote Steve Jobs here. Many other famous people of broadly understood culture and art, politics and business left their country and came for several years in Asia to find a balance of soul, be inspired for the future and get moments of reflection. I must say there is something to it.

The differences between individual countries are obvious. Life is completely different in Japan than in Indonesia or Viet Nam. China, with its dominant position in Asia, has a culture different from that of humble Philippines or diverse India.

And yet. There is something in common between them. People are the link between all these countries, and at the same time their difference to Western society.

It's the people living in Asia that really make the difference. Their approach to life, the atmosphere they create, makes even foreigners like me feel at home after quite a short time.

Of course, in every country of society, and basically the people who create it, behave differently. They are distinguished by a different approach to everyday topics, religion or history, and yet they are nice, smiling, very creative and operationally capable of overcoming the problems of everyday life.

They are incredibly positive which is reflected in their daily activities. Regardless of the circumstances, the tragic tsunamis, typhoons, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are rising as people, as local communities and as large societies.

This, I believe, is anchored in history. Except for Japan, Korea, China and Thailand, all other countries were once colonies. This quest for independence has bound these societies for centuries.

The way I approach my own history and respect for what the country and society have achieved, I realized in several places.

It was Rizal park in Manila in the Philippines, Independence Square or Merdeka Square in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia or visiting Hue, where the Vietnamese emperors had their seats. In Manila, Kuala Lumpur and Hue, huge masts have been erected, on which the national flag proudly flaps. In Jakarta, it was decided to build a monument.



Merdeka Square

This is where the reflection came. Being in Jakarta, having a free weekend, I went to explore the city center. Since the skyscrapers of the business center are almost identical in all big cities, I decided to visit Jakarta's icon - Independence Square, called like in Malaysia, Merdeka Square. The similarity of names is not surprising. After all, both countries use an almost identical language - Bahasa.

In the middle of the great square you can see a huge monument standing.

It is a national monument of the Indonesians, called "Monas" for short, resulting from its full name Monumen Nasional.

When visiting Monas, attention is drawn to the huge space, beautiful greenery and places with smaller monuments and information, thanks to which you can learn about the history of Indonesia. In the article about colonial echoes in Purwakarta you will find a handful of information about the history of the country's creation. Hundreds of young people, whole families, walking around the area caught my attention. At the same time, they visit the National Museum, queue up to reach the top of the monument, where there is now an observation deck. It is also an opportunity to spend time with the family in a picnic mood, looking for refreshment among the numerous trees.

During my stay at the Independence Square, I realized that this is an element which, for me, is a link with Poland. It was my discovery.

In each of the countries I have visited, you can find elements of culture or history that bring our nations very close.

For example, the fact that Poles erected the Kościuszko Mound, that they raised funds for the construction of a mansion in Żelazowa Wola for Fryderyk Chopin or the reconstruction of the Royal Castle in Warsaw, is reflected in Asia by very similar activities. The nation simply consisted of such a monument or monument, the reconstruction of the square intended as a place to commemorate the most important event in the history of the country. I wrote about Independence Square in Kuala Lumpur here.

I have already written about Rizal Park in Manila in the article that you can find here.

You will find in it details about this famous fighter for freedom of the Philippines.

In this article, I would like to invite you to familiarize yourself with the history of a beautiful and very simple monument in Jakarta.




National Monument - Monumen Nasional, Monas for short, is a 132-meter-high obelisk in the center of central Jakarta. It is the national monument of the Republic of Indonesia, built to commemorate the struggle for independence.

After the recognition of Indonesia's independence by the Netherlands, President Sukarno began to consider building a national monument comparable to the Eiffel Tower in the square in front of the Presidential Palace.

Construction began in 1961 under the direction of President Sukarno. It was not an easy task for the young Republic, economically weakened by the war for independence.

A design competition was announced, but it was not going smoothly either. 35 and then 130 more entries were submitted, but none met the criteria set by the government. There were also problems with the lack of funds.

The tall monument embraces the philosophy of "Lingga" and "Yoni". The "Lingga" resembles an aluminum rice pestle and the "Yoni" rice mortar "lesung", two important traditional Indonesian tools. "Lingga" and "Yoni" also symbolize harmony, balance, fertility and eternal life. The symbol "linggi" represents masculinity, positive elements and the day. "Yoni" is a symbol that represents femininity, negative elements and night.

The monument consists of a 117-meter obelisk rising on a 45-meter square platform at a height of 17 meters, which is a kind of museum courtyard. The obelisk's surface is covered with Italian marble.

An interesting fact is the northern pond, designed to cool the water for the Monas air conditioning system and to enhance the beauty of the area. In the north there is a statue of the national hero of Indonesia, Prince Diponegoro, made by the Italian sculptor Cobertald.

In the outer courtyard surrounding Monas, there are reliefs depicting the history of Indonesia. You should start getting acquainted with the whole thing from the north-eastern corner. It describes the events of epochs such as the Singhasari and Majapahit empires. The reliefs stretch along four walls, showing the European colonization of the Indonesian archipelago, various popular local uprisings, modern Indonesian organizations in the early 20th century, Japanese occupation during World War II, the proclamation of independence and post-independence events. The bas-reliefs were made of cement, yet several statues are damaged and damaged by the weather.

The viewing platform at a height of 115 meters can be accessed by a lift. It holds about 11 people, so be prepared for a long queue. The highest platform can accommodate approximately 50 people. The total height of the monument is 132 meters. A ticket to the observation deck costs Rp 15,000 (adults).

Monas is crowned with a 14.5-tonne Flame of Independence, 14 meters high and 6 meters in diameter. It consists of 77 sections. Originally, the surface of the flame was covered with 35 kilograms of gold foil. During the 50th anniversary of Indonesia regaining its independence in 1995, another layer of gold was laid, which increased the weight of the gold foil to 50 kg. The obelisk and the flame symbolize the struggle of the Indonesian people for independence.



Visiting Monas

The observation point and other facilities are open daily from 08.00-16.00 (except Mondays). The entrance to Monas is about 100 meters on the north side of the monument. Visitors take the steps down into the tunnel that leads back to the base of Monas. There is a ticket office at the end of the tunnel (5000 Rp for adults, 2000 Rp for children). Tickets allow access to the diorama exhibition at the National Museum, as well as to several other parts of the facility. Entrance tickets to the viewpoint cost another 15,000 Rp for adults and can be purchased at the second booth after passing through the diorama display room.

It's best to leave early, preferably before 08:00, and go directly to the elevator to the lookout tower. The elevator can carry around 160 people per hour, so queues pile up quickly. The rest of the monument, including the dioramas in the hall below Monas, can be viewed later.

As you can see, the construction history was not smooth. There were ups and downs. There was a shortage of funds and it was difficult to choose a project, returning to the philosophical considerations. A visit to such places is a moment when I immerse myself a bit in the history of a given country, in the history of a nation, its culture. This is the moment when I begin to understand why people in a given country behave the way they do. Where does their curiosity about the world come from, respect for teachers or farmers? And it has little to do with the political system. The inhabitants respect their history and pay tribute to the heroes to whom they owe their independence. And you must know that for most Asian countries it is not such a distant time when most of them in Indochina were simply someone's colony.

Meeting local residents in a place where they feel relaxed also gives them a chance for short conversations, photos together, and a simple human smile.

This is the basis for establishing a short relationship, e.g. in such a park, and I must admit that I scrupulously use this mode of meeting people.

Thanks to this, I have many friends and even friends in various parts of Asia.

Be it the Philippines or Malaysia. Indonesia or Vietnam. China or Thailand. India or Japan.

In all these countries, I have friends I can count on. To whom I can call saying that I am coming and I am asking for care, accommodation or a joint dinner or a tour of the city. It is very nice. It gives a sense of security and at the same time fulfills my resolve, which I considered very important at the very beginning of my stay in Asia.




6 years ago I said to myself: Arek, you are a guest in this part of the world. No matter how educated or rich, "white" person. As a guest you must respect local culture, religion, history and customs. Smile at people. Be a guest who respects local customs, who shows a curiosity about the culture, religion and history of the country where you are staying. A person who is positive about the differences that divide us and at the same time a person who is open to sharing the knowledge and experience of a European.

I abide by this provision and so far it has had a positive effect in building my relations with the people of Asia.

The moment that really gives me great joy is when I meet young people who want to find out where I came from, what is my name, to see blue eyes and fair skin up close. It's always an opportunity to take a picture together and just, humanly, smile at each other. These are also happy moments when we try to communicate without knowing the local language, especially when local residents do not know English. These are truly unforgettable impressions. I am convinced that if I go back to Europe, I will miss this kind of situation. Nice days like the one in Independence Square in Jakarta.

After a day in Monas, it's time to head back to your hotel.

You can use public transport bus lines. There are two communication corridors in Jakarta near Monas - 1 and 2.

Stops - 6A, 6B and 9B for corridor 1, and 2A and 2D for corridor 2, respectively.

My conclusion after visiting the park on Independence Square is one.

Regardless of what country we represent, what religion we profess, we are a common race inhabiting the planet and it is worth that we respect each other.

This is the future of this world. Respect, cooperation and consent.

Thank you, cảm ơn, Terima kasih, 谢谢你, Salamat!


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