Monday, December 31, 2018


It might be good to look back what I, on behalf of Heritage Hands On, have done in 2018.


In January went to Indonesia for an interception mission to prepare training programs in the period 2018-2020 in cooperation of Indonesia and the Netherlands. The first training was held 16-20 July in Yogyakarta and the second training 4-7 December in Jakarta.

I am happy to get involved in this initiative. I always think that museum's collections in Indonesia are amazing with high values in many ways. Nevertheless, in many cities museums still need a make over to be attractive places to learn and to enjoy. Six trainings in three years period can not guarantee successful make overs but at least we start somewhere to begin. 

Private museums in Indonesia are generally okay of presenting themselves to public. Some of them are even managed to be international class museums. 

Public museums especially outside the Capital of Jakarta face many challenges: rigid regulations, inadequate human resources and lack of passions. The last one is abstract but serious. How to trigger passions from government officers who are responsible to manage museums?


I visited Temanggung three times in 2018, simply as a visitor. It is because I am very atrracted to environmental, social and cultural friendly programs of Spedagi initiated by a friend of mine, Singgih and his solid team. They have been restoring and conserving natural, social and cultural resources of villages through an icon of bamboo bicycle called Spedagi.

Desa Ngadiprono as a case study of the village revitalization is a true conservation project based on local traditions and potentials. In my eyes, Indonesia should adopt a conservation method as Spedagi did in Desa Ngadiprono. Conservation in Indonesia shoul go back to local natural, social and cultural resources and values. 

The result is amazing! Forthnightly Sunday Market that generates income for the locals. International conferences with thousand inspirations and follow-up actions. Down-to-earth style local homestays. A traditional opera group with local players.

There is no need to reflect too much to conservation in Western countries or neighbouring countries, too, just manage what we have locally. Singgih said something that stays in my heart: "If a community takes good care of their environment, other elements automatically will follow. Quality of environment is a good indicator." I must agree with him after I saw Desa Ngadiprono. It takes a lot of efforts and commitments for the locals to transform their village into what they have now. They started by taking care of their bamboo jungles and rivers. The transformation creates a village that is clean, comfortable, green, authentic and attractive. The rest follows. 


I am enthusiast to see World Heritage Cities and Sites. It might be triggered by a trend in Indonesia to nominate cities for that status from UNESCO. This year I went the World Heritage Cities of Cartagena, Cuenca, Quito and Penang to check out what they are and what they do. I visited some World Heritage Sites as well in South America (Bogota, Cartagena, Medellin, Cuenca, Quito), Asia (Indonesia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Malaysia, Singapore) and Europe (Greece, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands).

I think cities in Indonesia should not conserve their heritage for the status as World Heritage City. The status is a bonus. Cities in Indonesia should learn from Desa Ngadiprono I mentioned above. Conserve natural, social and cultural resources first and foremost for themselves, the local inhabitants, the residents. Tourists and status will come automatically to a city that is unique, authentic, clean, green and attractive. 

Other point is that a nomination takes high level of professionalism and a very good governance of all city's stakeholders with capacities for making and implementing long term plans. This should be a challenge for cities in Indonesia.


My colleagues from iDiscover Asia invited me to join forces to produce heritage trails of Colombo, Sri Lanka in 2017. This year, November 2018, finally we delivered four maps and applications of historic neighborhoods: Slave Island, Cinnamon Garden, Pettah and Colombo Fort. 

The best thing of this project was that we learned to know and to work together with young, energetic, idealist and capable local Sri Lankans based in Colombo.


I tried to promote industrial heritage in Indonesia since many industrial infrastructures are now more than 100 years old. There are few conservation efforts but they are relatively limited compared to what Indonesia has. 

What I have done is promoting industrial heritage sites in Sawahlunto (2015) and Muntok (2018) through publications, conferences and trainings. I also encouraged Indonesians to join the establishment of ANIH, Asian Network of Industrial Heritage in Taichung, Taiwan, in May 2018. There was a delegation from Sumatra Heritage Trust because they were the only one who responded to the invitation. Other parties were too busy or had other priority. 

I also did researches on history of some industries in Indonesia: tobacco, sugar, coal and tin. I shared the results through articles and papers. I will continue my research to other type of industries and will organize programs to keep promoting industrial heritage in Indonesia.


The approach of HUL is introduced by UNESCO in 2011 and widely applied in the world. Indonesia is in a stage to get to know about the approach. Many parties, especially government agencies responsible for heritage conservation, organize trainings, seminars and events to introduce the HUL approach.

The approach is basically a conservation paradigm that values environment and surrounding areas instead of focus only to one single historical building. This new paradigm fits Indonesia very well since heritage movements in the country has been going through significant period in the last three decades. Indonesia has revised monument acts, certified heritage professionals, integrated heritage into national programs and many more positive actions.

For the gathering of heritage societies in Sumatra in 2018 we also decided to introduce the HUL approach to participants. Luckily, it was supported by many parties including UNESCO Jakarta Office. It was also associated with theme of industrial heritage since the venue was Muntok, a former tin mining town in West Bangka and the main sponsor was the state-owned company PT Timah Tbk.

The HUL Workshop and Training in Muntok last November led to many inquiries to organize a series of other HUL events in Indonesia in the coming years. 


For the first time I visited Kalimantan, the city of Banjarmasin in South Kalimantan to be precised. I met the Mayor, Ibnu Sina, and hosted by the Head of Tourism Development Division, Mokhamad Khuzaimi. The intention was to learn about tourism potentials of Banjarmasin.

This city is called City of Thousand Rivers and only in a short visit I couldn't agree more to that title. Coming from Amsterdam, I see clearly how water can contribute to city development and daily life of the locals. The truth is: rivers in Banjarmasin need more maintenance and caring hands. Simply starts from cleaning the city and the rivers, surely tourism sector will grow. Banjarmasin has all ingredients as a vacation destination, both short and long vacations. Nature, culture and history, all are there. 

I will be back to Banjarmasin. It is probably not only for tourism development but more to focus on my core business: heritage. To be continued. 

Thursday, December 20, 2018


I visited Banjarmasin, South of Kalimantan, 10-12 November 2018 to meet the Head of Tourism Development Unit of the Municipality, Mokhamad Khuzaimi or called Pak Jimmy. He is am enthusiast government officer who has a vision to develop Banjarmasin as a popular destination by developing its cultural and natural resources. I was be able to do this thank to invitation from my dear friend, Vera, a PhD candidate with research about landscape history of Banjarmasin. 

Rivers are obvious natural resources of Banjarmasin with ladies on boats selling local fruits and traditional delicacies. At the city center, tourists can enjoy meals and snacks all day long at weekends. Pak Jimmy has only one headache, how to raise awareness of the locals to throw waste into bins. What a pity. The beautiful and wide river with pedestrian area were polluted by rubbish everywhere. Sometimes I don't understand why the locals (and in many other cities, too) think so difficult to throw their rubbish into a bin. What is difficult about it? It hurts me to see rubbish everywhere especially plastics and styrofoam. We all know what concequences of them. 

Nevertheless, my adventure in Banjarmasin was very valuable. I was received by the Mayor, Ibnu Sina and got books about Banjarmasin as presents from him. Pak Jimmy took me to have a local culinary tour and showed me interesting places with heritage values. This city was amazing, it has traditional and colonial elements, attractive home industries (ships, handcrafts, textiles) and delicious food. He was right, this city has potential to be an unique destination but there are a lot of homeworks to do.

I delivered a presentation as well for various stakeholders that involve in the tourism industry of Banjarmasin. They were preparing a new regulation. I shared my vision about what tourism role in a city's economic, social and cultural development. My intention was to share an insight. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2018


Pan-Sumatra Network for Heritage Conservation (Pansumnet) is an informal network that existed since 1998. The members are more or less 14 heritage societies from all over Sumatra. There is no legal and formal  commitment, it is based on trust, friendship, volunterism and spirit of cooperation.  We had gatherings and trainings once a while, sometimes each year and there was a long gap, and we met again quite regularly. Nevertheless, many members play important role in their own areas to keep heritage movement alive and develop.

The Pansumnet spirit that encouraged me to keep the network alive this year by organizing a workshop for students and a training for professionals themed Historic Urban Landscape (HUL), in Muntok, West Bangka, South of Sumatra. HUL is an approach that has been introduced by UNESCO since 2011 to shift paradgm from a single building conservation into a conservation of buildings with its surroundings. Take a look at landscape, nature, people and many more than merely only a single building. Other  element why it is in Muntok is because Muntok used to be the largest tin producer in the world together with other tin mining towns in Perak State, Malaysia. I think this is an important industrial heritage of Sumatra, of Indonesia, of the world. 

We were lucky that PT. Timah Persero as the state owned company of tin production supported the programs which was coincidence with the 5th Anniversary of Indonesian Tin Mining Museum in Muntok. There were many more important stakeholders that supported the programs both from Indonesia and abroad including WHITRAP (the World Heritage Institute for Training and Research for the Asia Pacific Region) based in Shanghai under the auspices of UNESCO. 

It was so joyful to meet Hongky Listiadi in Pangkal Pinang again after a gap of almost 20 years. Hongky is one of the motors of heritage movement in Bangka Belitung Island. Now he has renovated his family's Chinese Mansion in Pangkal Pinang, brought it back to its grandeur as a clan pride and opened it up for public as a cafe with its famous Bangka coffee and the Peranakan toasts. Hongky was one of the speakers during the HUL Training sharing his stories as an investor. 

We met Fofo as well in Pangkal Pinang who turned a former office of PT Timah Persero to become a supermarkt and a cafe with original and traditional culinaire richness of Bangka Belitung. We promised to assist Fofo for developing a heritage trail for Pangkal Pinang and its rich history. 

In Muntok, we were charmed by footprints of tin industrial heritage and its potentials. So many things can be developed in this town for economic, social and cultural development. Most participants, who were not only from Sumatra but also from other parts of Indonesia,  had fun to explore Muntok and brainstormed about many aspects in the frame of HUL Approach. At the end of the training, we produced suggestions based on various angles for Muntok such as its water potentials (river, port), green lung (parks, natural resources), economic potentials (tourism),  infrastructure and governance. 

What we have done was a tiny dot but hopefully it will be followed by more tiny dots in Muntok and elsewhere in Indonesia. At the end, all tiny dots will be significant mass that will color heritage movement in the island, in the country. This tiny dot we needed to keep the pulse of heritage movement in Sumatra and in Indonesia alive. 

Workshop HUL for students, 4-6 November 2018

Hongki Listiady in front of his Chinese Mansion

Fofo was explaning about the food and his vision 

HUL Training 7-9 November 2018

Thursday, December 13, 2018


I revisited Penang 16-20 October 2018. The last time I was there about 18 years ago. Meanwhile Penang (and Melacca) have gained a status as World Heritage City.

I had a privilege to stay in Sun Yat Sen Museum, 120 Lebuh Armenian, belong to Khoo Salma Nasution. She and her husband, Abdurrazaq Lubis, are old good friends of mine. The building used to be the Penang Branch of political party of Sun Yat Sen, the Father of Chinese Revolution in 1911 and later became the President of the country. It is a beautiful Chinese mansion with openings in the middle of the house, elaborated carvings and original indigo blue painting. I slept in one of the bedrooms at the second floor.

In about four days I explored mostly the core zone of George Town. It looks almost completely new to me, more small private museums, more cute cafes and bistros and surely more tourist attractions like souvenir shops and boutiques. On the other hand, it has also plenty of local small businesses. They are far from fancy appearances. They are sweated hard working people. 

George Town offers many vacant shophouses as well. Signs of "to let" or "for sale" are everywhere. I was attracted to this struggle of typically new world heritage city. A decade after gaining its status is a critical time for local stakeholders to determine direction of city's development. Will it be a lively combination of old and new inhabitants, will it be a tourists packed city center like a living museum with few locals only, will it be still loved by the native inhabitants?

Just few minutes walking distance from the core zone, in a quiet and half emptied shopping center called Komtar, I saw something interesting, though. I wouldn't dare to imagine that in this place that I could learn about the Outstanding Universal Values (OUV) of Penang and Melacca as World Heritage Cities. Wow....I wonder, how many visitors stop and read these relatively serious text? But I put a thumb up for the effort. You never know.

Sun Yat Sen Museum

Tuesday, December 11, 2018


Taiping is one of the greenest city I saw in Southeast Asia. Large parts of the city are gardens with old trees. It was so comforting to walk along these gardens. I was here on Sunday, 20 October 2018, with Taufik, a local guide, and Law Siak Hong, former President of Perak Heritage Society. I wanted to observe Taiping as one of the former tin mining capitals in Malaysia.

I was organizing workshop and training in Muntok, West Bangka, Indonesia, about how to develop Muntok as the former tin mining town. Observation of Taiping (and other former tin mining towns) will be useful and informative, not to compare each other but to get insights and various angles.

In Taiping area, we visited the Perak Muzeum that showed nothing at all about tin mining history of the region, Kerian and Larut Dan Matang, a cute small town, and Kamunting areas. 

Layers of history are relatively obvious in these places although new development such as houses and shopping malls press history deeper to the bottom. Former tin mining are usually covered with water and muds become open spaces waiting for investors to cover them and transform into new functions.