Janjang Ampek Puluah, Integration Manifestation in Colonial Era

Moving from Bung Hatta Proclamator Monument Park, I moved down along Istana Street, across Plaza Bukittinggi, greeting Gadang Clock Tower, treading on Minangkabau Street and then entering Cindua Mato Street.

A step later, I entered Pasar Atas. Most of stalls were still closed because I was too early to visited it. There was nothing I could do, only a few stalls which were preparing to open, marked by its owners who was busy arranging their trade goods.

Quiet.

Now I was at a gate with a view of steep steps, two tigers guard it on either side, while at lower end was seen a bit of trading crowd, maybe that was Banto Market.

I slowly descended while my mouth muttering count numbers….It’s true, forty steps. These rows of stairs are known as Janjang Ampek Puluah. It is said that forty symbolizes number of Niniak Mamak members.

Legendary connecting stairs.

Brilliant thinking for Louis Constant Westenenk (Agam Resident Assistant/Controleur Agam) who collaborated with Niniak Mamak (Minangkabau Customary Institution) in sparking an idea to integrated of Pasar Atas (Upper Market) – Pasar Bawah (Lower market) – Banto Market in early 20th century. At that time, Janjang became a popular facility in market connectivity. The thinking power of leaders at that time was really squeezed in order to organize Bukittinggi city which had a hilly and uneven topography.

I arrived at lower gate with four poles and European style, also with a large signboard “Janjang Ampek Puluah“. After all, I finally knew that this lower gate was a new construction, complementing the upper gate which had already existed.

Colonial style lower gate.
The Lower Gate was seen from T-junction of Pemuda Street, Perintis Kemerdekaan Street and Soekarno Hatta Street.

While at inner side of lower gate, there is an inscription which contains a brief history of legendary Janjang existence as high as 5 meters and 4.6 meters in wide which was built in the past.

I was still staring at the elegance of this colonial era integration facility, while residents seemed to be moving up and down at Janjang. I really didn’t want to leave this area quickly, stunned to think of how form of this area when Janjang hadn’t been built, maybe where I stood was still in the form of steep hills which separating three market activities.

Janjang Ampek Puluah is just one of many Janjang in Bukittinggi. Apparently Colonial Government was quite serious in integrating all city economic spots at that time. You need to know that there are still Janjang Saribu, Janjang Koto Gadang and Janjang Pasanggrahan in the town which called as Fort de Kock in its past time.

At outer side of gate, public transportations start to generating city pulse. The appearance of imperious Banto Trade Center increasingly shows that the surrounding area can be relied upon as a driving force for city’s economy.

Okay let’s continue….If you go straight ahead, what else is there?

Bung Hatta Proclamator Monument Park and Its Unpretentious Story

One hour I have peeled heroic story in Unknown Hero Monument. Now I would study other history in a different park. It’s precisely east across of that dragon-shaped black monument. Only need to cross for a moment on Istana Street.

From a signboard display at park front gate, apparently West Sumatra was preparing to hold a race series belonging to Union Cycliste International on a week ahead.

The 9th Tour de Singkarak, the fifth ranked bicycle race in the world.

Climbing twenty-two black stairs, I reached park courtyard. Named as Bung Hatta Proclamator Monument Park, this park features a intact statue of Mohammad Hatta in his four-pocket safari dress who with his charisma waved his right hand toward a T-junction of Istana Street, Haji Agus Salim Street and Sudirman Street.

Park front gate.

If I had been under road surface when I was at Unknown Hero Monument, now I was high above road surface when I visited Bung Hatta Proclamator Monument Park. Two days exploring the city, it began to realize that I was sometimes briefly down, then suddenly I was on high. It isn’t Bukittinggi if it don’t like that.

Face to face with Bung Hatta.

Looks behind the statue, there are three wall pages which tell the story of a character struggle whose real name is Mohammad Ibn ‘Atta.

On the first wall page, you can see Bung Hatta’s life in his simple house, Hatta story who studying Islam at Batuampar and then continuing his education at MULO (Meer Uitgebreid Lager Onderwijs).

On second wall page, It is tell about a time when Hatta led “Perhimpunan Indonesia” Organization in Netherlands when he studied.

The first and second pages are on right side of Mohammad Hatta statue.

Third wall page is a beautiful period when Hatta managed to proclaim Indonesia independence with Ir. Soekarno on August 17th, 1945 until his struggling from one negotiating table to another negotiating one for world’s recognition of proclaimed independence.

And like a normal scenario, fourth wall page is Hatta’s retirement from his political world to the time when he received an award from President Soeharto (The second president of Indonesia).

Third and fourth page.

Streets have seemed crowded with activities, one by one residents who were exercising seemed to visit this park to just cool down after jogging, sat relaxed at park and took a picture with Bung Hatta statue which became pride figure of small city of Bukittinggi.

The park still looked wet as rest of heavy rain overnight.

Just thirty minutes for me to visited this park. I would continue Bukittinggi exploration by visiting Janjang Ampek Puluah, a connecting market link which is quite famous in this city’s tourism.

Sudirman Street situation was starting to get crowded with vehicles.

Come on….Continued to walk again….

Staying at De Kock Hotel, Hunting the Gadang Clock Tower

Driver: “Donny, just get off here, okay? This car will turn to right, then car will run further away from downtown“.

Me: “Oh Okay, Uda. No problem for me

I was lowered by Annanta Travel on Veteran Street, I sat for a moment and stretched muscle stiffness after sitting in the back seat for eight hours. The white statue of Tuanku Imam Bonjol on his horse became the first sight which entertained my arrival in Bukittinggi. The “Paderi War” Leader spreaded charisma, valiantly without sound.

T-junction of Veteran Street, Pemuda Street (left) and Ahmad Yani Street (right).

After two days felt scalding heat in Pekanbaru, now I enjoyed Bukittinggi’s cool air. Now I was free to direct my camera to every where without sun sting. I had to occasionally stop because city contours which are up and down, making me gasped for breath with backpack’s burden on my back.

Entering Teuku Umar Street, which began to decline.

From a distance, I continued to look each other with a young blond girl who was sitting to enjoying the afternoon on big motorcycle. I predicted that she was precisely sitting in front of De Kock Hotel where I would stay in it.

It was true, arrived right at the big motorcycle was parked, I was confronted to hotel lobby in the form of a cafe, then young girl followed me and hurried to reception desk. It seemed like she was a hotel staff on duty that afternoon.

I would sleep on second floor of that simple dormitory.

Me: “Hi. Were you in Samosir four days ago?, I think that we stayed at a similar hotel, Bagus Bay Homestay”.

Noah: “Oh really? Yes, I was in Samosir four days ago”.

Me: “I’m Donny. I am an Indonesian traveler. What is your name?”.

Noah: “I’m Noah form California”.

Me: “Are you on vacation, No? What do you do in America?”.

Noah: “Yes, I’m on vacation. I am an engineer at oil company. What is your job in Indonesia? “.

Me: “Marketing”.

Noah: “What marketing?”.

Me: “I work in field, meet customers, and sell products”.

Noah: “Oh, you aren’t marketing. You are a sales. How about your income? Good income? I work with good income but with high risk in America … hahahaha”.

Me:” Yes, of course, I’m a salesman. I got a lot of money from my work”.

That was Noah, my new friend in Bukittinggi. Incidentally we were the only two who staying in the dormitory room with five single beds.

—-****—-

I sat in the lobby, a medium-sized bottle of Coca Cola managed to freeze my sweat after walking in a kilometer. That afternoon I intend to visit Gadang Clock Tower which is only half a kilometer to northwest of hotel.

Around 17:30 hours, I started to moving and carrying camera towards Gadang Clock Tower. I chose to walk through Yos Sudarso Street which tends to be flat and then descending on Istana Street.

Novotel’s old building.

Directly across from Novotel is Bukittinggi Plaza. I just quietly stood in mall courtyard to enjoy the beauty of Gadang Clock Tower. Sabai Nun Aluih Park, which was under the clock tower, was covered with a tight project’ iron sheeting. Apparently, There was park renovation.

96-years-old clock dedicated to secretary of Fort de Kock (old name of Bukittinggi).

As its name “Gadang” which in Minang language means “Large”, this clock tower is twenty-six meters in high with four 128-years-old twin clocks which was directly brought from Rotterdam via Bayur Port.

Operated by a Brixlion engine whose its twin is in Big Ben, London.

Was designed by Radjo Mangkuto, Gadang Clock Tower was made with 4 levels. The lowest level is the officer’s room, second level contains a clock’s ballast pendulum. Clock is placed on third level and the uppest level is tower top where clock’s bell are placed.

I was happy, being able to see Gadang Clock Tower which since I was a little boy, I only knew it through my elementary school textbook.