Reviving Old Semarang

If you are interested in one chapter of the long history of “overseas” Chinese, I recommend reading this piece. When you’re about halfway through you will reach – “Bidding goodbye to Tjahjono, we headed south to Chinatown, another historic neighborhood Yogi was well-acquainted with. The Chinese presence in Semarang long predates the Dutch takeover in 1678, when the Mataram Sultanate ceded the important port town – along with the fertile Priangan Highlands far to the west – to the Dutch East India Company as a reward for its decisive role in crushing a major rebellion and restoring the Javanese monarchy.”

There’s a lot of worthy history here.

Plus Ultra

Barely a decade ago, the Old Town quarter of Semarang was a place best avoided after sundown. The former hub of trade and commerce in one of Indonesia’s greatest port cities had been slowly deteriorating since the seventies, as the ground sank and businesses decamped for areas less prone to tidal flooding. When darkness fell, its abandoned Dutch colonial buildings were taken over by squatters or used as places for prostitution. Unsuspecting visitors who walked the narrow, dimly-lit streets of the area would have rubbed shoulders with small-time criminals who made a living through extortion and common thievery.

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