Travel to Indonesia: Cerebon
Cerebon (pronounced Chair'ebon) lies about 125 miles east of Jakarta and has about a quarter-million people.
Early in the morning, Mt. Ciremai lies apparently tranquil. At just over 10,000 feet, it's the highest mountain in West Java.
You have to infer generously from the light poles and the fence topped with barbed wire, but on this side there's a fishing village; on the other there's a port unloading over three millions tons of freight annually, mostly coal mined elsewhere in the country and used by local cement factories.
The open sea.
A local market.
The entrance to Kratan Kasepuhan, the palace of the Sultan of Sepoeh.
His carriage. It takes beaucoup status to ride on the back of Garuda, Lord Vishnu's mount.
The palace wall. The lower courses are laid almost without mortar.
Some of the interior palace walls are trimmed with fragments of Chinese porcelain.
The local skill is woodworking.
A coffered or caisson ceiling.
The axis of the palace is not straight. The misalignment is deliberate and related (somehow) to the qibla, or direction of Mecca.
A heavily ornamented wall.
Approach to throne.
An adjoining, personal mosque.
The prayer niche or mihrab.
A screen in front of the mihrab.
Just outside the palace is a much larger mosque, the Masjid Agung Sang Cipta Rasa. Like so many other mosques, it is a social and relaxing space as much as a devoutly spiritual one.
The West arrived with the VOC or United East Company, which established a port here in 1865.
The railroad station.
The most important industrial establishment was the cigarette factory opened by the British American Tobacco Company (maker internationally of Dunhill, Kent, Lucky Strike, and Pall Mall) in 1924. In 2010 the company ceased production here as part of a global consolidation that cut 87 factories to 45 worldwide over the decade 2000-2010.
The Dutch established banks, too, like this one from 1863, the Rotterdam-based International Credit and Trading Association. Despite its name, the company did not involved itself much with credit for plantations. It did serve as the agent for the shipping line Rotterdamsche Lloyd.
The Bank Mandiri, housed in a building from 1930. The bank was formed in 1999 to replace a number of failed banks. One of those banks was the Bank Dagang Negara, formed in 1960 when the original occupant of this building, the Nederlandsch Indische Escompto Maatschappij, or Escompto Bank, was nationalised in 1960.
The former Javashce Bank, built in 1921. The bank, which functioned as the Dutch central bank, was reorganized as the Bank of Indonesia in 1953.
Yet another bank, this one in a slick Art Deco building. All these banks raise the discouraging point that Transparency International Indonesia in 2010 ranked Cerebon, along with Pekanbaru, as one the two most corrupt cities in the country. Cerebon was "filled with cases of corruption," it reported.
The town hall was another Deco creation, in this case with a raw concrete or beton finish.
Presumably yet another bank.
Moving right along, the biggest KFC you've seen this week.
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