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One day aboard KRI Dewaruci EINDHOVEN (THE NETHERLANDS) - It was about a week ago, at a Saturday morning, that I was thinking about whether I should to all the way to Amsterdam to have a look at some boats, because that's in fact wat Sail 2005 had to offer, a long line of boats, moored to the city's cays. Most of them open for public, so ordinary people were also able to take a look aboard. One of those ships was the Indonesian tall-ship KRI Dewaruci, a ship that is used by TNI-AL (The naval forces of the Indonesian Army) for training purposes. I hadn't seen the ship before, but going there just for that is a little too much. A quick look at their website and I wrapped up my stuff to go out anyway.

Arriving at Amsterdam's central train station, I could already see some of the big ships moored along one of the cays. There were more behind them but I could not see them at that moment. I soon discovered that the Indonesian tall-ship was located at the end of the route, almost 5 kilometers ahead. I had to plan carefully since I wanted to have enough time to take a look at the ship. Unfortunately I didn't have a clue how much time I would need to visit some of the ships I had in my mind and some of them which were named in the booklet. Maybe three hours including a lunch break?
Soon I discovered that most ships already had queues like in a theme park. I wasn't going to line up for most ships as they just didn't seem to be interesting enough for me. I visited Hr. Ms. De Ruyter, a Dutch naval ship. I visited it just for the record. My bag was checked and I had to give up my bag upon entrance. Next to it was the biggest tall-ship at this event, the Russian Kruzenshtern. The queue was already too long, so I skipped, but my fear to arrive 'late' at Dewaruci, had decreased to almost zero by now.

With my knowledge of the Indonesian language, not that much, but enough to understand a conversation between a bunch of people that never met before, I was spending my time in front of the ship. The entrance was blocked with a sign 'crew', so I just had to wait until one of the crew showed up to let me on board. Soon I discovered that it wasn't going to happen like I hoped for. No guests allowed until late in the afternoon. The fact that I asked the crew in Indonesian helped me getting an answer, others were mainly ignored.
A handful of originally Indonesian people met in front of the ship and got into conversation with each other. Where they came from, why they were here and eventually what their names were. By that time, I had already jumped in to ask around about the time ordinary people would be allowed on board. One of the crew had joined the group conversation just before. He told us that it would take around five. This happened in between a general conversation about how the weather was and where he could buy some vegetables.
The supermarket was right around the corner and it was reasonably priced as well, but the guy told he brought most of the food from Indonesia, many sacks of rice in the ship. Cigarettes and water. As if water here can't be consumed, how they had to know? Of course he didn't. After a while the guy ordered someone one the ship to get drinks. Within a few minutes another crew member, in thick sweater, gloves and hat showed up with a thin plastic bag as I only used to see them in Indonesia. In it were eight cups of Aqua water, the smell from the diesel engine had spoiled the water a little, but hey.. who cares?
One hour later, still in front of the Dewaruci, we were still chatting. Every once in a while a crowd gathered in front of the boat, because members of the crew were performing a little show with dance and music. Today no climbing in the ships masts today, probably because a fall would not be in the water, which is a little more painful. Above all there was some wind as well. But there were enough other things to look for. The Indonesian ship was probably the only one playing and performing at this show, at least they kept on doing it for hours on an end, which is indeed worth while a big applause every once in a while.

Then the guy that was talking to us, shouted to one of the crew again, he was later identified as the singing colonel. He wanted to invite some people on board and after some more words a big guy came down to arrange some things.
"Only Indonesian people are allowed now," were his words.
In one way or another, I wasn't amazed at all, but the others protested somewhat telling that they weren't Indonesian as well. Soon the fat guy changed his words by telling that only people that spoke Indonesian were allowed.
"Thanks man!", and within a few minutes all eight of us were on board, as a semi-VIP, because the sign 'crew' was still there, leaving all other people off the ship for now. It was about one o'clock and the boat would not be open for other visitors until around eight, and not five, as I was told earlier. That would mean only a handful of people was allowed to spend their time on the ship. Above all I didn't know what was coming as well.
After some chatting with members of the crew, I didn't know what rank, but they all seemed to be as important as the other with their colourful costumes. Funny to see the difference with -- for example -- Dutch navy. Every once in a while we were able to get a drink, for free of course, since we were invited. In between the chit-chat, drinks, a cigarette, performances were still given.

After he was introduced, I had to think about Wiranto, the singing general. I still don't know which is the best, but this colonel sure wasn't bad.
After he was introduced, I had to think about Wiranto, the singing general. I still don't know which is the best, but this colonel sure wasn't bad.

As it got later and later in the afternoon, the sun started to shine, making it even more nice to be on a big boat. Around me I didn't hear much different than what I would hear when I'm in Indonesia. I heard many people speaking Indonesian, and when I looked around, I saw Indonesian people as well. It was a pleasure to be here for sure. Every once in a while a ship passed making music, or the people were waving at us. The crew waved back while pointing at some of the typical Dutch women, mostly with highly blond hair and bigger breasts than average.
Somewhere in between all the chit-chat, there was also some spare time to have a small ceremony. This ceremony included two guests from the Dutch Red Cross ship Henry Dunant, as they were rewarded for their good actions by the Indonesians.. I had a short flash-back to a time when I encountered several money-gathering events in Bali early this year. All for the Red Cross. For only Rp. 4000 your donation would be rewarded with a sticker as well. Af first I was scared it was a big police check, since traffic had stalled about two kilometers before the spot. Police was there to overview the event and direct every vehicle right towards those who received the money.
After handing over the reward and hand shakings, a traditional dance from Papua was performed by the crew for the guests. After that a Balinese dance was performed by a person that lives in Amsterdam, as the colonel told us. The colonel did the entire speech, and closed it with the line that made the ship cheer. There would be more music, people were allowed to sing along and some traditional music was to be performed. The volume went to a maximum soon after and I realised this was Indonesia as well.

The colonel itself, started the evening with some lyrics from a copied booklet which I had in my hands as well. I passed it round as more people wanted to recommend songs to the person playing the synthesiser. When a song was finished, people on the ship as well as ashore applauded loudly. Yeah.. that feels like Indonesia to me for sure, even though here people will only see the positive things of Indonesia.
After the first recommended songs and dances, there was food for everyone aboard. A rice dish with a snack and a drink. Of course for free, since we were VIP's at the ship. Indonesians and queues don't go together, so I took a little preparation by handing out plastic plates to the people I just met earlier that day. A plastic fork came with that as well, and a paper napkin. Then it was just a matter of getting there first. Covered behind the first people I found my way to the nasi goreng, krupuk, saus and lemper was available. After I got what I wanted I made way for the herd of Indonesian guests and staff behind me.
Soon someone discovered that there was fresh baso on the other side of the ship. The other half of the guests had already gathered there. This was a little more tricky, since bowls and spoons were china not plastic. But here, the same happened, someone passed a bowl and spoon to the others while waiting for their chance to get a spoonful of meatballs.

Before I really realised I was in my train back to Eindhoven. The first part I travelled together with someone I met just hours before. Just chit-chatting a little bit, but before we both were finished, the train stopped in Utrecht, where he had to get of. So long...

Take a look at the photobook
One day aboard KRI Dewaruci



Posted in Military @ 29 August 2005 by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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