Historic Indonesia hotel packed with local flavor

Fri Jan 23, 2009 4:52am EST
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By Julie Shingleton

JAKARTA (Reuters Life!) - Few travelers choose to stay in Kampung Bali, one of Jakarta's oldest and little-known districts, but for guests seeking a taste of traditional Javanese culture and a little less luxury, there's Wisma Garminah.

The family-run bed-and-breakfast hostel is barely ten minutes from central Jakarta's modern and glitzy center with its luxury multinational hotel chains.

Soemarno Sosroatmodjo, Jakarta's first governor and a close friend of Indonesia's first president, Sukarno, could not have foreseen that the home where he once entertained top officials and dignitaries would one day become a bed-and-breakfast.

"One day, my father's friends asked if they could pay him something for his hospitality as they frequently visited Jakarta, and that is how the business started," said Karma Widjaja Sosroatjmodjo, the son of the first governor and who now owns and runs the homestay with his wife Heri.

"I get to meet so many people. I to get to know more about the world, more about people, more about what they think about Indonesia; and then we can give them information back about us Indonesians too," added Sosroatjmodjo, who is fluent in Dutch and English and wears a traditional Indonesian cap.

"So for us it's very enjoyable to have guests, especially foreigners," added Sosroatjmodjo, also know as Wede.

The hotel is filled with old Javanese furniture, from wooden carved gates in lieu of entrance doors, to Madurese bridal beds and coffee chests, placed around the two-storey colonial house.

Traditional instruments are everywhere; there are Dayak tribal costumes, daggers and shields from Borneo and old pictures of the family and their visitors adorning many walls.   Continued...