National Geographic : 1948 May
Screen Traveler from Gelnreau Floral Wonders Surround the Governor General's Snow-white Palace at Buitenzorg Victoria water lilies, with pads like floating piecrusts, and lotus plants adorn the reflecting pool. Japanese scientists used laboratories of the adjoining Botanical Gardens during the 3-year occupation of Java. The mansion, neglected during the war and the ensuing conflict between Netherlands and Indonesian Republican forces, recently became headquarters of the Dutch garrison of Buitenzorg, 30 miles south of Batavia. and equipped with a bewildering variety of uniforms and arms, most of which appeared to be of Japanese origin, they slouched and swaggered about the platform, apparently enjoying their military role. Long Hair a Badge of Patriotism A few youths here, as in many parts of the interior, had let their hair grow long to fulfill an oath taken early in the revolution not to have it shorn until independence was won. For a foreigner, it was hard to tell whether some of these "long-hairs" were boys or girls. An efficient-looking functionary, indubitably a girl, inspected the credentials of all who alighted from the train. The guards and the girl, I was informed, were among numerous students released from their studies to help keep governmental services running. All morning our wood-burning locomotive with its Indonesian crew pulled us at a fairly good speed across the great coastal plain of Java, rice bowl of the Netherlands Indies. Green, flooded rice fields stretch to the sea on the north and to the rugged mountains looming on the southern horizon. Immense labor is involved in planting and reaping such a vast area, since each stalk of young rice is pushed into the soft muck singly by human hand and cut by hand when it ripens-exactly the same way it was done two or three thousand years ago. Fishing in a Rice Field Occasionally we saw a fisherman standing motionless with bamboo pole extended and a heavy string dropping down into the nearly full-grown rice. The crop largely concealed the stagnant water, which is very shallow but nevertheless contains small fish that form a welcome addition to the peasant's almost exclusive diet of rice and fruit.