Festival Malang Kembali: Malang From the Past

It’s been a while ever since I wrote my last post, and after procrastination after procrastination, I finally able to write this one.

So let’s do a little flash back to avoid confusion.

Starting from June 2011, I had been living in a wonderful city in East Java called Malang. Without realizing it, I apparently have gotten more fond to this city more than I intended to. And I realized that only now because on the third week of June, I will have to move again to the bigger Surabaya. It’s only about 3-5 hours from Malang, really, but still, the thought of leaving Malang so soon makes me feel sad.

Anyway, another reason to love (and hate, actually) Malang is because every year, the city held an event called Festival Malang Kembali or also known as Malang Tempoe Doeleoe (the word “Tempoe Doeloe” is written in the old Indonesian spelling). The best English equivalent that I could think of is “Malang From the Past.” Why so? Because on this event, you could see street sellers and sponsor institutions or organizations recreate warung (a diner where they usually sell food at a cheap price, and the food sold is usually traditional food, or Chinese food nowadays) or buildings in a way that it feels like you’re back in the colonial and post-colonial era. Simply put: Indonesia from the past. Well, Malang, to be more precise.

Aye, THAT crowded.

So this event was held on 24 June – 27 June on two big streets (nearby my place, luckily) called Ijen and Semeru. The latter was, thankfully, only used for a few km. Apparently this event caused the traffic route to change as well because starting from several miles around those two were blocked, and this caused another street (also near my place) to be extremely crowded and even caused traffic jam (which doesn’t usually happen in a small city like Malang unless you’re lining up for the basement parking lot at the mall) because all vehicles were rerouted over there.

I was pretty excited about this event because, of course, what else could a person who always dream that time machine really exists other than reenacting the days from the past through this event? Although the event turned out to be quite different than what I had imagined, I did had a lot of fun. The event turned out to be a very, VERY big kind of pasar malam (translated literally to “night market,” which is indeed a market that usually opened during the evening and usually offers cheap food, drinks, goods, toys, snacks, etc), and a very crowded one, too. Of course the only difference is that the goods being sold were goods from the old times, the sellers were dressed in Javanese traditional dress, and their kiosk were built like Javanese huts or gazebo that you would usually see in the middle of a rice fields or in villages in rural areas. I’ll post a lot photos below, and you could see that they actually sold old coins and paper money, dating back to the era where the Kingdom of Majapahit still reigned (around 1293-1500; at least they claimed the coins to be from the Majapahit era) as well as newspaper dating back from the 1900’s. (I mean, where the hell did they get those!?)

“Ojo Dumeh.” A Javanese old saying. My Javanese is very poor, but I suppose it could mean “Don’t be (a) Proud (Person).” Feel free to correct me, though.
This reminds me of Japanese’s Hinamatsuri. The dolls, I mean. I guess if Javanese has its own Hinamatsuri, these would be the perfect dolls for display. This shows a Wayang performance, with the mastermind called “Dalang” responsible to move the Wayang as well as doing the storytelling. The other people around him are playing background music with Javanese traditional music instruments known as “Gamelan.”
A guys making a traditional snack called “Gulali” (sweets). Unhealthy snacks but we love it because the seller can shape the gulali into anything. In this picture he was trying to make a rose.
Another traditional entertainment known as “Topeng Monyet.” It’s actually pretty cruel, as the guy would chain the monkey’s neck and make them imitate human’s behavior with mini bicycles, desk, chairs and such. I once heard that the monkeys are treated cruelly in order to make them obey the masters.

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I was exploring the festival only on the night of the first day and the third day on the afternoon. Then I met this old man selling a toy kids used to play with in the past. I asked him–let’s refer to him as Pak S (FYI, ‘pak’ is how you refer older man in my country to show respect–it’s an abbreviation of “Bapak”)–about the toy because even though I recognize the shape, I never played with it when I was a kid. He told me it was his toy back when he was a little kid (he’s 72 years old now), and he was there in the festival only to sell those toys. On his usual days, he told me he’d usually stay at home with his family, and sometimes repair shoes in his workshop in Sukarno-Hatta (a street name in Malang) if someone’s shoes needs repairing. Anyway, I asked him what it is called, and he said something that sounds to me like, “Tulup,” but again, my ears might deceive me. Later I found out that it’s more famous with the name “Pletokan.” It’s a kind of toy gun made of bamboo. You put crushed papers or newspaper into both sides of the Pletokan, and then, with the thinner stick, you pulled from one side, and the paper on the other side would fly out, though it won’t be so far, really. He kindly showed me how to play with that, and he was so nice.

Pak S showing me how to use Pletokan

Since I’m moving to another city, this might be my first and last festival, although I wouldn’t wish so. But I’m glad that I took many pictures. I’m just hoping I could see another one next year, but we’ll see, aye?