The Underdog

Gunawan explained to us that when he got into Perkutut competing he was ambitious and ridiculed.   But as he started picking up trophies the ridicule stopped and he became sought after as  a breeder.    He was given the nickname “MTG” which stands for “Maju Tak Gentar”  a battle cry during the fight for Indonesian independence from the Dutch after World War II.  It means “go forth without fear” and is now the name of his bird farm.


Gunawan said that he used to be an angry person until he fell prey to the dove’s soothing songs.  Now as head scheduler for the Javanese Perkutut organization and with a farm of over 100 birds he has lost his anger.  And it shows, Pak Gun cracks jokes all the time and his entourages love it. 

His generosity is immense,  Pak Gun has loaned Kian and me a driver  and SUV for a few days.  Jaiya, the driver, lost his job at Dunkin Donuts in the Asian economic meltdown of the 90’s.  He asked Pak Gun, his aunt’s neighbor, for a job and has driven for him ever since. 

DSC00989 DSC01038

Yesterday Jaiya drove us to Taman Mini Indonesia Indah (Beautiful Indonesia Miniature Park)

Ostensibly, the park is a 250 acre monument to Indonesian culture and industry.  With pavilions like the “Gas and Oil Industry Museum”,  TMII tries to cover all bases. 


There is even religion-land, where a fantasy mosque rises next to the Haleluya Protestant Church and the Santa Katherina Catholic Center.  What I suppose was meant as a streamlined Singapore-styled declaration of Indonesian unity and progress has morphed into an almost post-apocalyptic series of independent villages.  Each has its own security, live-in caretakers and share of crumbling concrete.  The place is also very crowded.  We arrived at 7:15 on Sunday morning and we waited 45 minutes in traffic to get in. 


The park was founded by Tien Suharto, wife of the former dictator, and its populist mission endures.  The entrance fee is low and it is Indonesia’s number one domestic tourist attraction.  Oddly, except for the occasional glimpse of my reflection,  I saw no apparently non-Indonesians. 

We headed for the Bekisar center looking for the competition. The SUV parked in front and we found two guys hanging around inside the office.  “Oh,” one of them explained, “that was postponed until next week.”  The curator was happy to talk to us, but had to change his shirt first. 

Under a big screened in dome, with flapping decayed plastic on the top, lived these amazing roosters.  Green-jungle fowl – the old forest dwelling chickens – mixed with black roosters, white roosters, skinny-necked roosters and beyond. (You can tell I’m an expert.)

DSC00890 DSC00925

The boy’s club turned strange when a bunch of roosters suddenly stormed a corner of the park.  I whipped my camera around to see some sort of scuffle behind a bush.  It all settled down in a few minutes and I went over to the spot. 

Lying in the corner was a dead hen.  I asked Kian if we should let the caretaker know about it.  He explained that saving face was an extremely important feature of Javanese culture and it would be supremely embarrassing to the caretaker.  We thanked him and left.

After a lunch next to a Muslim school end-of-year celebration (next to Transportation Land) we headed back into town.


Kian wanted to get a vaccination for typhoid and we found a clinic where he got it for $6 (I paid $100 in the U.S.).  While I was waiting I shot this video of one of many self-styled traffic cops.  They work for tips from passing cars.  Jaiya had given out a few when these guys flagged down many lanes of traffic to stop them so we could do a U-turn. 

Video here: 


I had to remind Kian it was my, ahem, birthday and we had a nice Gado-Gado in the mall.  Today we are off to visit Chris, another Perkutut breeder in South Jakarta.  More soon.


Street vendor at entrance in Taman Mini. 

DSC01037 DSC01010

Caretaker hanging up laundry next to Mass Transit Monorail.  Inside the Monorail.


Filed under 1-6 The Underdog

4 responses to “The Underdog

  1. Jim + Kian

    Splendid. Arriving in the City at 08.30 to find tales of songbirds from Java. I’m all over it.

    Good luck against those jungle chickens.


    • Jim de Seve

      Peter – I really owe this idea of blogging the trip to you. Totally influenced by your dispatches from afar. You will always be my travel idol.

  2. Ahem,
    Feliz Cumpeaños Jim!
    I am glad you are having a Dovely Time.
    Antonio E.

  3. Paul

    The photos are great, and I would like to visit
    Indonesia. And I hope Kian really made it up to you for forgetting your birthday!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s