Do We Take Pride in Our Country’s Heritages?

On a beautiful summer day, sometime in mid August this year, I took a walk in the Central Park in New York City, USA. The weather was perfect. Not too hot, but still sunny. It was definitely a good day to enjoy the beauty of a 843 acres park, filled with big trees, green healthy grass and ponds.

The Park is definitely a gem for this city. People could escape themselves from the bustling streets of the fifth avenue and find a little peace in between the big trees here. Some couples sat on the grass, chatting with their other halves. Single girls tried to fill in their time by reading their favorite books with a picnic basket next to them, wearing bikini tops and short pants.. hoping to get some tanned and attention from the passersby (hopefully hot guys!) at the same time. Families taking their little kids walking around, ladies walking their dogs, tourists taking pictures, this Park was definitely lively in the summertime! How lovely.

What amazed me wasn’t the cleanliness of the Park itself. It was actually a little thing like: no scratch or graffiti on the benches that were scattered all around the Central Park. Not a single sentence, such as: “Bob Dylan was here” or “Donald Loves Daisy” or anything like that. Not a single word, not a single scratch. I was super amazed.

Seeing this, my mind flew to the Borobudur Temple in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. This 9th Century Buddhist temple is one of UNESCO World Heritage sites, but unfortunately, in some of the spots, you could see some “beautiful artworks” from people who thought they’re cool enough to write “Budi was here, etc” on the stones of this sacred temple. It’s really upsetting and shows how much we care of our country’s heritage site!

Another example is the lighthouse in Belitung Island. Even though it’s not from 9th Century or anything near, it is a remarkable “monument” for Belitung Island, especially for visitors who want to marvel the beauty of the small islands around from the higher ground. The lighthouse is full of another same style of “beautiful artworks” on its walls. Even on the windows. How sad!! Do people think it is nice to see those handwritings on the walls??? I don’t quite understand where the beauty is.

Walking in the Central Park in New York City that day, made me think: “Do we, Indonesians, take pride in our country’s heritages at all?”. Because if we do, no one would grab his/her pen and start writing on the walls of any colonial buildings from back in the days, or brought a colorful spray and mark their gang’s names on any beautiful and historical temples! lnstead, one would keep those places as they were as they didn’t need any additional decorations such as our names, our boyfriend’s/girlfriend’s name, or our cool gang’s names to make them even more beautiful.

We should take pride in our country’s heritages. Those people visiting Central Park – local and tourists – they take pride in the city’s assets. They are proud of the beauty of the Central Park. Thus, they wouldn’t destroy its beauty, instead they help to keep them clean and beautiful.

We, actually, have a lot to offer to visitors from around the globe. We are blessed with an abundance of natural beauty, but as the consequences, we have to be able to appreciate them all by preserving them. Keep our hands off by not destroying those beautiful objects, and keep our hands in by involving ourselves in keeping their beauty.

As Herman, one of the komodo dragons rangers in Komodo National Park, Flores, said on my first trip to Loh Liang, “Leave nothing but footprints. Take nothing but pictures”, I would love to see less “beautiful artworks” on my travel in Indonesia in the near future… fingers crossed!


  • Just got the same experience in the last few months.

    And, I found that's happening also at Taman Sari (Water Castle), just few hundreds meters from my place here in Jogjakarta.

    When I was a kid, it was a nice place to visit (with my elementary school friends). I mean, I didn't think that it was 'that' valuable as heritage. But, at least, as far as I can remember, we didn't do any artworks there.

    It was like 20 years ago. But yes, there were lots of artworks there done by those who visited that place.

    In the last few years, the local govt (working together with some foundations, I think) did a major renovation. It's now better, cleaner, and maintained… from the outside.

    There is a kind of tower there. Visitors are able to see the two pools. But, it's kind a sad when witnessing that there are soooo many unwanted artworks, just like you mentioned in this post.

    Not only as a mark that someone has visited that place, but also some other notes. There are even some phone numbers (and even email address!).

    I think lots of people also have the same thought. "I don't get it…"

  • agree with u.. kesadaran saudara2 kita dsini akan keindahan masih kurang, kedepannya semoga semakin banyak orang2 yg sadar akan pentingnya arti kebersihan dan keindahan. Sehingga kita bs mewujudkan apa yg kita harapkan. Aamiin

  • @Thomas Arie : yes, I've been to Taman Sari and the tower where the King used to check out on his concubines bathing in the pool. It's really sad to see those unwanted marks (or "beautiful artworks" as I mentioned on this post) scattered all over our country's heritages!!! It makes me pissed off every time I see it :'((

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