For many years, Rita Woetamani I was sought after for her herbs and potions that could mend any ailment and problem. Her husband Klaas de Haven was a botanist and scholar from Europe eager on discovering the flora of the East Indies, and for the love of his life, he built her the Glass House to house her collection of plants.

It was nearly a century and a half ago that she planted the first tree at Taman Gagak. It was a majestic wonder of nature, and she said it was sacred. The day her granddaughter hung herself from the tree, the tree shed its leaves and never grew a single leaf since.


Today I spent seven hours in this glorious building at my university, the Asian Library (yes it’s not a very creative name but that’s okay). The building is comprised of three floors and it’s amazing.

There are books in or about basically any Asian language you can imagine, from the more commonly-studied ones like Chinese, Japanese, and Korean to others like Tibetan, Mongolian, and Sanskrit. In total, there are eleven or so languages for which there’s a pretty large collection of books.

Some of the coolest materials I found (a very very short list): 

  • Japanese-Sinhala dictionary 
  • Mongolian-English-Japanese dictionary
  • Mongolian-German-Russian dictionary
  • a Beijing slang dictionary
  • a grammar of Hindi
  • a Chinese film with German subtitles

Basically I’ve decided where I’m gonna live from now on. 

Orang bilang, apa yang ada di depan manusia hanya jarak. Dan batasannya adalah ufuk. Begitu jarak ditempuh sang ufuk menjauh. Yang tertinggal jarak itu juga—abadi. Di depan sana ufuk yang itu juga —abadi. Tak ada romantika cukup kuat untuk dapat menaklukkan dan menggenggamnya dalam tangan—jarak dan ufuk abadi itu.
—  Pramoedya Ananta Toer, dalam Anak Semua Bangsa