Saturday, August 1, 2009

Expatriates pack Kemang festival despite bombings

Dozens of foreigners put their horrible memories of two hotel bombings on July 17 behind them as they turned up for the opening of Kemang Palang Pintu Festival in South Jakarta on Saturday.

The annual Betawi cultural festival will last until Sunday.

Hundreds of people crowded the 500-meter long Jl. Kemang Raya street, where hundreds of stalls stood on each side of the road.

The Betawi atmosphere prevailed with the ethnic group ornaments decorating the street. Festival officials and security guards were all dressed in traditional Betawi outfits.

Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo said in his opening speech that the primary aim of the festival was to conserve and promote Betawi, the native Jakarta culture. “This festival will prove to the world that Jakarta remains safe despite the twin hotel blasts in Kuningan last month,” said Fauzi, who is a Betawi descent.

A Scottish visitor, Anderson, said he did not feel threatened at all by the hotel blasts. “I'm not leaving Jakarta. Why should I?” he said.

Having lived in the city for 14 years, he said he still strongly believed the terrorists did not represent Indonesian people.

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