Bandung, The city of pigs

Bandung – the city where people think pig meat is too dirty to eat, yet they live in more filth than the animal itself. It could be a lovely city. Yet it looks (and smells) like a disaster area.  Now there is a new mayor, Ridwan Kamil, who got a foreign (USA) education. He is trying to change Bandung into a place, where humans can live *. He is trying to do everything in the same time – get the filthy food carts off the streets, plant some gardens and find a solution for the trash.

You see, in here they can’t have a normal trash can like us. Someone will steal it.  Then the city council came up with the idea to put just a metal holder with a plastic trash bag, green for organic and white for the non-organic trash. They are still standing (well, some of them).

When the trash cans were put, the population was in shock. Then, after a day or two, the more active citizens tried to rip them off and sell them. You know, iron is cheap, filth is priceless. Since the city council already knew their people they made sure that the trash cans are put in solid concrete. After being unable to remove them and sell them, our active citizens just broke them to pieces out of pure spite. In other areas, where people were not so passionate, they just took the plastic bags home. White and green are good colors, fresh and you can always use an extra plastic bag. The pacifistic, non- violent people had an even better solution. They just kept throwing their garbage AROUND the trash cans, on the road or just next to their house, turning it into a decaying, stinky, slimy hill, where their children play. After that the three groups united in raising a voice of complain that it’s dirty, because of the “government”. A smaller group blamed God, other blamed communism… Yet no one stopped for a second and thought that it might be their fault. Some say they live in their own dirt, because they are poor. That’s absurd. Let me remind you of the many refugee camps in Somalia. They are not dirty. Because people don’t have what to throw. Not that’s poverty. You are just a pig and money are not an excuse.

When I first came to the city I was shocked from all the dirt. It was disgusting. I started observing the people, their homes, and their cleaning habits. They are so different from us. A rat, longer than 20cm, running free in the house, eating whatever he can get (sometimes the cat) is a daily routine. They can buy a mouse trap or poison. But they don’t. Most of Bandung’s households don’t have running water. Not because they can’t have it- it’s a person choice of lifestyle. You can plumb and have running water 24/7 and the price is not horribly high. But people chose to have water for only 1-2h a day if they are lucky, store as much as they can in buckets and containers, where all kinds of bugs drown (and sometimes mice). That water is used for everything -showering, cooking, and washing. Oh, washing. Let me tell you something. In here after washing your clothes, you don’t hang them to dry. You just toss them over your gate, half on the street, half in your yard, on the dirty door and you wait until the passing cars and motorcycles dust them dry.  There isn’t running hot water anywhere. You have to install a gas heater in your bathroom, there, with the gas bottle in a closed room and take showers like that.

kamar-mandi2Indonesian way of having a bath is very interesting. They can install showers, but they prefer to have an open water container, where they store icy cold water. You take something that’s like a mug with a long holder and you start throwing the water on yourself. I have to admit, it is ecofriendly, but really unenjoyable.  As most Asians, they also prefer squatting toilets, usually squished in between the water container and the wall. I’m attaching a picture I found in google, so people can see.

Now, as I have given you an idea about Indonesian hygiene I can move to their streets, parks and public spaces. Mr. Ridwan Kamil , just like me, likes parks, so he is trying to build a lot of them. With playgrounds, benches and trash cans. Yet a week after their opening, those beautiful, renovated or entirely or brand new parks are unrecognizable. There is garbage everywhere except the trash cans. And as I say garbage, understand you CAN NOT see the grass under it.

Since we couldn’t take a walk in any park, I and my husband decided to take the baby for a walk in a government office near his parent’s home. They have an amazing, huge park. I don’t want to tell where it is, because I’m afraid people will read, go there and will ruin it. So for privacy sake we will call it “Grumpy Scientists” place. In the week days not much people go in there. Just us, a group of middle aged women and a group of elderly men. But in the weekend a lot of people go to “work out’’. And by work out understand eat, eat, eat. Sometimes fishermen come to the pond to try their luck. The place is so nice, that they still have a clean pond, where fish and duck live.

Due to bad weather, we didn’t take a walk in Monday. When we went in Tuesday I almost had a nervous breakdown. The place was COVERED in junk- instant noodles cups, water bottles, juice and milk cartons, candy , all kinds of plastic and a couple of lonely sandals.

1504949_818764144804118_1408853446_nLet me explain in here, that there is a very strange phenomenal occurring in this city. There are a lot of perfectly good, lonely sandals out there just sitting in awkward places.  My first thought was that someone dropped it. Yet I can’t figure out how someone would lose a perfectly good shoe and not notice it, walking away with on bare foot. Or maybe it’s some kind of movement? Like “Flip Flops for Peace”? What kind of sorcery is this?

To get back to the story, I flipped out, seeing a place I like turned into a typical Indonesian filthy landscape. I took one thrown away plastic bag and gathered junk with my bare hands while almost crying. I am just unable to realize how not irresponsible people in here are, how they don’t think about nature, quality of life, global warming but for basic hygiene, the one that even animals have- don’t shit where you sleep.

My mind was set from then on. I got ahold of some big trash bags, a pair of gloves and a face mask. The next day (today, Wednesday, January the 16th) I was ready. My husband was this time in charge of pushing the baby stroller and I was on to do some cleaning.

First I added trash bags to whichever trashcan pole was standing. Then as we walked I’d pick garbage and put it in my bag. Here I’d like to mention I could NOT possibly gather every garbage I see on our way (Yes, there are so many). Complete cleaning of an area of 10x10m would take an hour or more. Two hundred meters into our journey and I already had filled one big 1m wide and 1,50m trash bag.

I kept on, trying to pick the most recent trash, while people stared or screamed that I shouldn’t touch that, because it’s “dirty” (You do live in that dirt and it doesn’t bother you, yeah?). Others laughed at me, since cleaning is for the poor, stupid, uneducated people and anyone with any self-respect just throws their garbage and walks away (or burns it in the best case possible. Oh, didn’t I mention that’s the only way they know how to dispose of trash?). There were others, thinking that I’m looking for something to sell, looking at me in amazement. But there were two, rare cases in which people felt ashamed and started cleaning around their workplace or warung (that’s like a small coffee shop made out of wood). Since Caucasian people in here would always be considered a higher race (no, I am not racist, that’s how the post-colonialism mind of people in here works) it made them realize that if me, the rich, white girl with expensive cellphone and everything can dig into a stinky pile of trash, then so can they.

10198_818763841470815_98288553_nAfter I finished my morning duty and baby had enough walk for one day we went home for a well-deserved bath and rest. But yet, it kept bothering me. In front of the street of where my in laws live (We are currently staying with them), there is an open space with banana trees, that could make great public space. Yet they are using it to pour garbage (of course). I waited for my baby to go down for a nap and there was I again- picking sharp glass and garbage, while the kids from the area were running bare foot around me and their parents were silently judging me from aside. After a couple of quick questions they just assumed I’m insane and carried on with their daily errands.

I am aware that I can’t clean the whole city. I can’t even keep a whole street clean for long. My general purpose was to make people feel ashamed, show them that if I, one person with one bag and one pair of gloves can clean up so much for an hour. Give them awareness that their trash shouldn’t be on the street. I am one person, I don’t have networking or influence on people. They just see me as some crazy white woman, which makes me feel sad. As long as I live in this country (only a few weeks left of that, phew) I’ll try to clean as much as I can and set up a good example.

The idealist and optimist in me say I should come back in here and fight!! Fight for a better Indonesia! But the mother in me knows that change should happen in the mind of the individual first and until Indonesian people are ready for change no one can force them into it. So I’ll pack my cases and move my family away from this toxic, hazardous place and just pray that people in here learn a simple rule:

“ Don’t shit where you sleep”

  • I’m not much into politics, but I kind of like the new mayor. You can see that idealistic belief in him, that he can make a change. I think Bandung and Indonesia in general need more people like that. Yet again, I’m not interested in politics at all. I don’t know if he is that good or he just got me hooked up on another lie. Politics tend to do that.




P.S. Beberesih taman Lansia, Sabtu (8/2/2014) jam 8 pagi


777 thoughts on “Bandung, The city of pigs

  1. This nice article, but the title was very disrespectful in our culture
    ini tulisan bagus, tapi judulnya sangat tidak sopan dalam budaya kami
    ieu seratan sae, ngan judulna kirang sopang dina budaya sunda mah

    nya’ah ka bandung

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  3. as Indonesian people, I feel ashamed because this foreigner has more initiative than us. According to me, you don’t have to mad if you don’t do littering, she just offend people who are littering and appreciate people who are take a part of clean it. really, indonesian people should change their mindset, i do agree with her, people should open their knowledge about living in a clean place, nature need it. cmiiw :v

  4. after read this article, i feel ashamed and regret. Why does a stranger has more awareness for our environment than ourselves? Why does a stranger has the kindness to think about our dirty environment while we don’t? I hope that Inna Savova’s small steps can inspire us to be more aware to our nature. Why? Because what happened in Bandung is just an example of how dirty the environment in Indonesia.

  5. Yes, we should take the positive influence from this article. I agree with some opinions before that we have to cares with our environment. There were many issues about floods, forest fire, it might be caused by this little-frequent action, ‘littering’. Lets make a changes although it just a little thing. Begin from ourselves, our home, and our society.. #Keep spirit for the better future..

  6. Even though I agree with some of the things that you wrote here, I still think that this actually shows how ignorant you actually are. From what I read above, I could see that you were not enjoying your time in Bandung, so yeah let’s blame the ‘pigs’ – and yes Ma’am, you’re a racist or maybe a white supremacist, you just don’t want people to think that you are, and no NOT every Indonesian thinks that Caucasians are superior than us (you’re a good example which shows that they are OBVIOUSLY NOT). Anyway, how clean is your city/ country? I hope your country never pollutes the Earth with the vehicles, factories and else that you have there. Ah, can I call you a ‘bitch’ the female dog since you called us ‘pigs’? Besides a bitch always has a big mouth and yes Ma’am, you do have a big mouth too.

    P.S: Feel free to not visit Bandung ever again.

    • If you are so smart why didn’t you do something for your city but you waited a stupid,racist bitch to fix things 🙂 like it or not,my way is working. It’s because of people like you that Bandung looks like a giant trash can. Seriously, just jump up your own ass and die

      • See, it’s easy for you to judge people like that. Well: 1. You don’t know me in person, 2. What do you know about what I do and don’t? 3. Did I ever say that I was smart? And yeah, of course it’s super easy for you to say “It’s because of people like you that Bandung looks like a giant trash can.” – how could you judge me even though we never met in person? Did you ever see me litter the city that I love so much? Doesn’t that mean that you like to generalize people even though you don’t know them?

        What I said earlier was my response to what you wrote, and to be honest, I’d never called anybody a bitch before – it was you who started it and you should’ve been prepared for the reactions you thought you would never get. Oh, I know some Bulgarians, I love them – and you know what? They’re vegetarians and they never eat meat or ham like most people in Bandung.

        I think you should’ve learned about the people and their culture before you start judging them or, maybe, walk in their shoes, that way you would’ve thought twice before saying something which is inappropriate. I wouldn’t be mad if you were only complaining about the trash and how careless the people here, but calling us pigs is another thing.

        Oh, I never waited for a stupid, racist bitch (that’s how you called yourself) to fix things, and I think what you did here is only making it worse. You could’ve done it better if only you didn’t call us pigs like that.

        Have a nice day! 🙂

      • Sorry but these conversations intrigues me much to speak out. Anti, I believe the author here is just a normal human being who cares so much about the environment and hygiene that calling people “pigs” is making sense since pigs like to be in a dirt, which you can obviously associate it to people who guiltlessly litters here and there, hanging clothes on a dusty fence, having water container for bath/washing dishes (even we were repeatedly educated about 3M, remember?), living with mice, roaches, or other infectious animals. By any chance one of these so called pigs happened to be Indonesian people, where it can also be anyone in this world too. I am Indonesian and I agreed that certain people are meant to be called that way, not everyone, but those who enjoys live in the dirt, especially littering on public places (it’s clearly harmful to other living things, you know? Well except for pigs, flies, rats, roaches). I believe there will be no such thing as a slum area if the people are aware of sanitary and hygiene, starting from as simple as throwing garbage in its place. Being poor is not an excuse for not being clean. I bet the author’s country is not perfect too, but at least it is far more clean and comfortable enough for her that seeing Bandung like this gets on her nerves. So when you said not all Indonesians think Caucasians are superior, same goes to the term pigs here if you really understand what the whole content is all about.
        For all I see, you started calling her bitch first. We know the motives behind the term “pigs” here, but why calling her bitch? Does she seems to bang everyone in this story? I am now double ashamed with ‘these kind’ of Indonesian people, when being shown good example ‘some’ will throw tantrums and be mad instead. Anywho, mohon maaf lahir batin for any harm or temper I may have caused you through this comment 🙂
        I personally thank Innasavova for making us aware and realized how careless we are towards sanitary and stuffs. Apologize for your unpleasant trip. You have just seen the worst of Indonesia, but believe me there are plenty of other great things that Indonesia has to offer.
        Hope this blog opens up every minds out there 🙂

      • 😄 Actually most people were really positive in their response.Other than a few internet trolls nobody said anything to me. And btw I didn’t have a trip to Bandung. I loved there and I am still living

  7. maam, we actually trying to do so here. since the new mayor Ridwan Kamil makes several rules about environmental awareness, many people actually aware n participate in his rules. if u saw bandung as a place you mention above, u clearly havent seen jakarta. its nice to know that somebody care, but i think it would be better if you have care how u speak. we’re in progress towards the better ends here. but u know sometimes we cant have it all. these are the baby steps we made for the last 6 months. so, i think it would be too judgmental if you come here for sometimes n call our home the city of pigs. again its really nice to have somebody from the other side of the world to care about our place, but no matter how bad our home is, this is the place where we all born and raise. we are in the middle of making it a better living. and if u dont like it now, its okay, i’ll invite you to come again sometime soon when we all in the better shape. im sorry if any of my words offended you.. thank u very much for your concern..

  8. Well it’s a painful truth, still a truth worth reading for.
    Most of the people (in Bandung) can’t think the impact as whole when they dispose their garbage freely, they stop at “at least it’s not my problem anymore”, it’s rare for people to think “I know no matter where I litter, the impact sooner or later will affect me”.
    It’s a long road to get there, but I believe each day more youngster are aware of this problems and act on it, so I think we are in the right path.
    FYI. Squatting is healthier (cleaner colon after effect) than you think 🙂

  9. ” how they don’t think about nature, quality of life,
    global warming”

    excuze me madam, did you know who pollutes our earth the most?, its western country, mostly america with their industry.

    its also interesting how i never heard these kind of thing happen in jakarta despite of how super and ultra dirty jakarta is compared to bandung( Slum area in Jakarta’s riverbanks anyone?). Never i heard a foreigner so care about jakarta untill he/she willing to picking trash in a park or street or river with his/her hands carrying a plastic bag. Maybe that shows that Bandung still have a furture than jakarta.

  10. Oh did i mention that i always hold my trash if i can’t find a trash can untill i find one?, thats what i do. I heard the japanese do that, so i followed them. I do hope this habit spread all over bandung. I want to spend the rest of my life there, i hate jakarta.

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  12. mam, your blog is very inspiring. i feel you. i’m an indonesian, currently i live in Bandung and i am too sad for the way people behave here. i hope i could walk your path and inspire my indonesian brothers and sisters. anyway even though you’re using harsh words, and your writing sounds cocky, the good thing about it, it provocates people, to do better (i hope)

  13. I do agree with your article here. I just cannot understand why ppl here like to play with garbage and flies everywhere. And the parents are sooo ignorant and never teach their childrens about basic hygiene. Instead they only watch soap opera everyday and if they fall sick becoz of this dirt, they will tell the children becoz they are naughty God punish them and give them illness. Omg. All they care about is making babies, get divorced then get married again. Children are everywhere without the capabilities to teach & educate them. Urgh! And the most disgusting thing is when people criticize them, they will get offended. Wrong is right here. No law at all. U know what, even the mt. tangkuban perahu’s monitoring equipment has been stolen by the pig. They really dont care about others at all. What if the mountain errupted and without the equipment, ppl dun have time to run to save their lives. Oh God. If u see the street right. Its even worse. I feel like i am gonna faint. Ricksaw, motorcycle, trisaw, etc going to the opposite direction even though they know its a one way street. And they just dont care. They ride it like no body business in the middle of the street while going to opposite direction. When they got accident they will blame the car. Its insane. They think becoz they are poor then they have rights to break the rules. Crazy pigs!

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  15. Hello there,
    very educating articles. I was wandering if I can translate it into Bahasa Indonesia, under your permission,of course. It’s a very necessary slap in the face, given the filthy habit has been there generations after generations.
    I appreciate the frankliness and no-nonsense writing of yours. I hope it will put the desired effect on the people.
    Again, thanks for your concern.



  16. Bandung – the city where people think pig meat is too dirty to eat, yet they live in more filth than the animal itself. It could be a lovely city. Yet it looks (and smells) like a disaster area…….I AGREE WITH YOUR STATEMENT, mam…
    abdi urang bandung asli, sok rumaos kasindir, leureus pisan gening anu tos di carioskeun ku ibu innasavova, ……………………………THANK YOU TO REMIND US……………………………..
    sakapeung parnyataan anu dugal tiasa langkung ngemutan urang kanggo ngalakukeun hiji hal anu sae.

  17. I think most Indonesian people need slamming words like this to realised that we need to change. Good on you mam!! I’m with you.

  18. After reading this article suddenly my tears dripping. This make me feeling happy and sad. I’m indonesian, live in Bekasi City who fight everyday with a waste. Then I give up, I think waste shouldn’t be fight. We must be friends with it to make our city clean.

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  20. Im from Germany and my wife is born in Bandung. im every Year in Bandung and im always shocked again how the people act with the nature.
    My parents in Law living near a River. The River is full with Garbage. Every strong Rain the River is overflooding.
    when i say its because of the garbage the people laughing….

    at least i change the mind of my Wife. she is seperating garbage now.

    I think the only wht would help is by making punishment from the gouverment. Pay Money for throwing away. and some police in private clothes to watch about the people.
    When people need pay they quickly change their behavior.

    sorry for my bad english


  21. Dirty filthy lazy people and their river is the most polluted one in the world I mean # 1. These Indonesians need to take care of their environment or else these idiots will face their horrible consequences. Thier government needs to fix this or else it will get worse. This country was once called Dutch East Indies at that time it was cleaner and better. Now Indonesia has some **** up government and stupid presidents. Yes, companies are at blame too for their dumplings they need to create a better sewage system, and better waste management. Yes, the can do it. Indonesia is the country of swine.

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