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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

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Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 entry, paper

-6.5971469, 106.8060388

Mon 16. [16 March 1903] Up at 6 and out in a Victoria at 7. Deliciously fresh, cool, heavy dew on the grass. We drove past Weltevreden Station and found we were in the Koningsplein, an enormous open grass square with houses set in gardens all round. We cd now observe the richer inhabitants on their verandahs in dressing gowns. The little pigtailed Dutch girls were going to school with their satchels in their hands and hatless. We drove next past the black domed Dutch church and through an exquisite little bit of park like garden with (I take it) an official house in it (for it had a flagstaff) and dÈbouchÈd into Waterloo Plein. It is smaller than the other. The governor's Palace, a plain classical building, is on one side; a big 2 spired church at one corner and in the middle of the grass plot the Waterloo monument with this priceless inscription: In aeternam celeberrimae diei duo decimae ante Kalendas Julii MDCCCXV, memoriam, quo, fortitudine et strenuitate Belgarum eorumque[?] inclyti[?] ducis Wilhemi Frederici Georgi Ludovici principis aransiaci[?], post atrocissimum in campis Waterlooae proelium stratis et undique fugatis Gallorum legionibus Pax orbis reluxit. No mention of Wellington at all! It has a silly little lion on top - said an American wag "The Lion on top's not so bad as the lyin' at the bottom." So home shopping some books on the way. Mr Ramage came to see us, a cheerful friendly little man. He took H [Hugo] off into the town. Bought and eat Mangosteens at last. I have also made the acquaintance of Rambutan which has a sort of air of a big strawberry outside and a mangosteen like fruit inside - not so pulpy or so good however. We left at 11.20 for Buitenzorg [Bogor]; the journey was through the same wonderfully fertile country - green to a fault. The rice fields are the most brilliant green in the world. Saw a lotus pond in flower for the first time. It was a slow train and desperately hot. We got to the Hotel Belle Vue about 1.30 and were finally installed in rooms facing the belle vue. Our balcony overlooked the valley, a curve of muddy river between palms, the red tiled roofs of a native village set in palms and thick green trees, the country sloping upwards through wood and meadow to the Volcano Salak [Salak, Gunung] an exquisite cone topped with cloud. We had Reis Tafel which is very good. You fill a soup plate with rice and pile onto it 20 different things, mostly sorts of curry, also potato chips, roast, boiled and grilled chicken, croquets, omelet and top all by a variety of hot condiments. Follows beefsteak and potatoes and then fruits. It always rains of an afternoon in Buitenzorg but we determined to go at once to the Botanical Gardens while the rain held off - the clouds were already blowing up. We took a sadoe and drove in by the Canary Tree avenue. The great trees were draped in lianes of all sorts of wonderful and lovely kinds. We went up to the pond opposite the palace and saw what I took to be the Victoria Regia flowering (but I doubt if it was, anyway it was very like it) and a wonderful great white lotus with enormous flowers. Then we went down to the palace garden which is quite lovely. The clusters of palms grow round a dip in the ground in which are ponds full of exquisite pink and white water lilies. Gardenia bushes in full flower. Near by is the river running through masses of bamboo. One of the loveliest of the palms is one that has a scarlet swathe round the cluster of its fronds. We walked through the orchid garden where they're all growing on little trees. Close by is a great tangle of tree ferns. So back and to the orchid houses where not very much was out. Drove on through the palm avenue and up a wonderful alley of bamboos to the palace and so out into the park where under trees with aerial roots [space left blank] there were deer. Here the rain broke in a torrent and we went quickly home to find our view absolutely blotted out by sheets of water. Very lovely watching the storm gradually blow over and Salak reappear. Went to sleep and then had a bath in the smallest swimming bath known - it was called Zwiembad and they tried to keep me out of it saying it was not the ladies' bath. It was down at the bottom of the garden. Gathered a gardenia on my way back. Then sat on our balcony and wrote home and watched the stormy sunset. I was ill with indigestion and we were both in an execrable temper. Cheerless dinner; the Dutch ladies donned thick serge gowns and talked in whispers. So to bed, cool and delicious, a strong cool wind.

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