Take A Look Inside the Home of the Indonesian Ambassador to Malaysia

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Some of the most stunning homes are owned and occupied by expats seeking to create an oasis for themselves in their new country. Manveen Maan takes us on a tour of one of these beautiful habitats.

It is difficult to bypass the beauty of Mother Nature when stepping into the official residence of His Excellency, Herman Prayitno, the Indonesian ambassador to Malaysia. Luscious green spaces, huge trees and flocks of birds pecking at each other in the front garden all contribute to the view from the beautifully decorated living room of His Excellency’s residence.

“We always feed the birds. That’s why they keep coming back, I think,” says Ratna Andarwaty, wife of the ambassador, as she shows us around her sprawling home. Located amidst the leafy surroundings of Jalan U-Thant in Ampang, it is difficult to tell you are a mere 10 minutes from the city centre. “I love our garden area. When my grandchildren come to visit, there’s plenty of space for them to play here,” the immaculately dressed Ratna says. “Every morning I work out for an hour here. Who needs the gym?”

Having lived in the five-bedroom bungalow home for the past one and a half years, Ratna has settled into her home nicely, while overseeing the running of the household. “It’s a very large home, so there is a lot that needs to be done,” she explains. In between her work with the Dharma Wanita Persatuan Kuala Lumpur – she is the head of this women’s association – and embassy functions, Ratna enjoys cooking up a storm in her well-equipped kitchen. “I love making Indonesian food,” she shares. And what a spread awaited us.

We were treated to a delicious bowl of lontong sayur (rice cake) in a light green curry, with spiced cabbage and telur petis (eggs in prawn paste). Ratna’s outstanding culinary skills were clearly well-appreciated, with all of us wolfing down the delectable meal in record time! With our bellies filled, Ratna then took us on a tour of her Indonesian-inspired home, filled with artifacts representing the different cultures in her homeland.

A striking winged Balinese god greets us as we walk through the spacious living room, its large wings almost touching the ceiling. Islamic art pieces and paintings of Javanese fishing villages decorate the interiors of the formal dining room and the drawing room. “The paintings are typical of life in small villages in Indonesia, even today,” Ratna explains.

In the middle of the drawing room sits a behemoth table, made of wood with the tale of the monkey-god Hanuman intricately carved into its body. We marvel at the fine craftsmanship and the detail that goes into the production of such fine work. “Not everyone has this sort of table,” Ratna says. “It was a special order, and you can see why.”

Most intriguing of all is the collection of dolls or patung, all dressed in the matrimonial outfits of the different ethnic groups of Indonesia. “We have Yogyakarta, Palembang, Padang, Solo, and Aceh,” Ratna says, as she rattles off the names of the various cities. “These outfits aren’t worn on a day-to-day basis now, but at some point in history, they were considered regular clothes.” As we marvelled at the details of the costumes on these miniature wedding couples, Ratna points out the antique silver tea collection, sitting prettily within the glass showcase. “These are also very special,” she says. “Indonesia does not have much of a tea drinking culture, but this is a throwback to colonial times, so it’s quite rare, and very beautiful.”


If there is one thing that stands out, it is the pride Ratna has for the myriad of cultures her home nation is known for. Intricate sandalwood sculptures decorate the various rooms of the house, drawing inspiration from tales and legends of Javanese culture, Sumatran history, and Balinese mythologies. “People don’t realize how big Indonesia really is,” she says. “We have so much to offer the world and have such a rich history.”

Luckily, the Ternate-born Ratna gets to visit home often. “I try to go home often as it’s quite near and convenient to fly to. My youngest goes to Fairview International School here, while my other children who live in Indonesia visit us in Kuala Lumpur when they can,” she explains. When she’s not playing Masterchef, Ratna indulges in her other favourite pastime – dancing. “I love it,” she says, her eyes lighting up. “I have learnt to do the waltz, the cha-cha, even some salsa dancing. The music is so infectious!”

Once she’s taken off her dancing shoes, Ratna also enjoys a spot of afternoon tea in the gazebo by their swimming pool. “It’s such a relaxing area,” she says, of the tree-lined gardens that surround the blue waters of their outdoor pool. “It’s also a great area for a barbecue.” Despite her love for the outdoors, Ratna’s favourite part of her home is very much indoors. “I love my bedroom!” she quips. “It’s comfortable and is where I can just relax and be myself. What’s not to love about it?” Not much, apparently.

Source: The Expat Magazine February 2014

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