Thursday, June 6, 2019

My Devotion to Place Edits and Photo Sharing on Google Maps

Hello, my name is Adriansyah Putera, but you can call me Adrian. I am an Indonesian teacher for non-native speakers of Indonesian, and I am also a freelance local guide in my hometown Bengkulu. I have been contributing to Google Maps since September 2015, and I'm now a Level 9 Google Local Guide.  

I love all 10 Google Maps contribution options, but my two most favorite options are place edits and photo sharing

Why do I love place edits?
Well, the Google Maps application is relatively new for many people in Bengkulu and its neighboring cities.  Since 2016, I have found a lot of inaccurate information, for example, wrongly placed map markers, incorrect categories, and mistaken hours from the local places and businesses on Google Maps. This issue has been my top priority since then.

My understanding, based on my findings in my city, is that there are still many Google Maps users with insufficient technical know-how. Here are some examples. 

Firstly, they don’t know about the function of the blue circle, that is, the “My Location” button in order to get their best approximate location when they need to add a new place or business, so it is very common that they just give a rough guess and pin down an approximation of their location. This can be very confusing for users. 

Secondly, for some reason, there are a lot of people (including Google Maps users) in Bengkulu and neighboring cities who just keep English as the default display language on their devices, even though they don’t really understand English. As a result, those who have limited English understanding, find Google Maps rather challenging to navigate. When it comes to selecting a category to describe a place or business, they could end up adding or selecting either a wrong category or a broad category, for example; store, school, market, or restaurant. As for ‘hours’, people are often confused by the usage of a.m and p.m. 

As a local guide, by correcting these issues, I see an opportunity to help Google Maps users, and local places or businesses that the Google Maps application serves. I spend at least 30 minutes per day searching around my city on Google Maps in order to find inaccurate information. I really enjoy doing this as I am able to help Google Maps users and support the Google Local Guides program to make Google Maps information more accurate and helpful. I also enjoy the opportunity to gain more points, frankly speaking. Finally, another reason why I love place edits, is that this feature allows me to report fake businesses, fake phone numbers, fake web sites, and inappropriate or illegal content to be removed. 

Why do I love to share photos on Google Maps?
I love photography, and for me, photography is about sharing. Sharing photos on Google Maps can provide useful visual information and help others see unfamiliar places they might want to visit, atmosphere of restaurants or cafes, accessibility, etc. I don’t really have any favorite photography style, I just want viewers to know and feel something through my lens. When it comes to sharing photos on Google Maps, I almost always try to share photos from places I have visited to help people better understand when they want to visit those places. I get a great sense of satisfaction and happiness from being able to help others while doing something that I am passionate about. 

Here are some my favorite shots I have shared on Google Maps,

Lake Mas Rejang Lebong, Bengkulu province, Indonesia
I love this photo for several reasons. First, this photo is my most viewed photo on Google Maps. This photo has been viewed over 845,000 times at the time of writing. Second, this photo always reminds me of a great nature hike I had with my two friends from Florida - USA.

I took this photo when my daughter and I were walking home from celebrating Indonesia's Independence Day. I want to show the atmosphere of the neighborhood and tell people that the neighborhood road is too narrow if two cars going in opposite directions.

Blooming Rafflesia arnoldii - see and smell it!
This is a photo from my nature walk with my wife when we finally found the world's largest flower - Rafflesia arnoldii in the wild. Based on my experience, I can tell that Rafflesia arnodii is not stinky and not a carnivorous plant like many people think. Location: Taba Penanjung, Central Bengkulu, Indonesia.

Helping just one person is worth it, but over a long and helpful contribution, I and also you all, have the chance to help thousands of people.

Keep contributing,
Adriansyah Putera

Note: I posted this article for the first time on Local Guides Connect April 2019 for one of requirements to apply Connect Live 2019.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Steps to Obtain a Driver License for Non-Indonesian Citizens

Polres Bengkulu

By: Adriansyah Putera

On December 14 2017, I went to the Polisi Resor Kota Bengkulu aka Polres Bengkulu (Bengkulu City Police Department) to renew my driver license. Too bad, my application was rejected as my driver license had gone beyond the expiration date. I was told by an on-duty traffic police officer that I must renew my driver license 2 weeks before the expiration date, driving with an invalid or expired driver license could result in a traffic ticket. I had no option but to apply a new driver license that required me to re-take the driver knowledge test and practical driving tests.

Having gone through the process of getting my Indonesian driver license, I’d like to take a moment to write all information gathered from my experience - from signing up to getting behind the wheel with a SIM (Indonesian driver license) - for those who are looking for information about the process of getting a driver license in Indonesia. 

Let’s begin with the basic requirements. You must be at least 17 years old. You must provide a valid passport and KITAS/KITAB and 2 copies of each of the documents, and provide proof of your fitness to drive. For those who are visiting on a tourist visa are not eligible.

Steps of getting an Indonesian driver license

Here’s a how-to guide detailing every step of the process:

STEP 1. Go to the nearest city police department for signing up
You must be prepared with all the required identity documents: valid passport, KITAS/KITAB (Temporary/Permanent Stay Permit) and 2 copies of each of the documents. It’s not required to make an appointment before visiting, just go to the information counter at the “Pelayanan Penerbitan SIM” division to start the process, tell the staff what type/class of driver license you need. Class A, this license allows you to drive non-commercial vehicles or regular passenger cars with maximum allowable weight not exceeding 3,500 kg (7716 lbs). Class C, this license allows you to operate motorcycle. Here you will be directed to the appointed medical service unit to get a basic physical and mental fitness to drive exam. You need to provide a copy of your passport and KITAS/KITAB, and pay the Rp. 25,000 (about US$ 1.75) exam fee.

The exam includes at least:
  • A blood pressure exam. 
  • A vision exam which includes a color blind test and a distance vision test using a Snellen chart at a distance of 6 meters (20 ft) from the chart. 
  • A hearing (audiometric) exam. A simple whispered voice test at 20 cm (8 inches) from each ear. 
If you fail the exam, you will not be able to proceed to the next step and you will be required to reschedule. 

A poster shows the application fee and requirements
Go back to the Pelayanan Penerbitan SIM counter after you pass the exam and receive a Surat Keterangan Kesehatan (medical report), then pay the Rp 120,000 (about US$ 8.40) application fee for a Class A License, or Rp. 100,000 (US$ 7) for a Class B License at the BRI counter. After you have paid the application fee, save the application fee receipt for your records.

Go to the application counter and get a Driver License Application form. Complete the application form correctly, the form is in Indonesian language and you will need to provide a translator for yourself if you don’t understand the language. Submit the completed form with your original passport, KITAS/KITAB and a copy of each of the documents, and the application fee receipt to the application service counter. You will be given a waiting number for the identification process after you complete this step. Don’t forget to get your passport and KITAS/KITAB back. Then just take a seat and wait your number to be called.

You will be directed to go inside a room where an officer will collect your biometrics information. Here, you need to put your fingers on a glass screen to be scanned, have a digital photo taken of your face, and give your signature.

STEP 2. Driver Knowledge Test
When you’re done with the identification process you will be asked to go to the “Ruang Pencerahan” room. At this room you will be given some brief information and useful advice about the driver knowledge test by an officer. It is greatly recommended that you listen to what the officer says carefully, you will find it very useful to help you to answer the test questions and increase your chances of passing your test on your first try. You will be given time to read a manual with the actual questions and answers before taking the test. If your Indonesian comprehension is not good enough you will need to provide a translator for you as the Division of Driver License might not provide the translation service.

The Ruang Pencerahan of Polres Bengkulu

Next, when an officer calls your number you go to the ruang ujian teori (knowledge test room). The test administrator will give the instructions to you and let you log into the computer. Insert your No. Registrasi (registration/application number), full name and Golongan SIM (class of driver license), then click “Mulai Ujian” button when you are ready to start the test. This 15-minute driver knowledge test is a computer-based, 30-random question, multi-choice test that assesses your knowledge of road rules and safe driving practices. You will be required to answer 7 survey questions before you start the test.

If you don’t pass the driver knowledge test on your first try, you must wait for 7 days before retaking it. You have 3 chances to pass the test. Schedule for retaking the test is 7, 14, and after 30 days. You can prepare yourself by taking a driver knowledge test simulation on Korlantas Polri (the National Police Traffic Corps Division) website at

Step 3. Practical Driving Test
Scheduling of the driving test is based on the availability of instructor. If the schedule permits, the driving test may be given on the same day as the knowledge test.

During the driving test, you will be asked by your instructor to complete a number of tasks to show you are capable of driving. Some practical tests you'll need to pass include:
  • Zigzag test. In this section you will see around 5 traffic cones in between point A and B. You have to drive the car forward from point A and zigzag over each the cone until you get to point B. From point B, you have to reverse the car while crossing over each cone again to get to point A. It could be done with or without an instructor beside you.  If you hit a cone, you must retake the driving test. 
  • Driving forward and backing up. Again, it could be done with or without an instructor beside you. If you hit a cone, you must retake the driving test.
  • Angle, perpendicular and parallel parking. Don’t hit any single cone. 
  • Handbrake control. Safely bring your car to a stop on an incline, and then restart your car and move away without rolling backwards or stalling the engine. 
  • Following and overtaking other vehicles on the road. 
  • Responding to road and traffic signs.
Driving test at Polres Bengkulu
You have 3 chances to pass the practical driving test. If you don’t pass the test on your first try, you must wait for 7 days before retaking it. If you don’t pass the test on your second chance, you must wait for 14 days before retaking it, and 30 days for your third chance. If you don’t pass the tests, you'll need to begin the driver license application process over or quit and get your money back.

If you pass the practical driving test successfully, your Indonesian driver license or SIM will be issued on the same day. Your SIM is valid throughout Indonesia. It expires 5 years after the issue date on your birthday, renew your driver license 2 weeks before the expiration date.

Special thanks to Bripka Supriyono, the Driver License Division officer of Polres Bengkulu. I greatly appreciate your hard work and dedication. 

Friday, April 27, 2018

Pemandian Air Panas Suban

Kolam pemandian Suban air panas

Terakhir di-update 6 September 2019
Kawasan obyek wisata Suban memiliki udara sejuk yang dikelilingi oleh pemandangan lembah dan hutan tropis. Suban merupakan lokasi yang baik untuk pemandian air panas alami. Air panas alami (thermal spring) sangat baik untuk mengurangi nyeri dan pegal otot setelah hiking. Air panas alami memancar di beberapa kolam pemandian umum dan juga mata air panas dapat ditemukan di banyak titik yang bercampur dengan aliran air sungai yang sejuk. Di lokasi obyek wisata Suban juga terdapat air terjun 2 tingkat yang para pengunjung bisa nikmati dari jarak dekat. Mata air panas dan air terjun Suban terkenal dengan weekend picnicker.

Wisatawan asing, khususnya white people atau sering juga disebut bule kemungkinan besar akan menjadi pusat perhatian bagi pengunjung/warga lokal di tempat pemandian yang terbuka. Mengapa??? Karena hanya sedikit wisatawan asing yang berkunjung ke Suban dan area sekitarnya, masih banyak warga di sini yang belum pernah melihat orang asing dengan penampilan fisik dan gaya hidup yang berbeda. Bagi Anda yang merasa tidak nyaman dengan tatapan warga setempat saat berada di tempat pemandian terbuka, Anda bisa menggunakan ruang mandi privat yang juga dilengkapi dengan air hangat yang mengalir dari mata air panas dengan hanya membayar  Rp.3.000.

Di lokasi obyek wisata Suban ada beberapa warung yang menyediakan beberapa pilihan makanan dan minuman. Sayangnya Suban masih kekurangan fasilitas-fasilitas penunjang dan belum terbebas dari masalah sampah. Berdasarkan pengalaman saya, waktu yang ideal untuk berkunjung ke Suban pada waktu musim kemarau antara bulan Maret hingga September.

Populer dengan pangunjung akhir pekan

Tiket masuk Rp. 10.000 (US$ 0,72) untuk dewasa dan Rp. 5.000 (US$ 0,36) untuk anak-anak. Biaya parkir Rp. 3.000 (US$ 0,22). 

Lokasi: Suban terletak di kabupaten Rejang Lebong sekitar 90 km (56 mil) dari ibu kota provinsi Bengkulu, dapat ditempuh sekitar dua setengah jam dengan sepeda motor atau mobil, atau 6 km (3,8 mil) dari Curup. 

  Foto-foto dari Suban 

Salah satu kolam pemandian air panas Suban

Air terjun Suban

Air terjun Suban

Photos by Peter Kimball, Adriansyah Putera & Sirly Utama Adriansyah

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Wall of Boredom

An old Dutch inscription carved on the cell wall within the Fort Marlborough
By: Adriansyah Putera

Last Updated: September 14th, 2017
The Fort Marlborough is a historic site to stop if you are visiting the city of Bengkulu. This massive 18th century fort which symbolizes centuries of the British and Dutch colonial power in Bengkulu still stands tall on a hill surrounded by other interesting sights of interest and is today the city's top historic landmark.

You can read more details about the Fort Marlborough here. This time we would like to present an article which is focused on the old Dutch graffiti carved on the cell wall within the Fort Marlborough. Although the Dutch graffiti still survive and can be seen today, yet many visitors don't know about them and even miss them when they're looking at them.  

At the Fort Marlborough, visitors will see more than old cannons and headstones. In a small inner room within the guard cell secured by a barred door, with daylight coming from a barred window, visitors will be able to see two old Dutch graffiti. The apparent graffiti include an old Dutch compass drawing and an old Dutch inscription carved anonymously. These two graffiti are low on the cell wall near a barred window as if done by a person sitting on the floor.

If you look closely you can see that the compass drawing has a shape which looks like a 32-wind compass with Dutch abbreviated compass directions written in capital letters. This compass drawing was partly made with charcoal scratches, while the compass direction points were carved into the cell wall with a piece of pointed metal perhaps an iron nail.  

The graffiti are low on the cell wall as if done by a person sitting on the floor

However, the one who made the compass drawing wanted to leave more than his/her compass drawing. Taking perhaps a small iron nail, right beside the compass drawing, he/she incised a message with capital letters in the cell wall. The message reads,


Which translates as,
(Translation by Nilca van Leyen)

After that, he/she awaited his/her fate. And if he/she died, the graffiti would serve as a “memorial”.

Who did make the graffiti? Why and when were the graffiti made?
As there is a clear connection between the compass drawing and the inscription, it is widely accepted that they were made by the same person either a Dutch prisoner or a Dutch soldier who spent time within the cell wall. However, the basic questions of who exactly the author of the graffiti was and when exactly the graffiti were carved on the cell wall remain mystery that is puzzling archaeologists and historians who have been studying the graffiti. 

The graffiti do represent their author’s feeling. The graffiti author’s motivation behind leaving the compass drawing and the carved inscription anonymously was more than just a desire to pass the time. The graffiti author wanted to express what he/she felt, experienced and hoped. From the carved words, “Bedenk dat leegen tijd, tot knoeierijen mij leidt,” he/she expressed that he/she felt trapped in a forced empty time, no place to escape. A feeling similar to unbearable pain that forced him/her to carved graffiti on the wall. Through the carved compass drawing he/she made, he/she tried to relieve the repetitive heavy boredom he/she felt, and also hoped that he/she would return home safely. 

Fort Marlborough at sunset
“The one who made the graffiti on the cell wall was bored. I originally assume that the compass drawing and the rhyme dated before World War II, bearing in mind that the rhyme was carved in a bit old Dutch language,” says Nilca van Leyen, a daughter of a Royal Netherlands Navy veteran. 

Today the carved graffiti are widely accepted as a reminder to the unknown Dutch soldier. Many people believe there are likely to be other old graffiti in the Fort Marlborough, which have since been lost or painted over.

How to locate the graffiti?
If you want to find these old Dutch graffiti you need to enter the colonial guard cell, then go inside the smaller room that is on the left side. Look to your left, you will see the graffiti are low on the cell wall near a barred window. Keep an eye out as you are likely to miss them.

A Request to the Fort Marlborough Authority 
We really hope that the Dutch inscription can soon be transcribed and displayed on a board in the original Dutch text with its translation to Indonesian and English so that both local and foreign visitors can have a deeper insight into all those who spent time within the cell wall.


A special thanks to Nilca van Leyen who has helped to transcribe and translate the Dutch inscription.   

About Nilca van Leyen
Nilca van Leyen was born in CuraƧao to a Dutch couple. Her parents were born in Java and had lived in several cities in the Netherlands East Indies (now Indonesia) until World War II. She has wonderful memories about the Netherlands East Indies life in the past time from her beloved parents.