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June 9, 2000 VOL. 29 NO. 22 | SEARCH ASIAWEEK

Anggun | Lat | Inno Sotto | Catherine Lim
Qu Ying | Shobha D | Junko Koshino | Metinee Kingpayome

Asiaweek Pictures
Anggun: Relishing the smell, the mood and the kindness

"I love the palace's South Alun-Alun area. I've always tried to walk between the two big banyan trees, but never managed. Mystical, mysterious things are always fascinating."
Indonesian pop star Anggun on Jogjakarta

Anggun was born and raised in Jakarta, and her mother used to rock the future pop star to sleep singing traditional Javanese songs. After recording a children's album at 7 and her first rock album at 12, Anggun did four more hit discs before moving to France. Now, the Sony artist is hitting the world stage with her ethereal blend of sensuous pop exotica (sample "A Rose in the Wind" at But for favorite holiday places, it's back home for the 26-year-old, who fondly recalls a myth from her mother's hometown: Jogjakarta.

In the middle of the central Java city, a 90-min bus ride from the famed Borobodur temple, stand several majestic trees and the kraton, a historic palace at the heart of an ancient Javanese empire centered on "Jogja." Many townsfolk believe that if one walks from outside the palace's South Alun-alun area between two giant banyan trees some 50 meters apart with eyes shut, one's dreams will come true. "I love to visit the square," Anggun says. "I've always tried to walk between the two big banyans, but never managed." But the myth is magic enough for the singer: "Mystical and mysterious things are always fascinating."

When in town, the pop star never fails to drop by her grandparents' home. Happily, Jogja has attractions even for visitors with no blood ties to the place, from millennium-old Borobodur, one of the world's most sumptuous Buddhist temple complexes, to artisan communities and a leading national university, Gajah Mada. Anggun also relishes the smell and atmosphere, and the kindness of women batik makers. And Jalan Malioboro, a downtown street lined with souvenir stalls and traditional food carts on the sidewalk. "If you like shopping and good food, you must go to Malioboro," Anggun insists. "Don't forget to bargain though. I am a bad bargainer."

"The river is cool and fresh, on the fringe of a forest. we sit on rocks in the sun and wade in the water. We see our toes touching the pebbles."
Malaysian cartoonist Lat on Ulu Kenas

So many places, so little time -- that's Lat's dilemma. Malaysia's top cartoonist would not be pinned down on a favorite destination. "It's not fair." From the open expanse of Bandung, Indonesia, to the easy familiarity of Kuala Lumpur, Lat finds something to like everywhere. Now based in the town of Ipoh in Perak state, Lat gets around partly to fodder for his daily cartoon strip. "The ways of plain folk," he says, "is rich material for doodlers like me."

Take a Singapore dive called the Honky Tonk that he went to years ago. "There was live music and lots of characters." Lat is also a fan of border towns like Rantau Panjang in Kelantan state, where the Golok river separates Malaysia and Thailand. "There's plenty to draw," he says. The bazaars, colorful food markets and constant flow of border-hoppers provide absorbing spectacles.

Lat's vacations tend to be quick getaways, the price of doing a daily strip. "A waterfall picnic site my family and I go to again and again is the Ulu Kenas. The river is cool and fresh, on the fringe of a forest reserve. There are crowds on weekends, but they're simple folks like us." Nature is the star. "We sit on rocks in the sun and wade in the water," says Lat. "It's so clear we can see our toes touching the pebbles."

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