Selasa, 04 Juli 2017


  Jakarta, July 4, 2017(Antara) - Barack Obama, former US president, has emotional ties with Indonesia as he had spent four years of his memorable childhood in Jakarta with his American mother and Indonesian stepfather.
         Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, on August 4, 1961, Barack Hussein Obama II lived in Jakarta from 1968 until 1972.
        Many Indonesians are pleased because Obama, who had studied in a local regular elementary school in Menteng area, still remembers some of the Indonesian words such as "Apa kabar?" (How are you?), and of course, names of his favorite food such as "bakso" (meatball soup) and "sate" (grilled chicken or beef satay).
         Obama, whose skin color happens to be similar to most of Indonesians, because of a mixed marriage between his Caucasian mother and Kenyan father, had visited Jakarta for the first time as the 44th President of the US in Nov 2010.
        He had opened up about his nostalgic feeling about Indonesia, especially its people as well as local food, during his short visit that he had described as "pulang kampung" (homecoming).
        In the gala dinner hosted by the then president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono seven years ago at the presidential palace on the evening of Nov 9, , Obama had begun his remarks by thanking the host for providing "bakso, nasi goreng, emping, kerupuk, ... semuanya enak," he said. ("the meat balls, fried rice, crackers .... They were all delicious").
        While speaking at the University of Indonesia (UI), on the southern outskirt of Jakarta on Nov 10, 2010, Obama had thrilled Indonesians by declaring "Saya bagian dari Indonesia (I am part of Indonesia)." He had expressed keenness to bring his two daughters to Indonesia some day.
        On June 23, 2017, he along with his wife Michele and two daughters, Malia and Sasha, aboard a Gulfstream N50JE chartered jet, finally landed at the I Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali.
         Obama and his family were on a vacation in Indonesia until July 2. He had visited Bali Island, Yogyakarta, Central Java, Bogor, and Jakarta.
        During his vacation in Bali, they stayed for five days until June 28 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Sayan, Ubud, Gianyar District.
        Obama had enjoyed rafting down the Ayung River, which is a popular tourist spot in Bali, with Michelle, Malia, and Sasha, at Banjar Dinas Karang Dalem I, Bongkasa Pertiwi Village, Abiansemal Sub-district, Badung District.
         The family also took a walk through the lush green Jatiluwih rice terrace, a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage site, and visited Tirta Empul Temple in Tampaksiring.
        The Indonesian Tourism Travel Bureau Association (Asita) has expressed hope that the visit of former US president Obama to Bali would help attract American tourists to the island.
        "We hope that the number of tourists from the US to Bali would increase," Bali's Asita Chairman Ketut Ardana stated on June 27.
          The number of US tourists to Bali had reached 64,042 during the January-April 2017 period, or an increase of 19.7 percent as compared to that recorded during the same period last year.
        The US stands sixth among the list of 10 countries contributing the largest number of foreign tourists to Bali. The number of foreign tourists to Bali reached 2.3 million during the January-May period this year.
         From Bali, Obama and his family proceeded to Yogyakarta on Jan 28 for a two-day stay that took them to Yogyakarta¿s Sultanate Palace and the world's most famous Buddhist Borobudur Temple as well as Hindu Prambanan Temple located in Central Java, relatively close to Yogyakarta.
         On Jan 30, Obama was welcomed by President Joko Widodo at Bogor Presidential Palace, West Java, some 60 kilometers of Jakarta, where they had a cordial chat in a relaxing atmosphere.
           From the palace, they moved to Grand Garden CafĂ© in the Bogor Botanical Garden, the country¿s oldest botanical garden, which is located adjacent to the presidential palace.
      At the restaurant, surrounded by tall trees, Obama enjoyed his favorite Indonesian food, hot meatball soup ¿ Bakso,¿ while there was drizzle outside.
     On July 1, Obama spoke at the country¿s largest Congress of the Indonesian Diaspora held in Jakarta, where he reiterated that "Indonesia is part of me".
          Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Indonesian Diaspora Network Global, Dino Patti Djalal, noted in a press conference recently that Obama was invited as a keynote speaker at the congress as he has a special relation with Indonesia and has become an inspiring figure for the Indonesian people and diaspora.
        Meanwhile, Indonesia's Minister of Tourism Arief Yahya has urged the Association of the Indonesia Tours & Travel Agencies (ASITA) to create a tourism package that traces Barack Obama's path through Indonesia.
    He expressed hope that Obama's visit helps promote the areas to foreign visitors from Europe and the US.
           "Continue the promotion of Obama's path in Indonesia, so that these spots become more well-known in the world and have new value that can make a significant impact in the tourism field," he remarked.
          Sharing the view of the Tourism Minister, Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi is optimistic that the visit of Obama would help boost Indonesia's tourism sector.
          Sumadi believed the visit, which received worldwide media coverage, to give positive impact on Indonesia's economy.
          "We also have emotional relations with Obama. So, of course his visit is expected to give additional values to the nation," he said.
           Meanwhile, Minister of Communication and Informatics Rudiantara said the visit of Obama projected a picture to the world that Indonesia is safe to visit.
          In general, the presence of Obama here certainly gives a positive impact on Indonesia, meaning that Obama has proven that our country is safe," Minister Rudiantara said.

(T.F001/A/BESSR/F. Assegaf) 04-07-2017

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