Tuesday, April 1, 2014

World Tour Revisited: From Bandoeng to Soerabaja, March 30 - April 1, 1932


Where in the world are Charlie and Syd? Here is a map of Java and their stops between
Batavia (Jakarta) and Surabaya (Soerabaja). 

When we last left Charlie and Syd they were in Batavia and had arranged to travel by car through Java to Soerabaja (Surabaya) where they would catch the K.P.M. steamer for Bali. The drive is over 400 miles, so they stopped along the way in Bandoeng (Bandung), Garoet (Garut), & Djokja.

The brothers describe their journey:

Charlie:
From Batavia to Bandoeng took six hours by motor along fine roads. We put up at the Preanger Hotel and indulged in a hot bath in European fashion, the only hotel in Java where you can do so, as all the rest of them use the dipper system, where in place of a bath there is a well-like structure filled with water which you pour over yourself from a dipper. 
After dinner we motored to Garoet and stayed there for the night. It was here that I encountered my first experience with a "Dutch wife" whom after you've lived in the tropics for any length of time you find indispensable.
A Dutch wife is a bolster-shaped pillow which you place between your knees to keep cool during the sweltering nights, and which acts as a soothing comforter to your nerves. When first informed of their function I laughed, but after my initiation, when retiring I always insisted on my "conjugal rights." 
Syd:
We get a lot of amusement out of "Dutch wife" in bed.
Illustration depicting Garoet and the "dutch wife" by Robert Geller
from "A Comedian Sees The World," "Woman's Home Companion," Dec. 1933
Charlie:
However, during the night there is more to keep you company than a Dutch wife. Flying bugs and tropical insects will hover around your mosquito netting, serenading you with strange noises. Whisks are kept in every room to shoo them away. My first night's adventure gave me many comedy ideas for a picture.

Syd:
In the morning we found the hotel had a beautiful view over the mountains and valleys. We drive to Tjisoeroepan Hot Springs, Lake Leles and Bagendit. We threw out money to crowds of kids. Girls entirely nude came running out of the lake to get their share...We dismiss car and take train to Djokja. There is no room in the carriages, so we sat in dining room all the way. We are smothered with smoke and dirt from the engine. We decide not to travel again by train. We stay at the Grand Hotel in Djokja.
Next morning we visit the  Borobudur Temple. This is the famous temple that was covered up by the jungle for many years.
We motored to Soerabaja. We arrived at night at the Orange Hotel. 

They arrived at the hotel on the evening of April 1st and were greeted by Belgian actress Jeanne Van Rijn and psychic medium Kitty Pétri, who presented Charlie with a bouquet of roses. Afterward he made a brief speech over the radio in the hotel lobby where he told the listeners (via my loose translation of the Dutch newspaper text) that he'd had "a very interesting journey" but was happy and satisfied. "How could I not be with so many smiling faces around me?" he said.

Charlie is welcomed at the Orange Hotel in Soerabaja with a bouquet of red roses,
April 1st, 1932

At some point during their travels in Java, Charlie and Syd were introduced to the Dutch feast rijstafel. Syd describes the experience below:
Upon taking your seat at the table, you will be given an extra large deep soup plate which you proceed to fill with rice. Then about thirty waiters immediately line up behind your chair in Indian file, each carrying a different dish containing everything but the kitchen sink and with smells ranging from a hen house to a burlesque chorus dressing room. The consumer then helps himself with a large spoonful of each until his plate resembles a snowy mountain range. Then another bunch of waiters arrives with a  dozen dishes containing every kind of sauce, condiment and chutney possible. You now take off your coat, roll up your sleeves, and unbutton your trousers (not too far down), grab your spoon and dive in. Give your best imitation of a mole and every fifteen minutes come up for air. Shake the rice out of your ears and the sweat from the back of your neck, then dive in again. When you are nearing the bottom of the plate, you again emerge for respiration, also to see if the rest of the guests have departed and if the waiters are preparing to lock up the restaurant for the night. Having then played the waiting game with your table companion to the point of getting him to spring for the check, you then belch your thanks like a well-bred Japanese, hoist yourself out of your chair, and walk bulgingly towards the door. Don't brush the rice off your waistcoat. Leave it. The orchestra will think you have just come from a wedding and will immediately burst forth into Mendelssohn's march as you exit.


Charlie and Syd's home movies of Java.


Coming up: the brothers arrive in Bali on April 3rd, 1932.

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Sources:
Charles Chaplin/Lisa Stein Haven, A Comedian Sees The World, 1933/2014
Lisa K. Stein, Syd Chaplin, 2011
De Indische Courant, April 2, 1932 

5 comments:

  1. There are a lot of smiles in that sweltering heat. I am surprised the men remain fully clothed.

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    1. Given Syd's interest in nudism (as per his bio), I'm surprised he didn't strip down.

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  2. Is there any information about Charlie's first visit to Garut in 1927? According to story told from generation to generation that he and Mary Pickford visited Garut on 1927. There's even a rumor said that Charlie has been treated in sanatorium Ngamplang in Garut.

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    Replies
    1. Chaplin was never there in 1927. Those rumors are false.

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    2. Thank you! I see...I knew it doesn't sounds right when they said Mary Pickford was with him, considering they were not good friend.

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