Bemo – Eye of the Tiger / Mimpi jadi Nyata

Lihat ke bawa untuk versi Bahasa Indonesia / Scroll down for Indonesian

Eye of the Tiger

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Judging by its battered skin, this Bemo has lived a full Jakarta life: through years and over broken roads, taking traffic, crashes, dry-season heat, floods, and riots in its stride… Its face reminds me of a World War Two bomber, limping home after another mission to be patched up, reloaded, and sent again into the maelstrom.

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source: ww2day.com

The Bemo is almost extinct in Jakarta. I photographed the old soldier above near Grogol station in West Jakarta, and I gather there are still a few working routes around Blok M and Cililitan.

Not a lot of people know that the bemo‘s secret identity is the Daihatsu Midget. They were produced in Japan from 1957, with the model popular in Jakarta (the MP) realised in 1959. There’s an example in the Museum Transportasi at Taman Mini Indonesia, where you can read about the connection between the arrival of the Bemo, the Asian Games (held in Tokyo in 1958 and Jakarta in 1962), and GANEFO (Games of New Emerging Forces – Sukarno’s post-colonial, non-aligned bloc that stood apart from both Warsaw Pact countries and the Soviet bloc).

Apart from its unusual shape, two things strike me about the bemo: the first is that the petrol tank in the early versions was simply a jerrycan located between the driver’s legs, with a straw through the cap to feed the engine – easy enough to remove and take to the petrol station on foot. The second is how small the space in the rear is for its six passengers – perhaps more viable a generation ago when people were smaller. Apparently the bemo was never intended to transport humans, but Jakartans have always been inventive…

So I tip my hat and emote “thumbs up” to you, Bemofaithful servant of the megapolis:


Don’t lose your grip on the dreams of the past
You must fight just to keep them alive

It’s the eye of the tiger
It’s the thrill of the fight
Rising up to the challenge of our rival
And the last known survivor
Stalks his prey in the night
And he’s watching us all with the eye of the tiger

Face to face, out in the heat
Hanging tough, staying hungry
They stack the odds still we take to the street
For the kill with the skill to survive

Survivor, Eye of the Tiger

Mimpi Jadi Nyata

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Lihat wajah bemo ini, yang seribu kali menempuh jalanan Jakarta, gigih memikul bebannya menghadapi kemacetan, ketabrakan, terik matahari, banjir, kerusuhan… mengingatkan saya akan muka pesawat pengebom era Perang Dunia II, untuk sekian kali pulang terpincang-pincang untuk ditambal, dimuatin ulang, dan berjibaku lagi ke medan pertempuran…

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sumber: ww2day.com

Bemo merupakan jenis kendaraan umum yang hampir punah di Jakarta – saya memotret prajurit tua ini dekat Stasiun Grogol, Jakarta Barat, dan sepertinya masih ada beberapa di sekitar Blok M dan Cililitan.

Tidak banyak orang yang ketahui nama asli sang bemo adalah “Daihatsu Midget” (atau “kerdil”), buatan Jepang yang mulai diproduksi pada tahun 1957. Model yang umum di Jakarta adalah versi kedua, model MP, diproduksi dari tahun 1959. Ada contoh di Museum Transportasi di Taman Mini dan disitu terdapat informasi bahwa kedatangan Bemo ke Indonesia ada kaitan dengan Asian Games dan GANEFO.

Selain dari bentuk yang menarik, hal kedua yang menonjol bagi saya adalah tanki bensin versi awal, yang merupakan jerikan di kokpit yang gampang diangkat, dibawa jalan kaki ke pompa besin untuk diisi ulang… hal ketiga yang menonjol adalah sempitnya bagian penumpang, tempat beradu lutut bagi enam penumpangnya. Tentu saja, di Jepang kendaraan ini tidak dimaksud menjadi kendaraan angkut manusia, tapi tidak apa-apa kok, di Jakarta dari dulu mimpi bisa jadi nyata…

Saya angkat topi dan kedua jempol kepadamu Bemo, abdi negara yang setia – “janganlah berhenti percaya, engkau pasti akan ke sana…” (boleh juga coba menyanyikan  Eye of the Tiger).

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