Sunday, February 19, 2006

Jakarta Beginnings: Sunda Kelapa Harbour

Sunda Kelapa Harbour

The nearest most tourists ever get to Jakarta is a stopover at the airport in route to Bali. But it does have a few places tucked away here and there where the intrepid traveller or the Jakartan who simply can not stomach another trip to the mall might consider visiting. Sunda Kelapa harbour and its immediate environs is one such place. It is where the Dutch first set up shop and was a hotspot back in the days when spices of the south seas were a driving force in the burgeoning global economy. Eventually the area was abandoned by the Dutch. They moved inland to escape the disease and squalor of the low lying area. The port remained as a primary trading venue until the modern facility at TanJung Priok was built 20 kilometers away to accomodate the hulking bulks of modern day ocean going vessels. But Sunda Kelapa continues to be a vibrant port today dealing in interisland trade primarily between Jakarta, Sulawesi and Kalimantan. The centuries old traditional shipping routes are still followed and ancient methods of naviagtion practiced; the captain's deck is not equipped with modern day navigational equipment. The ships, known as bugis pinisi, are made by hand out of iron wood. Iron wood is soft when wet and thus pliable but dries into a very hard, durable wood. The schooners now use diesel engines but the sails are still in place just in case the 300 horsepower (about the size of the engines in Chevy pick up truck) engine conks out. Diesel power has cut the trip from Jakarta to Kalimantan, one of the main routes, from about a month to 3 days. The harbour is open to the public, the atmosphere is pretty laid back and it is possible to get up close and personal with the action. You can actually arrange to make the journey on a schooner through agents of the tourist department milling around the harbour. It would certainly be an interesting alternative to Bali for a long holiday weekend - sailing the south seas with the Bugis.
Two brand new Bugis Pinisi looking very pirate shippish. There were three brand new ships docked in the harbor when we visited. They take about two years to build and cost about 200,000 $ US. The ships are made in Sulawesi then sail to Sunda Kelapa harbour where they are painted before beginning their carreers. These beauties were waiting for their cosmetic makeovers.
Another view of the new ships. They can sail for 50 years before they are required by law to undergo a complete overhaul.

A view of the Bugis schooners lined up waiting for loading and unloading. The primary trade is in lumber from the islands coming to Jakarta and cement, flour, cloth and other processed items going outward. The wood is of secondary quality and is used in housing construction for frames and such. The top quality timber is exported internationally. According to one of the harbour fellows we chatted with, the stacks of lumber are quite smaller than in recent years when illegal logging in Jakarta was much more prevalent. Now most likely the illegal timber trade avoids high profile places like all together and involves more clandestine distrubution facitlites.

Low rider. Fully loaded with bags of cements and ready to make the return trip to Kalimantan. Cargoes of cement are a bit tricky due to the posibility of the cement taking on water and dramatically increasing in weight - not a good thing when riding that low. The long board strapped to the back right side (starboard stern??) of the ship is the rudder that is used if and when the boat is forced to rely on its sails for power.
Walking the gang plank with another low rider in the background.

All the loading and unloading is done by hand. The labourers live in a village nearby and work 10 hour days. They earn about 15 dollars a day - bit more if unloading cement - due to the unpleasant combo of sweat and cement dust. These guys were unloading lumber.
One man's trash is another man's treasure. A local gathering driftwood floating among the flotsam.
A purveyor of iced juice waits for a break in the action and potential customers from the cement crew.

Old school bicycle

On the other side of the harbour are larger boats. The work is done by a combination of hand labor and machines.

Down in the hold of a ship, workers unload another crane full of cement bags.

A view from the village that built up around the harbour. It is one of the oldest in Jakarta. It houses the laborers who load and unload the cargo and a community of local fisherman.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Jakarta to Lombok

Scenic overlook of the south coast of Lombok. Notice all the breaks.

There are a lot of dogs in Lombok. On the hour long drive from the airport in Mataran to Kuta, I counted 52. I began my count a little more than half way into the trip because I was so impressed by how many dogs I was seeing. So the actual count of dogs that one might see on any given night driving from the capital to the south coast is around 100. These are not cuddly little lap dogs or romp about lab types – they are street dogs – scruffy, gnarly, skittish, tough and hungry. And they take the street thing very seriously. Several times, no, every time we came across a dog it was in the street and did not relinquish its real estate until the last possible moment. One time we actually lost in a heart stopping game of chicken as the dog in the street that we were baring down upon had found a particularly precious road kill and refused to budge from its claim. We were forced to swerve out of the way to avoid hitting the determined pup. I am not sure why Lombok has such a large population of dogs – Jakarta has very few – thus the silly amount of street cats.

I am reading How Soccer Explains the World a book that uses soccer as an analogy for globalization. Consider English soccer. Before the Premier League came into its own most English teams were made up of players from England with maybe some Scotts and a Welshman now and then. The advertisements adorning the field and the team kit were for English banks, lager and such. Winning the first division league title or the FA cup was the primary goal. This is no longer the case. Take Chelsea, the English Premiere League champs for example. The team roster includes a few Brits but primarily consists of players from all over the world including not only Europeans but several Africans and a few South Americans. The coach is Portuguese and the owner is a Russian oil magnate. Samsung, a Korean multinational giant, is the primary sponsor or at least the company that won the bidding war for the rights to the Chelsea jersey. In recent years Siemens (German) and Fly Emirates (United Arab Emirates) have adorned the Chelsea Blue. They play in a number of international tournaments like the Champions league and possibly the FIFA club world Championship.

This weekend I experienced another interesting example of globalization in the sports world – surfing in Lombok. I, an American from the US, staying at the Novotel, part of the French hotel giant Accor Group was picked up early in the morning by a surf guide and driver from Lombok, Indonesia driving a Japanese SUV. We drove to a small fishing village where we hopped on a small Lombok style fishing boat and after about a twenty minute boat ride arrived at the break called Grupuk. Here I was at a surf spot off the south coast of Lombok, an island barely known outside of Indonesia feeling pretty adventurous and Endless Summerish until I noticed the twenty Japanese guys bobbing up and down in the lineup. I was wearing a Dahui brand rash/sun guard made in Hawaii, and Quicksilver shorts from the US both purchased in Bali. Unfortunately I had left my board behind in Jakarta, an Australian board which I bought in south Java. But the board I was using truly represented the globalization of surfing - it was called a McBoard and had a big McDonald’s style “M” in the logo.

Another funny thing about surfing; if you don’t do it that often, you find out that all sorts of unexpected body parts are used because they hurt a lot the next day. It makes sense that your neck, shoulders, upper arms, would hurt from the paddling and that your stomach might be sore from rubbing on the board. But I forgot about my mouth hurting after not surfing for a while. Mouth? Indeed. When paddling for a wave I push down on the front of the board with my chin to force the board down. My chin has not been used as a speed boosting device for quite some time so the muscles in my jaw are rather sore. Sure do learn a lot of stuff from surfing – economic trends, anatomy ….

Lombok is advertised as the way Bali was 30 years ago. It is incredibly beautiful and has some of the most amazing beaches I have ever seen. Not to say Bali is not wonderful but certain parts of it are getting rather intense. Lombok is changing. Our driver today pointed out where the new international airport is to be built. Today it is rice fields, in a few years it will be bringing tourists from the world to discover Lombok. This is the idea – will it become Bali in 30 years time? Time will tell – and is that a good thing? Our driver certainly seemed to think so – he wants to make money. So consider checking out Lombok – just don’t get too intense.

Emmerson sporting the Gilligan look. This is the view from a new restaurant/hang out place. The owner(s)/operator(s) is/are Australian with a pretty nice piece of real estate. I can't recall the name but will post it later on. Worth checking out.
One of the many incredible beaches in Lombok - empty.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Jakarta New Year

Chinese New Year in Jakarta

Emmerson is very excited about the Chinese New Year.
Emmerson telling Gracie how much she loves the Chinese New Year

A photo of Emmerson with the wayan puppet that the dahlang (pupeteer) had given to us at Alicia's 7 month pregancy ceremony last year. Alicia recently went to another all night wayan kulit show with the same dahlang and wanted to show him Emmerson posing with the puppet he had given to her.