Every city has its own flair and specialty. We often don’t observe and see things that are right in front of us. When it comes to exploring our city, we tend to get carried away with our life and daily routine. Many times we travel the world and express how great a city or a country is, forgetting that the grass may be greenest in our own garden. Being born and raised in Jakarta, there have been times in the past that I have complained about the city. Jakarta’s traffic can be crazy, the unending line of malls everywhere can be dull, and the pollution is bad too. Nonetheless, I have learned to look at my city with a new pair of eyes.
There are many ways to explore a city; alone or with friends. I have managed to discover my city with a group of explorers by visiting different parts of the city. Little did I know that despite the traffic and modernization, our city is still rich in history and culture. There are many places I didn’t know about and the experience has broadened my horizons completely. I shall highlight some of the places I enjoyed exploring and learning about. Capturing moments through these trips was an interesting experience. It helped by enhancing my knowledge in photography and practicing to shoot in manual mode. Even while capturing on the iPhone I was able to learn more in terms of exposure, contrast and finding the right balance when shooting.
In Jakarta we have various aspects of culture and history spread in different parts of the city such as museums, historical sites, markets, or even the harbor. As much as I love going to museums, I’d like to highlight the places that made me appreciate my city more.
Glodok is considered our “Chinatown” although it is completely different from the Chinatown in other cities around the world. The history of this area dates back to the Dutch era, where they were brought to Indonesia as slaves from China. They resided in this area and many of them have remained in the area till date. Although, currently the local chinese community have moved to different areas in Jakarta, Glodok still remains the main hub for their supplies of food, vegetables, and medicines. The tour around this place was thoroughly fun. In Jakarta, we are used to traveling around in cars, unlike other cities where you can enjoy the pleasure of walking and taking the local transportation. Thus, walking around Glodok and the markets was a new experience for me. We learned about the cultural heritage and historical treasures. The narrow alleys, the muddy streets and the rundown buildings were part of our adventure. We were able to see a few Buddhist Temples that still exist, and had a good walk around the markets to understand more about the traditional foods among the Chinese community. Taking pictures of the surroundings made one feel like part of their daily routine.
Kota Tua means Old Town, which is the original downtown area of Jakarta. It is also known as Old Batavia. It’s called Old Town because it is the older part of Jakarta which was built during the Dutch colonial rule. There are a few museums around Kota Tua, namely the Wayang Museum (Puppet Museum), the Historical Museum, and the Fine Art & Ceramic Museum. Whilst touring this area, I didn’t feel I was in Jakarta. The architecture and the layout transports you to another place. There is much hope to restore this area to rejuvenate Old Jakarta’s legacy. Some of the buildings are run down but still have some heritage. On the inside of one of the buildings we found stained glass windows, which date back to older times. This was a very rare find and a fascinating one too.
Mosque and Church
The Masjid Istiqlal (Independence Mosque) is known to be one of the largest mosques in Southeast Asia. The national mosque was built to commemorate Indonesian Independence. When entering the Mosque, as any other religious holy place, you feel peaceful and calm. It was a fulfilling experience to explore the architecture of the mosque and feel the atmosphere inside it. It is a massive building and can accommodate up to more than 120,000 people. The building near the Mosque, the Jakarta Cathedral (Roman Catholic Cathedral), also has a very fine and intricate architecture. This building reminded me of the churches we see in European countries. The way it’s built, the feeling inside the church and the complete structure of it is beautiful. It was irresistible not to take a snap or two to capture the details of these buildings.
Sunda Kelapa Harbor
Lastly, our famous Sunda Kelapa harbor, located north of Jakarta, is the old port of our city. Although it is now only a minor port, Jakarta had its origins in Sunda Kelapa and it played a significant role in the city’s development. While walking around the area, there were some interesting spots like the Watch Tower and Maritime Museum. Some of the buildings and the Museum in this area have a lot of history and make one feel nostalgic. The way the ships were lined up, as well as the people and the scenes from the harbor, make you want to capture the moments.
There are still many more interesting sites to see in my wonderful city. It is filled with various colors and exploring it like a tourist, has made me value it even more. I look forward to many more moments of discovering the wonders of Jakarta. I hope you enjoyed walking with me through my pictures and short story. Jakarta may not have a perfect description but it is a part of Indonesia, a country which is diverse, yet united.
Simran is a passionate photographer. She writes for INK361 and with this article we welcome her to the GRRYO team.