19 November 2010

Trip to Indonesia, Part 10: Port Tour

Not far from Jakarta's old town is a busy port where goods travel back and forth between Jakarta and the hundreds of islands of the coast of Java. We took a walk through the port last weekend, and got a pretty unique experience.

Walking through the port.

The merchant fleet based at the port is made up of dozens of wooden ships that look like they come out of a different era, and manned by what seemed to be hundreds of rough-looking--but friendly--men and their families. While the men are loading goods onto the fleet of ships, kids are running around laughing and swimming in the water.

Kids swimming in the bay. As they jumped off the ships we passed, they all waved and asked us to take their pictures.

A ship.

After some lively bargaining with a fisherman by our host, we chartered his dinghy for a fifteen-minute ride around the port for about 8000 rupiah, or about 90 cents. He took us past all the docked ships and past the adjacent shanty village, which was filled with people mending their clothes, repairing roofs and boats, and just doing normal Sunday chores. The water here, like most everywhere in Jakarta, is highly polluted, and trash and human waste fill the port's bay, but the children swimming in it don't seem to care, which leaves me wondering if they have grown immune to the effects of the water, or are just used to symptoms.

Homes of the fishermen and workers.

The boat trip left me amazed at human ingenuity and resourcefulness. The people in the village manage to make what seems to be a thriving village out of such meager resources. At the same time, I could not help but be saddened at the effects of water pollution on the area and its people by the huge population of Jakarta.

The homes even have TV antennae.

The villagers repair the seawall below their homes.

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