17 November 2010

Trip to Indonesia, Part 7: Jakarta's Old City

For many years, Indonesia was a colony of the Dutch, and in Batavia, Jakarta's old city, that history is most apparent. On Sunday, we took a trip to Batavia to eat breakfast, visit some museums, and then eat brunch.

The Jakarta History Museum (formerly the city hall) and a cannon in the middle of the old city.
Bustling open market in the old city.

Unfortunately, Batavia has now become hugely run down, and most of the once beautiful buildings are in urgent need of repair before they completely collapse. Walking through old city made me really sad, because there is so much potential there. If this part of town was restored, it would be a huge tourist attraction, and would rival the European capitals for its architectural history.

Crumbling facade in the old city.

Many buildings look like they came straight out of Amsterdam.

Kids and homeless people hang out the windows of three-hundred year old buildings in dire need of repair.

Another old Dutch building near collapse in the old town.

Batavia is split in two by a canal, with traditional Dutch buildings lining the sides. The canal is crossed by a beautiful old bridge. But the buildings are falling apart, the bridge is rusting and near collapse, and the canal is filled with human waste and the smell is hard to bear.

Jembatan Kota Intan drawbridge in the old city.
But the old town is also home to a very vibrant scene of merchants, teenagers, families, and tourists all playing together in the streets. There are also a few museums, including one that featured the famous shadow puppets and gamelan, which I got to observe. Gamelan music has an amazing other-worldly sound, and the shadow puppets were fun to watch, though the plot was impossible to follow due to the language barrier.

The museum housing the shadow puppet show.

A picture I took at the shadow puppet show.

Gamelan players at the shadow puppet show.

We also got to eat brunch inside the beautiful Batavia Cafe. The cafe is another remnant of the Dutch colonial era, and being inside of it was exactly like you would expect a tropical colonial club house to be from the movies.

Inside the awesome Batavia Cafe.


Jarred, Angela, and Nathan said...

I absolutely adore the look of tropical European colonies (that is, when they look well-maintained and not about to crumble into ruins). There's something so romantic about the feel of such places -- colonial India, SE Asia, Africa, Caribbean, etc. If I could go back in time... of course, to enjoy it all, I'd have to overlook the hunting, slavery, and thoughtless exploitation of natural resources...or maybe I'd go back to speak out against such injustices and make my way into the history books! Ok, I'm totally rambling. Thanks for another fascinating post, Kevin! -- Angela

Kevin Albrecht said...

Ha ha... no problem. Yeah, it could be so beautiful there if they took the time to make it so.