Archive | December 2016

Pekojan and Glodok walks Jakarta

Rummaging in old photos from the past year and came across a bunch from one of my JKT urban adventures with my excellent buddy, the local artist Sheila. Unfortunately I didn’t have my DSLR on this excursion, only my Sony hand phone. Nonetheless, here are some highlights of what remains of what was the eastern side of old Batavia.

We started just north of the old Chinese district of Glodok and walked into the old Arab and Indian trading district now called Pekojan.

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Here is the sadly dilapidated Langgar Tinggi mosque, built in 1829, front back, and behind. Despite the dirt and neglect, she’s still got lots of beauty…

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Nearby are houses built by Indian merchants that probably date to the late eighteenth century… dilapidated but charming…

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Despite the decay and the proximity of a large rampaging highway, it’s a vibrant neighborhood with no end of energy…

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We wandered back into the eastern edge of Glodok, the old Chinese district…note the shophouses and temples in the chaotic sprawl…

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The narrow, twisting alleyways are filled with architectural gems in various states of neglect…

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It is however a working neighborhood so while some of these buildings are abandoned, most are still used as shophouses…note the bridge room over the alleyway here (above the silver umbrella)…dsc_0194 dsc_0199

And sometimes 20th century gems stand cheek-by-jowl with 18th century structures…

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Unlike the UNESCO flavored historical attractions of Penang and Malacca, Jakarta’s Chinese, Arabic, and Indian colonial trading heritage buildings are part of dirty, smelly, dangerous, chaotic working neighborhoods in a sprawling mega-city which means walking their streets is to experience the old days without the veneer of sophistication in the more well-known Straits architecture tourist destinations. The neglect is sad but the neighborhoods are brimming with energy…definitely not an outdoor museum and there’s nary an art gallery or wine bar in sight…

 

 

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new Opium Traces feature

My latest Opium Traces feature column is now available at popmatters.com. It’s a take-down of the latest John Burdett novel The Bangkok Asset  which misses the mark so widely that it may signal the end of the once incrediable Jitpleecheep detective series.

Check it out here: http://www.popmatters.com/column/robot-zombies-of-angkor-wat-john-burdett-bankkok-asset/

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