One of the many anomalies in Jakarta culture – a Catholic church in a Muslim country. This is what makes my environment so interesting.
I resolved to get to know my city a bit better. I bought a motorcycle in the early days of December, and, now that it’s finally licensed, I’ve been driving it around my neighborhood. I bought it so that I could get to and from work more easily, but it’s offered so much more than a commuter vehicle ever could.
Jakarta is an immeasurably large city. There are five areas, as far as I can tell, that actually make up the city of Jakarta: South (where I live), North, East, West, and Central. Then there are all the other towns, villages, cities that have been absorbed by the greater Jakarta area. On top of that, the council of people who plan out how the city develops seems to be non-existent. Streets start and stop, lead to suicidal corners and dead-ends, narrow to daredevil dimensions. If rhyme and reason play any part, they are a funeral dirge to the hopes of newcomers wishing to get to know their new city.
Add to all of that the “macet” (literally translated as “jammed” – referring to Jak’s horrible traffic), and buying a car was out of the question. So I bought a motorcycle. What’s great is that, in the three or four days of driving it around my neighborhood, I’ve already scouted a number of places I had no idea existed.
What you see above is an example of one of those places. I particularly love the juxtaposition of the mosque and the graffiti.
I was walking home two days ago and I noticed the Masjid on Kemang Jalan Barat. I snapped a photo. Here it is.
I must be really tired.
My family and I were away for four days this week. Our school gives us a week off in conjunction with the Indonesian observance of Idul Adha, a day of significance for Muslims. We chose to head to another part of the island of Java, to Yogyakarta. Yogyakarta is in Central Java and it’s famous for its batik, its nearness to Mt. Merapi (the volcano that blows its top every couple of years), and two important historical and religious sites.
Borobudur and Prambanan, Buddhist and Hindu temples, respectively, are both located very nearby the city of Yogyakarta. We stayed in a villa in the shadow of Mt. Sumbing, another volcano, and traveled between the two temple sites before returning home. The villa is decidedly rustic and offered beautiful vistas of surrounding rice fields and farms, as shown above, and is surrounded by masjids (mosques) that open the day with prayer at 4:00 am. There is nothing like waking up to someone praying/singing in Arabic before the sun even rises.
On Tuesday, our last day at the villa, I woke up with the call to prayer and snapped some photos as the sun came up. The light was great and the proximity to Mt. Sumbing meant that the air was actually cool. A beautiful experience, to say the least.
I shot this from the window of the bus as I traveled from Jakarta to Bandung. We, my family and friends, went to Bandung for three reasons: outlet shopping, viewing a live volcano, and watching an angklung performance. On the way up, we passed a number of rest stops, but this one came with its own masjid, or mosque. Very beautiful, for a rest stop.
Pretty typical scene on Kemang Raya, the big street near my house in Jakarta. Two guys on a motorcycle. A myriad of shops in the background. A small mosque (masjid). Some construction. Yup. Daily routine right there.
Today was an awesome day. I was in awe quite a number of times. My friends Ian and Karl put together an adventurous day of places to visit and things to learn. Here’s a few of the highlights:
1. The Jakarta Port (the area in which boats are moored that move cargo around the islands of Jakarta).
2. Old Batavia/Jakarta Kota Tua (the old city, built largely by the Dutch).
3. Gereja Katedral Jakarta (a Roman Catholic church built over 100 years ago).
4. The Wayang Museum (wayang are the shadow puppets that are an iconic Indonesia art and drama form).
5. The Misjad Istiqlal (a mosque that holds 200000 worshippers).
I was really excited to get to see all of these places. If I had to be honest, the Istiqlal Mosque was the place I was most looking forward to seeing, and I didn’t even know we were going to see it until halfway through the day. A totally amazing surprise. The place is massive.
The photo above doesn’t do it any justice at all, but I hope that it conveys some of the wonder that I felt standing in that huge place of worship. I should probably point out that the words in Arabic that surround the dome are a prayer that Muslims pray daily (according to our guide). Oh, and the dome you see above is 45 meters in diameter (that’s about 150 feet for my American friends).
I don’t know if those masks are for Idul Fitri or not, but Jakarta is really changing right now. The end of Ramadan coincides with Independence Day here and the city is turning Red and White (the national flag colors) and really devoutly Islamic right now. If I wasn’t suffering culture shock already, I’d be feeling it now.