Photo Walk Taman Fatahillah

Nothing feels better than a Friday Photo Walk, no matter the heat and dust and all other daily life problems.

To Taman Fatahillah last week, I chose to ride the TransJakarta busway from Blok M to Kota. It would be a super way to get around the city if there were more routes; such a perfectly good system – for Rp 3500 (a third of a dollar), you can ride anywhere on the busway, as long as you don’t exit the turnstiles.

And old city (Kota Tua) is one of my favourite people-watching hangout places in Jakarta. It has a large wide open square (gasp!) and old buildings with loads of character. And cannon balls lying around the fringes. Buildings falling apart. Artists, handicraft pedlars and prettified bicycles. Cafe Batavia with all the old-world charm you could imagine.

This time, being nosy photographers, we found our way into a dilapidated building, that had a small workbench for carving traditional wayang kulit puppets. The craftsman worked in the neighbouring Wayang Museum, but took some time out to pose for us and regale us with his tales. After loitering about for an hour, we realised that the building wasn’t coming crashing down just yet, so we venture upstairs to see the ruin.

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This year couldn’t have been more different from the last one, same time. Last year, we had a house full of guests for 4 months, shrieks of laughter and fun, dashing about madly with monthly trips to Bali.

This year, we’ve had no travel after the Mumbai trip, now we’re in the process of moving house, and the future is one big blank. We have no idea where we’re going, and the move is a month away. What will it be? Back to India? Stay in Indonesia? Move someplace else???

In the midst of all this uncertainty, there was one bright spot – a tour to the Basoeki Abdullah Art Museum. Basoeki has beenĀ one of the prominent artists of Indonesia, having painted numerous portraits, particularly of world leaders, which are displayed in this museum.

The museum offered us a short art workshop after the tour. This was my output:

Art workshop


Good or not, it was great to step out of my comfort zone. I feel better already.

Photo Walk Blok M Bus Station

Our photo walking group has grown! A couple of weeks ago, we found an exciting spot to have a photo walk – the Blok M bus station.

For once, there weren’t officials chasing us, as we tried to capture the essence of a bus terminus and the tiny market next door. In fact, most bus drivers were amused and rather willing to pose, as were many of the passengers.

After the pristine landscape at the Dutch cemetery, it was exciting to be in the midst of all the action, with chaotic traffic, exhaust fumes, and willing models!


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A Study Tour to Banten

One fine Sunday morning, a bunch of us from the Indonesian Heritage Society set out to nearby Banten for a tour. This is part of our Forts, Ports and Palaces study group, which is as fun as its name.

Banten is about an hour’s drive from Jakarta, and in its heyday, was one of the reasons for the Dutch supremacy in the archipelago. According to one account, when the Mataram empire wanted to fight the Dutch in Batavia (now Jakarta) to gain control of Java, Banten, their rival, did not support them, and the Dutch won that battle, and eventually over generations succeeded in establishing themselves all over. During that period, Banten lost its own shine, and is now not even a shadow of its old self, as even the palaces have been long destroyed, leaving almost nothing off their heritage structures. Yeah, I’ve been studying.

There’s a tiny but interesting museum that shows some of the town’s former glory, primarily their water pipeline system (in pictures only) that would filter water from the reservoir and reach the palace in purified form. They also have a few remnants from the palace structure

Banten Banten

The karaton or palace was razed by the Dutch but the grounds have been preserved as a heritage site.

Sunday is market day in the village, and most of the folks seem to like to hang out at the masjid near the market. There were hordes by the sultan’s graves, on the minaret, all over the masjid, in the heat, just having a good time.

After the sultan was banished from the old palace, he built a second one nearby, which was also subsequently destroyed.

Besides the palace ruins, we also saw a little of the port, and a Chinese temple (the best preserved structure) across what used to be the Dutch garrison.

There’s not much to see, in terms of checkbox for being there and doing that, but some food for thought on how a large kingdom could come to this state.


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Weekly Photo Challenge: Perspective

Photo challenge this week has sent me to trawl through my 20000+ photos to see if there’s anything that “isn’t exactly what it appears to be”. I found one:



That’s Souvik at Angkor – in the right spot to be puckering up to the Vishnu-carved temple face. At various monuments, you can see people being silly like this; I’ve seen them at the Leaning Tower of Pisa, at the Taj Mahal at Agra, even at the seaside, making perspective distorted photos. We were tempted by this spot at Angkor – the Bayon temple.

The angle of the photographer has to be just right, otherwise it’s just a person sitting on a ledge, like my friend here:



Weekly Photo Challenge: Abandoned

What timing for this theme! Just last week, my friend found a kitten abandoned in her garage, and adopted it. Then she had to go out of town for a while, so I happily took charge of the little fellow while she was away. He’s called Ginger, and in the space of 7 days, has grown from a tiny squeaky creature, to a confident, still-tiny little brat.

Milk from a bottle, potty in a litter box, oodles of cuteness, this boy has it all!

His family is back tomorrow, and only Mia will be happy to see him go. She’s had enough of sharing him with Rofa.

Abandoned no more, this blue-eyed beauty is bound to be a heartbreaker!

Ginger at home