Our Friday Photo Club went out to Chinatown last week, for obvious reasons. Chinese markets anywhere in the world are exciting places to walk about, and Glodok in Jakarta is no different. We went without a map, without a guide, just following the crowds into the narrow lanes that were ablaze in red for new year festivities. Spoiler: In case you like eating all the stuff that moves, but are grossed out by how they land on your plate, you might want to skip these photos. I was trying to conquer my fear by getting up close, and cheated with the zoom lens a bit! So here are some of the exciting goods on offer:
Cross section of a big fish
Looking for a way out
Frogs on a string
It’s exactly what you think it is
No idea what creature this is!
Turtle in a box, trying its hardest to escape
And some of the innocuous ones:
Plenty of interesting faces:
And hey, it’s the Chinese New Year, so let there be light, and lots of colour!!!
Gong Xi Fa Cai!
I (re)learnt my first lesson in the new year – stay away from crowds! I usually do avoid crowds, but we thought it would be cool to join the locals on the street on car-free night in the heart of Jakarta. A heavy meal, a slight drizzle, surprisingly low traffic made for a pleasant ride all the way from home to Jalan Sudirman. It was fun to weave through the pedestrians, all heading to the Grand Indonesia circle or to MONAS, enjoying street performances of pop, wayang and other music along the way.
Then I took a wrong turn, got separated from Souvik, and pressed into a mob of a few thousand for over an hour, trying to inch my way somewhere. As the clock struck midnight, I converted to Indonesian, stopped pushing, and just admired the fireworks standing where I was.
Full credit to all those thousands of Indonesians who were ALL well-behaved, never abusing, manhandling, pickpocketing or any of those horrifying things that could happen anywhere, more so in my own country. In the light of current events, it was a double blessing.
Souvik and I got together a couple of hours later, I vented out all my irritation of being stuck, took a shower, ate an ice-cream, and my good humour was restored! Looks like the new year will be happy after all.
.. Tet, the Vietnamese new year around February, when the whole country comes to a standstill. All expats go out travelling, and all locals head back to their provinces to ring in the new year with their families. All the “Chúc mừng Năm mới” (happy new year) signs from 31 December stay on, the peach blossoms start sprouting all over the place, and the Abba song, ‘happy new year’ is played repeatedly in cafes, malls, cabs, just about any place you hang out, outside home. I’ve never stayed in Vietnam for Tet, but the buildup to the festival is much more fun.