Saturday, August 10, 2013

Sunda Kelapa

A month ago Liz, Lewis and I attempted a trip to the port of Sunda Kelapa. Traffic and heavy rain made the going too difficult and so we abandoned the idea. This time however, the large exodus of people from the city for the Idul Fitri holiday meant that it was clear sailing (ha!) and Wendy and I were there in no time.

The trip advisor reviews of this centuries old port swing either way, but my report to you is very favourable! It was a holiday, so there was not the typical hustle and bustle of pirate's work around the dock. I had seen the port in full swing years ago while on a school excursion with Anna's 4th grade class - workers deftly walking the long skinny gangplanks shouldering their cargo on and off these old 2 masted ships, the noisy engines and bilge pumps, the crowded, careful where you step and keep out of harms way atmosphere of a hectic working port.

But this time, there was only this deserted lineup, and of course the guide who sniffed us out immediately.

These schooners look as old as time itself. It seems a wonder they stay afloat. They are navigated by Sulawesi Bugesi sailors who use the stars as their only guide and the wind to power the canvas sails. They transport goods between Jakarta and the islands of the Republic, coming and going from this port for more than 900 years.

They are built from wood as hard as iron by master shipbuilders in southern Sulawesi. Apparently, there is not one nail used in the construction.

We walked a much shorter plank (with assistance, thank you - I had no interest in falling into the very dirty water) to board the vessel "Sentosa Java".

On board, up a ladder to meet the crew...

...They were in the middle of preparing lunch. Everyone was friendly. There was a lot of tittering about my Bahasa Indonesia - I guess we provided some entertainment on a quiet day!

We were invited to take photographs. These sailors enjoyed having their photo snapped.

((I didn't realise when I took this photo that we would actually be visiting this village in the distance via water taxi within the hour. Let's just say, that the dock, the vessels, the water taxi ride were the fun bits of our tour, and what awaited at the village is difficult to describe and reserved for another post.))

Anyway... We negotiated the gangplank, the ship's ladder both up and down, and the great drop down off the dock into the water taxi (picture a rocking canoe), all without incident but with great hilarity and discussion of potential incidents. It's good to have fun and even better, to not end up in the drink!

Out toward the Java Sea we paddled ("we" being the "Royal we"). We had fun on this ride.

it would appear that water traffic in Jakarta is no different from the street traffic!

As we head a bit further out, the ships moored are iron and carry huge cargo, the water becomes choppier and a couple of times laps up over the side of our little dinghy, so time to heave-ho back to port I say!

This was a great adventure. I'm sorry that Liz and Lew missed out on this one. Hopefully next time...
But for Wendy and I, we are only at the halfway mark of our Sunda Kelapa experience, with the visit to the fishing village still ahead of us. I do not know if I will do justice to the telling of Part Two, but I will try.

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