Photos: On the waterfront at Sunda Kelapa

A dock worker takes a cigarette break on top of a pile of rice sacks
© Andrew Brown/2019/Indonesia

I first visited Indonesia ten years ago, when I was based in UNICEF’s Asia-Pacific regional office in Bangkok. At the time, I was blown away by the country. Even Jakarta, mostly known as a characterless urban sprawl, impressed me with its little known gems such as the old docks at Sunda Kelapa. I was fortunate to make a local friend, Charlie, who took me there one weekend at sunrise to photograph the wooden boats loading up with cargo. I wrote about the experience at the time in my previous blog, Siamese Dream.

Years later, I returned to Indonesia for a three-month secondment from my new ‘duty station’ in Malawi, southern Africa. I reconnected with Charlie who, in a series of small world moments, had also worked for me in Malawi. Together with another friend Felice, we made a second visit to the docks. The wooden ships remained frozen in time but in the intervening years I had upgraded my camera and photography skills. We were fortunate to be invited on to the deck and roof of one of the boats, KLM Musha Karya (Hard Working Creation), as it was loading up, giving us opportunities for new camera angles. The sailors even helped us climb the gangplank and posed for photos.

Here are some of my favourite pictures from an unforgettable morning reconnecting with my South East Asian past:

A row of large wooden ships moored along the quayside at Sunda Kelapa
© Andrew Brown/2019/Indonesia
On the deck of the KLM Musha Karya
© Andrew Brown/2019/Indonesia
A dock worker attaches a pile of cement bags on the back of a lorry to a crane arm
© Andrew Brown/2019/Indonesia
A crane operator, on the deck of the Musha Karya, moves the cement bags into position
© Andrew Brown/2019/Indonesia
Sailors help lower the cement bags into the hold of the boat
© Andrew Brown/2019/Indonesia
An older sailor watches the loading from a nearby ship
© Andrew Brown/2019/Indonesia
One of the Musha Karya sailors poses for a photo after loading the cargo
© Andrew Brown/2019/Indonesia
Cargo is loaded onto another ship further down the harbour
© Andrew Brown/2019/Indonesia
Dock workers take a break, leaning against the tyres of a large lorry
© Andrew Brown/2019/Indonesia
Me and Felice in front of a row of wooden boats
© Charlie Hartono Lie/2019/Indonesia
Me and Charlie practicing martial arts on the roof of the Musha Karya
© Felice Bakker/2019/Indonesia
Portrait of an old ship on the waterfront at Sunda Kelapa
© Andrew Brown/2019/Indonesia
Close up of a bollard where the ship is secured
© Andrew Brown/2019/Indonesia

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