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: