Saturday, April 14, 2012

Through Touristic eyes: Chapter 1: Jakarta & the islands of Ambon & Seram

where to start? at the start!
Jakarta - capital of Indonesia
as there are no direct flights to Ambon from Australia
... a visit to the capital was required
 the history of Indonesia is so colourful & intriguing
from before the time of Christ
the peoples have held the crucial link 
to trade throughout the known world
they have had influences in their religion,
 their politics, 
their architecture, 
their language,
their education etc
from all corners of our globe
they are a proud people who have
great differences in culture from region to region
when the great European explorers were out to rule the world in
the 15th & 16th centuries
(long after the Chinese spread their wings!)
there was a battle of sorts to rule the oceans of trade & to win the riches
of the spice islands
so the spaniards, the portuguese & the dutch all came
enter my intrigue on the history & 
spread of the blue & white ceramic ware of ancient china & japan
europeans often think of dutch ceramics being the blue & white original
not so
well .... the design ideas & ceramic processes are deeply
imbedded in the dutch occupancy of indonesia
the chinese had traded with the spice islands
for what seems like all of time
& then the europeans came & traded more than just the spices
with great authority the VOC:
the United East India Company
operated by the Dutch government ran the monopoly
over the spice trade routes, acting as both 
merchant trader & military presence
(aka: Pirates of the Caribbean movies!!)
the ports of indonesia are still vibrant trading places today
they gathered power over the people 
& created for themselves a legacy that exists today
of what they left behind was a infrastructure designed to suit their needs
& not those of the peoples .... 

if you trace a path northward from about where Darwin is
continue north over the Timor Sea
fly your way slightly west of East Timor
cross the Banda Sea (in which we have now swum!)
you'll find if you look carefully
an island about the size of our Victorian, Phillip Island named: 
amazingly yes there is an airport!
& then north of there is the much larger, mountainous, remote
 and far less populated island of:

so when the japanese arrived in 1942
Jakarta was named: having been known previously as Batavia by the Dutch
all europeans were arrested as were all signs of dutch rule eliminated
at first the japanese were thought of as liberators!
there were 1131 australians sent to defend the island of Ambon
more died than survived
but those who survived in prison only did because the local 
Ambonese people helped them by smuggling in food & water
the servicemen on return home formed an organization
& they & their descendants are still very active today
giving back to the people of Ambon
Gull Force has helped Lawamena in many projects
 below is a photo of Gabi & Oscar
weaving their way between the graves of the fallen aussie soldiers & their comrades
is where the australians were held captive
there are a number of very large trees that had me spell bound at their beauty
they would be well over 100+ years & there our soldiers lie
under the trees that would have kept them from the heat of the sun so long ago
i like this photo of our kids
Gabi is the daughter of good friends of ours, Aretha & Jessy
founders of Lawamena & organizers of the mission tour
they are australians now but their roots are deeply embedded in Ambon
so to see these two preschoolers, thick as thieves racing about
engrossed in their own games ... not caring for the colour of their own skins
sums it all up for me!
 we are blessed because there were soldiers in our histories
that stood up to save our freedom

another part of Ambon's more recent history is that there was a 
huge government trans-migration programme
to move lots more muslim people from densely populated areas
into the strong christian growth areas
ambon was one of these 
... the dutch had such a strong christian influence that remains strong today
... so there are mosques & churches that stand side by side
 the gateway to ambon
so so so hot!!
 traditional weaving
traditional 'crazy bamboo' dance
 traditional children's shell orchestra
i had a go & these shells are REALLY hard to make a sound from
let alone play a tune!
 Oscar playing more music
bells or drums ... kind of both!
 beautiful faces
these boys followed us down a track from a village
i turned around to take their photo & they ran
ran like the wind .... giggling!
they followed us intrigued!!
finally the posed for me
 we went to the island of Seram
to visit the village of Rumakai where Jessy's family is originally from
15 years ago when Jessy & Aretha eloped
Aretha was not formally welcomed into the family
so we went as her adopted family & she was very warmly welcomed!
below is one of the famous 3 Rumakai water falls
we walked in ... & swam
it was sticky & hot & the water was such a relief
was a little slice of magic on earth
 not sure these waters have been witness to so much pale skin?

on both Seram & Ambon we had some time to relax
in the stunning aqua green waters of the Banda Sea
another slice a heaven on earth
i'll let these photos speak for themselves
 Willie you make the best fried eggs ....

 how to get there ...
fly to Jakarta
then another flight to Ambon
travel by boat to Seram
go by car over the 69 bridges
across 2 mountains
watch out for mini land slides
gigantic potholes & puddles the size of small lakes!
past the village at the end of the road
where the villagers carry all your bags
& carry your child on their shoulders
across the rickety holey wooden bridge over murky waters
past the little church with a view
to the jetty with no last step
onto the long boats ....
across the bay
under the misty mountains
by the limestone cliffs
to huts over the coral waters
where you can watch the fishy colours swim by
*** but beware of stone fish ***
& feast on fresh lobster
eat by candle light
(because the generators only run a few hours each day)
& just be
we are honored to have seen & smelled & tasted & heard & sung & swum & been
 we enJOYed the journey


Cas said...

wow-zers, im left speechless & filled with so much knowledge! what an amazing experience :) all worth the hard work leading up to it :)

Karen said...

Lovely post Wendy - it's great to get a bit of history too - thank you for sharing.
Whenever I am having a 'bad' day I will think of that swing over the water - so tranquil!