Sunday, 25 June 2006

Jakarta: A City of Contrasts

JK: In rather Forest Gump-like fashion, I was sent to Jakarta at the last minute to present a paper on European human security at a conference on South East Asian Security Cooperation. Although most of my time was spent in the conference room, I did have 1.5 days to explore the city. Unfortunately, there was no time to actually get out of the capital and explore the countryside.

Jakarta is Blade Runner-esque. Huge skyscrapers straddled by shanty towns. Ultra-modern indoor shopping malls enveloped by garbage strewn canals. I love cities, warts and all, but I have to say it was difficult to be charmed by Jakarta's wares. Still, there were wacky and neat things to see.

Some of the highlights included the old harbour, where only sailing schooners without engines are permitted to dock (pic below). The sea of TV antennas popping up along the sides of highway bridges was also interesting. I found out that the "super-stretched" antennas came from illegal shelters built underneath the bridges. For more photo evidence of this trip, click here.

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