Jalan Surabaya Hidden treasures of Jakarta

From the remnants of a post Dutch-colonial rule emerges an unexpected nostalgic glow, sweeping through the city of Jakarta.

Indonesia has been free from Dutch colonial rule since the 1940’s; however much of its legacy is still apparent today. “Many of Jakarta’s Dutch-influenced buildings are located mostly in the north parts of Jakarta, the old town”, says Harri, who works as a tour guide through the city. However, despite the colony's past, Harri thinks the people of Indonesia are not ones to hold a grudge.

“It’s like an emotional bond... most elderly people from the Netherlands visit Jakarta time and time again… so we don’t have hard feelings for them, we welcome them”.

Away from the bustling streets and high-rise buildings however, the days of colonial past have left a different kind of impression.

Tucked away between the busy streets and flowing canals of Menteng, the sounds of traffic are softened by the chatter of men and their gutter-side workshops. The Jalan Surabaya Markets are a hub teeming with forgotten artefacts from Indonesia’s exotic history. Lined with over 200 antique stalls, each as different as the next.

The men who work the stalls are both owners and volunteers. For some, they have been around since the official opening over 40 years ago. They say their customer base is becoming increasingly younger and are mostly now tourists; people who want a taste of eras before their time.

"People come from Holland, they come from Australia, they come from Melbourne and from Buddhist countries to Jalan Surabaya"

No two days are the same: this vendor said he had worked at the market for 20 years and his stall, like many others, had been passed down through family generations

"Not all of the antiques are genuine, but they come from different times ... some come from Dutch, some from France, some from Germany. "

With every year that passes, the markets themselves represent a connection between Indonesia’s Dutch heritage and a new strive for independence. The nostalgic ambience of Jalan Surabaya is what drives the sales for such seemingly out of place pieces.

“Jalan Surabaya is always passed from the father to the son to the daughter and so on”

With most vendors moving into their 5th decade of service, it is the passing down of these stalls through family generations that will connect Indonesia's colonial past with the present, and the present, with the future.

Created By
Chloe Belchamber


All photos taken by Chloe Belchamber

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