Visiting Ciliwung River, The Face of Jakarta

It was not a regular Tuesday for me, who usually works from Monday to Friday, from 9 AM to 6 PM. I was still in my Eid al-Fitr holiday that day, so I decided to stroll around the city of Jakarta to the locations I randomly visit.

The place I visited was not a common place for Jakartans to spend their holiday. They would prefer to go to some favorite-crowded places like Monas, Ragunan Zoo, Taman Mini Indonesia Indah (TMII), etc., or then again shopping malls, which can say suit to the ideal holiday type that will not give them an uncomfortable smells.

As a Tangerang citizen, I’ve been passing Tomang flyover, near ITC Roxy Mas, for years by bus no. 157 (Cimone – Pasar Senen), but now mostly by TransJakarta bus which is more comfortable, faster, and cheaper. I can see clearly from where I sit, the giant buildings of Sudirman offices from the distance and recognizable by its green paint and unique architecture like a mosque of Tanah Abang.

I or maybe you, will be amazed how Jakarta has grown with hearts and loves, we put into him, and also the hopes for a better capital city; clean, accessible by less traffic jam, no floods anymore, nicer and responsible people, and all of its citizen living in comfortable areas, homes where they can raise their children for better future generations.

But if you lower your views under the bridge, you will see slum houses, and a giant Ciliwung river with garbage floating above the water. Seeing those views tear down the assumption the glamorous side of Jakarta. It is not a real estate’s commercial that we often see or watch with its “River View or River Side” selling point with ridiculous western names to raise the price up to the sky, and no family under that Tomang bridge could afford.

From my starting point, a wider view of the river stretched in front of me, my eyes wandered around and saw an old man selling secondhand shoes on pedestrian street.

Also, saw a clueless man and another one.

Saw this man makes me grateful for what I have and how I earn for the living.

I also met an older one passed me and easily throw a bucket of garbage into the river. My eyes were rolling and said “WOW” within my heart. I said nothing with “O” shape mouth.

I saw children playing on the river bank and several boats to help people crossing the river from one side to another. They were also playing with pigeons.

As long I was walking there, commuter trains also passed by several times. I imagined, if I’m living there, I couldn’t sleep well due to the shakes and sounds caused by the train.

One fact I found about this river life is the boat owners who are living in the boat itself. I can see the simple kitchen utensils and a shabby pillow inside. There were two boats near me. The owner of the first boat wasn’t there, so I keep walking, but then I saw him on the other side was planting. When I saw the boat condition and the owner, I cried, my heart was hurt so bad, then continue to walk. I hope a better life for him.

I took the second boat. The transportation fee is only cost IDR 2,000,-. So cheap!!! He said that when the night comes or when the water is high, he will lift his boat up to the ground. He lives there, surrounded by the Ciliwung river stinky smell.

Not only human, I also met animal. They enjoyed the friendly weather that day. I met cat, ducks, chickens (hen and cock), and mostly pigeons.

I also scolded by an old woman because I was photographing a pigeon cage which attached to one of the houses. He yelled at me not to photograph the house. I apologize and then go home. I understand why she was angry, because she is afraid that the picture of the house will spread out, maybe the evictions will happen.

My intention to photographs and write this little story is not to exploit their life, not to invite eviction for their houses then transform the area into what they so called ideal type of living defined by most of the real estate company. I try to give a different picture about living in Jakarta, where one side of the city is build with modern architecture and luxurious touch, but the other city side is still in a deep slum. To see them and where they are living, made me more grateful than before. It’s like being slapped back and forth!

Whoever the leader, I hope he can come with great and consistent solutions for all aspects; education, health, infrastructure, residential, and supported by strong and fair regulations, and no room for corruption. Then Jakarta will be a true great city for their citizens.

8 comments on “Visiting Ciliwung River, The Face of Jakarta

  1. Hi there, You have such interesting shots. I’ve been to several slum areas in JKT but have never really strolled along Ciliwung. Through these shots, I’ve got a clearer picture how life goes around the blocks. Thanks for the article and pics.

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