Old Lines and New Voyages: Thoughts en route to Jakarta

From Singapore to Jakarta, it is about 1hour 40minutes. I spent the flight crammed into a tiny little AirAsia seat. As I flipped through the in-flight magazines boredly, the spectacular Bromo Massif caught my eye.

I’d been here in 2013, and recognised the iconic scene: Gunung Batok squatting primly in the foreground, Bromo simmering lazily on its left – and lordly Semeru puffing away in the background, dominating the horizon.

Every line I traced brought back memories of the time we’d walked through the dreamlike, ebony Sand Sea; teetered on the rim of Bromo; panted up the severe slopes of Batok – and marvelled in silent awe at this very sunrise tableau from Gunung Penanjakan. That was my second time in East Java, Indonesia.


This time I’m back in Indonesia, albeit for a different reason, amidst valleys of steel and glass instead. Jakarta beckons, with its shrill songs of bright modernity. It is a different tune from the gentle one I’d last heard, rising from the East.

Jakarta: I wonder what I will make of this old Queen of the Orient, this other face of Indonesia, in the coming days.



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