• January 24, 2020
  • WORDS BY Beau Flemister
  • PHOTOS BY Drew Martin & Drew Smith

Journey Through Jakarta

The Symbiotic Chaos of it All

It's hot, the downtown Jakarta traffic is flowing at an incandescent pace, and all that matters is not losing your line amidst the madness. It feels like the most dangerous ride of your life until a family of six flies past you, half of which are asleep. Somehow this eases your stress.

The sight of Java by motorbike is a blur

...speeding and sputtering down the clogged artery-like highways that squeeze through the jungle. But if you squint just right and let your eyes relax, you catch rich glimpses of the chaos within the blur. Hallucinations. Fever dreams. They say that delusions in a fever dream occur because the brain’s temperature rises, disrupting normal cognitive processes, but I can't say that any of us are actually under the weather. It's just Java. It’s just the equator. It's just hot. And perhaps we’re all a little loopy with hunger—it's the holy month of fasting during daylight hours—so most warungs (roadside cafes) are closed till sunset.

Nevertheless, a family of six packed on a motorbike, two of the four children literally sleeping through the bumps and beeps and blaring songs of prayer, crooning Allahu akbar passes Jamie “The Chief” Thomas, Jonno Gaitan and Jack Bailey in a cloud of exhaust, as the three men decide that it’s officially time to get of this particular mode of transportation. In this traffic, finding suitable skate spots around the megalopolis of Jakarta might as well be done by skateboard. And, so the boys skate. And they explore…

Banks, Rails & courtyards

Well, at least Jamie and Jonno, do. Just yesterday, Jack caught a rock in the eye, while on his bike, nearly ripping of his left cornea. A little slower today with a fresh gauze patch, he has now become One Eyed Jack, translating Bahasa Indonesia for the crew, gleaned from an adolescence raised around these parts. But as Jamie Thomas and Jonno find trippy little banks, rails and courtyards to keep them busy, it’s hard to tell what’s more amazing to watch: a wide-eyed, young Jonno taking in every smell, sound and taste on his very first trip to Asia, or the local children that gather around each time the two skate, dumbfounded by this foreign black magic. Occasionally, Jakarta’s sky-faucet turns and its monsoon showers stop the session, inversely offering a brief respite from the heat. En route an old shipyard that might offer some potential for the boys, The Chief and Jono grab nasi uduk lunches from a cart, (one of the few actually selling food) and Jono marvels at his meal wrapped in banana leaf, yet another “first” for him.

Dusk begins to fall after the boys thoroughly explore the ancient, sunbaked port—both by board and by boat—and as the night settles in, hungry, fasting crowds storm the streets. Wandering into a frenetic food market, although One Eyed Jack is pretty comfy with his choices, Jamie and Jonno gamble with the menus, ultimately learning those two little magic words in Indonesia that should get you fed without too much confusion: nasi goreng (fried rice)."

Worldly Views

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Chief finds solace and a view atop a lonely skyscraper.

Views from above.

"The local children gather around each time the two skate, dumbfounded by this foreign black magic..."

Jonno, pulled in by Jakarta local moments before the monsoon.