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Wet feet in North Jakarta, 1 YOGYAKARTA - Traveling by minibus we arrived in Jakarta from Bandung with a large detour via Soekarno-Hatta International Airport we were dropped at our destination, a boarding house in Pluit, a neighborhood in the far north of Jakarta. A friend of us also stayed in the boarding house, so it seemed like a nice idea to spend several nights there, also because there was a nice shower and air-conditioning of course. Without both it would be a pretty sweaty adventure in the always sticky city of Jakarta. In this case preventing is better than having to look for a cure later on, so we preferred a room in the boarding house. After we dropped our bags we ate something, because lunch time had already passed. After lunch we had a quick look around to see where we had ended up after all.

Pluit is a neighborhood in Jakarta which was built in an area that can be compared to Amsterdam. Instable underground of sand and a swampy upper layer that used to be the general defense against the sea until several decades ago, when the former city of Jakarta was still smaller and protected by hundreds of meters of mangrove forests before you would reach the sea. These mangroves have virtually disappeared and were replaced by mainly concrete structures over time. Not a very pleasant area to live in, was my first quick conclusion. However I was to find out myself what a bad place this is to live in. Not so strange anyway that people started living here not too long ago, even the Dutch didn't want to build a big city here, that is why they were looking for places like Buitenzorg (the current city of Bogor) and Bandung to build larger cities.

A pure necessity it is to live here and that the mangrove forest was turned into a concrete mass, smelly cars and open sewers. Unfortunately a necessity, because at first glance there was no planning for building this part of the city on this underground. For the time being it will be fine, the streets are still fairly straight and water still drains away into the sea, however it can take some time every once in a while. Water in the streets is not something strange for this city of concrete, let alone when the wet season arrives. Just assume from me that last December the wet season had already picked up more than enough steam. That was very well noticeable; sometimes because of rain at the spot, but more often because rainwater from other parts of the city finds it's way to the beach via Pluit - and other neighborhoods that are located just around sea level.

A little bit of rain causes these streets to be flooded almost directly.
A little bit of rain causes these streets to be flooded almost directly.

The first day was dry, but several days later it was raining and it didn't stop raining as well that day. At first sight it wasn't really very heavy rain that came down at our location. Still I remarked that the water in front of the door - fortunately the lower ground of the boarding house had already been build one meter above street level, so maybe people had already thought about that before - water flowed out of the sewer instead of in it. In an amazingly short period of time the street filled with quite some water, but because it was already dark, I didn't do too much effort to see where the water was flooding elsewhere. An adventure like that could be done at some other time as well, I would be around for some days to come and I didn't inflate my rubber dingy yet, so enough work to do.

Other days of the week that we were in Pluit supplied us with plenty of rain as well, but fortunately the streets were not flooded as bad as they were earlier. The news of the time was that there was regular flooding by sea water. It was mainly the neighborhood of Muara Baru - a little towards the west - that seems to have a subscription to it. When the high tide is just slightly higher than normal, the water already enters people's houses here. Around this time the phenomenon that the moon was close to the earth - and it creates more gravitation so tides were more extreme than normal. All of a sudden these floods from sea water were daily returning events here. How nice. The sea defense at the location is an earthen wall with a height just over one meter and a width of some three meters. At the side of the land there is a stone wall. This is everything they have as protection from the see, if they have it at all, because many stretches here were never provided with such protection for the residents of Jakarta.

In Pluit just one point where sea water flows out of the sewer system. This water can be recognized at it's transparency, like water is supposed to look. Other water in Jakarta is brownish to black and sometimes looks like rotten coffee. If you are lucky you will be able to make yourself a nice cup of coffee here, if not then you should look through the trash for what you need. Be sure to keep your nose closed, because the smell that originates from this product is normally not that of fresh coffee unfortunately. It happened one time when I was surfing the internet one evening when all of a sudden that stench entered my room. Thick heavy air won from the air-conditioning. I suspected that it was raining and when I checked this, it proved to be correct. Better to stay in the room, since this stench was everywhere and was even worse than sitting behind an Indonesian truck without proper exhaust filters.

This trash collector is located at the end of a poisonous black river full of trash and can be found in Pluit, North Jakarta.
This trash collector is located at the end of a poisonous black river full of trash and can be found in Pluit, North Jakarta.

The stench didn't go away, so it was still raining. In fact it was quite a lot worse than that. Wet people were walking by everywhere, some wet as high as their waist. Walking on bare feet they found their way to their rooms. In front of the boarding house as well, smelly and wet people which had just rescued themselves from the floodwaters. Cleaning your pants with an umbrella above your head and then quickly find shelter inside. It is somewhat overdone, but at least your hair doesn't get wet. Still you will have to wash your hair if you don't want to smell like sewer if you get into bed with your boyfriend or husband later that night. It wasn't rush-hour yet, but it was already clear that many people would not be able to be home on time. Water everywhere where it should not be, especially on main roads. Maybe I should be making pictures now.

Read the other part! Wet feet in North Jakarta, 2
Wet feet in North Jakarta, 4



Posted in Flooding @ 12 January 2008 by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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