Indonesia // Java //

Sunda Kelapa and around

About 1km north of Kota lies the historic harbour of Sunda Kelapa, the most important in the Dutch empire. Although the bulk of the sea traffic docks at Tanjung Priok these days, a few of the smaller vessels, particularly some picturesque wooden schooners, still call in at this eight-hundred-year-old port. You can either walk here from Kota (about 20min) or hail an ojek.

From Sunda Kelapa, cross over the bridge to the west (on the right as you exit the port) and turn right at the nineteenth-century watchtower, the Uitkijk, built to direct shipping traffic to the port. Here, buried in the chaotic Pasar Ikan (fish market) that occupies this promontory, is the entrance to the Museum Bahari, or Maritime Museum, housed in a warehouse dating from 1652. All kinds of sea craft are on display, from the Buginese pinisi to the kora-kora war boat from the Moluccas.

Head towards the VOC Galangan restaurant, keeping the Kali Besar canal on your left until you come to the ornate wooden drawbridge, Jembatan Pasar Ayam, which is in immaculate condition. The grand Dutch terrace houses on the streets south of here were once the smartest addresses in Batavia, the most famous being the Chinese-style Toko Merah (Red Shop) at no. 11 Jalan Kali Besar Barat – the former home of the Dutch governor-general, Van Imhoff. The Batavia bus station lies on the other side of the canal, from where you can catch a pale-blue minivan back to Kota or the Trans Jakarta.

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