Across the Kali Mas (Mas River), East of the Jembatan Merah (or Red Bridge), sits a different world altogether from the one the Dutch lived and worked in. Here, there is a sort of dignified stillness and anonymity, associated with two immigrant peoples – the Chinese and the Arabs – who functioned in a social space entirely their own.
It being the festival of Idul-Fitri when I shot these photos, many of the shops and residences were shuttered for the weekend. Ironically, this resulted in me taking some of the best shots of my trip. I hadn’t wanted to shoot the obvious – most notably the religious landmarks these quarters were centred around. Instead, I chose to shoot something a little more quotidian.
The one thing that struck me most about Old Town East was how colourful it was. A certain Meditterranean aesthetic dominated, characterised by bright colours juxtaposed against white (faded to grey) facades; and this surprising surfeit of colour made my walk through the area a delightful journey of discovery.
This gallery presents views from three parts of Old Town East – the old Port of Kalimas, with its pnisis boats; the Arab Quarter of Ampel; and finally, Chinatown, situated along and around Jalan Kembang Jepun.
In putting these shots together, I am inspired by the work of travel writer, Tim Hannigan, who has lived in and written about Surabaya. My matter-of-fact photography pales in comparison with Mr Hannigan’s wondrously evocative accounts of wandering through the Old Town. These brilliant accounts can be found here: http://tahannigan.blogspot.sg/2011/04/wandering-into-past-in-old-surabaya.html.
NEXT MONTH: Bangkok, Thailand and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel