Without an H

Photography from south-east Asia by Jon Sanwell

Posts tagged ‘java’

Odds & ends | Pasar Beringharjo (IV)

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This is the final set of pictures from my trip to Indonesia earlier this year. The trip actually ended about four months ago, but it’s taken me a long time to sort through, process and publish the pictures. In my defence, I’ve had other things to think about, like packing up my life and moving to a new country. The month-long trip began in the megacity of Jakarta, on the island of Java, after which I went on to the much more laid-back cities of Jogja and Solo, taking in the temples of Borobudur and Prambanan along the way, before heading on to Bromo and Ijen in the volcanic east. Finally, I spent a relaxing week in and around Ubud, on the island of Bali. Despite all this travelling, there’s so much of Indonesia that I didn’t see; I would have liked to have visited the Gili Islands and Borneo, but even with a month to spend, there just wan’t enough time. But I don’t really have any regrets about not getting everywhere. I tend to travel quite slowly. My thinking is always that I’d rather spend more time in fewer places than travel through lots of places in a rush. Even with my relatively limited itinerary of just Java and Bali, I experienced a huge variety of sights, landscapes, cultures, food, architecture and sensations.

Although I visited Jogja near the beginning of the trip, I saved these pictures until last, as it was one of my favourite places. While the volcanoes of Bromo and Ijen were quite challenging locations for me as a photographer, Jogja offered me plenty of chances to do what I like best, photograph people in their everyday lives, on the streets and in the markets. It’s good to step outside of your comfort zone sometimes, and I’m certainly glad to have visited those volcanic areas in east Java, but there’s also something to be said for sticking to what you’re good at (and hopefully getting better at it). So here are a dozen more pictures from Pasar Beringharjo, Jogja’s central market.

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Nuts & things | Pasar Beringharjo (III)

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My trip to Indonesia included visits to live volcanoes and ancient temples, but I think I took more pictures in this market in Jogja than anywhere else. In this series, you will find fruit, nuts, chillies and curious-looking sweets (at least I think they’re sweets in the last few pictures; someone please correct me if I’m wrong).

[On another note, I’ve now been living in Yangon for just over three weeks. It’s been a busy time, what with starting work, finding a place to live and generally getting my bearings. I’ll no doubt write a lot more about Yangon at a later date, but for now, I’ll just say that life here here is shaping up nicely, and the whole settling in process has gone remarkably smoothly. I’ve been taking a lot of pictures too, in between teaching and apartment-hunting, but I’m not going to post any here just yet, as I still have a bit of a backlog to clear from earlier in the year; these Indonesia pictures were taken back in May and June. I’m not even allowing myself to look at the pictures I’ve taken in Yangon yet; they’re hidden away in a dark corner of my hard drive, away from my Lightroom library. But if you’re interested in a visual comparison of Yangon and Hanoi, the homepage of this site is currently showing a slideshow of pictures from the two cities. These are the photographs that were included in the Hanoi/Yangon exhibition I had this time last year (Hanoi is in black and white, Yangon in colour).]

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Fabric | Pasar Beringharjo (II)

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Pasar Beringharjo – in Jogja, Java – is one of those big, sprawling south-east Asian urban markets that seem to sell almost everything. This post focuses on the ladies – and occasional rogue gentleman – selling fabric, dresses, shirts, bags and headscarves.

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Onions & garlic | Pasar Beringharjo

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There’s something about markets in south-east Asia. I just love taking photographs in them. Pasar Beringharjo, the central market in Jogja, on the island of Java, is now one of my favourites. There’s a lot more available there than just onions and garlic, but the clothes and fruit and veg and nuts and bolts and bits and bobs will just have to wait for later posts.

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Streets of Jogja

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Yogyakarta, Jogja to its friends, was a breath of fresh air – literally – after Jakarta. While Indonesia’s capital, as previously noted, is a massive, incomprehensible metropolis, Jogja is a friendly, laid-back city, more notable for its atmosphere than its sights, but easy to walk around and with an unhurried, familial vibe that I really liked. My visit coincided with the Ramadan fasting month, so the streets were perhaps less busy during the day than they would be normally, but there was still plenty going on and lots of pictures to take.

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Going Solo

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There’s no shortage of spectacular sights in Indonesia: live volcanoes, ancient temples, endless rice terraces. I enjoyed visiting and photographing all of those places, but some of my best memories and – I think – some of my best pictures came from wandering the streets of the towns and cities, and experiencing the everyday life of the country. People, markets, street food, patterns and details: these are some of the things I most enjoy photographing.

Solo, also known as Surakarta, in central Java is my kind of town. It’s a fairly unassuming place, full of warm, friendly people going about their business in no great hurry, and I hope that these pictures capture some of that mood.

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A Javanese sunset

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I don’t take many sunset pictures, but I like this image of the fisherman wading through the shallow waters back to dry land. It was taken at the end of a long day in East Java, which began with a climb up a volcano, Mount Bromo, and ended with a stroll around the nearby port town of Probolinggo.

Jon vs. the volcanoes

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One of the joys of travelling to a new place is getting up at stupid o’clock in the morning to take a look at something unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. And so it was that I rose at 2am (two hours before I went to bed) to make the trip to Mount Bromo, probably the best-known of the many volcanoes in Java. The trip began with a climb to the Penanjakan viewpoint for sunrise, before descending the hill into the low-lying clouds and walking across the Sea of Sand and then climbing up to the rim of the crater itself.

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Sunrise view of Mount Bromo from Penanjakan hill.

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Walking across the ‘Sea of Sand’ to the volcano

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One thing I wasn’t prepared for was the noise coming from the crater, a constant, angry rumble.

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If I ever open a pub, I’m going to call it the Horse and Volcano.

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It really is that colour.

A couple of days later, after a similarly early start and another pre-dawn climb, I found myself looking out over the extraordinary, otherworldly turquoise sulphur lake in Ijen crater as the sun rose behind me. Choking fumes filled the air, as wandering tourists and photographers crossed paths with tough, hard-working sulphur miners.

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A sulphur miner takes a well-earned rest.

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Not the surface of Mars, but it could be.

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These two volcanoes, Bromo and Ijen, are among the most-visited sites in Java, but that doesn’t make them any less extraordinary to see, especially if, like me, you’ve never set eyes on an active volcano before. Memorable sights don’t necessarily make for compelling photographs, however, and I don’t think these pictures are among my best. I struggle sometimes, when faced with much-photographed locations like these, to make photographs that offer anything different to what’s been done before. I think these pictures give a decent idea of what these places look like, but don’t quite capture what they felt like. That doesn’t really detract from my memories of these early morning visits, but I’ll remember Bromo and Ijen more for the experiences than for the photographs.