With the splutter of diesel and the trembling of wood

Soot gives way to silver

we are taking a poll at the bottom of the sea

“Doa Ibu”

painted with a painstaking hand

Longsleve synthetics in contrasting colours

rubber brogues

bules in hats

I watch the synchronised swimming of alat berat

vessels of wood and steel

as I float down this river cast in concrete.

Even airports need to sweat in this climate if it is to remain

clean and fresh

and so a new river,

a river shifted 300 metres to the left

is construced as a release valve for

international air travel.

Jakarta Bay is a commons hidden in plain sight

Jakarta bay is a forest of submerged bamboo

Jakarta is an ayunan, rocking back and forth between

musim barat and musim timur

wooden crescents following this rocking motion

from Dadap to Marunda and back again

We’re hardly the first to traverse the coast


A new layer of concrete as floor approaches ceiling

Leftover tide in the middle of the road

Neighbourhood plastered yellow, the price of legal backing.

Is there really a hotel here?

Pastoral beauty exposed in an attempt to save face though DIY surgery

!Abort! Cut the red parts out!

One hotel where there were once many

Standing defiantly amongst the decaying backdrops in blue and green.

This is not my destination bang, sebentar lagi, sebelah kiri

car door opened into warm arms

Goats frolic, licking newly yellow washed walls and nibbling on fluttering spanduk and Jabodetabek’s discarded sachets.

They seem to thrive amongst the sooty waters of the muara

brewed with the consumer excess of 35 million heads.


scrawled shrilly, futiley over the concrete

the concrete that binds the river Ciliwung into geometric shapes

The concrete which separates and classifies

air hujan | air tanah | air laut

the concrete being hoisted

in sheets

up the face of an apartment-to-be

somewhere in Jakarta….

Bu Lis/ Bu Suzy

Ibu Lis sudah ganti namanya, katanya

the Selamatan has been made

Jangan ragu soal KTP

The bureacrats can’t argue with the sharing of yellow rice

Her name is Bu Suzy now,

No longer a criminalised pedagang soto fighting a losing battle,

no longer kena bau limbah dan pencemaran nama baik.

Bu Suzy is galak, resolute.

Bu Suzy is a loose unit, she rules the seas.

Bu Suzy is berani, she is the exploder of foreign ships,

tak ada yang berani nyanya soal Ijazah, Rekening dan MPWP….


Ebony Golf Estate

land left unbuilt is waste

a 2000sqm bachelor pad is rational

in the economic sense 

when the price of land rises 10 % a year

(and it’s surface sinks 20%)

when houses flip along

chains of investment

and so in

Ebony Golf Estate

the inner sanctum of

this corporate estate

the houses push up against eachother

like novelty oversized tenament rows

without the harmony of uniformity

a cacophony of borrowed design

classical collumny rubbing sim city modernism up the wrong way

the comparison with doll houses is hard to avoid 

as is the suspicion that

like the rumah contoh in the nearby marketing gallery

the bulging bookshelves, bottles of wine and chandeliers 

within these castles are

for decoration only.

Agung Sedayo has provided for his flock:

a place to be free of the binds of

politics, tradition, obligation

traces of poverty

a place for leaving behind the discomfort of history

of unimaginable wealth

and dearth of taste


The race for DPR provides me with a bed for the night, a bed lengkap with

Swimming Pool, AC, Green Belt, Jogging Track

The sincerity leaked out of our laughter as the night grew worn

corroded by selfies

is this house or hotel?

I should have gone to church this morning but

my intentions were never so

“a little bit forced”

At least house jadi hotel feels less morally ruinous here

than in Kampung?

Most People here are in business

Most people here are have escape houses in Australia

Most people here have houses like this to build a mansion

A house empty 18 hours per day

A house for status

Each action in this place a mean to an end

and my white face, my dinner plate, my awkward moon

attracts cameras big and small

trapped uncomfortably on screens

leased to others’ causes half heartedly

in exchange for a bed and a view.

Each action in this place a mean to an end

a means to god, power, salvation:

A means to promotion

here church is without hellfire –

Hellfire is bad for business

swapped out for

New Life, The Grit, Break Free

A Wall Built in 25 Days

with ‘sus on our side

He will provide us with

double prosperity 

and a promotion nobody can take from us

The Wall

A new retaining wall was built 

in front of the old one

outside the new one are big boats

painted brightly in reds and cyan blues

and covered in huge hanging lightbulbs.

In between the walls is a retention pond 

with sunken speed boats

a blue barrel-walkway

and naked bathing boys.

Behind the old wall is the dense 

overlapping fabric of a self-built kampung.


Hello Mister!

Hello Mister!

Hello Mister!

I love you!


I, too, take a picture of the iconic sinking mosque

next to the sea wall

but I should have taken pictures 

of the ingenious ladders, stairs, and ramps

that dot along this stark wall

revealing the comings and goings

of fishermen

groups of children

a mother with her son

and teenagers looking to get high.

As night falls we arrive at Kampung Aquarium.

Is the big square there a painful memory

of the bulldozing that happened 3 years ago?

Or do the four sides – fitted with plywood refugee shelters 

act to re-appropriate this light-filled playing field

as something more?


We can go this way – it’s easier and a bit longer,

or we can go that way – it’s shorter

but you have to jump.


It’s everything other than a wall

still an edge

but the transition is spread into 

the surroundings

into house construction

-from concrete to wood and bamboo

into use

-from warung to small fishing support industries.

The concrete infrastructure stretches

maybe three or four kilometres

and has a cool breeze

many stairs and ladders on either side

little huts where people gather

to have conversation, fires, music

it has a full view over the neighbourhood

trash and mussel shells pushing up on one side

complex colourful boats and seawater on the other

the cranes of the port in the distance.


This wall is built as a line that starts and ends

-Why was it built?

-How long will it last? What do you think?

It is composed of concrete cylinders

that rise up at least four meters from the water’s surface

in between the concrete cylinders

are steel tubes that tie the concrete together.

-Maybe it protects from storms?

-Maybe it will last 50 or 70 years? before the steel corrodes?

On top of the cylinders is a slab just under two metres wide

the edge toward the sea is raised and subtly makes it feel safe to walk on

even when bamboo is laying on this wall

or children are flying kites.


Old ships are cut into pieces on the water

then lifted over the wall by cranes

to be sold as steel scrap metal.


While waiting on the wall

I buy rice cakes for lunch

I see a dead biawak – a one meter long water monitor lizard – floating below

I make a sketch of some boats

I get angry about the amount of trapped plastic trash

I sweat in the heat

I listen to the mosque’s call for prayer

and I think about my parents.






Drawings by Anna Kostreva and Words by Anna Kostreva and Hannah Ekin, sketched during the 2019 Ziarah Utara/Pilgrimage to the Coast