Most people travel to experience the culture, food, tourist attractions or to shop. Not us – Facter and Daiso, along with friends Kringe and Quips, traveled to Jakarta with the sole intention of painting and connecting with the local writers. Although it was a short trip, and an intense one, it was by far one of the best holiday’s ever.
This is just a small gist of what happen throughout the trip … oh, and don’t forget to click the images for larger sizes …
Day 1 – Arrival
Facter: It was my last day of a 5 month stint working between Singapore and Shanghai – myself and Daiso had been talking about doing a weekend away to paint, and I figured it was a good time for it as I was due to head back to Melbourne the following week. We tossed up a few options, Manila, Vietnam, but really there was only one place we hadn’t been where we felt like we really needed to go – Jakarta. We’d heard so much about the vibrant graffiti scene there, that it was a pretty much a no-brainer. So we finished up work, jumped on the MRT on the Friday afternoon, and headed to the airport.
Daiso: We arrived in Jakarta on the Friday night – we were all pretty tired after work. When we got to the airport in Jakarta, we had two other friends from Singapore, Kringe and Quips, who were joining us for the weekend, so we waited for them for about an hour or so for them to arrive. Took a cab down to our hostel. When we finally reached our hostel (Six Degrees Hostel) all we did was check in, grab a beer and headed up to the roof top with our sketch books to start working on what we’re going to put up the next day.
The Hostel was pretty decent compared to other hostel’s I’ve lived in before in other places – great people, nice atmosphere and a real bargain.
Day 2 – Gardu House & Local Walls
Daiso: Woke up at 9 am, headed down to to the lobby for breakfast with the boys. Took a cab down to Gardu house, where the cab driver brought us on a two hour long ride which cost us RP 200,000 (about sgd $20) . Thank goodness for GPS Facter and I both had our GPS’s on our phones on and where tracking where this guy was going. So eventually he dropped us off at our destination and we spend about another 20 minutes trying to figure out where Gardu House actually was. Finally we found it, met Cloze and a few other local writers. Exchanged some slaps (stickers), and bought some cans. If you’re ever traveling up to Indonesia especially Jakarta a good brand to try out is RHEMA, its their local cans manufactured in the same factory in China as some other brands, however it felt like it had a similar formula to Flame. These have great coverage, the caps don’t clog up and they work great.
Eventually after settling all of that, Cloze brought me out on his bike to get some buff paint and rollers and showed me the spot we were going to paint. Damn, that was one scary bike ride, nearly got run down by some maniac driver.
Got back to Gardu House after getting more supplies, headed down to the spot by a taxi and started painting a production with the guys. This was really just the four of us, three Singaporeans and one Australian, working the wall while Cloze was watching.
Eventually there were a group of ten to fifteen children sitting around quietly and asking us what we were up to and what “picture” we were putting up. Good thing I understand a little Bahasa,the rest of the guys were clueless, even when a well dressed drug dealer came up and asked them if they wanted drugs they were like, “hey dude, what is he saying?”
Facter: Oh man, Jakarta traffic. What should have been twenty minutes took us two hours, with the cabbie going the wrong way a few times – I’d heard the traffic was bad, but damn! When we arrived at Gardu house, we weren’t sure if we were in the right location at first, but we quickly found it upstairs from a motorbike workshop and cafe. All the dudes were really welcoming, showing us around the place – have to say, that Gardu House is great – a really nice community, and a great bunch of artists doing great things. The Rhema paint was indeed pretty nice, and though they also had Ironlak and a bunch of Montana, we opted to go local – which was a good decision! Though I couldn’t tell you exactly where it was we were painting, it was a pretty dope spot – we smashed out a few pieces and charos – all round great day.
We also met some of the younger local local writers who were putting up some nice burners in the same spot, cool dudes.
Eventually, we got back to the hostel – tired, covered in paint and sweat, we sat down and did the only thing you can really do after such a day – draw, and drink beer. Okay, maybe a little too much beer.
Day 3 – Red Walls
Daiso: The boys woke up late, ignored their alarms and we had an appointment with the guys at Gardu House to get there by 10am and plan out a big production. All we knew was that they had organised a massive wall for about nine of us to paint.
Facter: Okay, lets get this clear – we were all quite hungover (hence the maybe too much beer thing), and what happens? Daiso wakes up early, before time, and then sits there and listens to all of us sleep through our alarms – does he wake us up knowing we have to be somewhere? Nahhh, of course he doesn’t!! Bastard. Oh and yeah – payback is a bitch … haha.
So we rushed about and got our shit together, heads more than a little sore, went up to 7/11 to get some supplies, making sure we looked down at the ground as we did – Jakarta sidewalks are not … how shall we say, all that awesome and the risk of falling into potholes in our less than morning-healthy state was high haha. Having had the previous days cab experience, we were all glued to our GPSs, making sure that we got there alright – and this time managed to get to Gardu with only half the amount of money we’d spent the previous day! Rule of thumb – keep your eyes on the GPS in JKT cabs! We arrived at Gardu House with more than enough time to spare, and waited for some of the other local writers to arrive.
After we all assembled, we jumped in a cab and followed the rest on their bikes – weaving through the traffic to our destination. After half an hour or so, we passed through a guarded gate and into what looked like a bunch of fields, and older styled buildings. It had a real village field to it, and as we pulled up to the wall we were going to paint, the sound of the morning prayers echoed from the local mosque. It was, in all, one of the most perfect spots to paint Id ever been in.
Before we started, we checked out the wall – some random stuff on there, and it was a pretty great space. Some of the guys then went and grabbed some buff, we all got allocated some spots, and we got down to it. Joining me, Daiso Quips and Kringe were Cloze, Add17, Koma, Mr Wormo and Menow – a really great bunch of dudes.
Throughout the day, we once again had our own big audience – groups of kids sitting and playing all around us, watching and enjoying. At one stage, a local police officer turned up – which had me wondering for a moment, as we weren’t completely sure if the spots we were painting was entirely okay, but all he did was laugh and smile – I guess if the community was happy at what was going on, he was happy. Even the goats that were running around seemed happy – everyone was smiling.
Daiso: Unfortunately our other two mates, Kringe and Quips, had to leave home the same day we finished this painting, and it was even more unfortunate that their flight was cancelled and had to take the 2.00AM flight out of Jakarta. Facter and I stayed on – I just wanted to have a quiet one, after two nights of drinking and sketching we thought the final night would be a little different.
So I thought, anyways, but Facter and the owners (three great guys, an Irishman, Englishman and Australian) became friends over a few beers, and they invited us to paint the roof of their hostel the next day (if we had time), but I didn’t really take it too seriously. Went up to the roof again had a few beers did some sketching until pretty late. Then headed off to bed.
Day 4 – Six Degrees & Home
Daiso: Woke up hungover, had a few coffees and watched a movie. Eventually whilst having a cigarette one of the owners saw one of the sketches which I did and asked if I was still going to paint it. Sure, I’m up for anything, but we just don’t have any paint with us. Google and Instagram saved the day – somehow we managed to find the TagKingStore nearby. Dave, the owner dude, went on a mission and got us a bunch of cans and the colours we needed and we did a quick three hour piece for them – right up to the hour we had to go to the airport to get our flight back. Got a bunch of free beers, a cab ride up to the airport paid for by the hostel, as a thank you for painting the walls, and sent us on our merry way to rush for our flight.
All in all it was one of the best holidays ever, even though we didn’t get to experience much of the local tourist stuff, food or culture that normal tourists would – but we did get to experience the Indonesian Writer’s Culture.
Facter: There was a lot of stuff we wanted to do on our last day, catch up with a few people that we didn’t get to meet, explore a bit and do all that – but exhaustion had set in. Little sleep, too much booze and a crapload of painting – we were knackered.
That said, when Dave from Six Degrees turned up with paint later in the afternoon, we got right down to it in the dwindling hours – and it was a really fun afternoon, even if we didnt have much time and we were painting against the clock. We threw some stuff up that turned out half decent, literally painted up to the second our taxi arrived – I was scraping paint off my nails on the ride to the airport.
I loved our stay at Six Degrees Hostel, really open and welcoming place, and the people that run it are superb – it was a great little haven away from the hectic streets of Jakarta.
One thing on our trip summed up Jakarta for me completely, and its things like it that are why I love travelling and meeting artists in different cities. When we were finishing off the Red Wall on the previous day, we noticed that no one had put up their names next to their works, curious about this, we asked them why no one had tagged up – the guys just smiled, and said “No need, we’re all family here.”
Jakarta, it’s artists and its scene is amazing, one of the most vibrant and welcoming cities for graffiti and street artists I have ever come across. Beyond the bustle, the chaos of its roads and its somtimes less than clear air, beats the heart and soul of creativity – its really one of that places where art truly does find a way to bring beauty to its urban environment. I’m looking forward to seeing it grow from strength to strength over the coming years, and seeing what the various crews get up to.
Can’t wait to head back and do it all again!
Check out the full gallery of the trip below, and all the art we found and painted!!