life on java

Even before the plane left the tarmac, our journey had already etched itself into our memories as an unforgettable experience. My family and I embarked on a voyage to the captivating island of Java, Indonesia.

Malang, a city nestled on the eastern side of the island, held a special place in my dad’s heart. It was here that he took his first breaths, forged his earliest memories, and crafted the foundation of his childhood. My grandfather once presided over a school in these very lands before the family embarked on a journey back to the Netherlands when my father was just five years old.

Our expedition was poignant, marking my dad’s first return to Indonesia since then and the passing of his mother, my grandmother. Stepping onto the Indonesian soil I was greeted by familiar scents that not only whisked my dad back to his childhood memories, but mine as well. The air carried the delicate fragrance of jasmine, mingled with hints of sweetness and spice, reminiscent of my grandmother’s home. I cannot even imagine how it must have felt for my father. 

While the remnants of Dutch colonial history occasionally made me feel uncomfortable, there was also ample authenticity to discover. I was amazed by the landscapes. The fresh and ‘true’ taste of the Indonesian cuisine that we used to have on family dinners. And the warm embrace of the Indonesian people. For my dad it was a full circle moment, but for me, this is where my passion for travel photography took off.

July 2009