Jakarta the capital of Indonesia

Jakarta is the capital of Indonesia. The city locates on the main island of Java. The entire state of Indonesia consists of around seventeen thousand islands. However, Java is the most populated and industrialised island and the home of Jakarta. With ten million inhabitants and thirty million in the surrounding areas, Jakarta is the biggest city in south-east Asia.

The city is famous for its never-ending traffic jams.  Sometimes it takes more than three hours in a traffic jam just to drive 10 km by car. Motorcycles are everywhere on the roads. Nobody takes care of traffic rules. Because of a missing public transportation system the city has a chronical traffic problem.

The name of the city changed several times. During the colonalisation the name of the city was Batavia. Since independence, the city’s name is Jakarta.

The only interesting historical part of the city is the old town. In Indonesia called “Kota Tua”. That’s actually the old town square. Additionally, an assembly of a couple of houses from the Dutch colonial time surrounding the town square. Here, locates also the well known and nice furnished Café Batavia. The water channels and the bridges remind me a little about Amsterdam because of the same style.

However, Jakarta has a modern part as well. Skyscrapers shooting like mushrooms everywhere. Shopping centres offering international brands like allover in the world. But like in all modern styled cities, all is only glass and concrete.

Besides the main roads, the traditional way of life is still present. Small shops providing services of all kinds. During lunch and especially in the evening street kitchens open on each corner. To try the traditional local food, that’s the right place indeed. Even more and like everywhere in Asia here the real and lively Asian life takes place.

The Cafe Batavia in Jakarta

The Cafe Batavia is a coffee shop in the old town of Jakarta. The old town, in the Indonesian language “Kota Tua”, is the first settlement of the Dutch people. It was in the 16th century when the Dutch came to that area. The town square still framed with buildings at this time. Some of these buildings have been renewed in recent years. One is the Townhall and a couple of other historical buildings. The old city locates in the north of Jakarta.

The cafe’s furniture is an old colonial style and looks beautiful. That gives an impression of how life could be during the Dutch colonial period. But the Cafe Batavia isn’t so old as thought. Established in the 1990th earliest, it suggests being much older. However, only the building is much older. Build around 200 years ago it’s one of the remaining historical buildings around the town square.

Even the cafe is not a relic from the colonial time, the atmosphere draws back into this time indeed

I meet a group of retired people in the coffee shop. All are from Dutch but born in Indonesia. They told me that this building wasn’t a coffee shop in their youth. It was interesting to listen to them and to their old stories. Furnished with a lot of Teakwood the cafe gives also an insight into Javanese culture. The Teakwood I know very well because of the Teak forest around Tuban. That’s the place where I live in East Java.

Anyway, the photo wall on the stairway is interesting to study, it has a couple of interesting pictures. For sure, it’s always a good idea to stop at this coffee shop. Of course, it’s a joy to drink coffee, listen to music and experience the atmosphere of the past times.

Khartoum the elephant trunk

Khartoum is the capital of Sudan. The country shapes the Northeast part of the African continent. In the West and North is desert. But in the East, has Sudan a long coastline on the Red Sea. Here join the West African, Central African and Arabic cultures together.

Compared with other cities in this region Khartoum is a very young city. Since found in 1821 the city grows very quick from a local military outpost to the capital of Sudan today. However, the city surrounded by deserts. In the east locates the Nubian desert and in the west the Libyan desert. Both are part of the Sahara desert. The confluence of the White Nile and the Blue Nile to River Nile locates in Khartoum.

The common meaning of Khartoum is “Elephant Trunk” because of the shape of the Blue Nile, locals told me. Indeed, the confluence has a deep impact on the city. The rivers divide the city into three parts.

Hot, dry and sometimes sandstorm because of the desert around Khartoum. The region has a hot and extremely arid desert climate. Sometimes the wind blows fine red dust picked in the desert into the city.

On such days the sky becomes cloudy. The colour of the daylight changes to orange or dark yellow. Such sand or dust storms aren’t pleasant. These days are strange because of the everywhere fine red dust. The dust finds always away to come from each gap into the house.

Desert, Nile and a mix of African Arabic culture give its own vibes to the city. Sudanese excellent hospitality is a great experience. However, the mix of African and Arabic culture the lovely Sudanese people shape a unique atmosphere. The fascinating Arabic bazaars and the hustle and bustle of the city have their own rhythm indeed.

Annular solar eclipse on 2010 January, 15

An annular solar eclipse on 2010 January, 15 occurred in Africa. However, the eclipse is visible only as a partial eclipse from Khartoum the capital of Sudan. The eclipse starts early morning and ends at noon. It is the longest annular solar eclipse of the millennium and the longest until December 23, 3043.

An annular solar eclipse occurs when the Moon covers the Sun’s center but leaving the Sun’s outer edges visible. The result is a “ring of fire” or an annulus around the Moon.

All in all, the maximum length of the annular solar eclipse is 11 minutes and 7.8 seconds. This time only applies to the centre of the path. Unfortunately, my location is too much north. Therefore, the eclipse will not appear as a annualr eclipse.

In fact, the annular solar eclipse starts in Central Africa in Chad. The eclipse stretched up over the Indian Ocean crossed the Maldives and reached India. Finally, the annular solar eclipse ends in the north of China. However, the eclipse is visible as a partial eclipse only. But over a large area across Africa, the Indian Ocean and South Asia.

In my location in Khartoum, I can only experience a partial eclipse. Accordingly, the occultation in Khartoum is 45% in maximum only.

A perfect sky

My viewpoint is not the best of all or most favorable because of the river Nile. The Nile flows between our location and the point where the sun comes up. That’s why a lot of humidity above the Nile makes the view misty and blurred.

I’m really worried about the view. But I’m lucky because after sunrise the mist and fog disappeared quickly and the sky cleared up. So far during the partial eclipse, the sky was cloudless and the eclipse was visible excellent. That was the longest annular solar eclipse of the millennium.

I tried to capture some pictures with simple tools. Because I had no tripod so I took the picture right out of my hands.  The 300 mm telelens I used is a bit of short. I didn’t get the sun big enough to the sensor as I wish. So far, the images are good but not perfect. Finally, a wonderful partial solar eclipse was visible in Khartoum and gave me a great experience.


Annular solar eclipse  on 2010 January, 15

Common information (Time = UT):

Maximum phase: 0.920

The beginning of the partial eclipse: 4h 5m 16s
The beginning of the total eclipse: 5h 13m 45s
Maximum phase: 7h 6m 21s
Ending of the total eclipse: 8h 58m 50s
Ending of the partial eclipse: 10h 7m 20s

Maximum eclipse:
Longitude: 69° 20.9′ E;  Latitude: 1° 37.2′ N

ET-UT = +75.0s

Local circumstances (Time = UT + 2.0h):

Partial (Is not visible completely.)
15 Jan 2010 AD
Maximum phase: 0.585

The beginning of the partial eclipse: –
Maximum phase: 7h 35m 18s
Ending of the partial eclipse: 9h 8m 50s

Position angles:
The beginning of the partial eclipse: –
Ending of the partial eclipse: 101.6°

The confluence of River Nile

The confluence of the River Nile is one of the most interesting things to know about Khartoum. Actually, the River Nile merged from the White Nile and from the Blue Nile. The source of the White Nile locates in Uganda. While the source of the Blue Nile is in Ethiopia. The confluence of the White Nile and the Blue Nile to River Nile locates in Khartoum. From this point in Khartoum, the river called River Nile or Great Nile..  and flows now in the north direction.

After a long way across the Nubian Desert, the river passing the famous Nile cataracts. Then River Nile left Sudan and cross through Egypt. Finally, the Nile discharges into the Mediterranean Sea in North Egypt.

The common meaning of Khartoum is “elephant trunk” because of the shape of the Blue Nile locals told us. Indeed the confluence has a deep impact on the city. The rivers divide the city into three parts.

In the west locates Omdurman and Khartoum city in the south-east. While in the north, of course, Khartoum North or Bahri locates. Omdurman is the biggest city of all, while Bahri is the industrial centre. Above all Khartoum is the capital.

In the middle of the confluence, the Blue Nile shapes Tuti Island. Actually, the island is the home of a village. The island mainly used for agriculture by the villagers. A brand new built bridge spans over the Blue Nile and connects Khartoum with Tuti island. However, there is a plan to develop Tuti island for tourists.

The Nile Road is a famous road in Khartoum. The road winds along the south bank of the Blue Nile and gives a fantastic view of the river. A lot of facilities locating along the Nile road. For instance, restaurants, churches, museum and gardens.

Bahrain and Manama the capital

The Kingdom of Bahrain and Manama as its capital is a small island state in the western Persian Gulf. The islands situated close to the east coast of Saudi Arabia and Qatar. All in all, the island state consists of around 33 islands.  While in the north of the island the capital Manama with the city center situates. In the south, there is mainly desert and salt lakes only. Bahrain has an arid climate.

The “King Fahd Causeway” is a 26 km long highway. The causeway connects in the North the main island with the city of Al Khobar in Saudi Arabia. The causeway is a four-lane bridge with an artificial island on the halfway. This island is, in particular, the checkpoint between both countries.

Like everywhere in the Arabic world Bahrain has also a souq. The Bab Al Bahrain is a building and the main gate to the Manama Souq. The souq is a huge area in the north of Manama’s old business district. Countless dealers offer their goods here. Spices, clothes and even gold are available.

The capital Manama is the biggest town on the island. In fact, after the oil rush, Manama developed to a financial and trading place. Finally, skyscrapers rising into the sky today and showing the change. However, there is still an old part of Manama with an Arabic lifestyle.

As part of the Arabic world, the island has a long history. The Bahrain Fort Museum has an exhibition of findings, relics and artifacts from the history of the island. The museum is easy to find in the northwest of the island.  The museum isn’t far from the Qal’at al-Bahrain ruins field. It’s an archaeological site in Bahrain. However, the ruins hill was probably for a long time the main settlement on the island.

Sanaa, One Thousand and One Nights

Sanaa, the capital of Yemen locates in the west of Yemen. The city surrounded by craggy, cleft and rocky landscapes. The mountains are part of the Central Highlands. Up to the present time, the capital is the largest city in Yemen. Taizz and Aden follow and are two other important Yemeni cities. The city has a very long history.

With around 2300 m. the city is, even more, one of the highest capitals in the world. The climate in Sanaa compared to Aden is very pleasant. Due to the high elevation of the city the average temperature is relatively constant and raises not so much. However, the sun is bright and strong. Even the city surrounding mountains, the environment is very dry. However, in the Central Highlands sometimes rain is possible.

The Bab Al-Yemen is more than 1000 years old and of course, a landmark for Sanaa. The city is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Even more, Yemen is the land of skyscrapers.

A walk through the old city of Sanaa is amazing. Of course, we visit the historical city with unique architectural characteristics. Some of the oldest skyscrapers in the world have their home here. One of the gates to the centre of the old town is the Bab Al-Yemen (the Gate of Yemen). Many of the houses in Sanaa resembled ancient skyscrapers. All built from clay bricks. Even if Shibam is the famous city of the skyscrapers, Sanaa can easily keep up indeed.

So far, not only Sanaa’s skyscraper turns me back in time. The Souq al-Milh is also part of the old city. The bazaar with spices, Arabic handcraft and its unique lifestyle remind me of something. Indeed, the stories of “One Thousand and One Nights” came suddenly back into my mind.