National Geographic : 1929 Sep
THROUGH JAVA IN PURSUIT OF COLOR BY W. ROBERT MOORE CUP of Java and a couple of buns" was one of the first morning calls that I answered behind a restau rant counter on an odd-job venture in my early school days. But for the man who associates Java with a cup of good coffee alone, a visit to that Garden Isle is a de lightful revelation. Marching the length of Java in search of interesting subjects for my color cam era, I found a long panorama of fascinat ing attractions. There were innumerable wide fields of waving sugar cane, with busy refineries in their midst, and every where rice fields were checkerboarding the valleys or stair-stepping in terraces up the volcanic hillsides. Into the market places came huge piles of cassava roots, from which evolve our tapioca puddings, and beyond the roads were cinchona planta tions, destined to produce quinine to com bat the world's malarial fevers. It was a fast-moving procession of an cient Hindu temples, quiescent and erupt ing volcanoes, batik workers, wayang dancers, and gamelan orchestras; of olive skinned Javanese in bright sarongs laugh ing on their way to market, plantations of rubber and coffee, and large hill areas, where Dutch planters were reading for tunes in cups of pekoe tea, but with far more accuracy than ever did my aged grandmother. THE START FROM SINGAPORE But to begin: It was a starlit night, soft and caressing from a breeze after a tropi cal shower, when our ship lay at anchor in the open roadstead at Singapore har bor. Between us and the sparkling lights of the city rode ships from the far ports of the world, sailing under a score of dif ferent flags. Among them were brightly lighted steamers from London, bound for Sydney or Shanghai; from New York girdling the globe; from Kobe, Amster dam, and Naples; and close ashore were hundreds of bobbing Chinese sampans and high-pooped junks lighted with smoky coconut-oil lamps. Our anchor chains rattled, and with the steady throb of the engines we swung toward the Southern Cross and cleared for Batavia, leaving behind the cosmopoli tan city of Raffles's dreams.* Across the Equator we traveled into the Southern Hemisphere, and, after 40 hours of cleaving the smooth, turquoise sea, our ship tied up alongside the wharf at the up-to-date Tandjoeng Priok harbor, 20 minutes by motor car or electric tram from Batavia. MOSQUITOES ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR BATAVIA'S MODERN SUBURB Docking late in the day, in a heavy downpour of rain, we asked the captain if we might spend the night aboard instead ofgoingtoahotel,aswehadtobeat the harbor again early the next morning to transship our goods. "We make no provision for people while in port," explained the captain. "It's pretty noisy, the diet is simple, and some times the mosquitoes bother a little," he added. "However, if you fellows are willing to put up with the fare and promise not to write anything about the mosqui toes, you may stay on the ship. Keep your cabin door closed, and if you don't turn on the lights you'll be all right." Of the onslaughts of the mos- (my silence is pledged). But mosquitoes, to gether with the swampy flats of that region, have loomed large in Batavia's his tory and they have built for her a new city. Time was, in the early period of co lonial development, when the Dutch came out to Batavia they brought their love of the lowlands with them, and there built closed houses on the canals, which ran through the low, swampy land. But, as trading men and soldiers died by thou sands from malaria and other diseases induced or aggravated by the miasmic va pors which surrounded them, they eventu ally learned that tropical Java was not a temperate Netherlands. * See "Singapore, Crossroads of the East," by Frederick Simpich, in the NATIONALGEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE for March, 1926.