The Plausible Way Out, Out of Nothing: Slum tourism in Jakarta

slum torism route

The above is one of the route map provided by the slum tour agency. There are in total of three routes. The first option is to visit the slums around the Luar Batang Village; the second route is walking along the train railway whilst the third route is walking along the slum area along the Ciliwung River.

Poverty also seems to be the main attraction: it appears plausible to assume that the attractiveness of slums as tourist destinations is often directly connected with conceptions and associations tourists have of the places they intend to visit ( tourists want to see what they expect to see ). Slums are not only displayed in tourism but in a variety of other forms, such as films, literature and fashion (Freire-Medeiros 2009; Linke 2012). These representations discursively shape the image of the slum, and thereby create the tourists ’curiousness and interests.

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Huge butches of slums are found built along the Ciliwung River. Given the poor living amenities and without any sanitary, water or lighting facilities, the residents there cans still attempt to live their “best” out of the worse – they tap their water in Ciliwung River ; they wash clothes, take their bath inside the river. Kids jump inside the river and play with their counterparts from time to time. The river becomes part other home. The boundary between outside and inside your home is blurred in their eyes. They live part of the nature and the nature embraces their life too.

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The picture above is a very good representation on how close the life of slum residents is with the public transport. There life is simply indispensable with the railway network. Kids are just playing, sleeping and jumping up and down right next to the rail tracks. When we see this as a big picture, their life is merged with whole urban fabric (apart from the slum cluster itself).



S.V. Sethuraman.1976. Jakarta Urban development and employment. International Labour Office: Geneva

1 Comment on “The Plausible Way Out, Out of Nothing: Slum tourism in Jakarta

  1. Slums represent a survival strategy in the face of insufficient & affordable housing and lack of tenure security. They are adaptive organisms and surely have a tight culture through the large sense of community. The idea of slum tourism in alleviating the situation is interesting where there is this sense to promote the slum culture. However, with this double-edge sword of the residents of the slums benefiting and tourists gaining another attraction, there may be the issue of slum tours forcing the culture to become as a performance rather than local culture. It would also be interesting to investigate whether the slum tours are economically and socially sustainable to the community. Would slum tours have change in the growth of slums and urban expansion of them?

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