Over years of poking into the dusty corners and vibrant streets of Asia, primarily as a chief photographer with The Associated Press, and now as an independent photographer, I've developed the knack of quickly connecting with people, and...
The classic Vespa scooter is a beloved and well recognized brand in Indonesia’s motoring history. Some of the first models seen on the streets of Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital city were given by the Indonesian government to its peacekeeping troops returning from duty in Congo in the 1960’s, and it was one of the first countries outside of Europe to manufacture the Vespa. Today thousands of members of Vespa clubs around Indonesia devote their time and skills to lovingly restoring old models to their classic form. But there are also the the Vespa extremists. Members of Indonesia’s “Vespa Ekstrim” community bend, saw, weld and otherwise torture old Vespa’s into unique forms never dreamt of by Piaggio. Working with a mix of humor, artistry, and ingenuity, they transform a recognizable classic into a unique version of the original which expresses the attitude of its creator. Members of Indonesia’s more strait-laced vespa societies call these bikes Vespa Gembel, or Junk Vespas, but the builders of these machines prefer to simply call them extreme. The Vespa Ekstrim culture has echoes of the punk movement, sharing its commitment to freedom both of thought and appearance, as well as its sense of solidarity among outsiders.