2016
06.28

SYNOPSIS:  About a dusty Sultan’s palace.  Visiting the Mega Mosque in Samarinda.  Retour from the jungle to Balikpapan.  Arrival in the metropolis of Surabaya. 

Within 45 minutes of driving to the center of Surabaya, I passed 4 McDonalds, 3 Pizza Huts, 3 KFCs, and 2 ACE Hardware stores, not to count multiple world banks and other recognizable brand names of all sorts.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
06.27

I am giving myself a little break writing.  Instead, I will compile two photo essays on the images I will take with me from Kalimantan.  Much may have been lost in the Dayak culture (headhunting, for one, will not be missed!).  But there also was much to see and many wonderful people live there.… VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
06.26

SYNOPSIS:  About an overall disappointing day which turned at the end, after all. 

Wifi!  With the overall absence of internet cafes, young adults without facebook or email, the last thing I expected in this little river village Muara Muntai was wifi at this now one-year-old guest house.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
06.25

DAYAK

SYNOPSIS:  About mosque broadcasts.  About visiting two Longhouses.  About an almost funeral.   Meeting a fellow traveler from Germany. 

The last thing I would have expected in the Dayak village we reached tonight — a predominantly animist culture with some overlay of Christianity  is a nonstop blare from the local mosque…  It is Ramadan and mosque services during this period are more extensive, often in excess of one or even two hours  but there are hardly any Muslims here.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
06.24

RAINFOREST

SYNOPSIS:  About a ride into the rain forest, wild animals dead and alive, an unusual lake, mosque broadcasts, and a few other things.

The photo gallery is a collection of different views from my seat in the boat (under the roof).  Different times of the day, different weather conditions, and different lakes and rivers.… VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
06.23

SYNOPSIS:  About an all nighter at Denpassar, one airport, two flights and two new guides.

I don’t even remember when I last worked through an entire night.  It’s been ages!  I had all intentions to sleep a good six hours, but what at home and with fast internet would have been a task of 6 hours — that’s what I had planned for — turned into 13.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
06.22

RICE FIELDS

FOTO ESSAY #2 RICE FIELDS:  Rice here as in many other parts of the world is sacred.  Indonesian rice is considered superior to other rice, which is also cultivated.  It takes 5 months between planting and harvest, whereas the “other” rice only takes 3 months.  That’s what I learned today.  Rice takes communities to plant and harvest and it is a staple food.  Rice takes water  another life-giving force and it is not surprising that water sources and rice fields around here both are always lined with deities carved in stone.… VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
06.21

FOODS OF BALI

FOTO ESSAY #1:  FOOD:  As many of you know, I am not a cook.  I apologize much for the generic labels of this variety of Indonesian food.  To me, the aesthetics of preparation are the most amazing feature of Indonesian cooking.   But on top of that  every one of these dishes was delicious.  Lemon grass, ginger, coconut milk and oil are essential ingredients.… VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
06.20

SYNOPSIS:  On and off the beaten path around Ubud.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
06.19

UBUD II

SYNOPSIS:  Moving from first rate to third rate homestay.  Museum Marathon on the back of Joman’s motorbike.  About a young doctor and a handsome stylist.

I had kept extending my stay at Putera’s homestay, but when I wanted to add yet another night, they were full.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
06.18

BATIK

SYNOPSIS:  How I failed miserably at the attempt to create my own batik.

You can stay in Ubud forever if you were to try all the opportunities offered to learn something.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
06.17

SYNOPSIS:   About Lisa, my neighbor at Putera.  About a Kecak performance.   Driving around with Kadet.

At the reception of Putera’s guesthouse there was a list of names of guest marked on a white board – and one of them was “Lisa – 5 days”.  On my second day, I met Lisa.  She is in her twenties, a postal worker from Austria, traveling alone.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
06.16

UBUD I

SYNOPSIS:  Walking Ubud.  A Hindu day of prayer and offerings for the god of commerce, business, success, and money.   A visit of the Monkey Forest.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
06.15

SYNOPSIS:  It was a day of grading and rest day today…  About the sounds of Bali.  And about a dance performance.

Today it wasn’t the sound of the muezzin that had gotten me up at 4:30 every morning so far;  it was one of a half dozen or so neighborhood roosters that decided to fill in at just about the same time right outside my window.   Soon the roosters were joined by one of the Spitzes from the neighborhood — don’t hold me to any kind of brand, but in Germany we tend to call any small, ever yelping dog a Spitz — and it was clear that the night was over.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
06.14

SYNOPSIS:  Moving from Java to Bali.  Not too much about Air Asia or the flight.  A few photos about my new accommodations; a traditional villa in Ubud.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
06.13

SYNOPSIS:   A horse and buggy ride through the countryside around Borobudur village with Nicola.  About making tofu and pottery.

That was a horse that easily spooked!  And if there had not been a hedge, within about 15 minutes of our ride it would have driven us into the ditch, simply backing up at the sound of a loud motor grinding wood, regardless of the terrain.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
06.12

SYNOPSIS:  About sunrise at the Borobudur, a day spent amidst foreigner-hunting mobs, and an afternoon spent at the pool — thanks Jamal!VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
06.11

SYNOPSIS:  Not really a blog, but a response to special requests by Aviva, Ann and others following up on our guesthouse in Yogyakarta.  

Ever since I had set foot into the Tegal Panggung Guesthouse at Yogyakarta, I had been walking around noticing all kinds of clever functional details such as alcoves, floating tables anchored in the walls, projecting boards, trellises that shielded from the sun, etc.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
06.11

Synopsis:  About hunting down a good sunset.  About meeting a local character in Borobudur Village.  This is another  guest blog by Nicola with a postscript by ET about our guest house in Borobudur Village and about Indonesian Muslims.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
06.10

SYNOPSIS:  Nicola happily agreed to write another guest blog.  It is about our Museum visit in Yogyakarta and a trip to Prambanan, one of the UNESCO sites near Yogyakarta.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
06.09

SYNOPSIS:  Today, you will have the pleasure to read a guest blog by Nicola Ainsworth, my travel companion for the next five days.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
06.08

SYNOPSIS:  About a garish man and yet another journey.  About Nicola Ainsworth’s arrival.

If I averaged this out, this would be my seventh flight in seven days with my fifth airline…  Yikes.  I will be doing more flying on this trip than usual; the distances are just too time consuming over land.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
06.07

SYNOPSIS:  How I ended up at a Catholic church service. And how a few chores are off my back.

It was grading day today.  I could not believe that the sun was shining; I felt cursed.  It had been raining on and off for my entire 4-day stay in Banda Aceh and on the day I had to stay home to grade (you may remember, I am teaching an online course), the sun was shining.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
06.06

SYNOPSIS:  About a graveyard.  About foreigners in Indonesia.  About meeting Katrin and Tempest from the USA (sort of).   About a rock concert, and some more thoughts on Sharia law.

Once there were 40 such cemeteries in Banda Aceh or did that refer to Aceh Province?VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
06.05

TSUNAMI

SYNOPSIS:  About the Tsunami Museum which tells a horrible story pretty badly.  About two personal Tsunami stories.  And about two Boats that speak volumes. Finally, about the good that came to Banda Aceh because of the Tsunami.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
06.04

SYNOPSIS:  A tour with Auye’s tuk-tuk through rain and wind to see some traditional Aceh architecture in situ and some of the sites in Banda Aceh.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
06.03

SYNOPSIS:  About my new accommodations and the owner Linda Nurdin.  About Sharia Law and its peculiar practice in Aceh.  Sorry, the blog got kind of long…

It turns out that Auye, whom I had met last night and who met me at the Hotel Lobby of my dungeon hotel this morning, knew of a “homestay” as bed and breakfast options are called around here.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
06.02

SYNOPSIS:  A visit of the Grand Mosque and the Aceh History Museum. And a hip Coffee Shop.   Meeting a few locals and two fellow travelers.  Manifesting a ride for tomorrow.

When I woke up around 3:15 AM I knew I had to do something to get more sleep.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
06.01

SYNOPSIS:  Arrival in Banda Aceh.  The not so pleasant surprises at Hotel 61.

Between lush green fields and palm trees, against the backdrop of a volcano, our plane touched down in the middle of seemingly nowhere.  But we had landed at Banda Aceh, the capital of the Aceh province, a semi-autonomous region of Indonesia, located at the very tip of Sumatra, quite the opposite of nowhere.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
05.31

OSMAN AND I

SYNOPSIS:  Still going… just like the energizer bunny.

The layover in Dubai went quicker than I thought.  Once again, I scoured the airport for travel alarm clocks to no avail.  There literally was a watch shop — Rolex and up, if there is an up from Rolex — at every corner, paired with a perfume shop.  But the watches were even more expensive and gaudy than the ones in Boston.  And, I wonder, can they really sell that much perfume and that many watches to justify dozens of stores?

Over my preoccupation with alarm clocks I almost forgot to look for cigarettes.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
05.30

SYNOPSIS:  It’s about the boring part.  Getting from here to there.  

There was the typical mix of muffled noises: the baby crying somewhere in the distance, the laughter of a woman with that uncomfortably shrill voice, the low humdrum of conversation. 

There was the typical set of uncomfortable circumstances:  the swollen ankles, the stiff neck, the frequent whiff of perfume. 

There was the gentle sway of the Boeing that lulled me into a slumber and made me too tired to read — I tried, but before the end of any paragraph I realized that my eyes were closed — but then it all kept me too aware to sleep.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
05.29
Wheel of Life 1

BUDDHIST WHEEL OF LIFE

The weeks before the trip filled up with unrelated events.  There has hardly been a trip for which I felt so unprepared.  I did not even get through a single one of the history books I was going to read to have just a rudimentary idea of the complex past of this country… I have to read as I go and I know just how hard that is.

There were days spent with the Arts Club, unexpected meetings at school, an online class to get going (yes, I will be teaching from afar for the first time).VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
05.28
Indonesia Map

MAP OF THE INDONESIAN ARCHIPELAGO

It has been on my horizon for a while, this humongous archipelago called Indonesia, with its 17,000 islands (really?), its 250 million people, its 300 languages, its unexplored jungles, its crowded urban areas, its variety of ethnicities and religions.  It is 4000 km wide (or is it 5000?), rivaling the width of the United States.

For sure it is intimidating!

For weeks now I have wracked my brain on how to get a handle on such a diverse landscape in the just 60 days I will have to explore it; and I am still trying to figure it out.… VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2015
07.04

 

A detailed account of the very bizarre experience of shipping a package from Yangon and about taking the Circular Train.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2015
07.03

About an excursion to the cave of caves of Eastern Myanmar.  8094 Buddhas, four wonderful locals, a new travel companion and some rain, of course.  And about umbrella making Myanmar style.

I was heading up another mountain today and what else is new?… VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2015
07.02

Images from the five-day rotating market in Nyaung Shwe.  A day of catching up.

It was time for a short day and for writing blogs and processing photos.  It takes four hours per day to keep up and I had once again fallen behind with full days like the boat trip on Inle Lake yesterday…

It was market day in Nyaung Shwe.  This region is known for two unusual markets:  The “floating market”, which really means little more than a market in one of the marsh-towns of Inle Lake and the “five-day market” which refers to a rotating schedule between the major towns of this area.  On such market days the otherwise sleepy local market swells to triple and quadruple proportions and vendors as well as customers from the surrounding mountain areas descend upon the town.  I spent three morning hours squeezing my way through the tiny crowded alleys of the market, smelling, tasting, looking, sneaking pictures, wondering, guessing, being amazed, and buying one little souvenir trinket.… VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2015
07.01

 

A day on the lake in a traditional boat observing life as it could have been lived in the 18th Century.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2015
06.30

 

About the un-ceremonial departure from Bagan, a quick flight, and the unexpectedly wonderful welcome at my next destination. 

I arrived at 9:20 AM at the airport without a ticket or a reservation for a 9:35 AM departing flight to Inle Lake.  And guess, what: I got on!  Did we ever have those good old days in the prior 9-11 era when getting on an airplane was as easy as getting on a bus?  I don’t think so, but then perhaps I just don’t remember because I did not fly much within the country then?  All I needed was my passport and cash.  The biggest problem seemed to be that one of my $1 bills had a little stain on it.  I had to find a spotless, clean, flat, unfolded and pristine, post 2006 one.  That was the holdup, not by any chance, my expired visa, mind you!… VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2015
06.29

LIQUOR

 

Final day in Bagan.  Some reflections about the overall impressions of the archaeological zone.  And about liquor and sweets made from palm trees.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2015
06.28

 

Another day cruising around in the Archaeological Zone.  About the production of lacquer Bagan style and about somebody who met Obama.

Just picture me cruising around Bagan for the second day, happy as a clam (no, my fall did not deter me from doing this again, I was already out yesterday afternoon, after the failed Mt.… VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2015
06.27

MOUNT POPA

About trying to pay respect to the Nat of Myanmar and being rebuffed.   The mountain conspiracy.  Meeting the umbrella lady and a lot of rambunctious monkeys.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2015
06.26

About cruising the Archaeological Zone of Bagan from sunrise to sunset and the things that happen along the way.

What I did yesterday would have been considered a total waste by any casual visitor to Bagan.  But sometimes I just can’t get out of my “art history skin”.  I had to know a bit about the background of Bagan, its building phases, its main decoration themes, its sculptural programs, its architectural types.  It made me so happy today when I recognized most of everything I had read about yesterday.… VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2015
06.25

About a magical arrival in Bagan last night.  About being overwhelmed today.  About making a plan.  About getting out slowly.  About superstitions and UFOs.

The approach toward Bagan last night on the slow ferry was nothing less than spectacular.  Pakokku was our last stop.  Several women had boarded the boat with beautiful handwoven blankets they wanted to sell.  But they were also offering trade for perfumes, lotions, shampoo and soaps — anything smelling good, anything of foreign origin.  I was so reminded of my life in East Germany where we had soaps, of course, but people and packages from the West always smelled so wonderfully different.  They smelled of freedom, of things beyond reach.  I would have loved to just give these women anything that smelled foreign, but I had parceled out only a tiny amount of perfume and lotion to take on this trip, both gone by now.… VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2015
06.24

Washing the face of the Buddha — ritual at the Mahamuni Temple.  The river road from Mandalay to Bagan.  The relativity of time.  Even more heat.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2015
06.23

A day spent in two gardens.  A word about colonial architecture and the use of motorcycle helmets.  A Muslim community with a difference.  Internet!VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2015
06.22

Across the Gokteik Viaduct.  Trains, the measure of things?

Yippie, it’s the train today!  I have been waiting for this day.   I am looking forward to every minute of this 8 hour ride as it will not only be my first but likely also my last ride in Myanmar.  Some things, like climbing Mount Fuji, only need to be done once.… VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2015
06.21

A slow day spent in the laid-back Shan town of Hsipaw.   Looking at old ruins, eating the freshest noodles ever, and stumbling on the palace of the last prince of the Shan.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2015
06.20

ONWARDS

Into the Mountains by bus.  Faces from Myanmar.

There is nothing much to say today, except that it feels good to have a cloudy, rainy, and cool day and to moving on.… VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2015
06.19

About the largest pagoda to be and its current state.  An excursion to Mingun across the Ayeyarwady River.   A visit of Ma Soe Yein Kyaung Monastery, the birthplace of the 969 movement.  Meet Ananda, the teacher-monk.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2015
06.18

About a bizarre lunch spectacle, a famous bridge, and a trip to Innwa where some of the unrestored past of this area survives.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY