2016
08.05

SYNOPSIS:  A few brief reflections on this trip.

17,000+ islands, 300+ different ethnic minorities, 500+ languages and dialects, 5+ main religious groups — how can anyone even begin to comprehend this country?  Not a lifetime of visits or even living here permanently, can accomplish this.

Indonesia is by all measures the most diverse country I have ever been to, and one of the most intriguing ones.  From a modern metropolis like Jakarta to the backwaters of Boti — and I have not even been really off the beaten path or got even close to groups that are truly remote from civilization, such as can still be found in the jungles of Kalimantan, or on the island of Papua.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
08.04
NATIONAL MUSEUM OLD WING WITH ELEPHANT SCULPTURE

NATIONAL MUSEUM OLD WING WITH ELEPHANT SCULPTURE

SYNOPSIS:  About a day in Jakarta.  About a visit to the National Museum and a sermon at the oldest cathedral in town.

For forty five minutes I was screening every oversized ad lining the tollway leading into Jakarta as I have been screening every road for the last six weeks all over Indonesia  not a single smoking ad!    That was unheard of and quite unexpected.  I had hoped to add an image or two to my ever-growing repertoire.  In every mid-size town I have come through from Sumatra to Timur, cigarette ads were a sure bet; you could count on them in every village, too; but not on the main road leading into the center of Jakarta.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
08.03
BETWEEN DOOM AND GLOOM

BETWEEN DOOM AND GLOOM

CURIOSITIES:  A boring day in transiting from Sumatra to Java with nothing to report, so I will add a few curiosities here, mainly in the form of a photo essay. 

I saw some pretty funny signs and a few other things I photographed just because they caught my attention for one reason or another.

I also became completely fascinated by all the smoking ads I saw plastered everywhere and am posting some of them here.  Smoking is a national problem and instead of combatting it  I saw a single public anti-smoking ad and one video campaign at the airport  smoking ads are using everything from sex appeal to macho imagery with interestingly an all-Western cast.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
08.02
BEGGER - MUSICIAN

BEGGER – MUSICIAN

SYNOPSIS:  About a Zoo, a Museum, a Fort, and a bit more of Bukittingi.

The forces of nature spoke loud and clear:  On Tuesday and Thursday the weather was nice.  On Wednesday and Friday  both of the days which I had set aside for paragliding were cloudy, windy and unsuitable for that sort of activity.  I was deeply disappointed.  I had come so close!

Town still had a few things to offer:  There was a modest local history museum, a zoo, the remains of a Dutch fortress and there is always a stroll in the market if you have nothing else to do. 

The zoo was advertised in a nice, flashy poster.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
08.01
BILLY AND HIS WIFE

BILLY AND HIS WIFE

SYNOPSIS:   In pursuit of more traditional crafts.  About textiles and a music performance.  A visit at my guide’s home.  About a girl who needs medical help.

Two nights in a row I visited a small performance hall in Bukittingi in which given at least 10 visitors in attendance nightly performances of martial arts and music were presented by a different crews of dancers and musicians.  Going twice was a good idea only when you have a point of reference do you know good from bad…  One night was definitely heads and shoulders above the other even though similar pieces were performed.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
07.31
RAFLESIA IN BLOOM CURLING UP FOR THE NIGHT

RAFLESIA IN BLOOM CURLING UP FOR THE NIGHT

SYNOPSIS:  About an excursion West of Bukittingi, picking up a new guide and making two new friends.  About paragliding at Lake Maninjau almost.  About Dutch houses, silversmithing, and  about a world-guinness record experience.

I had put the deposit down, I was ready to go.  Yumat showed up right on time and turned out to be a two-step-up guide from Billy.  He is a licensed and experienced paraglider with his own business and many years of experience as a senior guide. I was about to check off one thing on my life’s bucket list:  paragliding.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
07.30
FAMILY HOME

FAMILY HOME

SYNOPSIS:  Driving around rain or shine to find traditional Minang architecture with Billy, my local guide.  The story of a palace and a glimpse of a big crater lake.  About living standards, rain, the countryside and a magic stone.

Soon the few original wooden Minang houses that are left will merely be good enough for firewood.  Their fate  does not lag far behind the fate of the Dayak Longhouses that I tried to visit in Kalimantan.  Traditional Minang architecture is characterized by two, four, or six upswung gables on either side of a central door, which also often is topped by a gable swinging for- and upwards.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
07.29
A GOOFY MOMENT

A GOOFY MOMENT

SYNOPSIS:  About being a guest of honor at a traditional Minang Wedding and about crossing the equator. 

Colorful cloth tents were dotting the landscape when I drove from Padang to Bukittingi — the sure signs of impending weddings.  The Minang are a matrilineal culture and weddings as well as marriage traditions are some of the most emblematic expressions that remain.  It was a weekend in the month following Ramadan.  That is holiday season for all Muslims, and wedding season for the Minang.  I was pretty sure that by just walking through town the next day, I would stumble on a wedding somewhere and would be able to take a few pictures.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
07.28
MINANG INTERNATIONAL HOTEL

MINANG INTERNATIONAL HOTEL

SYNOPSIS:  About the pulse of this charming mountain town, about Japanese Tunnels,  about my new accommodations and a word about the culture of Islam and what that means for Indonesia.

Gone-by wealth was oozing out of every one of the ornately carved wooden panels in the parlor of the Minang International Hotel.  It was underscored by the worn carpets, the dated upholstery on the two dozen arm chairs, the fancy wedding alcove, and the silver trays on which tea was still served — all of which must have cost a fortune in the 1950’s when this traditional villa was built and furnished.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
07.27
THREE GENERATIONS

THREE GENERATIONS

SYNOPSIS:  On the road.  From airports to hotels.  From planes into more planes, taxis and minivans.  Reaching my new destination.   About a good travel rule and about networking in Indonesia.  

The photos in this blog are of a few Sumbanese people.

At home my rule of thumb is that you have to plan an hour for everything or you will be running late.  A stop at the grocery store, just heading to the post office — you just never know what comes in your way.  Here, the rule of thumb has to be that everything takes a day. 

I will roll three days of transit into one blog, but three days of moving is finally behind me: from Flores to Bali, from Bali to Jakarta, from Jakarta to Sumatra.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
07.26
NAM IN THE AIR

NAM IN THE AIR

SYNOPSIS:  About making the most of a boring day.  Sitting around at the Luanbajo airport.  A note from the health and the photo department.   About luck.

I have no address, I have no phone — the clerks at the six airline offices that lined one wall of the rather sparse basement in the brand-new Luanbajo Airport (Bandar Udara Komodo) were baffled.  I pointed to the food court right across from them:  That’s where I live — at least for today.

And all day I sat there, writing my Sumba blog — so that at least something good would come of this very boring, wasted day.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
07.25

RINCA

ADULT DRAGON

ADULT DRAGON

SYNOPSIS:  About a boat adventure with new friends, dragons, a snorkeling experience, and a hefty rain storm.

These four had done their research!  Independently, Kyle and Stephanie from Illinois and Luke and Barbara from Italy had spend a good amount of time following the protocol.  They had compared prices, ruled out shady boat providers, found a reputable company and had ended up on a really nice boat equipped for up to 10 passengers.  I was only #5 and they happily took me aboard. 

A professional and experienced crew, a clean and sturdy boat and a good itinerary had just fallen into my lap thanks to them.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
07.24
FERRY

FERRY

SYNOPSIS:  About ferries, ports, and people.

Anywhere else in the world, bus stations and ports are places where, as individual traveler in particular you have to be on red alert.  Shady characters roam around, pickpocketing is a pastime and most certainly you will be ripped off one way or another.  Not so in Indonesia. 

Waikelo (Sumba) was a crazy site but there was nothing shady about it.   Starting around 4 AM, people were gathering to get onto the ferry, just in case…  The ferry had not taken off in over a week because of high winds.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
07.23
TOMB DETAIL

TOMB DETAIL

Given the importance of burials which I mentioned in the Post IT TAKES A VILLAGE, I thought I would insert a few typical tomb stones and graves here as a photo essay.  In the villages, tombs occupy the central space and are most likely still fashioned in the traditional ways (limestone) and decorated with traditional symbols.   In the cities, each family has their tomb in their front yard. At times the size of the tomb rivals that of the house…  Often, materials such as concrete or bathroom tiles replace traditional materials.   If animals are depicted on the tomb exteriors, such as buffalos, pigs, chickens, or horses – this is an indication that these animals have been slaughtered to accompany the deceased into the afterlife.… VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
07.23
ET AND PATER RAMONE

ET AND PATER RAMONE

SYNOPSIS:  Another day of explorations in Sumba.  About a very late wedding celebration, about funerary practices early and delayed and about a unique cultural center. 

People had gathered at a temporary structure and sat on numerous colorful plastic chairs at a front yard in a little village.  A few trucks were lined up at the fence of the property.  Something was happening.   Can we stop?  Yohn didn’t mind. 

It was a wedding — well, sort of.  The wedding had taken place a couple of years ago.  The couple already had a child.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
07.22

IKAT

THE INDIGO PHASE

THE INDIGO PHASE

SYNOPSIS:  About chasing the perfect piece of Ikat.  About its production, its tradition and its symbols.    About landscapes, prisons and crime in Sumba.

We all have our priorities.  Some people travel half around the world for a perfect diving spot, others go for the one and only culinary experience, rare plants or animals, and I at times, try to hunt down a perfect piece of art.  In Indonesia, I had it in my head that I was going to buy a special piece of Ikat. 

Ikat are woven textiles which are unique in that the design is created before threads that are ultimately woven, are dyed.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
07.21
WAITABAR KAMPUNG

WAITABAR KAMPUNG

SYNOPSIS:  Traditional villages in Sumba.  Driving around with Yohn.

I was strolling along the beach at Oro when a voice called out:  Elisabeth?  Now who around here knows my name?!   I had mentioned, that I was looking for a guide to Ziska and Lukas.  And word had gotten around… 

Yohn, also known by his full name:  Yohanes Lende Danggaone, is one of the certified English-speaking guides of this island.  He does not come cheap. But he comes with 12 years of experience, a local upbringing, and a car.  As my time here is limited, I have a few things on my agenda, and the visit of villages would take me days of trekking — I have little choice.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
07.20

ORO BEACH

MY FIRST NIGHT HUT

MY FIRST NIGHT HUT

SYNOPSIS:  Time for a writing stop.  Where paradise meets home away from home.  Where a writing stop turned into a vacation.  Where sunrise and sunsets are perfect.  Where you meet interesting people.  Where I did not want to leave.

My 3-star hotel time at the T-More in Kupang was sucked up by grading my online course, doing laundry and by the pure indulgence in long hot showers.  My Timur blog still had to be written…

Every night, I process photos.  Waiting around and being in transit is the best time for me to write.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
07.19
Keeping cool

KEEPING COOL

SYNOPSIS:  About another hypocrisy of life. 

Timur was fabulous,  I knew that once I left “civilization” — when I flew to Kalimantan — the trip would pick up, meaning, it would be more what I like: roughing it a bit, exploring things off the beaten track, getting to know people in their daily surroundings, seeing new art forms and interesting architecture.

It only got better.  After Kalimantan, there was Sulawesi.  I did not have to rough it much as I had a base camp at Rantepao, still, there were challenges.  The Torajans are wonderful people and their arts and rituals are simply amazing. 

Timur topped even Sulawesi.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
07.18

BOTI

MACHINE TO PREPARE THE COTTON

MACHINE TO PREPARE THE COTTON

SYNOPSIS:  About the last animist village in Timur.  About traditions and handicrafts.

Already over 30-40 years ago when tourism to Indonesia was more of a novelty than it is today, news made it to the West that among all the villages and ethnic groups in Timur one of them had preserved its animist practices:  Boti village in the former Kingdom of Amunaban.  A steady flow of tourists started to trickle in despite its remote location.  The villagers not only seem to cope but they made the best of it:  They collectively agreed and built a guest house on the chief’s compound and they collectively benefit from the money tourists pay for overnight stays and the obligatory village donations of betel nuts and cigarettes.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
07.17
MULTI-COLORED ROCKS

MULTI-COLORED ROCKS

SYNOPSIS:  About a night at the beach and a morning with the stone pebblers about the stars and the sun, chewing betel nuts and about smoking.

It was a long drive from Gemri’s village to the coast.  I had a choice between spending an early night at Soe, and driving on in the morning with Gemri, or driving 2 more hours today with Gemri’s brother Hanki and a driver, to spend one night at the ocean.  Yes, you guessed it — I chose the ocean.

Oetuna Beach is a favorite among locals.  For a small fee people can drive their motorbikes and cars to a guarded beach and even spend the night there hanging out in and around a covered pavilion.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
07.16
BREAKFAST IS READY AND STEAMING HOT

BREAKFAST READY & STEAMING

SYNOPSIS:  An evening and a morning at Gemri’s house.  About Gemri’s family and about a morning at the village church. 

Gemri’s house was only 200 meters down from the church.  Church service was scheduled to start at 8 AM and groups of well-dressed villagers, some of whom had walked quite far, had been streaming by the house since after 7 AM.  Church on Sunday was one of the occasions to socialize, exchange news, listen to the priest, and just hang out. 

Everyone looked at the red car that was parked in front of Markus and Juliana’s house.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
07.15
THE ROCK AND A DOG

THE ROCK AND A DOG

SYNOPSIS:  About a trek to a sacred stone village.

Most of the roads in Timur seem to deteriorate to a point that normal cars simply can’t cope anymore.  But there are even villages that can’t be reached by motorbike.  The sacred village of Temkesi in the Kefa area, the former Kingdom of Biboki, is one of them.  With a 4WD we could have driven nearly up to it, but we hiked up to it — a 3 km hike which cost me a big headache as the sun was beating down on us.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
07.14
NONE-21

WARRIOR DANCE

SYNOPSIS:  How a Jakarta TV Crew blessed me with a full scale event at the warrior village None (Nooh-nay). 

At the most crucial event — the warriors got ready for a war dance — my old, trusty SLR Nikon froze!  My heart almost stopped.  I took out the battery, switched it on and off and tried every trick under the sun, but the camera refused to take another picture.  I had my small emergency Canon camera in the car, but that was one kilometer away.  The dance would start in less than 15 minutes.  I begged a local boy with a motorbike to take me to the car and back and of course, got a ride.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
07.13
DANCING WITH THE CHIEF

DANCING WITH THE CHIEF

SYNOPSIS:  About the life of chief Mattheo Anin in the village of Fatumnasi.  About a unique rain forest.  About kings and kingdoms.  About chiefs and how to become one.  About staying in a traditional roundhouse.

It is dark in chief Anin’s hut. Ten dogs, two caged cuscus, over thirty doves, a rooster, a chicken and a monkey share the 5-meter circular room under a thatched roof with chief Mattheus Anin and his wife Juliana. And of course, any visitor is welcome, and for that purpose about ten wooden chairs hem a half circle around the edge of the room.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
07.12
GETTING THE CAR READY

GETTING THE CAR READY

SYNOPSIS:  About distances.  How manifesting always works.  About booking a hotel online.  About a new guide.  No photos today.  

For the next week, I will be traveling in West Timur.

I won’t go into it, but East and West Timur have a violent history that is quite recent and was caused by the aftermath of colonialism.  The Dutch cleared out of their part of Timur after WWII, the Portuguese did not.  The Dutch part was converted mainly to Protestantism, the Portuguese part mainly to Catholicism.

I will be traveling in the Indonesian part of Timur only.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
07.11

FACES OF TORAJA

CHEWING BETEL NUTS

CHEWING BETEL NUTS

SYNOPSIS:  About not learning any lessons.  About rain.  About meeting a Swedish couple.  A day of processing photos and impressions.  A day of rest.  Taking the night bus back to Makassar.    Images of the faces of some of the Torajans.   Saying goodbye to Sulawesi. 

Didn’t I learn anything from my experience with Nicola in Java (see Yogyakarta blog) — leaving the house without the address of your hotel?  No, I did much better than that:  I found myself without money not knowing where I was and not knowing where I was going!VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
07.10
RICE TERRACES

RICE TERRACES

SYNOPSIS:  About a two-day village trek north of Rantepao.  About rice terraces and beauty.  About sleeping in a 320 year old traditional house.  About “the moment”.

At times, it seemed almost too much to bear.  Every few steps I looked around and a new view into a valley or down a terrace, towards a small church in the distance, or a curvy-roofed family compound, had opened up.  It is hard to describe how something this gentle and beautiful could be so overwhelming.  But it literally took my breath away.

I thought I had seen nice rice paddies in Java and Bali.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
07.09

PHOTO COMPROMISE

I have gotten good and bad feedback about the new photo format on and off line.  For those of you who focus on the text and struggle with the photos, I have now put the text up first.  For those of you who love the large photos and skim through the text – you will still get there.  I hope this will work for now until I get home and get some good advise for next year’s blog from my much more computer competent son.

Keep your comments coming!  Even if I don’t answer every one, I have your questions in mind and keep looking for answers.… VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
07.09
Gathering around the Coffin

GATHERING AROUND THE COFFIN

SYNOPSIS:  About the third day of the funerary ceremony. 

The ground was torn from the feet of over 2000 people and the hoofs of hundreds of animals.  And it was muddy from two nights of rain.  A few people trickled into the compound where the family had gathered around the coffin of the deceased mother.

This was day three of the funeral ceremony.  It was quiet and attended by only about 200 people, the extended family of the deceased.  I was welcomed back to observe but I was the only tourist.  No more spectacles.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
07.08
BOYS IN TRADITIONAL OUTFITS

BOYS IN TRADITIONAL OUTFITS

Synopsis:  About the buffalo and pig market at Bolo.  A few thoughts about animals, rights, and privileges.   About a wedding and a confirmation ceremony.

The bull and pig market in Bolo is famous in all of Tona Toraja.  It happens every six days and people arrive by the truck load from the most remote villages.  Especially during the dry season (May through December), when funeral ceremonies happen and pigs and buffalos are slaughtered by the tens of thousands, this market is bustling.

After seeing the ceremony, I now understand better, where the need for these quantities of animals comes from.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
07.07
Skinning the Buffalo

SKINNING THE BUFFALO

SYNOPSIS:  About a day of slaughter and community.  Or is it the other way around?  About funeral requirements and etiquette.  How do traditions develop?  A few thoughts.    This blog is long as there is nothing quite like this.

Todays post is not for the fainthearted as I will not spare you the details.  It may be easier for you to read it than it was for me to experience, but I can’t imagine that it is easy either way.  And if you don’t like blood, skip this one.  I put off writing this blog as much as I could and am still fighting back tears writing, just as I was at the funeral ceremony.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
07.06
FUNERARY PRACTICES-13

GALLERY OF TAU TAU

SYNOPSIS:  Cruising Toraja Villages in search of funerary practices. 

For two days I have been on the back of Yussuf’s bike and my butt is getting sore…  But the final count is in for evidence of the different funerary practices of the Torajans.  I think it is fair to say that Torajans live and earn money to be able to pay for proper funerals. You will be judged by your community for the way you send off your loved ones.  Nothing matters more.

As someone who will be happy with a cardboard box or my ashes blown into the four directions, I have a hard time wrapping my mind around this concept.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
07.05
300+ YEAR RICE BARN

300+ YEAR RICE BARN

SYNOPSIS:  About my new home and my guide.  About the peculiar architecture of the Torajans and a bit about their mythology and history.

As Oscar in Makassar had promised, Yussuf, my new guide, showed up at 6:30 AM at the bus station.  After 8 hours on the bus I must not have cut a pretty figure, but he did not seem to care.  As part of my tour package, he took me to my new accommodations:  Riana’s Homestay.  A large clean room, a large clean bathroom with hot water (no sink), a small green garden, available wifi and a very friendly host family — I could not complain.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
07.04
BINTANG BUS

BINTANG BUS

SYNOPSIS:  A  6-day plan, a 6-hour wait and an 8-hour trip.  Manifesting a guide.

I woke up with more bites than I could count.  Were all of these mosquitoes?  Or could there have been bedbugs?  The thought made me shudder!  I could not dwell on it.  It would just ruin my day.  I hope a good shower will take care of things for now.

A metered taxi sped me out of Surabaya via the toll road, a nice, smoothly paved highway bypassing downtown with all the “New York” high rises which I would not have minded seeing again in the daylight.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
07.03
ARAB QUARTER

ARAB QUARTER

SYNOPSIS:  A glimpse of life in the back alleys of Surabaya’s Arab Quarter (Kumpung Arab).

It is like a world apart from the “New York” part of Surabaya but it is also a world apart from the hustle and bustle of the business streets in the Arab Quarter.  Small gates lead into narrow alleys into which not even motor bikes venture.   It feels as if you are walking through people’s living rooms.  Men are only half dressed, women are dressed casually, children are playing, laundry is drying, short-tailed cats are roaming. 

I am not entirely comfortable to photograph people in these settings unless I have made a connection with them.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
07.02
TOUR BUS

TOUR BUS

SYNOPSIS:  About exploring a few historic sites in Surabaya via the city tour bus.   About shedding 7 kg of weight.   About lice.

Andalus Hotel, the dated, dirty, everything-broken hotel in the Arab Quarter, was my base in Surabaya.  I had left a big suitcase in the trust of some of these not-a-word-of-English guys.  Sometimes, you just have to take a chance.  They gave me a big smile when I came back yesterday and rushed my suitcase out of storage.  It was untouched.

It was time to shed some weight.  A souvenir here, a textile there, a few hundred grams of coffee as a present, just a small woodcarving — after a month all of these ‘this weighs nothing’ items, they added up to more than 8 kg.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
07.01

PICTURE FORMAT

Hi guys, thanks for your feedback and comments on- and offline.  Looks like you want to keep the larger single row image format.  It is fine with me.

Here is just one more word about it:  As you know, I do take pride in taking pictures that are not only informative but also beautiful, well-composed, etc.  This new format allows you to scroll through, but some of the images are still cropped.  That means, what you see as a large image may still not be “full scale”.  I experimented with the full-scale format and for some images, it is way, way too big for the blog to handle.… VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
07.01
AVI AND LISA

AVI AND LISA

SYNOPSIS:  A day of work in the cool gardens of Yoschi’s Guesthouse.  Transit back to Surabaya. 

It must be a good 15 degrees cooler “up here” than “down there”.  What better place to stay for an extra day, especially, since Yoschi’s has such a pleasant tropical garden, rustic huts, a full-service restaurant and wifi!  Best of all, it is so cool here, that there are no mosquitoes.  And on top of all that, the view is spectacular.

The further you go up from Probolinggo towards Bromo, the more beautiful the landscape gets.  Too bad, I had to drive up here in the dark.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
06.30

BROMO

ET AT VIEWPOINT

ET AT VIEWPOINT

SYNOPSIS:  About a sunrise (or the lack thereof), a new group of fellow travelers, and about a hike up smoking Mount Bromo.

I am treating myself to a nature break.  Mount Bromo, a steadily-sweltering, semi-active volcano is part of a spectacular volcanic landscape best and more fully appreciated with a bit more sun. But, getting up at 3:00 AM to board a jeep to head off to the sunrise viewing point was still worth it, even though there was not much of a sunrise at all. 

I was the last to board the jeep — a French couple, a Dutch couple and a young German guy were already on board.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
06.29
HOS Cigarette Labels

HOS CIGARETTE LABELS

SYNOPSIS:  The story of the House of Sampoerna.  How I missed the one thing worth doing in Surabaya.  About my first train experience from Surabaya to Probolinggo.   Meeting some fellow travelers. 

Surabaya is not exactly a tourist destination but the Lonely Planet recommends one promising thing:  A free city tour organized by the House of Sampoerna.  I admit that the neighborhood I arrived in last night scared me a bit.  I needed some safe place to acclimate and get started.  This sounded just right. 

The tour leaves three times a day.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
06.28
BOY LEAVING MOSQUE

BOY LEAVING MOSQUE

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.  The 8-lane main road (four going in each direction) was lined with oversized monitors issuing travel safety warnings and flashing various ads in between.  There were neon-lit fountains and digital ads everywhere, and a downtown with numerous high-rises.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
06.27
LIFE AT THE RIVER-7

DAYAK EMBROIDERY

SYNOPSIS:  Mainly photos today.  🙂

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.  In the first set of images you will see glimpses of daily life as I observed it from my boat.   People washing clothes, bathing, buying petrol in plastic containers, preparing fish in various ways, and just socializing.

Through the second set of images, you might get a better sense of the living conditions.… VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
06.26
JAYLANI'S FAMILY

JAYLANI’S FAMILY

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.  It goes to show what money can buy.  The guy who owns it is the richest man in town and I was told this is the only wifi spot anywhere in most likely a 200 km radius.  Well, maybe only 100 km, but close. 

But if this guy can get it, then others could, too.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
06.25

DAYAK

LH VIEW FROM GALLERY

LH VIEW FROM GALLERY

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.  The ones who are here have moved from other areas in Kalimantan or Java.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
06.24

RAINFOREST

MONKEYS

MONKEYS

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

Orang Utans or Dayaks…  that was the question I had to decide.  From all I could tell, a trip to see wild Orang Utans in the National Park is a spectacular experience and one unique to Kalimantan.  But I had to make choices and as an art historian, teaching cultural studies and not biology, I had to decide in favor of the Dayaks.  I know, I will  always question this decision, perhaps even regret it someday or very soon, but both trips were not in the cards for financial reasons and for time constraints.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
06.23
COAL CONVEYOR BELT

COAL CONVEYOR BELT

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.  And as I am heading into the rain forest where even a bad internet connection is unlikely, I just could not bear the thought of not being caught up on all fronts:  grading for my class, posting for the blog, uploading photos, answering emails.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
06.22

RICE FIELDS

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ET AT RICE FIELD

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.  At times, statues tower in the middle of rice fields and everywhere the small, hand-made, perishable offerings are found.… VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
06.21

FOODS OF BALI

SOUP

SOUP

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.  And it never ceases to amaze me what combinations of foods they come up with and the number of dishes they can make out of single banana.

Enjoy this feast for the eye.

P.S.  I have not yet eaten at fancy places yet.… VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2016
06.20
NEWLY WED + ET

NEWLY WED + ET

SYNOPSIS:  On and off the beaten path around Ubud.  Exploring some more of the cultural sites with lazy Marde.  The other side of the story of Ubud; talking to some locals.  Getting ready to leave Bali.

Tutuk was a bit creepy, I have to say.  The way he swept flowers out of the pool and in front of my bungalow forever, constantly peeking into the direction of my window… I could tell because there was a slit in the wooden window through which I could observe him without him seeing me.  I tried not to let this get to me, but to greet him nonchalantly and friendly when I finally opened the ornately carved shutters.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY