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

REMEMBER TO CLICK ON EACH PHOTO (once or even twice) IF YOU WANT THE FULL IMAGE

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.… 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