Saturday, March 24, 2012

Selamat malam! (I miss saying that..and lima haha)

Well, just one week ago we were all sitting in Jakarta airport waiting to find out when/if our plane was going to ever leave. I cannot believe how fast time goes.  Our week in Indonesia seemed to fly by, although we did so many things in just one week. I can't count the number of times I have "relived" our trip through my pictures and videos already, thank God for cameras!  Today I finally had time to catch up on all the journaling and sit and think about all the amazing things we did. So many people I talk to keep asking, "Well, what was your favorite thing?" This question is near impossible to even think about, let alone give an answer for. I still have to pinch myself when I think about how we were literally on the opposite side of the world, and am overwhelmed with thankfulness for this incredible opportunity and experience.

As I thought over each day of our trip today, I had to stop and think..."we did all of that in one day???" It is a lot to think about and wrap your mind around when reflecting on all the different things we experienced. It's not easy to get a really full and encompassed idea of an entirely different culture in just one week; but if it could be done, we did it. Not only was our scheduled packed with exciting things each day, our group was perfectly cohesive. And by cohesive I mean we had a great time together doing anything from trying new and exotic foods to sitting in airports for hours upon hours, all the while finding ways to make fun of each other and laugh at almost anything/everything. does one begin to reflect on an incredible trip like the one we have been describing?

Sights. Perhaps the easiest and most tangible place to start would be the places we went and things we saw. Prambanan, Borobudur, Mt. Merapi, Ramayana Ballet, schools, the hospital, pharmacy, the Bizztro (can't forget that one :P), Batik, silver shop, clay pot shops, meat market (yum), and many more! If you have had the chance to look at anyone's photos from our trip, it is clear that the Indonesian sights are simply stunning. I cannot even begin to talk about the amazing views we saw.  Camera's can't capture the view of city of Salatiga we saw each night, and I must say some of my happiest moments happened with a cup of coffee in the morning while looking out at volcanoes and mountains in the distance.

Sounds. Now this is something that is a little bit harder to capture. However, with Chris and Will's video-taping habits put together, I'm pretty sure you could virtually be on the trip with us haha. From the first night, I knew things would not be the same (roosters were yelling literally all night..what an experience haha). For me, the most impressive sounds were the music, the wildlife, and then just the sound of the Indonesian language.  The music was very intriguing, whether it was Indonesian pop on the way to the airport in the van, or angklung outside on the streets of Jogja.  The wildlife was something that we aren't so used to hearing all the time..or hardly ever here in America. I liked the geckos the best, which make sort of a barking or ribbeting noise..sort of hard to explain, but I didn't know they sounded like that! Languages have always particularly interested me. I love hearing different sounds and accents from all over the world, and Indonesian was definitely one that I haven't heard much (at all) before.  It was such a blessing to have Bethany and her parents, Pac Tim and Ibu Rhonda with us at all times to break down that barrier somewhat. But I must say, Mas Ali and I had some really good conversations about photography with a few english words and mostly charades :)

Smiles. Here comes my favorite part.  Every person I met there had a friendliness and warmth about them that was simply unexplainable.  No one passed by without a quick hello or a sweet smile.  I loved the laid-back feel of the culture and was so impressed by the Javanese people.  Bethany's parents gave us a little more insight to the culture telling us that they highly value respect and don't like to embarrass others.  One instance that really impacted me happened the first night we were in Yogyakarta. One of us (cough Kevin cough), left something in the food court of the mall we ate at and didn't realize until we were back out on the street. When he turned around to get it, someone had ran down the four flights of stairs to find him and give him his things. I don't know a lot of places in which that would happen! Another thing I loved was that after we finished eating dinner at the Indonesian family's home, we all just hung out and enjoyed each other.  In America, I feel like we are always on to the next thing, or feel the need to be on the computer or watching something, but I really liked just sitting on the porch with friends and enjoying the evening.  Even the people I met in passing in Indonesia left a kind and friendly impression on me.

I have been talking for a while now and I still feel like I have only skimmed the surface of the country and culture of Indonesia. And because my photos can show what my words can't, I leave you with these... - Jo

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Made it Home

We made it home after several bumpy flights, a 3 hour delay that turned into a 12 hour day in Jakarta Airport, and best of all we went back in time to live Sunday all over again. First order of business is a shower and then food.

Saturday, March 17, 2012


So we’re in the airport in Jakarta getting ready to leave Indonesia, but let’s travel back to Wednesday morning (Tuesday night for you East Coasters) and revisit our trip to Borobudur.

Borobudur is the world’s largest Buddhist temple with a series of square and circular terraces. It was constructed between 778 and 850 AD, however, shortly after it’s completion Hindu kings conquered the Buddhist dynasty and the temple was abandoned. It was preserved until it was rediscovered in the 19th century by ash from successive explosions by the nearby volcano, Mt. Merapi. In the 1960’s, UNESCO started a major restoration effort to take apart and rebuild Borobudur piece by piece.

Borobudur is like any other historical monument in that there’s a small town surrounding the world wonder. As we entered the parking we were mobbed by locals selling every knick-knack you could possibly need even before we exited the vans. We had a great guide telling us about Borobudur with his own jokes inserted here and there. There are ten levels, including the ground, and you can circumnavigate three of them in a symbolic journey through the three spheres of Tantric Buddhism. There was a group of people who actually did make their way here to perform their pilgrimage with a spiritual chant that end on the top tier with them bowing their heads and touching the top-most stupa. The top tier has more than 70 stupas containing Buddha. Most of the heads are missing or damaged due to collectors stealing them.

Although Borobudur has become a major tourist attraction there still remains a special spiritual feeling when surrounded by all the beautiful scenery.

-blog post by Will Kennard

Friday, March 16, 2012

Rice field fun

First up, here is our very own star, Kevin aka "Justin Bieber", being mobbed by middle-schoolers on holiday. We've made lots of new friends along the way who love a chance to practice their English and to take photos with Americans. Hopefully we are doing our part to increase mutual understanding and cross cultural exchange. :)

On Thursday we visited a rice paddy and some even took the opportunity to learn how to plant rice by hand.

Today is Saturday and we will be heading out in a few hours for our long trip home. We start with a drive to the next city, Semarang, where we will take a domestic flight to the capital city of Jakarta. From there we have a long wait until our departure for Seoul and finally Washington DC. Wish us luck in our 36+ hour journey. We will try to post some more photos from the week and stories as we have time and internet.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Mount Merapi

Hi there, this is Elizabeth by the way. For some reason I'm having trouble logging in myself...

After exploring Borobudur, we pilled into the vans and headed across the way to see Mt Merapi. There is vast expanse of crops terraced into the mountainside as we make our ascent. Sometimes I wonder if the van is going to make it as it putters and the mopeds take their turn speeding past.

Once we reached the lookout point, we have an overlook of the valley and the giant Mt Merapi to our right and Mt Merbabu to our left. The valley below is organized into its crop fields and it’s hard to believe that only a year and half ago this entire area was destroyed and covered in ash by this active volcano. Mt Merapi’s peak is hidden behind the clouds. Supposedly one can see smoke from Mt Merapi about 300 days of the year. It is believed when the earth was created, the gods wanted to place Mt Merapi in the center of Java to balance the island. However, two armourers, Empu Rama and Empu Permadi were already settling in the desired location and ignored the gods’ desire to move the mountain there. This made the gods angry and so they went ahead and buried Empu Rama and Empu Permadi under Mt Merapi and that is why it’s believed the volcano is so active.

There’s also a group of school children visiting, about the age of 13. They work up the courage to approach us, practicing their English and ask to take photos with us. They get a big kick over Becky with her fair skin and red hair. Then the girls hone in on Kevin…(we end up giving Kevin the nickname Justin Beiber). Lots of photos were taken, girls squealing, everyone throwing up the peace sign and more squealing as they scurry off towards their tour bus.

We then headed inside for a traditional lunch while enjoying the beautiful, immense view.

Selamat Pagi! (Good Morning!)

Greetings from the beautiful mountainside here in Indonesia! All of our days have been jam packed with everything Indonesian, with tons of food and tons of fun! The other day we were given the opportunity to visit Prambanan. The moment we arrived it was as if we were stepping into a page of an Encyclopedia! Prambanan is a 9th century Hindu temple located in Central Java. Just standing there surrounded by these majestic temples we were all in awe at the fact that it was all constructed based on a tongue-and-groove approach. The mere height and intricate carvings were also impressive. We had a very funny tour guide who was always cracking “American” jokes! He was so nice and always encouraging us to keep up, as you may guess we were very distracted by our surroundings! The tour included a full history of Prambanan as well as going into several of the different chambers. Randomly as we were walking around we also discovered that there were some kittens living there! I certainly want to get in touch with their real estate agent! Finally, our tour concluded with many group shots in front of the temple, complete with an aerial shot! In other words, the infamous jumping pose! Needless to say it was an experience that none of us will ever forget!


Coffee Trip with Tim

Tim Galipeau took Will, Jo, and myself to The Bizztro to have coffee after our trip to the Pharmacy. We are desperately trying to get Bethany to agree to having dinner there on our last night. She loves coffee, so we got at least a 50/50 shot.