About Our Group

We are a group of 12 students and 2 professors from Calvin College venturing to Indonesia for three weeks. While in Indonesia, we will visit schools and businesses, along with seeing the sights! We fly out from GRR on January 2 and arrive back in Grand Rapids on January 23.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

January 20: Chimps and Hippos and Zebras, Oh My!

Thaaaaaaat's right folks! It's blog time once again! Ready to hear about the grand adventures we took on this day? Well, ready or not, here we go!

This morning was probably my favorite of all of our morning in Indonesia. What amazing adventure did we go on? What awesome site did we see? What did we do, you ask? Nothing. Nothing at all. This morning we got to sleep in. It was wonderful after getting up by around 7 or 8 almost every other day of this trip. I spent it eating breakfast, writing journals, and just generally chilling. It was great.

Around 10:30 we headed to another monkey park. These were far nicer than the ones we met before. We fed them bananas and, following Nate's example from before, let them climb on our backs. They were very cute and mostly kind. It was a very enjoyable morning.

Chillin' at the pool

Susan feeding a monkey

For lunch we ate at the Dirty Duck restaurant. We all had duck or chicken and it was delicious. There was also some juice (which we guessed was mango pineapple) that was also very tasty. Overall, a very nice lunch. 

 At the Dirty Duck
At the Dirty Duck

After lunch we went to the Bali safari and marine park. First we attended a show involving live animals and a very impressive set. There were elephants, goats, ducks, and even a leopard. It was incredible to say the least, but we weren't allowed to take pictures, unfortunately. 

After the show we went on a safari in a van at the park. There were many cool animals, as you can see below. 

After the safari we stopped at McDonalds for some food to tide us over until dinner, we stopped by Tanah Lot (a market area by the beach) to see the sunset. It was gorgeous. Several people got wet and lots of pictures were taken. It was a nice end to the night.

 Sunset at Tanah Lot

Group photo (minus profs) at Tanah Lot

After Tanah Lot we drove back to the hotel and got our own dinners for the night. All in all in was a very good day in Indo.


January 19: Bike Tour

Another gorgeous day in Bali!!  We have been told that it was nonstop raining for days before we came.  But we’ve seen almost nothing but sunshine since we’ve been here!  Thank the Lord!  Especially since many of the activities we do and places we visit are outdoors.  I hope this good weather keeps up for the next few days. 

This morning we got in the bus early to ride up to a little farm in the mountains where they grow all sorts of spices and foods like coffee, vanilla, chocolate, and fruits.  After taking a little walk through the farm we got to sample several different types of coffees and teas that were made from plants grown at the farm.  The coffee was DECILIOUS!  Being an extreme coffee enthusiast, I must say this might have been one of the best parts of the trip.  We even had the um.. privilege.. of getting to try the famous Luwak coffee.  It is called Luwak coffee because the coffee beans are fed to the Luwak and then harvested from their feces, cleaned up, and ground up to make coffee.  Believe it or not, having coffee beans pass through the digestive system of the Luwak give the bean a delicious flavor.  We all were wondering how they figured that out… Our group got to buy coffee, chocolate, and tea at the gift shop at the end of the tour.  We all bought something to bring back home with us. 

Cute little Luwak

After the farm tour and coffee tasting we headed further up the mountain to eat a second breakfast at a beautiful restaurant at the top.  We dined on delicious banana pancakes and fruit in order to power up for our bike ride down the mountain.

 View from the restaurant

Banana Pancake

We glided through villages and got to stop along the way to have the tour guide explain parts of the village and the culture.  We stopped in a Hindu village compound where we saw all sorts of sacrifices to the Hindu gods and evil spirits.  The villagers warmly welcomed us with “hellos” and outstretched arms anticipating a high five as we flew by on our bikes.  We stopped at a rice field and observed people harvesting and thrashing the rice.  It is hard to believe that people go through all that grueling manual work for a bowl of rice!  The scenery took my breath away with its beauty!  Some rain drops decided to join us for the last leg of our journey.  We welcomed it after being in the sun for so long!

 Taking a breather during the bike ride

 Our bikes in front of the village temple

Thrashing the rice

After the ride the tour guide invited us to his home for lunch.  It turned out to be the best meal we ate while in Indo!  Barefoot, sitting on cushions on the floor, we ate delicious traditional Indonesia foods such as Gado Gado, Tempe, and Sate.  I thoroughly enjoying this meal and appreciated the opportunity to be in the inside of someone’s living space.

The delicious food

We were all on our own for dinner tonight so Michelle and I headed to IndoMart to get the ice cream we had been craving.  It was so great to just to relax, explore the city a little bit, and hang out with friends. 

Yet another beautiful full day which actually felt like three days. 

January 18: Statues, Tattoos, and a View

Well here you are again, living vicariously through friends and family, experiencing life halfway across the world. Get ready to hear about more of our adventures on the island of Bali.

The day started bright and clear as we headed to the beach to spend the morning doing water sports. There were lots of things available. A couple of our group members jet skied. Some went on a glass bottom boat to an island and got to see and hold animals such as a bat and a toucan. A couple others went snorkeling again. I went on a fly fish with a few other people. Now, a fly fish is not the same thing as fly fishing (much to the disappointment of Professor Van Der Heide). It is basically a combination of tubing and para-sailing. Needless to say, it was awesome. After our activities we relaxed on the beach and ate some ice cream until it was time to go.

For lunch we went to a restaurant in the area where some Hindu people are working on building the world's largest statue. The food was a pretty standard Indonesian meal. The statue, though, was anything but typical. Here are pictures of a basic outline of what the statue is going to look like and some of the pieces. As you can undoubtedly see once the statue is finished, it will be HUGE.

 Outline of Statue-to-be

 One part of the statue

 Another part of the statue

While we were walking around the statue area we stumbled upon a man giving temporary tattoos. Needless to say, we were soon all adorned with pictures of bats, dolphins, flowers, suns, and more. The most memorable was when Ruwan requested a flower, but the artist informed him that he would not be getting a flower, but a scorpion. We all had a good laugh about that. 

Gecko Tattoos

A little while later we headed to another area with some Hindu temples and a great view of the sea. There were also several monkeys running around. These were very mischievous monkeys, attempting to steal cameras, sunglasses, and sandals. Sometimes they were successful. They soon inspired fear in many of our members and made the rest of this particular journey quite interesting as the monkeys popped in and out of the brush. Classic to form, Nate allowed a monkey to climb on his back. It started cleaning his hair and was actually kind of cute. 


After the monkeys we headed back to the Hindu statue area for another dance show. Before the main show there was a single dancer on stage. Periodically she would enter the audience and choose someone to join her on stage for a little while. After a bit of support from our group we convinced her to pick one of our resident dancers (Chantel) to dance with her. As if there were any doubt, Chantel quickly stole the show.

Chantel jammin' hard
After the rest of the dance show we left for a seafood dinner at the famous Jimbaran Bay. As per usual, we enjoyed the food and each others' company very much. During dinner we were serenaded by a band who knew American songs. They were very good and funny to boot. I received a marriage proposal from one of the musicians during one of the songs. However, he didn't have a ring to give me so I declined. We walked out to hang out on the beach for a little while after dinner. It felt wonderful out there. From dinner we headed back the hotel for the night, another successful day of exploring Indonesia accomplished.


January 17: Travel Day and Kuta Beach

We met in the lobby at 4:45am to check out and eat our breakfast (bread boxes provided by the hotel) and then we left for the airport to head to Bali.  Our plane stopped in a city on the island of Java, we got off the plane, and 10-15 minutes later boarded that same plane again.  We landed in Bali a little after 10am.  After arriving at our hotel we searched out some food for lunch, which was a lot harder than usual since the hotel restaurant didn't have most of the food we wanted to order.  We ended up deciding to get ready for Kuta Beach and searching out lunch there.

When we were all ready, we headed to Kuta Beach which was pretty close by and we all went to Johnny Rockets for lunch; we were all craving American food.  After lunch we split up; some went to the markets and some went to the beach.  It was a beautiful sunny day and it was nice to have some free time.  People walked away with some good souvenirs and a few even surfed!  We left Kuta Beach around 7pm and many of us hung out at the pool once we were back at the hotel.

A flip flop vending machine!
(at the mall which we ate at)

Great sunset after a day at the markets


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

January 16: Snorkeling

Since we have been in Indonesia, I have found myself coming to the end of the day and being simply amazed at how many places we visited that day, the people we have met, and the new experiences we have had.  Yesterday was no exception.  We had the incredible opportunity to explore the wonders beneath the sea by snorkeling off the island of Bunaken.

We started the day out with a delicious breakfast at the hotel.  Right after, we loaded ourselves onto the bus which took us to the boat.  Decked in swimsuits and sunglasses, we sailed across the water to the island.  The sky got all the rain out of its system durning the 40 minute ride over so during our time on the island we enjoyed nothing but blue skies and sunshine while we were on the island.

Heading out to the Island for Snorkeling

We each got a mask, snorkel, and flippers and then went back out to the ocean.  Only few people in our group had ever snorkeled before so it was a new experience of many of us.  We just jumped in fins first and started exploring.  Since you are floating on the water when you snorkel it almost feels like you are flying over a fantastic new world of fish and coral.  Our group rented a underwater camera so we got some sweet pictures of us with the fish in their natural habitat.  I would definitely go snorkeling again, I'd just make sure to put more sunscreen on my back and try not to get so much salt water my mouth.


Erin, Kelsey, and Nate

After snorkeling we ate lunch at a restaurant on Bunaken.  The food was delicious and I got to drink coconut milk straight from a coconut. The view from the restaurant was incredible!!  The ocean with the mountains right next to it is simply breath taking.  I feel so blessed to get to experience so much of God's natural beauty.

View from Island

We got to sit out at the front of the boat of the trip back to Manado.  Rocking up and down on the waves of an ocean across the globe is quite a peaceful and thought provoking experience.

When we got back to the hotel, some of us jumped in the pool, which has a beautiful view of the ocean and mountains, before we went to go do a little shopping and get dinner.

We had some interesting Chinese food that not everyone was not too crazy about, so when we got back to the hotel we ordered some good old Pizza Hut pizza and played cards.  Definitely a good group hang out night.

I'm feeling so blessed and amazed at the incredible things we are dong on this trip!


January 14 & 15: Natural Beauty in Sulawesi

January 14 & 15

Today we flew to Manado!  We had to fly from Jogjakarta to Jakarta before connecting to fly to Sulawesi, so the trip took almost the entire day.

The flight from Jakarta to Manado was fairly empty, so we all got to sit in more than one seat, which was fantastic since domestic flights in Indonesia have significantly less space than both international flights and American domestic flights.

By the time we landed in Manado, it was evening already.

The next morning was spent touring the SDH and SLH schools in Tomohon, a region near Manado.  Originally, both schools were not thriving and approached Lippo Group about taking over the schools. Now, a year and a half later, the schools have been renovated and have gained many more students.

 One of the classrooms we visited
Unlike the SDH and SLH schools in the metro-Jakarta area, schools in Manado are faced with an additional barrier in education.  While most students in a Jakarta school would speak Bahasa Indonesia as their primary home language, students in the Manado area schools would have grown up primarily speaking a regional dialect in their homes.  Because many of the teachers in SDH and SLH schools primarily speak Bahasa Indonesia and English, they need to learn the dialect before they can best teach their students the national language, as well as before they can begin to teach their students English.

SDH School

After school visits, we changed our clothes and walked the Villa de la Rosa, a pathway similar to the stations of the cross.  The path led us up to the top of a large hill, and provided us with an astonishing view of one of Tomohon's volcanoes.

View of the Volcano

Lunch was eaten at Sulawesi's largest lake, a beautiful area surrounded by mountains.  From our spot, we watched the fog and clouds roll over the lake, bringing both a cool breeze and some rain.  At this meal, many of us adventurously tried the baked fish, which is considered to be a regional specialty.  Another regional specialty is bat, as well as dog, but none of us ate any of those "foods." :)

After lunch, we headed to a sulpher lake that shifted colors depending on the time of day. It was raining, so we stayed inside a very small cafe on the shore to drink coffee and  nibble on bangket and fried bananas.

Sulfur Lake

That evening, we toured Siloam Hospital and learned more about the healthcare system in Indonesia, how that impacts the services the hospital can provide, and how the hospital is working towards providing affordable healthcare.

As per usual, the 15th was another day filled to the brim with new experiences.  It's incredible how much information we are provided with daily, and it definitely continues to be an incredible adventure.


Sunday, January 20, 2013

January 13: Photo Bomb

More temple visits today!

We started out by visiting a museum which had many pictures and artifacts of the Indonesia royalty over the over the centuries.  Although this spot is pretty touristy and there were several other school groups visiting, we were some of the only western, Caucasian looking people there.  The people at this museum must not get to see white people often because they kept on attempted to secretly take pictures of us.  It got so ridiculous that many members of our group just started posing for the picture when people would start secretly taking them. Theme of the day: photo bomb.  Some of the people actually came up and asked if we would take pictures with them. I think we all felt time the paparazzi was after us at the museum. 

 Musical Instruments

 Lots of people!

After the museum we visited the Water Castle.

 The Water Castle

One of the pools

In the tunnel system at the Water Castle

After the Water Castle we went to a silver shop were they took us to the back of the stir and explained the process of silver jewelry making to us.  We had the chance to see the silver craftsmen in action molding silver until exquisite shapes for necklace pendants or earrings.  Those artists are truly amazing and do wonderful work!

 Miniature Temple made of Silver

Borobudur is the name of the enormous Buddhist temple we visited that afternoon.  Our tour guide was very knowledgeable about the Buddhist mythology.  I found their stores fascinating.  It is amazing how much we don’t see in pictures and sculptures before someone explains what the artist was depicting and why everything was placed the way it was.  Many, many people wanted to take pictures with us there.  In fact, I got separated from the group for a little bit because so many other tourists kept asking me to pose in a photo with them!  The scenery around the temple was breathtaking!  We went on a rainy, foggy day, which I think added to the mystery of the place. 

Hiding from the rain

World's Largest Buddhist Temple

Professors with their umbrellas

We saw a man climbing these trees to get juice,
so Febyan, Nate, and Rachel gave it a try 

That night we visited some markets where we found Indonesia goods at very low prices.  Since our tour guide was having difficulties contacting the bus driver to ask him to pick us up to take us to dinner, we decided to take the horse drawn wagon taxis.  What an experience!

After dinner we headed back to the hotel to get a good night’s sleep to prepare us for another day of touring in Indonesia. 


Saturday, January 19, 2013

January 12: Hindu Temple and a Show

Hello friends, 

Today's schedule included a visit to the world's second largest Hindu temple, Prambedan Temple, swimming at the hotel, dinner, and a show.

This was the first time that I had ever gone to such a huge temple.  People still go there to worship to this day, and a little section of it was marked off for Hindu worshipers only.    Enormous statues five times larger than humans filled the temple.  Each position of the "god" meant something different.  I had never realized that Hindus believed in so many gods or that it had so many stories about them.  I remember learning about Greek mythology in school, and I wonder why they didn't teach us more about them in school.  Some of the stories seem very far fetched and ridiculous, but then again some of the stories in the Bible are equally interesting and "unbelievable".  It as crazy to in that these people spent so much of their time constructing this temple.  I would love to learn more about the motivation behind their desire to build it?  Did they love their gods so much they wanted to build a temple, we're they afraid of them, did they need their help?  Just some things to think about.

Our whole group

After the temple we grabbed some lunch and then headed back to the hotel for some much deserved free time!  We were overjoyed to be able to just hang out in the pool for a while and cool off after walking around in the blazing sun and humidity.

We ate a delicious Indonesian meal for dinner at a restaurant next to the amphitheater  where we saw a traditional Indonesian ballet.  A band to the side of the stage played the music and sang some of the narration of the story and some dialogue between characters.  Everything was in Bahasa, but I did my best to follow along with the plot summary they passed out before the show.  It was a story about Hindu gods, a princess getting kidnapped, and how she was rescued.  The style of dancing cannot be compared to any sort of western dance.  The dancers moved slowly across the stage with flexed feet, bent knees, and open hands for most of the performance.  I thoroughly enjoyed the dinner and dance and feel like it was a good way to experience and learn about more the culture and religion of this beautiful country.  

Part of our group with the monkeys