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category archive listing Category Archives: Indonesia

Annoying the kids

Indonesian ice cream manWith Susan out of town for the week at a conference in Italy (lucky girl!), the kids and I have the house to ourselves. As a good father, I know that I should do my best to keep them on their toes, and I take advantage of every opportunity to drive them mad!

Nearly, every day, we have an Indonesian ice cream man pass through our neighborhood at least once, and often two or three times. We’ve never bought from him, and probably never will, as the quality of his freezer is sketchy, to say the least.

We always know when he’s around, however, because of the tune that he plays as he pedals by. I can’t remember what the ice cream trucks of my youth sounded like (actually, I probably could if I tried, but that level of effort would make my brain ache), but this tune is memorable. I found a recording of it, cleaned it up a bit in Audacity, and played it on “repeat” for about 5 minutes this morning.

Alea and Breck were not pleased.

But it was fun to do!

Want to hear an Indonesian ice cream tune? Be my guest:

Audio MP3

Indonesian Rickshaws

The Stutz family in an Indian rickshaw!We used rickshaws all the time in India, as they were the quickest, most convenient, and cheapest ways to get around our side of Mumbai. We even dressed up in our Indian finest and had one of my favorite family pictures taken in a rickshaw there. It is still the cover photo of our website home page.

We haven’t really gotten into using them so much here in Jakarta, primarily because we have our own vehicle, but also because they are far less ubiquitous. Taxis – real cars – seem to be the more common modes of transport-for-hire, at least among the middle/upper classes. (There are, of course, other options available. Little, dangerous mini-buses called “Metro Minis” run routes around the cities, and motorcycles for hire, called “ojeks” are also available.

But there are rickshaws here in the city. They are called “bajaj” and, unlike Mumbai (but like most of the rest of India), they neither run on LPG nor do they have meters. The combination of these two attributes mean they are a smokey way of getting ripped off for a quick ride.

But, after an elementary school happy hour, Susan decided to take one home. Apparently the negotiations for the fare went well, because I got a call from her happily shouting, “I’m coming home in a rickshaw! Get the camera!”

And so, when she rolled up to the front gate, I was ready and waiting, and now we have photographic evidence of our first ride in an Indonesian rickshaw!!

Susan risking it all in an Indonesian bajaj

Diving pictures from Bali

This is the same set that I put on Facebook here, but I’ll also put them on the blog for a “permanent record!”

Into the firestorm

Well, hopefully not, but we leave tomorrow for a week in Bali. We plan on visiting Tulamben, a place we stopped at during our trip a few years back, but this time we will go as certified divers!

Our week here has been a bit crazy, with course selections for next year’s classes, end-of-term exams and projects, volleyball tournaments, Family Fun Fairs, and all sorts of social events (including a Bollywood party!). Poor Breck also came down with a nasty cold that kept him home for 2 days, so hopefully he’ll be recovered enough to enjoy the water.

If all that isn’t enough, today we got an email from our administrative team, pointing out this little tidbit of news. Then when we opened up the news here at home, we saw that this had happened and hope the events aren’t related. Oh well, maybe it is a good thing that we are landing in time for Nyepi and won’t be able to do anything anyways!

In any case, this is our “farewell” for a bit, as we head off into internet-access-unknown locales. We’ll post stories and pictures when we get back (and I’ll find out how my NCAA brackets are holding up – KY, MSU, OSU, KS – MSU to win in one bracket and KY in the other). Until then, here are a few shots – mostly stolen from Susan’s Facebook page – to tide you over.

Greasy food party!

I regret not getting this posted sooner – it was such a fun time. We had a professional development day 2 weeks ago at school, and Susan wanted to hold a little happy hour at our place afterwards. She invited all the people who work at her campus, Dave invited all the people who work in the same building as he does, and the plans were set.

As happy hours go, it was pretty low key – drinks and snacks (yes, the hookah did make an appearance – of course – but it was not on the “schedule” of events). The really fun twist that we threw in was hiring a local street food vendor to come and serve up some of Indonesia’s famous fried munchies. He wheeled his cart right inside our yard and fried up tofu, tempe, sweet potato, and a tofu/vegetable ball mix.

Besides being a unique treat for our party-goers (I can’t believe no one had done this yet!), there was a double special bonus that I hadn’t even considered. As I am not now, have never been, and plan on never being a vegetarian, apparently this collection of veg food provided them a unique chance to really chow down at a party. So that’s an extra gold star we’ve earned in their books as well. Yay for us!

Keep us posted!

That title doesn’t just apply to this entry (which it does, as you’ll see), but also to the general state of our blog. I have been remiss in the past few weeks in terms of keeping everything up-to-date, and I do apologize to both our readers out there. It is a beautiful Sunday afternoon, after a rainy morning, and I plan on sitting out by the pool with some chill music in the background and a cold drink in the foreground. Hopefully I’ll be working on a few posts as well, and schedule them to take place during the week. Let’s see if that happens…

But for the news of the day: this morning, we received an email from our head of school regarding a post that appeared on the “International Schools Review” website last week. He stressed that, while the language in the entry was alarmist, our school works in close conjunction with the appropriate ministries in Indonesia and has had no indication of any drastic changes coming for next school year.

On the other hand, he also used the entry as a “teachable moment” – the sort of opportunities which provide a learning experience in a real-life situation. As we move into a digitally-infused educational environment, it becomes even more important for us to help kids “question authority,” or in this case, question “on who’s authority?” this anonymous posting was made. Heady stuff for a Sunday morning, to be sure, but one that made for an interesting discussion around the Stutz breakfast table!

In any case, we will be sure to keep posted as (if?) anything develops from this. My gut feeling, based on nothing, is that – even if such a law is enforced – our school is so highly international in character that it would have very little impact.

Article text:

In 2013 an alarming education policy will take effect in Indonesia. The new legislation, Peraturan Pemerintah Republik Indonesia Nomor 17 tahun 2010, has far-reaching implications for international educators wishing to teach in Indonesia. Here are the basics of the legislation as explained to ISR:

1. “National Plus Schools” [nat’l curriculum + internat’l curriculum, eg: Cambridge] will now be called “International Schools.” This means that for every foreign teacher there must be 3 local Indonesian teachers. Foreign teachers will only be allowed to teach English and NOthing more, as all other subjects will be taught by locals.

2. Schools currently called “International Schools” will become “Foreign Schools.” NO Indonesian citizens will be allowed to attend these schools.

It appears international teachers in Indonesia will be relegated to teaching ESL.

(Just FYI, here is the response from a teacher at one of the other international schools located in Jakarta)

Mendut Temple

(last of the write-ups from our winter break trip this year!)

A few kilometers from Borobudur is the much smaller Mendut temple.  On the inside are three amazing statues of Buddha and 2 Bodhisattvas.  The Buddha is over 3 meters tall and is exceptional as he sits western style with his feet on the floor (not in the cross-legged position).  This temple is also exceptional because its panels of carvings are huge.  Borobudur and Prambanan have narrow frieze panels that extend horizontally, one on top of the next.  The panels in Mendut are huge squares; they reminded us of Greco-Roman temples more than Buddhist temples.  We found ourselves recognizing many of the characters and carvings: human-headed kinnara, trees of life, monster tongues…  a very special place.

Borobudur

(another installment – probably the second to last – of travel adventures and pictures from our just-completed winter break)

Borobudur is Java’s largest Buddhist temple. Historians think it was constructed before Prambanan during a time when Hinduism and Buddhism co-existed peacefully on the island of Java. According to our LP, when viewed from the air, the structure resembles a colossal three-dimensional tantric mandala. While we can’t speak to that, we sure agree that it looks very much like the thanka we got in Dharamsala!

The temple is visible from all around the surrounding farmlandMist in the Borobudur valley as the sun rises

We woke up at 4:30 one morning to watch the sunrise over Borobudur.  While the clouds hid much of the sun, we still enjoyed the peaceful landscape, rice paddies, lush jungle walk and misty valley. After wake-up drinks, we headed down to the site to beat the real heat of the day.

Before the sun came up, the temple site was shrouded in the morning fog

Morning mistThe Stutz family enjoys the early morning above Borodubur

There are four entrances to the temple – one on each side – and three layers. The first layer represents the human experience. The 2nd level has panels that reveal the life of the Buddha and lessons from Buddhism. The 3rd layer represents enlightenment. The first two layers are square and the top is circular with stupas that have Buddhas on the inside.  A pilgrim (or tourist) can walk clockwise around the entire monument – a total of almost 5 kilometers.

We were true rock stars at the temple - everyone wanted pictures with us!Dave and the girlsThree out of the four Stutz's pose with Buddha and the volcanoA Buddha statue with a new friend...

The sculptures are incredible. There are 2 million stone blocks, 1460 narrative panels, 1212 decorative panels, and over 500 Buddha statues. We marveled over and over that there was such detail left after 1,000 years of rain, earthquakes, and volcanic ash inundations.

The Borodubur stupas look down over the valley belowThe rows of carvings and stupas are silhouetted against the skyFabulous views from on top of the templeFaces in the wall

We noted there were several figures that actually faced into the monument – so the carvings were of the back of the head. This is highly unusual – we’d never seen that in Buddhist sculpture before. There were several scenes of a boat – representing the sea trade between West Africa and Java many hundreds of years ago. There was a museum dedicated to this same boat, as some rich guy from England took it upon himself to build it and re-create the sea voyage!

Boy - were we ready for some cold drinks after traipsing around!!We had to dodge the hordes of hat sellers

Fancy hats

One of the old ladies who sold us the hatsBorodubur at sunset, as seen from our hotel's rooftop

Yogya puppets

(Susan’s descriptions of our travels through central Java continue from here, here, and here)

Becaks all lit up at night as Alea and Susan head downtown Once, after  a full day of exploring Yogya, fully restored, Susan and Alea decided to hop a Pedi-cab and go to the Sono-Budoyo museum to take in an evening wayang kulit performance.  Wayang kulitare flat leather puppets managed by three sticks – one for each hand and one to prop up the back. One man manages all the puppets while a full gamelan performs the music; together they retell various Hindu legends.Wayang kulit is experienced as a 360 degree theater.  There are chairs all around the performing area; you can watch from the ‘front’ to see the man manage the puppets and from the sides to get a full-on of the gamelan. The ‘back’ is separate from the front by a screen, so you enjoy the puppets in shadow from this angle.Alea and I walked around the stage about 10 times to enjoy the different views and experiences.  We saw an end section of the Ramayana – a young man is fighting a God only to find out it is really his father.  The shadow fights were something else – the impacts timed perfectly with the gamelan. The shadowy designs were intricate and shaded on the screen

Gamelan players and the puppermaster behind the screenThe puppets all lined up and ready to go

Here's how the magic takes placePuppets "talking" to each other behind the screen

Tofu (Gesundheit!)

(still more info from our Winter Break trip – we’ve already spent time on the islands of Gili Trawangan snd Lombok getting certified to dive,  spent some time in the city of Yogyakarta and visited the Hindu temple at Prambanan. This entry is from an afternoon while we were staying outside the Buddhist complex at Borodubur)

Gunung Merapi (Fire Mountain), at 2911 meters, is just one of the many active volcanoes that construct the spine of central Java.  The United Nations has declared it a ‘decade volcano‘ because of its active and destructive nature.  This is a dubious honor; there are only 15 others on the planet.  We saw signs of its latest work when we drove to Borobudur; roads and river beds washed out by ash and rock flows just last February.  Our hotel guide in Borobudur told us 3-5 cm of ash had settled on the village and they couldn’t see for a day.   1-3 cm of ash had fallen on Borobudur temple and it needed to close for 2 days so more than 200 local volunteers could clean it up and ready it for more visitors.   The Sultan still does annual offerings to Merapi to appease its ‘voice’.

Merapi volcano propped above the cloudsNear the highway back to Yogyakarta, we passed the evidence of the volcanic eruption
Mud slides from Merapi wiped out this villageAgainst the dark of an approaching storm, the volcanic damage is evident
One afternoon we went on a village tour.  The views were sublime – green as green can be; rice, chili peppers, eggplant, corn, beans…  We visited during rainy season, so farmers were busy planting rice.  We saw terraced paddy fields stretching for miles, full of seedlings ready to thrive in the Java rains.  Our guide told us that central Java is located such that farmers can take advantage of two seasons; they plant rice during the rainy season (October – March) and tobacco during the dry season (April – September).  According to him, they plant rice to eat and tobacco to make a living.
We could see Borodubur as we explored the rice paddies around the areaWe saw tons of older people at work in the fields, including this man on his bike
This woman was pretty friendly about us stopping by (but some of her peers were not!!)A man tends his flocks among the green
One village had several tofu home industries.  If a home had a big pile of firewood outside the door, you knew they were a tofu-making family.  Inside, they had a small crusher that crushed soybeans that were imported from the USA and/or grown in Indonesia.  Once crushed, they were put to soak in water.  When soggy, acid and heat were added to encourage separating the product into meal – which was skimmed and used to feed animals – and tofu.  Our guide said it was much like the process of making cheese by separating curds and whey.  The mass was then placed into a box frame and settled over a bamboo rack.  It was pressed down to drain all the excess moisture.  When solid, a woman popped it out of the frame, cut it into slices and threw the small chunks into a vat of boiling oil.  Once covered with a fried coating, she sorted them by size into big buckets filled with water.  Early the next morning, they were driven to markets all over the area.   Such a neat process!
Tofu in its raw form and in fried chunksMoving the heavy racks of tofuIt is an all-family affair, with the son helping out as well
Cutting it up to be friedThe cut chunks get boiled in hot oil
Sorting the chunks by sizeTasting the finished product (with a bit of salt)
Susan shows off her new tofu rack!
In another village, we had a go at making our own pottery on a hand wheel.  This home industry took local orders from as far away as Jakarta, employing locals and providing them with a trade and steady income.  This is important, as most villagers in the area do not benefit from the millions of tourist dollars that are generated because of Borobudur.  Most tourists come to the area for a few hours from Jogyakarta and then leave again.  Our local guide was working hard to encourage tourists to spend time in the area, learn about what the locals were doing, and support their entrepreneurial efforts.
We got down and dirty, creating potteryworkBreck had quite a lot of fun getting his candle holder "just so"
Alea takes her turn, making an incense burner/aromatherapy thingySusan works hard on her piece
But the favorite part about the pottery place? The baby ducks!As everything was drying, the kids cuddled with the ducklings kept in the family's home
Our stuff came out before it was completely set, but we were able to pack it back to Jakarta (almost) completely fine

Prambanan

(more info from our Winter Break trip – we’ve already spent time on the islands of Gili Trawangan snd Lombok getting certified to dive, and spent some time in the city of Yogyakarta. This is the recap of a day trip we took from Yogya to the Hindu temple complex at Prambanan)

Prambanan is the largest Hindu temple ensemble in Java.  Constructed between the 8th and 10th centuries, it represents the peaceful co-existence of Buddhism and Hinduism in Java before the arrival of Islam.  The three largest temples are dedicated to Brahman, Shiva and Vishnu, but Buddhist symbols are sprinkled everywhere.  Some historians believe a violent eruption from Agung Merapi in the 16th century caused the evacuation of this site and subsequent move of Javanese rulers to East Java.  2006 brought an earthquake which caused severe damage to the site.  Fortunately for us, much repair work has been done.  However, tourists are still unable to enter the interiors  of several of the temples because of on-going restoration work to stabilize the ruins.

Overview of the Prambanan siteStutzes on the stairwellPrambanan's silhouette against the rain clouds

Candi Shiva is the largest and tallest temple.  The story of Ram, Sita and Hanuman, which we know so well from our years celebrating Diwali in India, is carved along its lower panels.  Medallions around the base have the kalpatura (tree of life) with half-human/half-bird kinnara flying overhead.  There are three statues on the inside of the temple, but tourists are not able to view them.  Copies are in the museum – a four-armed Shiva (notable because he stands on a lotus flower – typical symbol of Buddhism), Agastya as an incarnation of Shiva the teacher, and Ganesha, the familiar Elephant-headed God from our time in India. In a separate chamber, there is a statue of Durga, Shiva’s consort, killing a monster-demon.

Inside one of the templesPrambanan spiresSmiles among the ruins

Candi Vishnu has the story of Lord Krishna on its panels.  Visitors can ascend this temple and see the huge four armed statue of Vishnu as Preserver in the interior.

Breck expresses his displeasure at being photographedMeditatiingThe storms roll in

Candi Brahma has the final episodes of the Ramayana carved on its panels.  It, like Candi Vishnu, has a huge and fascinating ‘monster‘ mouth for it main portal.  Our guide at Borobudur said that temples that have this mouth are designed to remind people to control their words and think about the power that words have.  We are not sure that this is true, but it is a good reminder, none-the-less!    A huge four-headed statue of Brahama the creator resides inside this temple.

Candi SewuThe family exploring Candi Sewu

Candi Sewu, built during the same time period, is a separate temple in the same compound.  It has one main Buddhist temple with 240 guard temples around it.  The interior has four rooms facing the four cardinal directions.  These are full of beautifully carved niches that must have held statues at one time.  We were not allowed to ‘explore’ Prambanan, so Alea enjoyed the opportunity to get up close and personal with a few secret spaces at this temple.

Alea and Susan in Candi SewuSusan and Alea ding around

Learning to Dive

(Susan’s travelogue about getting our diving certifications)

This was our first ‘working vacation’; we wanted to get PADI Open Water diving certified. We went to Gili Trawangan, a small island off the coast of Lombok (east of Bali in the province of Nusa Tengara).  We stayed at Dream Divers, one of more than 15 dive centers on the island.  Our dive instructor, Yudi, put us to work within an hour of walking through the door (or, rather, walking across the pool deck).  We watched 2 ½ hours of instructional video – the first three chapters in our book.  The next morning, we hit the pool and were under water for about 3 hours.  That afternoon, about 24 hours after arriving, we went on our first ocean water dive! We went to the Trawangan Slope.  I couldn’t believe how fast PADI got us in the ocean!  It was amazing for me and Alea (buddies).  Unfortunately, Breck had a problem equalizing his ears and couldn’t complete the dive.  He was heart-broken, but he and Dave (buddies) had to sit out that first dive. Alea and I were down for about 40 minutes.  We saw the endangered Hawksbill turtle, HUGE pufferfish, colorful soft and hard coral, and all sorts of little damsels.

Yudi, Breck, and Dave prepare for a dive  New divers learn in "our" swimming pool  Alea arranges her gear

When we got back to Dream Divers, we had to watch another 1 ½ hours of instructional videos and read another 2 chapters in our book.  Yudi told us Breck’s ear/equalizing issues may be because he had residual gunk in his sinuses from a cold he had last week.  I did the worst thing a mom can do (self-prescribe) and put Breck on a full hit of antibiotics.  We had to have the hard conversation about how maybe PADI couldn’t happen for him this vacation.  It was a pretty quiet dinner, despite the excitement and hard work of the day.

The next morning, we hit the pool again and did what I thought was the worst part of this whole process – breathing through a partial regulator and breathing under water without your mask.  Yuck – but we all passed!  Yudi was a super star and paid special attention to Breck as he practiced equalizing in the deep end of the pool.  That afternoon, we went out to the Ocean again.  This time we all four had success.  Breck went down easily and effortlessly and had no issues whatsoever.  Relief!!  We dove the Meno Slope.  We saw green turtles, butterfly fish, banner fish, groupers, anthias, and eels, to name a small number of the glory we observed.

Alea rinses the BCD  Dad and Breck  Breck gets set for the water

Paper tests aren’t confined to schoolsJ  We had our first round – 50 questions- when we got back to the dive center.  We all passed and were ready to celebrate with cold beer and ice cream. BUT NO!!  We still had 1 ½ hours of video and the last two chapters to read in our book!!

Our last day, we went for a morning dive at and did some more under-water testing (mask off, no regulator, emergency ascent, etc…)  We were at a lovely spot, Coral Fan Garden, so the three who weren’t testing had lots to see: sea cucumbers, anemone, clown fish, eels, angelfish, parrotfish and unicorn fish.  There was also no current, which had been a huge factor in our dive the day before.  After lunch, we went out again to the Home Reef.  We did our final round of in-water testing and enjoyed the fantastic sea life, though the current was much stronger; a fellow diver said it was ‘like watching a movie reel go by’.  We saw a banded sea snake, porcupine fish, lion fish, and a blue-spotted stingray!!

Arsty view of tanks and equipment  Artsy view of masks and fins

After this last course dive, we still had to go to the dive center, swim 200 meters, and tread water for 10 minutes! We definitely felt deserving of ice cream and beer after that!  BUT NO!!  We had the final written exam to take – another 50 questions.  Sigh.  Once again, we all passed well within the margin and were really ready to celebrate being official PADI Open Water divers.

To celebrate, we went on our first ‘fun dive’ the next day.  Vidim, a Dream Divers instructor/photographer who offered his services, offered to go out with us and take photos, so Yudi and Vidim changed groups of divers.  We went to the Bounty site and had yet another fabulous dive: more hawksbill turtles, puffer fish, angelfish, batfish, triggers, Moorish idols, and clownfish. And this was Breck’s big day – he was the only one (besides Yudi) who spotted a huge eagle ray!

We have tons of pictures from our time in the water on our “Swimming with the Fishes” blog post!

Thank you, Yudi and Dream Divers, for a fabulous experience.

Yogyakarta

That’s pronounced “Joag Jakarta” by the way, with a long “O.” I’m not really sure why it is spelled that way, but that’s how the locals do it, so that’s the way it’s being blogged, darn it.

After our New Year’s pool party adventure, we took a day to get our heads screwed on straight and then headed into Central Java. Yogyakarta is called Indonesia’s cultural capital, and we wanted to spend a few days seeing what the fuss was all about.

After a bit of an adventure getting to the airport on time (our driver didn’t show up on time, and neither did the taxi we called), we found out that our plane was delayed (of course). So all our early morning freaking out had been for nothing. But, at least we got to take a picture with our crazily growing morning glory – check out the pictures from the start of the year and now:

The morning glory on August 8, 2011 The morning glory on January 2, 2012

Once we got into town, our cultural experiences started up. Susan took the time to research and learn about all the cool things we saw, so I’ll let her travelogue take it from here:

We flew into Yogyakarta early in the morning and went out right away to explore the ‘cultural heart of Java’.   Yogyakarta has been – and continues to be ‘ruled’ by – a Sultan.  As a city, it was established by Prince Mangkumbi in 1755.  According to our Lonely Planet, and confirmed by our tour guide at the Kraton, the area had always been resistant to Dutch colonial rule and locals worked hard to establish independence after WWII.

Lychees were in season! Smiles at the morning veggie market. Check out the silver tooth!

We walked around the Kraton, in the center of Old Yogya, which is still the home of the Sultan.  We walked there from our hotel, stopping at the Taman Sari on the way.  The Taman Sari is the Sultan’s pleasure palace and pool area. It was built built between 1758 an 1765.  As we discovered over our week in Central Java, everything built here must at some point be destroyed by an earthquake or volcanic eruption – and this was the case with the Taman Sari, as well.   It was extensively damaged by an earthquake in 1865 and the majority still lies in ruins.  The main pools and lounging pavilions have been restored and provide shade and respite from the Java sun.

Dragon stairs at the Tamansari (Water Palace)

Entrance to the inner courtyard at the Tamansari (Water Palace)Rooftops at the Tamansari (Water Palace)Family by the pool at the Tamansari (Water Palace)

Buddha bellies at the KratonThe Kraton itself has also been damaged by earthquakes (the most recent in 2006), but it has always been repaired given it is the home of the Sultan.  The Kraton is a huge walled city where 25,000 people still live and work.  According to some estimates, up to 1,000 people are employed by the Sultan.   The living areas for the people who still reside here look much like the rest of Yogya – small homes, shops opening onto the streets,  bamboo cages with chickens, cats running around (no dogs – Muslim area!!), tons of pedi-cabs, laundry lines…  The Palace itself is a set of smaller pavillions and buildings.  All the pavilions are open air with deep, high roofs to prevent rain from bothering those on the inside.  The entire perimeter held drop-down bamboo shades to provide shade as the sun marched across the sky over the course of the day.

Tourists are not allowed to enter the actual home of the Sultan.  He still lives there, but was in Jakarta when we visited.  He has five daughters, three who now live overseas in England, USA, and Australia, and two that still reside in Indonesia.  Because he has no son, his brother will become Sultan when he dies.  Our tour guide mentioned briefly that there was much talk among the locals about whether a Sultan was ‘necessary‘ any more given Indonesia is now a democratic society and official are suppose to be elected.   The Sultan’s home has a very western feel to it – no surprise given it was constructed when the Dutch were ‘colonizing’ much of Java.  Our tour guide was very informative and dropped tidbits of information about modern Java into her conversation about the past.  She mentioned one Sultan had 25 wives and more than 80 children.  She also mentioned that Indonesia now had family planning and the best families were one husband, one wife and two children.

Becak cabs - pronounced "bay-chock" - lined up in Yogya. In Jakarta becaks are like Indian rickshaws, but here they are bicycle poweredBecak driver working in the rain

 Our usual choice of transport was by foot, but there were bicycle cab options as well. These becaks are human-powered, as opposed to the India-style rickshaw becaks we have in Jakarta. We actually found them to be a bit of a pain, because 1) they fit 3 people max, so we always had to take 2, 2) They were unmetered and hence we always had to bargain even to get a tourist price, and 3) their ubiquity meant that when we wanted a regular cab, they were tough to come by!

Applying wax drops to an unfinished piece of batik. Susan bought a 2-meter long piece of cloth to be made into pillow cases and such.

We also had the chance to see batik being made, in the traditional “by hand” style. First, a design is drawn on cloth in pencil, which is then covered with wax (pictured). The cloth is dipped in dye, and then boiled to remove the wax – everything covered by the wax is still the original color. A second layer of wax is applied to some of the uncolored areas, a second dipping takes place, and there you have the traditional 3-colored batik. Fascinating to see performed, and amazing to think about the amount of time it takes to cover both sides of a piece of cloth! Susan bought a section of fabric that she intends to have made into a pillow case here.

New Year Craziness

So our camera wasn’t used, but a few pictures do exist of our dinner party, fireworks show, and pool shenanigans. We had the Medina and Anderson families over, along with their kids visiting from college and jobs, and we rocked the house!

Following the festivities, we took a day to recover, and then we were off to Indonesia’s “Cultural Capital” of Yogyakarta!

Swimming with the fishes

Just a quick post of some pictures from our underwater adventures. I borrowed an underwater camera from a colleague, but discovered on arrival in the islands that there was no memory card! Luckily, one of the diving instructors has a side business of taking photos for groups that he takes out, so on our last dive we had a “professional” shooting us. I played around a little bit in Photoshop on these with the colors and such, but they still don’t do the underwater world justice.

Just a bit of informational interest here – the turtle that we saw was an endangered Hawksbill turtle. It was actually a rare dive or snorkel during our visit (I think once out of all our time in the water) that we didn’t see at least 1 turtle. Our record was 4 during one bit of snorkeling!

Enjoy the shots (which are in a random order), and we will be out of touch (again) for the next week as we travel to Yogyakarta, Indonesia’s cultural capital!

Dream diving vacation

We’re back from our vacation on Lombok and the Gili Islands. We had an absolutely spectacular time learning how to scuba dive and just soaking in the sunlight on some of Indonesia’s deserted white sand beaches. While the lack of internet connectivity cost me any shot at a fantasy football championship, that was a small price to pay for such splendid isolation!

We are throwing a little New Year’s party tonight, so rather than a full travelogue, here are some pictures with quick descriptions from our travels. Click on the first shot to begin – and have a happy new year!!

Holiday Greetings 2011!

The Stutz family is very excited to be sending season’s greetings from a new part of the world (for us!).  After four fabulous and rewarding years at the American School of Bombay, it was time to move on and explore another part of the planet.  In mid-January, we accepted jobs in sunny Jakarta, Indonesia at the Jakarta International School.

It was harder than we expected saying good-bye to India and all our friends and colleagues at ASB; not one of us was dry-eyed boarding the plane in June.  A summer of family and travel brightened our spirits and prepared us for new adventures in Indonesia.

Breck and Alea with their walleyeWe started off the summer in our “new home” in Minnesota, and got right to the serious business of supporting the American economy. Perennial early highlights of our vacation include shopping in Target, chowing down at Denny’s, and playing trivia at Buffalo Wild Wings. This year was doubly special, as we also had the chance to get together for a lunch with Dave’s sister and family, who were in Minnesota visiting their family farm.

Susan’s parents celebrated 50 years of marriage this year, so all five families trooped off to Canada for a week of fishing, playing, laughter and love.  The phrase ‘double double’ still emerges in our home in reference to fabulous fishing: two people, two bites, two fish in the boat and then two minutes later… two people, two bites, two fish in the boat…

Breck and Alea at Devil's TowerLeaving Canada, Susan immediately flew to New York to attend a reading conference, so Dave and the kids took off through Canada to spend a week at the cabin in Rimini. They had an epic journey on the trans-Canadian highway across 4 provinces, and then swung down through Montana and back across to Minnesota. They went through 4 national parks & monuments (Glacier, Little Big Horn, Devil’s Tower, and Mount Rushmore), spent quality time with the Montana Stutz’s, and survived “roughing it” with each other in the very best of spirits.

End of July brought us to Jakarta and we have been busy settling in ever since.  At JIS CIL, Dave teaches 6th grade math and at JIS PEL Susan teaches 1st grade.  Alea is now in high school (with a campus that prepares her for any university in the USA!) while Breck rocks the 7th grade.   We have a lovely, old home in the suburb of Cilandak.  After years in a tiny apartment in Bombay, we are free and easy with single-floor living, a huge lawn and a pool!  We were welcomed to the house by rats who had taken up residence, so Dori and Linsea soon joined the Stutz family as honorary four-legged members.

Alea has adjusted well to high school.  She is taking Spanish III, Physical and Life Science, Asian Studies, Algebra and Geo II, English 9, Concert Band and PE.  She is actively involved in a Gerakan Kepedullian (ask her) service-learning club and LOVES her rock climbing every Monday after school.  She went to Monado for a week of service learning and planted trees at the base of a volcano and removed Crown of Thorns from a local reef.

Breck has Algebra, Science, Drama, PE, World Studies, English, French and Band.  He joined baseball, basketball, softball, and track and field (top 5 in long jump AND javelin at the meet – a huge accomplishment given the size of the schools competing!!).  He also joined an animal rights service club and is supporting the animal aid network where we got Linsea and Dori. Rumor has it he also landed a role in the Middle School drama production for 2nd semester!  Slowly but surely, both kids have made new friends among the 2,500 students here.

After adjusting to a new country, new city, new house, new school, new colleagues, and new friends, we thought we needed something familiar for October break, so we returned to Bali for a week of fun in the sun.  We spent 3 days in Ubud getting our fill of culture and then continued on to Pemuteran Bay so Dave could actually snorkel the scene given he couldn’t last time we were there (because of the infamous monkey attacks!).  We went to Mengangan Island reserve and had a fabulous day of snorkeling – we saw sea turtles, clown fish, jellyfish, hard and soft coral and…  a wonderful day!

December holiday fever has begun as we prepare to go on our first tour around our new host country.  We head off to the Gili Islands near Lombok on the 18th.  All four of us will get PADI open-water diving certified.  Wish us luck!  We’ll also spend a few days driving the interior around Gunung Rinjani, Lombok’s largest volcano.  We’ll fly back to Jakarta for the New Year and then go to Yogyakarta, the cultural capital of Java.  Our main plan there is to climb the temple ruins of Borobudur and Prambanan.

Dave’s Grandma, Mildred Robison Stutz, died just last month.  She had a long and wonderful life and we celebrate her memory as we head into the holidays.  She was a delightful part of many of our summer trips out West; we are fortunate to have had her in our lives as long as we did.  Dave’s brother, Rob Stutz, is running for Congress for the state of Montana.  Sisters Karla and Shari have helped run, manage, and negotiate an active campaign. We wish him all the best and firmly believe he is the best candidate for the great state of Montana!

We continue to be blessed as a family – we have so much for which to be thankful – and we are!  We send forth all our best wishes to family and friends for a safe, joyous, and wonderful holiday season and 2012.

Breck @ Baseball

Apparently we have to move all the way to the far east for Breck to be able to play baseball. There was nothing in Serbia, nothing in India (unless you count cricket), and we always got back too late/left too early in the summers to participate in the USA.

But here in J-Town, there is a thriving baseball league. Populated in large part by Indonesians (of course) and Japanese (which makes sense), the league is a well-structured ways for players to both learn the basics and hone their skills. Breck’s birthday determined that he was in the majors, so he is a first-time player on teams with much older boys (and a few girls).

After a practice on Thursday, the Phillies (ugh) had their first game on Sunday. Yeah, there wasn’t really a whole lot of “prep time” involved, but for many of the kids that didn’t seem to make much of a difference – they are good!! In a Thrilla Near Manilla, Breck’s team won 7-6 at the bottom of the last inning. Breck got in to play 2nd base, and his older teammates were very helpful in guiding him along.

Susan was a little overwhelmed at the length of the game (we arrived around 3:45 and left at 8:00), and Breck took a little dinger to his hand, but all in all it was a very successful afternoon of the “American Pastime” – in Indonesia!!

Indonesian Haute Cuisine

Packaged chicken skinGrocery shopping today, I passed the meat counter, and there was fried chicken for sale. I felt like a snack, and took the smallest packet available. When I opened it up, though, I was in for a surprise:

It was a packaged portion of fried skin! I always get mocked at the in-laws’ Thanksgiving dinners, when my brother-in-law and I fight over the turkey skin. Well, apparently we would not be laughed at in Jakarta, where it is available in the local supermarket.

Eat your heart out, Uncle Kevin!

Track Meet

What javelin facial concentration!The middle school had its annual track meet, and Breck has been practicing with the team to get ready for things. There were over 300 students in attendance from 5 international schools, so to say there was a lot going on is a huge understatement!

Since I’d volunteered to run the javelin competition, Susan and Alea were holding down the Stutz cheering section duties (and they apparently did a great job). Breck ended up getting 5th overall in both long jump and javelin, and Susan got to taste Jakarta’s infamous Fatburgers!

Waterpark mania!

Besides the malls and the traffic, Jakarta has a plethora of water parks. OK, maybe only three that we’ve heard of, but still…

We got an overhead view of the Snowbay park during our visit to the mini Indonesia park the other day (see previous post), and decided to visit Waterbom – the biggest and ritziest place in town.

We hopped a taxi out there, and had a great day in the sun. The highlight of the visit was when Dave’s swimsuit tore completely in half on one of the rides. Thanks goodness he was able to slip on his boxers under the suit and parade around for the rest of the afternoon like that. Wardrobe malfunction aside, the place reminded us a lot of the water park we’ve been to at the Mall of America (except that it was all outdoors).There was even cold beer and hot satay to enjoy, so we could relax in style.

We didn’t bring the phone/camera in with us when we were at the pool, so we didn’t take pictures of some of the full-body-covering swimsuits that we saw, but we did sneak back in at the end of our visit to snap some “we were there” pictures. It was a super follow-up to our cultural outing the day before!

A day at the park

Since we had a few days off this week, thanks to the Eid ul-Fitr holiday (know as Eidul Fitri or Lebaran here in Indonesia), we decided to take the opportunity to see a little bit of our newly adopted city. Besides splashing around in our pool and playing with the kitties, one of the things that Susan most wanted to see was the Tamin Mini Indonesia Indak – a series of outdoor pavilions dedicated to the various islands and regions around this country.

It is easy to lose sight of the fact that Indonesia is the 4th-largest country (by population) in the world, and is made up of literally thousands of islands, each with very unique cultures. Our visit to the park was supposed to give us a quick overview of our new home.

We were overwhelmed, however, by the sheer scale of the place – starting off with a cable car ride gave us a bird’s eye view of the huge park. As it turned out, many of the pavilions and activities were shut down because of the holiday; this was just as well, since there was more than enough to do anyways!

Take a look through our pictures and enjoy a glimpse of our first “cultural” outing in Jakarta!

What a small world

Setting things up for the classroom the other day, my principal stopped by with a high school teacher (known here as “Speck”). He has been at JIS for many years, and was the driving force in getting the MS science building (at which I am teaching) all revamped and remodeled.

When I introduced myself, he paused for a minute and then responded, “I taught some kids named ‘Stutz’ a few years ago at my last school before JIS. Their names were Karla and Rob.” It turns out that he had been my sister and brother’s teacher, in Amman, Jordan, twenty-three years ago. He’s been here in Jakarta since, and he still remembered them by name!

When we got the schedules last night, guess who was listed as Alea’s science teacher this year…

Dad 2, Rats 0

While certainly not our typical “here-we-are-in-a-new-country” first blog post, our inaugural entry from Jakarta has the most important element of a good news story: if it bleeds, it leads.

We have indeed made it to Indonesia, have started settling in to our new home, gone through a week of school in-service training, and are looking forward to the beginning of the school year in one more week. But the most exciting news of all has been the ongoing battles between man and beast in our abode.

We are in a lovely house, complete with a back yard and a pool! It is the single-floor living, however, that is providing the most entertainment. On our second evening here, a bag of chips disappeared off a shelf during the night, only to magically reappear in the middle of the room, with teeth marks chewing through the plastic. We bought a series of small “sticky” traps, and by the next morning one of them had vanished (and we still haven’t found it).

But then, all heck broke loose. On the next evening, I was in the bathroom when Susan started shrieking about a rat. She chased it into the kitchen, keeping an eye on it and the 2 sticky traps attached to its body. When I got in there, she handed me my crescent wrench (the only “appropriate tool” we could find) and locked the door.

He’d crawled up into the stove, so I had to chase him out with a spatula – a process I had to repeat once he climbed into the base of the refrigerator – but then things got exciting. Chasing him around on my hands and knees and swinging the wrench like a wild man, we scurried together all around the kitchen. Sparks flew when I hit the tile floor, and his squeaks echoed into the living room (according to the kids). But the battle eventually ended, and the last task of the evening was to clean up the mess…

But then tonight, as we started Dr. Zhivago (we are so sophisticated), I saw another scurrying form head into Alea’s room. This one was a bit easier to corner, as it was a bit younger. Hopefully that doesn’t mean there is a nest of them somewhere.

In any case, we are on the lookout for more rats, and Susan has completely turned around concerning pets. According to her, we start actively asking around for 2 cats tomorrow!

And we are moving to…

Jakarta Family - we've got our Bintang and Batik, our SLR and Snorkel, and are all very excited about our impending move to Indonesia!Jakarta, Indonesia!

We accepted positions today teaching first grade and middle school math next year at Jakarta International School. We are thrilled and cannot wait to share all the exciting prospects of this move.

We are pleased that the kids will be graduating from a World IB school, that we are in a country where we can explore everything from mountains to jungles to beaches, where we can meet orangutans and Komodo dragons face-to-face, where we can get our scuba diving certificates, and where we can easily travel to Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, Malaysia, China, and Thailand (to name but a few).

We are SO fortunate and look forward to many visitors 🙂