In addition to all the cool diving that we did, we also had the chance to see some pretty extraordinary sights over spring break. This album is all from our “above water” camera, to complement the diving shots posted the other day…
In addition to all the cool diving that we did, we also had the chance to see some pretty extraordinary sights over spring break. This album is all from our “above water” camera, to complement the diving shots posted the other day…
We’re back from a superb 3 weeks in Vietnam, and wanted to get a few shots posted. We have a JIS photo contest for vacation shots, and I was looking through pictures for it; these are some of the ones that didn’t make the final cut, but are still pretty cool. There are specific categories for entries, and so there are no “family shots” in this bunch, but these give a flavor of our travels. Enjoy!
We headed off to a week in the sun on Bali’s east coast. Diving (scuba), driving (scooters), and dining (seafood) were the only things on our agenda. Our hotel was fabulous, and we went under the sea a few times as well. Here are a few shots from around our resort, as well as some of the undersea life we saw on our first day of diving. More to come!!
A group of us went downtown this weekend to visit the old Batavia boat docks in Jakarta. Led by a group of guys who have been there a number of times, we had the opportunity to visit and take pictures of places that few Westerners get to visit. I took too many photos to post at once, so here’s an album of some of the faces we saw along the way. Most of them are dock workers, more than happy to take a break for the cameras…
Took a lot of family-type pictures in Minnesota, Montana, and Wisconsin this summer, but these aren’t them. I needed a few new desktop wallpapers, and these are some of the shots that I thought fit the bill. They had to be in a “landscape” format, so that naturally eliminated a few that I like, but these are the first batch that have been adorning my computer for the past few weeks…
Well happy new year to you too! We are back from our adventure through a tiny slice of Southeast Asia, and wow – did we do a lot! We flew into and spent a few days in Phnom Penh (Cambodia), traveled to Siem Reap to visit the Ankgor Wat area, drove around the Tonlé Sap lake to the city of Battambang, returned to PP, then crossed into Laos for a slice of heaven in the 4,000 islands area of the Mekong River, and finished with a strenuous adventure camp in the mountainside treetops of the Bolaven Plateau near Pakse.
Wow! I’m exhausted after just writing that paragraph. We’ve posted some pictures on Facebook (OK, over 180 of them!), and we’ll be doing some more, but here are a few that may or may not have been put there, just to give a quick taste of our fun!
Just adding a wrapup of some stuff from around the house here, centered on Halloween.
We didn’t really do a full-on celebration, but we were still in the mood to carve. We got a couple of pumpkins, and made a scary face and a cat, but our real fun was in doing carrots! We spent an evening putting little faces on them and then posing them in front of candles for a neat little effect:
There was a middle school social that Dave and Breck attended. Breck got zombiefied with a bloody face, while Dave’s outfit got misplaced somewhere in cyberspace:
(The fine print reads “The Halloween costume you are looking for might have been removed, had its name changed, or is temporarily unavailable. Or Mr. Stutz might simply be too lame to have made one in the first place.)
We had our own scary cat on Saturday morning, as Linsea tried to get into the fish tank. We caught her red-handed (or laser-eyed, as the case might be):
Always an exciting time around the Stutz house…
We pulled out the trusty underwater camera and headed to the sun and surf paradise of Lombok for October break. This collection of photos are from our below-water adventures…
This is the same set that I put on Facebook here, but I’ll also put them on the blog for a “permanent record!”
(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.
(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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
(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’.
(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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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:
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.
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.
The 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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!!
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.
We 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…
Leaving 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.
We’ve posted a few pictures of the house’s exterior, but today’s entry shows off what the inside of our home looks like. It is MUCH bigger than our apartment in Mumbai, and so even with our shipment here there seems like plenty of room to add more. And boy, have we tried to do so…
We’ve already had an outdoor bar and stool set made (I’ll let Susan tell that story if she chooses to), bought a couple of teak chairs, picked up a couple of wicker chairs and table, and purchased a bookcase and painted mirror. I’m not sure how and/or where we’ll fit all this stuff when we bring it back to the USA, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.
In any case, enjoy this indoor look at our new digs. Just click on the first picture to cycle through them…
In case you want to see some pictures, and you haven’t looked at Facebook, you can follow this link…
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!
We’ve taken a number of pictures that just haven’t really seemed to “fit” much of anywhere in terms of posts and so on. Some of these are from around the house, some are from our first week, some have been shared via email, and some are just for fun. Enjoy!
The sun is setting on another school year, and things are crazy all over. Because this is our “moving” year, we have to make sure all the little details of leaving and going are taken care of, in addition to the normal hecticness of this time of year.
If you’re of a mind, it is always fun to check out their school pictures from years past on our webpage as well…
One of our teachers here organized a photography exhibit, and asked students and staff to submit photos. He forgot to mention that there was any sort of limit, so I daydreamed up a theme centered around the color orange, and played with a bunch of pictures over the weekend. I messed around with a ton, edited 13, and submitted a set of 9 which all went along with the question at the top.
As it turns out, he only wanted us to send in 4, so together we culled things down and substituted one color picture in place of its black and white cousin. So here, for your viewing pleasure, are the 5 that went in.
In case anyone is wondering, here are the others that were “culled” from the set:
We spent a massive Mumbai Saturday yesterday, rolling around some places in the city that we wanted to see before leaving. One of these was the flower market in Dadar. I’ve also posted pictures and descriptions on the webpage, so check out the first installment of, oh, 4 or 5 from the day. BTW, happy Easter!