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roaming the world and enjoying the scenery...

Sunset over Bali

For all you all traveling this May Day weekend, here’s a little light from our last Lombok visit to warm your hearts. This was our first sunset of the week, with mist, haze, and rays cuddling Bali’s Mount Agung as the waves crash on Gili Trawangan. Ahhh….

The mountain, the sun rays, the crashing waves - ahhhh

Travel Pictures Contest Entries

Our annual MS welcome-back party was held last night, and part of the festivities included people’s pictures from the break. Teachers (and spouses) were invited to submit a picture in a number of different categories, and then everyone votes on the winners in each. I’m not sure my entries were as strong as in the past, but it was fun to match up with the different categories! All these shots are from our recent trip to Thailand…

*Update – I noted the winners in the photo caption: I had 4 photos win 1st or 2nd!!

Vietnam trip first peek

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!

Sulawesi Wildlife

We spent a few days on the island of Sulawesi (where the yummy market food is) before diving at Bunaken. During that time we hired a car and driver for a few days’ worth of exploration and jungle adventure!

Sulawesi Traditional Treats

What could give us a more perfect welcome to Sulawesi than trying some food and drink that are tried and true yummies in the area? We headed off for a day’s trip, and ran into some true gourmet delights!

 

 

Cambodia and Laos trip

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!

Borneo Orangutans

Here are pictures from our recent trip to the island of Kalimantan (as it is known in Indonesia) or Borneo (as the rest of the world calls it. We had a fabulous 4 days/3 nights of living on a boat and exploring the back waterways of an enormous orangutan preserve.

The area was set aside in the early 70’s, thanks to the efforts of Birute Galdikas, one of Louis Leakey’s famed “Trimates” (or “Leakey’s Angels;” 3 female researchers that he worked with establishing long-term study centers for primates. Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey are the other two). The efforts have focused both on studying the animals and discouraging poaching and land misuse.

We took way too many pictures, relaxed far too much, and just generally enjoyed ourselves more than we deserve. We’d posted these pictures previously on Facebook, but also wanted to make the gallery available here.

Enjoy!!

Scenes from a Japanese airport

with apologies to Billy Joel for the blatant title ripoff. Heading back to the US of A, and I have a longish layover in Japan. So in between naps and snacks, I snapped a few pictures of things around the airport that caught my eye:

 

It’s a small world after all

So I’m off on the Disney World adventure this afternoon. Two of our Mathcounts students were among the 4-highest scoring of all international schools, and (since one was the overall highest scorer) I get to be the official State Department Overseas Schools team coach! The award includes an all-expenses paid trip to Orlando, so we are heading out tonight.

As I was getting all the last-minute paperwork in order, I started thinking about the huge distances involved in this travel. We fly from Jakarta to Seoul, then to Chicago, then to Orlando. At the end of the tournament, we return via JFK (New York) and Seoul. I added up the distances involved in all the different legs, and got a total of 21,954 miles. Since the circumference of the earth at the equator (according to Google) is 24,901 miles, we are traveling 88% of the way around the world.

That made me curious as to what would be on the exact opposite place on the planet, and my curiosity led me to this (unscientific) site. It turns out that we are pretty close to being exactly across the planet from Bogota, Columbia, and that not many other places match up with other land masses. Checking it out, we were almost directly across from the USA when we lived in Mumbai, but because we were in the same hemisphere it shortened things up a bit.

The other side of the world

In any case, it is time to hit the road for more than 36 hours of total travel time – one way! I leave the house at 5:30 pm on Tuesday and figure to get into the Disney World hotel around 7:30 pm Wednesday in Orlando – or 6:30 am Thursday back in Jakarta.

Jet lag city, here we come!!

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!”

Starting with a day of silence

We just got internet service at our hotel in Tulamben, and Breck is sick today, so I thought to put some of the “quiet time” to use and start off with our trip tale. The funny thing about this vacation is that it did, really, start off with the sound of silence.

A rain-drenched flower welcomes us to Bali

A rain-drenched flower welcomes us to Bali

Balinese elephants line the walkways to our room

Balinese elephants line the walkways to our room

We’d never heard of Nyepi, but when we started getting all sorts of “interesting” reactions from people as we tried to make reservations, we looked more into this unique Balinese holiday. What we found out was astounding: for the entire day, from midnight (according to some sources, 6am according to others) until 6am the following day, the entire island is shut down. Absolutely. Completely. Stores are closed, roads are blocked, airports are shuttered, TV and radio stations are off the air. People are not allowed to leave their homes for the entire period, which means tourists too are stuck in their hotels. Can’t go to the beach – sorry.

Now, luckily for us, our hotel staff live on the compound, and they were working and cooking food for us, but we had to be quiet and respectful. We were able to go to the pool (in between rain storms), but at 7pm that evening, all outside electricity shut down and the entire island went dark.

Our neighborhood "Pecalang," or Nyepi silentness enforcer, draws his knife with a fierce glare

Our neighborhood "Pecalang," or Nyepi silentness enforcer, draws his knife with a fierce glare

Oh no - Dave turns the tables on him!!

Oh no - Dave turns the tables on him!!

Whew! Good thing it is all just fun and games. Time to turn out the electricity, though, so get your mobile phone flashlight app ready to go!

Whew! Good thing it is all just fun and games. Time to turn out the electricity, though, so get your mobile phone flashlight app ready to go!

I had the chance to meet the neighborhood “enforcer;” these guys walk all around the communities, making sure that things are as they should be, and he was pretty friendly, but it was certainly an interesting concept to think about an entire island shutting down for the day. Once we were able to move around the island, and we headed up the coast to our diving spot, we saw remains of the large effigies that had been burned in the days leading up to Nyepi itself.

Raining on Nyepi

Raining on Nyepi

The remains of an ogoh-ogoh, a burned Nyepi effigy

The remains of an ogoh-ogoh, a burned Nyepi effigy

You know you went to an international school when…

This is an old post that I found in my “drafts” folder. It dates from way back in 2009, when I first joined Facebook. I wrote it in India, but never posted it. It is cute and still timely, and I figured that it deserves to see the light of day! So here goes:

My students are all into Facebook, and so they convinced me to sign up for it. While I don’t really spend all that much time exploring it (there are plenty of other time-wasters on the internet, thank you very much), it has been kind of fun to run into old acquaintances in the virtual world.

One of the other things a person can do on Facebook is join any number of different groups, and one of the first that I saw was called “You know you went to an international school when…” There follows a list of more than 80 ‘indicators’ of someone with an international school background – some of which I agreed with, and some of which I didn’t.

In any case, here is my personal list of those criteria that best fit my experiences:

You know you went to an international school when:

  • It is hard to answer the question “Where are you from?”
  • Your life story uses the phrase “Then we went to…” five (or six, or seven) times…
  • Your school memories include those days that classes were canceled due to tear gas, riots, demonstrations, or bomb threats.
  • Police guarded your school…carrying machine guns
  • School trips meant going to a different country
  • You could walk into a bar and order a drink without being questioned
  • You got excited when someone sent a video tape of regular TV with commercials.. in ENGLISH!
  • You never had a job until you reached college
  • Class reunions are not at your school – not even on the same continent!
  • You run into someone you know at every airport
  • You don’t think its strange that you haven’t talked to a friend in a couple years, but you know you will always have a unique bond
  • You have a time zone map next to your telephone
  • You know the geography of the rest of the world better than that of your own country
  • You speak in many broken languages when you are drunk
  • You go home for vacation.

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

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.

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.

Around the house

Just so the wrong impression isn’t given, we are pretty darn excited about our new digs here in Jakarta. Rats aside, things have gotten off to a very positive start. I know Susan has emailed a few pictures to a few people, so I figured I’d better make like a squished tomato and “ketchup.” Those of you who’ve seen Pulp Fiction know what I’m talking about; those of you who haven’t just need to realize that’s now one of Breck’s favorite plays-on-words.

In any case, here we go with the 2-minute intro to our trip here and our new home:

After a day spent at the Minneapolis airport, watching all sorts of planes (except our own) take off and land, we finally ended up getting our entire trip rerouted (at least until we got to Hong Kong). The flying time to Hong Kong was just under 20 hours, and we had the chance to check out the view from the airport for a bit before the last leg into Jakarta.

Here's a plane touching down with Minneapolis in the background
Airplanes parked at the Hong Kong Airport

Once in town, we were met at the airport and whisked away to a luxury hotel, where we spent the next few days meeting some of our new colleagues and reacquainting ourselves with our internal clocks. Once our jet-lag was a little bit more under control, we were taken to our houses.

Rather than go through a whole descriptive paragraph, I’ll let the first few pictures tell the main story (and I think you can tell what our favorite “room” is so far!). Suffice to say, we are very pleased to be here and are looking forward to sharing our adventures with all!

From the corner of the pool (in the front part of the house)
Looking from where Alea was sitting in the previous picture, facing away from the house
The whole family congregating in the pool
The dining room opening up to the back yard

(And, very cool, just as I was finishing up this post it began to rain – our first Indonesian downpour!!)

Spring break?

No, not an upcoming spring break – a previous spring break. That’s how far behind we are over here at stutzfamily-dot-com.

I’m finally getting around to posting some of the webpages from our trip last April, just as we’re getting ready to leave for Christmas break! Where does the time go?

In any case, here is the beginning of our trip to Jodhpur, Rajasthan. I’m still lagging a bit on the internal navigation, but at least the pictures are up and there is a minimum of text to accompany. I’ll try to get the rest of these posted before we leave again!

Dhaka for volleyball

ASB girl's high school volleyball team - DhakaDave spent last weekend in Dhaka, Bangladesh with the high school girls’ volleyball team, where they played 3 days straight from 8 am to 10pm. Talk about a lot of volleyball! Our teams ended up taking 4th (girls) and 6th (boys), and the level of competition and sportsmanship was outstanding!

Dhaka street scene - umbrella'd police and bicycle rickshawsWhile the grueling schedule didn’t really leave us much time to do sightseeing, he did manage to take a few pictures from the bus on rides in the morning and when getting to and from the airport.

They’re posted on our website, so pop on over to get a quick look at some street scenes from Dhaka!

No coconuts allowed

So we’re walking past a temple in Varanasi, and I guess security has everybody pretty uptight. In addition to barring non-Hindus from entering, there is a whole slew of banned items. Many of them make sense, but one doesn’t (at least to me).

Maybe coconuts are the antithesis of the holy cow: keep them out of the sacred precincts. I’m sure there is a (seemingly) logical explanation for banning them, but I find it strange that there is not a simple restriction on all hard-shelled fruit, instead of picking on the poor coconut.

Free Verse Friday – Ode to the varieties of Indian stomach ailments

I have been neglectful in Free Verse Friday lately, so in honor of this week’s Caf-ASB, here is my ode to various regional stomach ailments:

Here in Mumbai, we sometimes get food sick
From restaurant, kitchen, or picnic.
The belly distends
Kicks out waste from both ends
Accompanied by internal music.

This year’s not been really all too rough
We’ve only had one round of that stuff
But with watery stomachs
And quivery buttocks
I swear once is more than enough.

The first hint is often quite bitter
A bubbling that shouts out “Don’t fritter!
You’ve no time to wait
You’d better go straight
And plop yourself down on the… toilet!”

But one thing we’ve noticed in three years
Is a pattern that constantly reappears:
The BMs reflect
The vacations they’ve wrecked
Like a matched set of runny brown souvenirs.

Our first trip, in a hotel so smelly
Alea’s tummy got sick from some jelly
In India’s heart
Ruined trip from the start:
An authentic case of real Delhi Belly.

The second time, as you will soon see-a
Was based on the self same idea
Poor Breck took the throne
In our very own home:
Struck down by Mubaiarrhea.

Dave’s ill was not like his daughter’s
But still was a set of the trotters.
Eating Cochinese shrimp
On his trip, put a crimp:
He sailed down the Kerala Backwaters.

Our last trip involved the ole poop pots
When we went to see Indian hot spots
In the desert a-cruisin’
The ailment caught Susan
And she got the Jodhpur Camel Trots

We’ve suffered on hikes, boats, and car rides
Strange stuff coming out of our backsides:
From Goan Groanin’ sick
To Jaipur Diaper ick
To colossal Himalayan Mudslides.

Pondicherry Derri-airy, Bangalore Blasts
Hyderabad Hot Squirts, Taj Mahal Gas
The Rajasthan Runs
Of course, Mysore Bum
The Calcutta Quick Step and Amritsar Ass.

Now, don’t think our stories pure unkind
We’ve usually had a real good time.
We remember our trips
Not by what we take with
Butt rather, what we’ve left behind!

Final Bali pages

They are finally up and ready! Only three months after the end of the vacation, we have sorted the photos, written the stories, and organized all the different stuff that needs to be organized to post our Pemuteran, Bali pages online and finish the trip!

Allow me my soapbox for a moment: I realize that many people prefer to post things on Facebook after their trips, and I’ve been given some grief for not doing so (*cough* Karla *cough*). I also realize that there are some very important positive aspects to doing so, especially 1) the immediacy and 2) the ability to get feedback.

In all fairness, I could easily enough put together an album of 142 pictures from every trip and upload them the day after our trip (taking care of #1 above). The problem that I see with doing this is that A) then there would be none of the quality control/cropping/etc (aka Photoshopping) that goes in to touching up the pictures on the webpage, B) there would be no descriptors or travel talk like we try to put in the webpages, and C) who really looks through albums of 142 vacation pictures with no idea of what is going on in them?

Since all of these take time, having the choice between putting things on Facebook or my own webpage, I prefer to put them on our own webpage. There is an additional reason to consider: what happens to those pictures on Facebook? If something happens to the site (notice the news about Bebo today?), what happens to all your pictures?

But having said that, I also realize that the number 1 thorn in my side right now is the inability for people to comment on pictures (or even just pages) in a static webpage. That is an ENORMOUS advantage that putting something on Facebook enjoys, and one that I’m really not sure how to address. If I could find a snippet of code that would allow me to turn my Web1.0 pages into something with more interactability, I would certainly do so.

But, until I find that magical snippet of code, please enjoy the Pemuteran pages from our Bali trip!

Bali pages update

Resting during a camel trek in RajasthanYeah, yeah, yeah. So it has been a long time since I’ve added a posting here, mostly because we’ve been on vacation for the past week. Not to Bali, mind you, but to the deserts of Rajasthan. We enjoyed days of 100+ (Farenheit) degree weather, incredible rock fortresses, and wild journeys through a wild country.

But this post isn’t about Rajasthan (although just to be fair, I’ve posted what is currently my desktop wallpaper: an image taken on an afternoon camel ride).

Nope, this post is about our Christmas trip, from which I am still organizing and setting up the webpages. This section is, understandably, the most involved, as Ubud was our ‘cultural’ stop and had a lot more to see and do in terms of shopping, temples, dancing, etc.

Rice paddies surround the town of Ubud, Bali

As I was looking at the Bali pages that have already been posted, there had been a total of 8 previously completed. Today, I present to you 9 new pages, all about the city of Ubud. There are a couple in here for which Susan wrote the travelogue, and even a video – plus a bloody picture of a post-monkey-attacked-finger, so go ahead and enjoy yourself!

No Showers Allowed

See, I always remember being told that the best way to save water was to take showers instead of baths. Apparently that is just not good enough any more.

Water rationing is starting to hit Mumbai hard these days (the newspapers have talked about cuts of 35% or so) for a variety of reasons – exploding population, localized drought, leaky infrastructure, etc. On our way to school, we saw a stark reminder of how serious an issue this is.

On an overpass, the grim visage of Sachin Tendulkar – who is lionized around the country as the greatest cricket player (in a nation of great cricket players) to have ever graced the pitch – advises people to avoid the ‘temptation of using shower.’ Apparently the new thing in saving water is taking a bucket bath.

It is pretty ironic on a couple of levels. First of all is the obvious juxtaposition with our idea of the shower as a water saver – now it is the water wasting way to do things. Secondly is the fact that many (if not most) of Indians have no access to running water of any kind, making this exhortation a moot point. It reminded me of this great article I’d found a few years ago for World Water Day.

But as we get ready for spring break and our trip to Jodhpur (which is, incidentally, where we are heading this year in case you were wondering), we’ll keep in mind the need for care in our water use. Bucket baths are not that bad: we’ve had them before in hotels, and I foresee us having them again on this trip!

Bali trip – First stop, Snore!

We’ll get this chronological order stuff figured out someday. Susan wrote the webpages from the first part of our Bali vacation and we’ve got them posted now (even though we already had the second stop online. Go figure).

In any case, our point of origin on the island was the beach resort of Sanur – also known as Snore for its boring nightlife: perfect for us!!

After settling in our villa with some welcome drinks, we spent the next few days, sunning, snorkeling, and recovering from the detrimental epidermal effects of sunning and snorkeling!! Enjoy the pictures…