Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Singapore Zoo

I don't get to go to Madagascar this year but I did get to meet some lemurs

While I was in Singapore I got to visit the zoo.  Its a pretty incredible place all around.  They have managed to take down many of the usual fences that separate visitors from the animals so people can get really close to some of the animals.  This lemur was in the rainforest section.  He is used to being surrounded by humans and pretty much ignored me and let me look him right in the eyes from a few inches away.  Amazing!  Just amazing!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Short Indonesia Tutorial

I figure you all know about as much about Indonesia as I did before I left so I'm starting this off with a few basic details.

Indonesia is:

- the world's 4th most populous nation with 238 million people.

- the largest Islamic nation where 86% of its population is Muslim, though Christianity still has a strong hold on some of the islands that were colonized by the Dutch and Portuguese in the height of the spice trade.  Also Bali, the most popular tourist destination in the country, practices Hinduism.

- made up of over 17,000 islands, about 6,000 of which are inhabited.  As one flies over Indonesia's waterways, you look down and see speckled below lovely little spots of land wrapped with white white sand and a ring of deep blue water and dream about tropical paradise.  I visited Java, the central island, where over half of Indonesians live.  It’s the world's most densely populated island.  I also went to Sulawesi, Bali, Lombok and the Gili Islands. (Before I went everyone would ask, which islands I was going to and the question would seem overwhelming, but after a trip there the main islands roll off your tongue easily. One of my favorite outcomes of travel is the way the unusual becomes usual and then I can read and understand places and things so much better when I return home.)

- located, in simple terms, below South East Asia and above Australia, along the Equator.

Memories of Indonesia

Now that I have traveled to so many places, its hard to wow me.  Instead I try to enjoy the simple pleasures and slower paces of places.  In Indonesia, that means:

-hearing Islamic call to prayer echoing from multiple mosques over ripe lush green rice fields in Lombok as the sun sets

-seeing how coffee, cashews and cocoa are harvested in different villages sprinkled among other crops, trees and houses at different climates and altitudes than I've seen before

Monday, January 23, 2012

In Bali there are many little Hindu temples where people leave daily offerings to a variety of deities
In every village in Bali, there are several temples and at least one small one in each home. Most of these temples are shrines and might not be regarded as actual temples, but the number of walled compounds are believed to reach to a total of 10,000.  As you walk around you can enter the temples and admire the carvings and characters.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Beaches of Bali and Lombok

The beach at Gili Air
Sorry for the lack of updates or blog posts.  Honestly I'm not sure what to write.  It seems like bragging to say I spent this morning by a lovely pool after a breakfast of fresh juice and fruit and then had fresh seafood on the beach for lunch while watching fisherman bring in their catch.

Bali is lovely.  I'm not sure it is an untouched as I may have thought before.  There are plenty of tourists and hotels...  but the beach I just visited, Sanur, is smartly developed with a brick walkway all the way up the coast for perfect morning walks and enough, but not too many, bars along the way to get fresh juice or a Bintang depending the time of day.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Feeling like a Superstar in Indonesia

My white face sticks out in many of the places I travel to, but something special happens in Indonesia.  I was warned ahead of time but it happened even more than I suspected.  What, you ask? I was made feel like a glamorous beautiful superstar!  Yes, on a recent trip to Borobudur, a soaring ancient Buddhist temple I was constantly asked to be in photos.

I think the bombardment is more here because it seems like Indonesia has a swelling middle class and with that many many more people with cameras who want my moviestar like mug on them.

All I can say it is was loads of fun and now that I have reached touristy Bali where I am just another common looking face, I miss it.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

The pharmacy ladies in Pangandaran.The people of Java have the biggest smiles I have ever seen in world.

Farewell 2011, its been great. - My 2011 Holiday Letter

Giraffe kisses in Kenya
Greetings from Indonesia!  

Yes, here as 2011 closes, I'm off on another travel adventure.  So far its great and filled with new experiences.  You can check out my blog to see my thoughts and photos.  

2011 has been a good year for me.  I got to travel for work to Ethiopia, Ghana and Kenya and then for pleasure to China and North Korea (made even more interesting by Kim Jong-il's
recent passing.)  I got to spend time visiting friends in the US too and finally saw the much loved Asheville, NC, explored more of Detroit and revisited Martha's Vineyard after too long.