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Last Day in Surabaya

First, this was the view from my hotel room on the 31st floor.  The large dome towards the back is a mosque:   Apparently a visit to Surabaya has to include a visit to the Sinjay duck restaurant on Madura Island.  In order to get there, you have to cross on the longest bridge in Indonesia, which is 5.4 kilometers long, or just over three miles. Madura Island is a fairly large island and is one of the strongest centers for Islam in the country apart from Aceh Province on the island of Sumatra, which operates under sharia law.  Sinjay’s menu is basically limited to fried duck and rice.  The restaurant has been so successful they are opening up another branch in Surabaya itself.  The guests sit at long tables, order from one counter then pick up the order from a second counter.   Henok and Kamty: Behind the restaurant was a large rice plantation.  The rice had reached maturity and was being harvested by workers out in the field. Here is the rice close up: And finally, a beautiful dragonfly on a rice stalk: Returning to Surabaya, we stopped off at a church that had once been an Anglican parish.  During Japanese occupation, there was no activity there, and after the war–if I am remembering the sequence correctly–it was taken over by a Chinese congregation.  The Diocese of Singapore and the Indonesian Deanery are still the owners of the property, but the Chinese congregation added a second building for offices and Sunday School classrooms behind the original church. The church’s interior.  There is actually a stained glass window that is behind the wall with the cross on it: A memorial plaque from the Anglican congregation: We met the church’s administrator in his office just to introduce ourselves.  As we went to the office, we passed by the musical instruments they use in worship: And finally, on the way to the airport and the flight to Kupang, West Timor, we passed by a statue commemorating the mythical origins of the city.  There is a legend that says a shark, “sura,”  fought a crocodile, “baya,”  for control of the area.  The shark ended up with the sea and water, and...

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Driving South of Surabaya

The next morning after the long drive to Surabaya, we left for the city of Lawang.   Henok had arranged for us to meet with the Principal and the Faculty of Aletheia Theological Institute, a seminary that is run by the Chinese Reformed Church.  On the way, we stopped to see the “mud volcano”  in Sidoarjo.  This is the largest eruption of thermal mud in the world, which started in 2006 and it still continues to erupt slowly.  Retaining walls have to be built higher and higher as the mud flows.  It is estimated that 150,000 houses and buildings have been lost. It is fairly slow moving, so there was time to evacuate the residents, from what I understand.  To get to one of the observation points, the challenge was to navigate these stairs:   Once up at the top, there was nothing but an immense, flat plain with some steam venting from a couple of locations on the horizon: Here is a close-up: And then the challenge of walking down the stairs: It was then on to Luwang to visit Aletheia Theological Institute, a seminary run by the Chinese Reformed Church.  Aletheia offers both a Bth (Bachelor of Theology) and an Mth.  The Anglican Church in Indonesia had been supplying a faculty member until this year.  We were welcomed with a nice lunch and good collegial conversation. If I had known how people were going to be dressed, I would have worn one of my batik shirts… There was a special seminar for high school youth going on in their main auditorium/chapel.  The regular students had already finished for the term. One of the buildings from the outside: Following our visit to the Institute, we drove towards the mountains, hoping to see some spectacular mountain scenery that includes at least one volcano and rain forest.  Unfortunately, the weather was terrible and the visibility was equally terrible. The area is known for its rich farmland–most likely attributable in part to the long history of volcanic activity.  Beyond the treeline that you can see partially in the fog is supposed to be a couple of large volcanic mountains.  They have not been recently active. We were able to drive through...

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Borobudur and Prambanan

For our full day in Jogjakarta we left the city and drove to the northwest to the Buddhist temple, Borobudur.  Built in the 9th Century and abandoned in the 14th Century, this World Heritage site is the largest Buddhist temple in the world.   There are over 500 statues of Buddha there.  It was re-discovered in the 19th Century and went through a few restorations. There was a light rain when we first arrived, so the first photos I took were with my mobile phone.  The rain eventually stopped, so I was able to use the better camera. This is probably the oldest frieze, dating to the initial construction of the temple: If you are interested in seeing more photos of the temple, they can be found in the  Gallery in the Media section of the web site. The following day, we spent the morning at a large batik market in the center of town.  Kamty was successful in finding the shirts that she needed for her teachers in Batam. Henok looking for his own shirt: On the way to Surabaya, we stopped off at a Hindu temple, also built in the 9th Century called Prambanan.  Dedicated to the three gods, Brahma, Shiva, and Vishnu, the site is actually a temple complex with numerous temples of varying sizes. The one dedicated to Shiva is the largest, and is located in the center.  Even though the site is not actively used, there was still evidence of offerings being made in front of several of the statues to the different gods. The stone carvings were numerous and well done: One of the smaller temples: There were several high school groups there, and many of them wanted to have my picture taken with them.  It was a little bit of a “rock star”  moment, which was surprising for this middle-aged American!  I took some photos of them.  This is one of them: There are more photos in the Gallery, if you are interested in looking at them. We finished the day by driving until well after midnight to Surabaya–mostly in the rain.  Our driver did en excellent job on the two-lane road that was full of trucks.  The line of traffic was...

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To Jogjakarta

The time in Batam had come to an end, and Henok and Kamty had arranged for me to spend the rest of my time visiting their home island of Java.  We boarded a plane in Batam and flew to Jogjakarta–Yogyakarta is the way I saw it spelled once we arrived there.  They arranged for a driver and car to meet us at the airport–and it was the same driver and car that was to take us to Surabaya.  Jogjakarta is South and somewhat East on the island, and Surabaya is in the Northeast of the island.  It is a very old city that is also the capital of the Sultanate, and for five years after the Japanese occupation, it was the capital of Indonesia.   Jogjakarta is especially known for its batik–and there are dozens of shops where you can purchase it.  It is also the best place to get batik items at a very reasonable price.  Some of the batik is handpainted and some is printed.  Kamty was particularly interested in getting batik shirts for her staff at her school.   Besides look at batik, there are some other things that you have to do on a visit there.  One of them is to eat at a restaurant called Gudeg Yu Djum. The food is cooked in a particular way–I’m not sure what the actual process is or even what the recipe is–but I was served Nasi Gudeg Krecek Telur Dada–which was rice, chicken, egg, and a cooked jackfruit condiment. A drive through Jogjakarta on the way back to the hotel took us by the main square that was full of pedal taxis that were decorated with colored lights.  Some were animals and others just different shapes and decorations,. There were dozens of them, and apparently part of an evening’s entertainment is to hire one of them and be driven around the square–or perhaps anywhere else you wanted to go. The following day we were back at the main square, because it is at this location that each Sultan is enthroned in a very lavish ceremony. The current Sultan (#10) was enthroned in 1989 and is in his late seventies with five daughters from only one wife.  He is...

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Singapore Botanic Garden

This is out of sequence, but I spent several hours today at the Singapore Botanic Garden and took some photos and thought I would just go ahead and post them.   The last time I was there, I was in a boot recovering from a broken leg, so I was limited in how much I could see.  This time I think I just about saw everything.  The Botanic Garden is quite extensive, and the “jewel”  is the National Orchid Garden. First, hit the “Media”  button on the home page and then click on the appropriate gallery.  I would recommend just hitting the “Show Slideshow”  link and allow the photos to go in sequence automatically. That way you don’t have to keep clicking on the photos and moving from one page to the next. When I get back to the US, I’d like to see if there is a more user-friendly way of showing...

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