Archive for the ‘Indonesia’ Category

Bali again

Wednesday, April 24th, 2019

Bali was a time of relaxing and seeing a few new spots.  We stayed in Diwangkara Beach Hotel, one we have stayed in several times before.  It’s a lovely small hotel and we had a nice room.

Our first excursion was to Taman Ayun Temple, the royal family temple of the Mengawi Kingdom.  The temple was built in 1634.  “Taman” means “garden” and the temple area was set in a lovely garden spot surrounded by a moat.

We continued to Alas Kedeton which features hundreds of cheeky monkeys and very large bats in a forest temple area.  Guides accompanied us to protect us from the monkeys—they especially worried about glasses being taken by the monkeys.  Our guide encouraged us to feed the monkeys with food that she carried.  Evan was happy to do so and while we all watched him, a monkey jumped on to Andrea from behind completely surprising her.  And then a monkey tried to open one of Ron’s pants pockets hoping for food.

Our last stop that day was at Tanah Lot Temple on the west coast.  Tanah Lot means “Land [in the] Sea.”  The temple sits on a large offshore rock which has been shaped continuously over the years by the ocean tide but you can walk to it during low tide.  We were hoping for a spectacular sunset but the clouds came in too early.  There were some big waves as the tide was coming in.  It was a lovely spot.

Our second day we took an all-day tour to the north coast of the island.  We stopped at Bedugul, a village in the mountains where the Ulun Danu Temple is located.  Built in 1633, this temple is used for offerings ceremony to the Balinese water, lake and river goddess Dewi Danu, due to the importance of Lake Bratan as a main source of irrigation in central Bali.  We were lucky to be there on a festival day.  There were many participants and it made for an interesting and pretty site.

We continued through the mountains stopping at a point where we could see twin lakes—Buyan and Tamglingan—and on to Munduk where we hiked a steep path to the island’s highest waterfall.  We had lunch at a nice restaurant on the beach.

Then on to Brahma Vihara Arama—the largest Buddhist monastery on the island.  Brahma, Vihara and Arama, when combined, mean “a place for self-cultivation”.  The facade of the large meditation hall structure is very reminiscent of the Borobudur temple of Yogyakarta. One can see the influence of Balinese architecture in many of the statues.

We returned to our hotel along some very narrow, curvy, mountainous roads.  It was spectacular scenery with small villages scattered.  Unfortunately, the scenes are only in our memories.

Our final day in Bali was spent just relaxing at the hotel—swimming in some very big, strong waves in the ocean and in the hotel pool.  And just lazing on the beach.  We had seen a beautiful sunset the night before with an almost full moon appearing.  We got up early and witnessed a lovely sun rise.  It’s a beautiful spot!

After a walk along the beach at low tide, we had a final meal by the beach and enjoyed the light of a full moon when it got above the clouds on the horizon.

After checking out of our hotel we headed to the airport. It was then a 12:30 am departure for us and a 1:30 am departure for Andrea and Evan. About 36 hours later we met at O’Hare, Chicago, after going around the world in opposite directions!


Last 5 days on Java

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2019

We took our SST students to the airport in Bali on a Sunday night.  We returned to our hotel to spend Monday relaxing and beginning to write up final reports.  Tuesday morning we returned to Yogyakarta for final farewells there.  Thursday morning Andrea and Evan arrived and we packed in a lot of visiting, touring, and talking in the next 5 days.

We visited one of the suppliers for Ten Thousand Villages, APIKRI.  We visited the office, saw their showroom, and observed an accounting training session in process.  APIKRI has many different producers located around Yogya and they took us to visit one.  We saw a woodworking shop where women were decorating wood bowls and several men were cutting various wooden products.  The two women took us to a rural restaurant where they served traditional village chicken.  A special meal.

We also visited UKDW to introduce Andrea to various staff there that we had worked with and to say more farewells to them.

The following day we went to Borobudur and Prambanan.  These are the famous ancient Buddhist and Hindu temples.  We had earlier visited these temples with our students and more description is on that blog (  It was an interesting but hot and tiring day.

On Saturday, we needed to pack up Goshen College household items which we had bought and want to save for the next leaders and MCC books which we had borrowed from the Intermenno Office.  In the evening we attended Ramayama Ballet at Prambanan.  We had attended this Ballet with the students but it had been performed inside.  This time we were lucky to see it performed outside with the Prambanan Temples as backdrop.  The setting was beautiful – and the rain held off!  More photos and info about the ballet is also on our SST blog.   (

Sunday morning we said goodbye to our home for 5 months and drove to Salatiga to have lunch with our MCC friends there.  We drove on to Drono to spend the next two nights with Reti.  Here again is a place we have visited with our students but also spent our Christmas here. (  (  It gave a good introduction of village life to Andrea and Evan.  We walked around the village and observed everyday activities.  We visited a tofu production spot and also saw rice chips drying.  Of course, the women wanted to give us some.

Tuesday we drove back to Yogya and flew to Bali.




Wednesday, April 10th, 2019

We will soon be leaving Indonesia again.  This blog entry is really just a random, meandering mixture of photos and memories that were not included on the SST blog posts.  (We have many more photos also!!!!!)

  • Terus
  • Belok kanan di pintu
  • Belok kiri
  • Belok kanan di sana
  • Terus
  • Belok kiri
  • Rumah saya di sini

Instructions given every time we return home in a GoCar (taxi).  The common method for transportation if you don’t have your own, is GoCar or GoJek.  GoCar is on the order of Uber or Lyft and GoJek is the same except it is a motorcycle.  It has been very convenient because we may not always know exactly where we are going but we can just order a GoCar and we get there!  When coming home, we always need to give more detailed instructions when they get to our neighborhood.  The one street we enter is quite narrow.  We say

We attended the Mennonite Church most Sundays.  We realize that we did not get good photos of the outside of the church or of Ibu Yanti, the pastor; however, we did include one of Yanti and Paulus here anyway.  (It was taken in 2015.)  Yanti’s husband, Pak Paulus, sometimes preached but he was a lecturer at the university.  Both studied at AMBS.  Nearly every Sunday we ended the service saying the Apostle’s Creed.  One International Sunday, we were all encouraged to wear special clothing.  It made for a very colorful congregation.  We have included a photo that someone else took even though it is quite blurry.  One evening we were invited to present a program on our 50 years of various activities.

Speaking of religious institutions – we have numerous mosques and two churches in our immediate neighborhood.

This is the Mount Merapi Museum.  We visited it one day to see if it would be a place to recommend taking students.  We found it fascinating – and we also found it full of elementary and middle school students!  Another day we visited one of the suppliers (APIKRI) for Ten Thousand Villages which has offices in Yogya .  Andrea had sent us the contact information.  We may have more photos from there later.

We have been working with a team of about 20 people at the university.  There is a coordinating team of 12 plus others who do various jobs.  One group were the language teachers (two teachers plus the coordinator).  The overall team leader is Arida who is head of the International Education office and also teaches English.  After our SST students went on service, she asked us to speak to one of her classes about tips for working with foreigners.  On one of our last days before leaving Yogyakarta, we hosted the special group of people who helped us with the program.  We also met the Rektor (President) of the university in his office area to give our thanks.

Some photos from our immediate neighborhood.

Its always calming to return to our home.  There are trees, birds, butterflies, and quietness.  We met this father and child on the road near our house one day.

I learned that the purple flowers on the hedge near our house make tea.  One of the participants in the Saturday morning yoga/tai chi session showed me.  After we exercise, we sit down and have a cup of tea – and for some, fresh soy milk.  She said the tea from these flowers (don’t know the name) is supposed to be good for the eyes.

And Sunday evenings were spent playing Scrabble and eating Yoder’s popcorn (until we emptied the bag we brought).  Ibu Gati has come 3 mornings a week to clean and wash clothes.

We like to walk.  However, most Indonesians don’t walk in the city—and there is good reason.  The sidewalks are not built for walking.  They are used for parking, setting up shops, placing planters or street poles.  When walking one needs to be on the alert for motorcycles zooming out of tiny side streets that you may not even be aware of.  There are no photos of the most difficult places because we were concentrating on navigating the section safely!  It seems that pedestrians are the lowest peg on the traffic scale.  There are a few places where the sidewalks are pleasant.  And then there is the unexpected street crew digging holes in our route.  It made for a long detour!







SST Indonesia 2019

Saturday, February 9th, 2019

We just realized that we have not said anything about our time leading the Goshen College Indonesia SST unit.  The reason being that we are posting blogs about those activities on the Goshen College blog.  If you are interested in following us there, go to the current blog for Indonesia SST.

Christmas fun

Sunday, January 13th, 2019

We just discovered this link on one of our friend’s Facebook page.  The pictures are from one of the Christmas parties at the university–described in a previous blog.  If you open the photos, you will see several photos of us, including a video of us dancing!!!  Enjoy and laugh!  We did!



Around Yogykarta

Friday, January 4th, 2019

One more blog of our own activities these last six weeks.  Three photos from around our neighborhood.

We visited Ullen Sentalu Museum, a Javanese culture and art museum.  It houses relics and artifacts from the royal houses of Central Java plus sculptures.  A beautiful setting.  (No photos allowed inside.)

We ate lunch one day at a mushroom (jamur) restaurant.  Everything on the menu was made with mushrooms.  They also sold many varieties of mushrooms.  It was interesting that several days later we visited a possible host family whose business is growing mushrooms—8000 logs!  We had not realized that mushrooms were so popular.

We took a walk down Malioboro Street.  This is one of the main tourist attractions and one of the busiest business districts of Yogyakarta.  It extends for one kilometer and apparently it is busy 24 hours a day. We went in the morning and by the time we left at noon, it was very crowded.  We actually had not been here since 2001 but not much has changed – just more crowded.  It was also interesting that during our several hours of walking around, we saw only 5 other Westerners.  The majority of tourists to Indonesia are from Malaysia, Singapore, Timor Leste, China, and Australia.

We probably will not post much – if any – blogs on our personal site for at least the next six weeks.  If you are interested in seeing what we are doing, follow us at

Christmas season (2)

Sunday, December 30th, 2018

Sunday, the 23rd, we came to Drono for the week.  We are at a beautiful Javanese home owned by Reti and Duane.  (Duane died a little over 3 years ago.)  We had spent Christmas here in 2005 by ourselves and had visited for a short time in 2008.  Reti says it is available anytime we want to come!  Duane designed the house in traditional fashion and collected all kinds of Javanese art, music, craft.  It is located in a small village where Reti’s grandfather had once been the village head.

We were here by ourselves (along with 2 cooks, a driver, and 2 gardeners!) for several days.  It was lovely.  We walked around the village, read, and relaxed.  We did go out to eat Christmas day eve but were fed well here.  An MCC friend from Yogya joined us one night and Reti’s brother and family came on the 27th.  Reti arrived the 28th.  (We have many more photos of this place than what is included here!)

Yayok, Reti’s brother, is a contractor in Jakarta.  He also has a workshop here in Drono where he employs several men to build furniture for the houses he builds.  The first morning he was here he took us to his workshop in the early morning to have coffee on the balcony of his workshop which overlooks rice fields.  Lovely.  He also took us on a walk through the village.  Earlier we had discovered some places on our own (tofu-making and rice crackers) but he introduced us to other interesting spots, including the morning market.  In the photo of the tofu-making family, note the pile of bags of soy beans from the U.S.

Our cooks were Yusum and Tini.  We had met Yusum in 2005.  Suradi, whom we also met in 2005, was the driver but we forgot to take his photo!    Reti’s brother is Yayok and wife Indri.  They have two teenage daughters who were fun but were not yet up in the morning when we took a photo of that family!

Reti took us to Solo for a day.  There was nothing particularly remarkable about Solo, but the drive was beautiful.  Her driver took us along many small rural roads and through small villages.  Mt Merapi (near Yogya) and Mt Merabu (near Salatiga) were stunning, towering over the horizon in one direction.  After lunch we went to Nggone Mbahmu Coffee Roaster in nearby Klaten.  Very interesting.  The family started it only about 1 ½ years ago and already it has become very popular.  The owner, Purnama Sidi, learned how to roast and make coffee via YouTube and books!  He buys his beans from all over Indonesia–Sumatra, Flores, Papua, Sulawesi, Bali and different parts of Java, including Klaten.  He has bicycled through out the islands and has learned to know farmers and coffee everywhere.  He roasts only in small quantities.  He will personally make you an individualized cup of coffee.  (However, during holidays, when he is so busy, he only serves iced coffee.)  We hope to go back in April and get our individual cup of hot coffee.  He also collects antiques.  He demonstrated his grandfather’s “hand-turned” RCA gramophone with a 78-rpm record of 1930’s/40’s Christmas songs!


It was a very relaxing week but now back to Yogya and work!  We are hoping to bring our students here for a day to visit the village and to hear the gamelon.  On the way home we saw a number of Bike Fridays, including a group of about 10 riders.

This holiday season is about over for us.  We will most likely stay put New Year’s Eve and play games.  Our only other task is to sing a duet at church on the New Year’s Day morning service.  That should be quite an experience!

Christmas season (1)

Saturday, December 29th, 2018


We experienced Christmas this year differently than usual.  We began with four parties at the university with various combinations of people—English students and department staff, International Partnerships department, department of languages (including English), and then the entire university staff and families.  Each party started with some carols, a sermon, and an offering.  After that the first three parties then included some entertainment, including games.  “Jingle Bell Rock” and “Feliz Navidad” seemed to be very popular songs.  K-Pop is also a fad among the students.  We were often given a gift as being “special” foreigners on campus.  Sally Jo won a prize in an unwrapping present contest.  At one party, groups were to sing Jingle Bells in a crazy way! The whole university party included a brief re-telling of the Christmas Story interspersed by songs from each department.  (It was one way to get everyone to come!)

The Sunday before Christmas was a special service at the Mennonite Church and included several baptisms and child dedications.  For two families the Mennonite pastor and a Catholic priest were able to conduct a child dedication/baptism jointly due to the parents being both Mennonite and Catholic.  It was a special event and made us wonder whether this has happened anywhere else.  Ron had more photos on Facebook of this service.  We actually had met the priest the previous week as a possible contact for service work for our students.

After the service, the church gave out bags of oil and rice to the neighbors (who are mostly Muslim).  They also held a “flee market” of clothes for the community.  What we didn’t take a photo of was the presence of police security.  There are sometimes threats at Christmas against Christian churches and so police offer security presence.

Season activities to be continued i next blog.

Recent Travels

Thursday, December 13th, 2018

We made a couple of trips out of town to visit possible service locations for our students.  It also offered us an opportunity to get out of Jogjakarta and see the countryside.  We visited an area west/southwest of Jogja.  We really enjoyed the mountains and the green spaces!

The first trip was to visit a Catholic church and their activities in the Menoreh Hills.  The church and mission were started by Jesuit priest from Austria in the early 1900’s.  We visited the school, the weaving industry, and the memorial to Johannes Baptist Prennthaler.  It was a beautiful setting.  We had a good talk with the priest who talked about their various activities and told us about their villages in the mountains.

The weaving industry is non-mechanized using looms copied from the looms first brought to the area by the Dutch.  They produce fabric for school uniforms, blankets, linens, etc.  They even designed shoes!

They produce some of their own food.  For the first time we saw dragon fruit plants.

We had a great lunch of goat at a small warung along the way.

On our return to Jogja we stopped at a family water hyacinth industry.  They use the leaves for various kinds of weaving (baskets, handbags, stool covers, etc.) which are sold in shops around the country.

Our second trip was to visit three places in the Menoreh Hills that the priest had mentioned previously.  Our first stop was at an Early Learning Center.  The center runs three mornings a week with various activities for children ages 1-4.  On Saturdays, they have a program for all ages that teach reading, writing, arithmetic, and interpersonal relationships through play.  They have a small library for children to come and read.  In a beautiful setting.

We stopped by an area where the farmers grow chrysanthemums to sell in the markets.  People use the flowers for decoration and making a type of tea.  We were most enthralled with the scenery!

Our last stop was at a small impressive elementary school that includes organic farming in their curriculum.  Each class has their own plot of ground for growing vegetables, a small fish pond, and some rabbits.  Students spend time every day before formal lessons in duties around the school—cleaning classrooms, making tea, feeding rabbits, working in gardens, etc.

We held our meeting in a lovely bamboo stand overlooking the gardens and out towards the hills.  Students climbed the steps to bring us our snacks.

We ended our day with lunch (at 3:30 pm!) at a local fish restaurant.  We sat on the floor built over the fish ponds.  Had one of our favorite Indonesian dishes—ikan bakar (grilled gourami/fish).

Indonesia 2018/19

Wednesday, December 5th, 2018

We have returned to Indonesia; our fifth time here.  It feels familiar but there are also always changes.  We returned to Yogyakarta where we first spent time in 2001.

We had a 20-hour stay in Bali on the way to Java which gave us time to catch up on some needed sleep and a walk along the beach.  We stayed in the same hotel that we did in 2000; it was still very nice.

Here in Yogyakarta we are living in a small flat on a church compound.  The flat was furnished with basic furniture but we needed to outfit the kitchen and begin to make it feel like home.  We’ll take you on a quick tour.

On entering our flat is a small room, only big enough for a sofa and 2 stuffed chairs.  This is typical; it is the place you greet people.

The living/dining room includes a couch, a sink, a small bookshelf. and a table which we use for eating, working, and playing games.  There is also a TV – with all programs in Indonesian.  Off the living room are two bedrooms.  (There are only two sinks in the flat—the kitchen sink and one in the living room.  There are none in the bathrooms.)  We definitely need to put more things on our walls!

Our first meal in the house (breakfast)—and yes, Ron is tired!  We had our familiar granola from home and had found some yogurt and milk in the grocery store!

The bedrooms are quite small but adequate.  At least they have air-conditioning!  We set up a charging station for our communication system – computer, 4 phones (2 US and 2 local), and portable internet port.

Our kitchen was furnished with a two-burner gas plate, small refrigerator, and a water stand.  The university thought we definitely needed a microwave (even though we don’t think so) so they got us one.  Indonesian kitchens seldom have regular ovens.  Off the kitchen at one end is a spare bedroom and at the other end are two toilets/showers.

The compound is fairly quiet and away from most traffic.  There are many trees and bushes; we hear birds in the morning; we see many butterflies.  The actual view from our front door is of the garbage collection area!

Sally Jo joined a group from the compound on Saturday morning for exercise.  It was a version of yoga with Chinese influence.  The photo is not good but is included anyway.