Idul Fitri | Lombok | Indonesia

Imagine the most spectacular Fourth of July fireworks display you have ever seen. Multiply that by a thousand and you can begin to imagine the scene that unfolded in front of our hotel Saturday night!


Saturday night marked the end of Ramadan fasting which is celebrated with a parade featuring floats from each of the mosques in town and of course, fireworks. This year, there was a debate on the starting date of Ramadan because the holiday is based on the cycle of the moon so we weren't quite sure if we were going to get to see the festivities. We were a wee bit sad as we left dinner because there were no signs of fireworks. But, as we walked out the door of Pizza Hut, the parade rounded the corner and suddenly, we were right in the middle of it all!

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We tried to get ahead of it and get back to our hotel so we could watch from there but got sidetracked by the cutest little kids at a fireworks stand. We bought them some fireworks and began to shoot them off above the parade. This was our friend who gave us special price.

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After spending some time down on the street, we negotiated front row seats on the roof of our hotel with the security guards. The fireworks were exploding right in front of us. Literally. I would like to point out that I did not zoom into the pictures below, they were just erupting straight at us!

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Lombok | Indonesia

We've been in school for a month and it's already time for a holiday! My friends and I are jointly  celebrating Indonesian Independence Day and the end of Ramadaan by island hopping around Lombok. For those of you that are unfamiliar with Indonesian geography, Lombok is the second island to the east of Java (where I live), right next to Bali.


Our flight took off, on time, Wednesday which is a rare occurance here! We got to Lombok where we were able to stuff ourselves into a car to go to a city called Mataram, where we're staying. We all split up here because two of my more adventurous friends decided to hike a volcano for a couple days; I decided the beach would be a bit more relaxing.


On Thursday, we drove down the coast to a harbor town that chartered boats to a cluster of gili (small) islands called Gili Bedis, Gili Sudak, Gili Tangkong, and Gili Nanggu. 


I don't know if Gili Bedis (below) even classifies as an island (it looks more like a sandbar) but google labeled it that way so that's what we'll go with. We went snorkeling around the islands and I discovered that I am downright terrified of fish.


In fact, on one of the coral reefs, I almost drowned myself by accident. Upon seeing some fish coming out of the coral that I was floating a mere foot above, I flinched, which caused my snorkel to fill up with water which meant I couldn't take a breath. I also didn't want to take my eyes off the fish so I couldn't take my head out of the water and with all of my thrashing, my mask also filled up with water. Definitely one of my finer moments.

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School | Indonesian Independence Day

In celebration of Indonesia's 67th year of independence, we all wore red tops and white bottoms (like the Indo flag) to school on Tuesday. We were definitely looking classy!


We colored maps of Indonesia, labeling only the major islands (since technically there are thousands, more on that later).


And we ate A LOT of traditional Indonesian food. It kept coming ALL day!


To cap off the day (and keep me sane during the ensuing sugar high) I taught the kids how to play a classic: Head's Up 7up. It took a few rounds for them to catch on but they were pretty competitive by the end!


Bogor | Indonesia

I was finally able to go on my first road trip in my new home yesterday! I had three driving buddies this time around. We drove to Bogor, which was about two hours south of here. We went to visit the Botanical Garden of Buitenzorg. It houses different plant species from all over the world. The trees in this place were incredible; some were as tall as high rise office buildings! This place is also famous for housing a species of flower commonly referred to as bunga bangkai or corpse flower because when blooming, it smells like decomposing flesh. Unfortunately this flower grows for an entire year before blooming for a solitary day. We'll have to keep an eye on it and visit again during its bloom!


School | Earthquake Simulation

Although school has been in session for a week, we didn't hit any curriculum until Tuesday. I've been working in classrooms in one way or another for the greater part of the last five years and Tuesday was definitely a highlight!


We teach IB curriculum at SPH and that involves teaching through inquiry. On Tuesday, we gave the students a scenario in which there had been an earthquake in Jakarta which was subsequently followed by a tsunami. Because of these natural disasters, the school was made unstable, which forced us outside and all communications with the outside world were cut. The students were tasked with making a shelter and then working for their meal. The results are as follows and were quite entertaining to say the least!


We began the morning by heading out to the field, collecting materials, and creating shelters. The students were divided into groups of six. Each group was allotted three bamboo poles and a role of duct tape, along with unlimited cardboard boxes and plastic trash bags.


This particular group below made me chuckle. They began with a moment of brilliance when one group member suggested taping the tarp so that it ran into a box so that they could save the rainwater. This line of thought greatly impressed me, especially considering the fact that my students are 8. However, I got my first chuckle when I revisited the group a few minutes later. They had added several boxes to the exterior of their establishment and when I enquired about them, they told me that they had to have a safe box to keep all of their things in (even though their posessions had all been washed away in the tsunami).


After building shelters, the students were given a brief reprieve before heading out into the workforce. Students were given a sum of RP 10,000 to start with. In order to earn more money, students could work as taxi drivers, toilet attendants (because that's a profession here), trash collectors, and chefs.


But, they could also pay to ride a taxi or watch a movie.


With the money that they had after the work period, the students were supposed to purchase their lunch. Some of them quickly learned that playing on the computer for two hours probably wasn't a good idea! The students were served a typical Indonesian lunch of rice, tempe (fermented soybean chips), tofu, veggies and krupuk (similar to a rice cake)


After lunch, the students were dismissed to free time in their settlement. Some played house while others improvised and made a soccer ball out of cardboard and duct tape.


Among the first of modern conveniences to spring up in the shanty town were the arms dealers and the black market. Their stock was comprised of knives, swords and quite impressively machine guns.


We shut down the settlement in the early afternoon to head back to the classroom for reflections. Most of my students have a personal nanny and an entire household staff so it was interesting to hear their reactions to doing manual labor and working for food. With the year starting out like this, I can't wait to see what else is in store!