Manado | Indonesia

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This year's fall break took us to the Indonesian island of Sulawesi to a city called Manado. A town known for eating anything and everything, Mandado was a culinary adventure from the start! We were able to stay with a friend's family. They were kind enough to take us around to the best warungs in the city. We arrived late at night and before heading to their house, we were wisked to a warung


You might remember my previous encounter with dog in a warung last year. Despite that unpleasant experience, I was somehow convinced to give this version a go. Although tasting substantially better thanks to the insane hell-fire sambal of Manado, I was still unable to swallow in the end due to a rogue chip of bone hiding in my bite. Having tried two vastly different dog recipes, I feel that I am now qualified to say that it is undoubtedly unpleasant!

We began the next day with an excursion to a warung famous for bubur  Manado. Bubur is an Indonesian poridge, commonly served with chicken in Java. Bubur from Manado is different in that it is vegetarian. It contains water spinach as well as pumpkin. With an extra dash of salt, I overcame my fear of abnormal textures and actually enjoyed the dish! I paired it with es champur. Inevitably different each time you order it, es champur is an icy cold beverage with some form of jellies, sweetened with condensed milk. We topped the meal off with some pisang goreng (fried bananas) which were served with fishy sambal instead of the typical sweet accompaniment.


After our late brunch, we took a break from eating to see what is apparently the second-largest statue of Jesus, after the one in Rio. From there, we began to wind through the mountains where our driver Joel took us to an absolutely gorgeous outlook. I'm pretty sure we were photographed as much as the mountains.


We started our descent on the mountain, where we stopped for meal number two. At this particular warung on the mountainside, we ordered snails, pork and bat! I don't know about you but I have trouble ingesting things that still look the same as when they were alive. That is how our bat came out. All the spices in the world could not cover up the rubbery texture and taste of eating a bat wing!


From this restaurant, we were picked up by the family of one of my students to go back up the mountain towards our dinner destination. On the way, we stopped for  a quick "snack" of one of my personal favorites, jagung bakar (roasted corn).  Little did we know that we were also being treated to the largest shrimp known to man!


School | Athletics Day


Friday marked the annual SPH Athletics Day. It's pretty much the same as field day with a few minor alterations. Everyone at SPH is on a house team, just like in Harry Potter. Each team has a color, a mascot, and is named after a volcano in Indonesia. I'm on Merapi (green) then there's Kintamani (red), Bromo (blue) and Krakatau (yellow). We rack up house points through various activities, hoping to be on top at the end of the year! I told my kids to give me their best game face...this is what they came up with:

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For the first event of the day, everyone competed in the 50 m dash until a winner for each grade was announced.


Kids were assigned to compete in various events based on prior trials in PE class. There were hurdles, high jump, long jump, and relays, in addition to non-competitive team events (like tug-of-war) for those not participating officially.

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Athletics day came to a close with the staff relay. I ran the first leg for my team and Martha was kind enough to take pictures. I'm not gonna lie, I'm still sore three whole days later!

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School | Junior School Assembly

Once a month, a single grade is in charge of the Junior School assembly and guess who was up first this year? Grade 3! We chose to do our presentation on our Biblical studies unit The Bible: A Book Like No Other which we combined with our unit of study on Who We Are. 

Our theme song for the last unit was Remind Me Who I Am by Jason Gray. I hadn't heard it before coming to SPH but it's an upbeat song with an uplifting message. The first video below is the official music video for the song.

We decided to do close our assembly by creating our own interpretation of the video as it played alongside the stage. Like in the video, the students also had cards, depecting negative emotions that we commonly fall into the trap of. 


Towards the end of the song, the students flipped their cards over and placed them together on a large board to depict the same message as the song: we are all beloved.


Meanwhile, on the second screen in the gym, I had been able to photograph the students who were not otherwise participating in the assembly presentation, depicting themselves as beloved, across campus in different areas that students are involved in daily. I've uploaded my favorites down below!


It was great getting the opportunity to work with such enthusiastic students to make a presentation that everyone from Kindy to Grade 6 was able to relate to. I was very impressed with their hard work!

Kuala Lumpur | Malaysia

Anyway, since I am going to be here for the next two years, I have taken some time to try to make my apartment feel like home. Undertaking this task has posed a challenge in some ways because not everything I've been looking for can necessarily be found in Indonesia. In light of this discovery over a period of weeks, I decided to take a weekend getaway to Malaysia for...IKEA! My friend Dani was able to come along. I'm not gonna lie, I spent almost 3 hours inside. It was just a little taste of home.


After Ikea we perused Borders for a bit, because it still exists over here, then headed to the Batu Caves to do a little sight seeing. I've already posted about this particular landmark but it is one of my favorites so far in Southeast Asia so here's another look:


We stayed the night at a hostel in Chinatown. Although I walked through Chinatown during my layover in May, I saw that it is a completely different place in the dark!


This was my first experience staying in a hostel. I was pleasantly suprised that I was only vaguely reminded of my days in a dorm. We had a lovely view eating breakfast on the rooftop overlooking a hindu temple and the city!


You might have noticed that it's been awhile since I've posted and there is a tragic reason for that. All of my pictures, movies, and shows are stored on an external hard drive. A few weeks ago, while I was watching a movie, it suddenly stopped and began to make a strange rattling noise. I took the hard drive into the IT guys at school who informed me that the entire thing had been wiped clean. I'm still not sure exactly how it happened but that means that all of my pictures from the last few years are [temporarily] gone. They have sent it off so hopefully at least some of the data can be recovered! 

Gili Trawangan | Indonesia

Paradise. You've seen it in the movies, read about it in books. Palm trees, white sand beaches, water in varying shades of turquoise. That, my friends, is where I blissfully passed the a week on holiday.

The Gili islands are located off the coast of Lombok, which is off the coast of Bali, which is off the coast of Java. We've been hanging out on Gili Trawangan, the furthest island. Just to give you an idea of size, you can walk around the entire island in less than two hours. Cars and motorbikes aren't allowed here and the only modes of transportation are bicycles and horse carriages.


Aside from aesthetic beauty, this place is also known throughout Indonesia for scuba diving. We stayed at a place called Blue Marlin Dive and subsequently completed our open water dive certification during our stay. That means that I can safely dive down to 18m!