Sunday, September 20, 2009

Bandung: Hiking, Cache Caves, Waterfalls

So, we decided to rendez-vous at 4am in the lobby to see the real Idul Fitri. We had heard (falsely) that people gathered in any and every field in the city to pray at this ungodly hour, so we walked to a local soccer field to find...nothing. The streets were devoid of traffic and people. I guess everyone goes to the mosque at that hour, and then eats a huge breakfast and sleeps in. Since there was nothing to see, I went back to the hotel and slept for a good while. At 9:30 I woke up and went downstairs to get breakfast, where I got word that 'people' were going to the bunkers, ammo stashes leftover by the Dutch and the Japanese. It was supposedly a good hike, and there was a waterfall to see as well. This brought me to the tree above.

The caves were about what you would guess: very obviously man-made, dark, and complete with Indonesians insistently renting flashlights that barely worked. I had the wisdom to refuse and used my cell phone instead. 3,000 rupiah saved. That's 30 cents:

Check out the bat we found. It is illuminated here by the red targeting light of Jimmy's flash for extra creepy effect:

This place was a family establishment - just check out this mother hen and her baby chicks:

Jagged hills everywhere, and eventually cut through by a river. The topography reminded me somewhat of gorge/river-carving country in NY and PA:

Raj, Vidhi, and Aaron. Candid:

After a long time hiking, we crossed the river:

Look how ecstatic I am:

After probably an hour to an hour and a half's rigorous, mostly uphill hike, we arrived at the main waterfall area. It had two bridges, a rickety red one marked with signs reading MAX 5 ORANG (max 5 people, and it's the same as in orangutan, which means people of the forest from orang people and utan forest), and another one lower down. I captured some peeps on the lower one from the upper:

This is the featured waterfall, looking downriver:

The main waterfall, looking upriver:

5 orangs. Please. The bridge staggered under my massive weight alone:

Jimmy, Graham and I wandered off in search of adventure. I guess we found it? What on earth possessed someone to carve this?

We ended up taking a raggedy footpath up a steep jungle-y hillside. We scattered monkeys wherever we went. Seriously, at one point there was a 40lb+ baboon within 15 feet of us. Here's a jackfruit tree that was right along the path. You can see the other side of the river gorge, so to speak, in the background:

This shot gets at the depth of this landscape. You can just see the jagged hills layering off into the distance:
We wanted to take some of these leaves back with us to show off. Or to use as blankets:

Finally, on the way back in an angkot (a bus with no side door and seating comfortably for 8, uncomfortably for 12+, that rides around town on a preset route and you can hop on and go anywhere on that route for usually just 2,000 rupiah, or you can even hire them out to take you really far away if you pay them a bunch more) I spied a very cute version of the Indonesian Chrysler Town & Country. It is really common to see families like this one or even ones with two adults and three kids all on one bike:

Bandung: Lebaran

Idul Fitri, or Lebaran, is the celebration at the end of a month of fasting during Ramadan. This is the biggest holiday in the Islamic year and it signifies the rebirth that takes place from a month of fasting. In the US you might not know this was happening, but here, the call to prayer sounds on loudspeakers throughout the city. On this day especially, the call to prayer is noticeable - it doesn't stop for a long, long time. I think we lost count at an hour and a half straight of the phrygian/atonal-sounding chanting. And the city comes alive with fireworks and people piling on trucks and vans with giant drums and beating them and shouting as they cruise around the city. I didn't get any pictures of that, but I did get the Bandung nightscape. If you look closely, you can see little fireworks going off near the middle of the shots:

This shot I did accidentally by moving the camera slightly while the long exposure was happening. It came out looking more than a little like musical notes:

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Bandung: Orientation, Birthday, Line Dancing

Here's Ab, iPhone disciple. This is the hotel passageway leading out of the main lobby and running next to the restaurant area (pictured here in on the left) where we eat each morning. At lunch they give us boxed lunches that we eat at these tables or outside. These boxed lunches are frequently disappointing, but at least they're free.

These next shots are of the hotel meeting space that we spend 8 hours a day in. The tables get moved around, but this is basically my full work or school day for these past weeks:

Here Kelly and I are featured in a newspaper rendition of native Padang-ian (I think?) dress. Note my stylish handbag and debonair presentation.

Apparently, it is tradition (at least for some children) in Indonesia to hit those with birthdays with flour and eggs. Michael, being himself a child at heart, volunteered for the experience on his big day, much to the amusement of everyone else:

Here he comes around the corner:

Someone threw an egg at the soft underbelly of this beast. It took several minutes for him to recover.

Here's a video of ETAs and teachers (guru) doing a line dance in language class:

Monday, September 14, 2009

More Anklung

It's hard to see here (naturally, I managed to not take any discernible shots of the Anklung, the instrument for which the whole place and event exists), but most of the kids in this shot are holding Anklungs. Each Anklung will contain usually two bamboo pieces cut to resonate at the octave on a particular pitch. These children were adept at playing melodies handbell or chime style, resonating their scale degree at the appropriate moment. The show featured a ripping percussion section, some puppetmaster storytelling, and a vast group of Anklungs played by all ages. At the end, we in the audience had the opportunity to join in. They passed out anklungs to everyone there, and a conductor led the audience-turned-anklorchestra through a number of great tunes (All My Loving, some more Beatles, BeeGees). Then, the kids started pulling people from the audience, me included, out onto the stage for a rousing final dance number. My Indonesian 10-year-old boy partner was a superfreak on the dance floor. Naturally, I had to attempt to meet his greatness. Someone's pictures of this are bound to turn up on the internet at some point.

At the big local mall's food court, I found this gem of a meal - rice, rice noodles, chicken, vegetables, and some other stuff in broth - for 9,000 rupiah, or slightly less than 90 cents. It may not look good, but it tasted pretty good (so my wallet tells me):

Here are a couple more shots of the mall in all its splendor. There was an incredible live band with brass, thumping percussion, and nasty, wailing singers on the bottom floor. Remarkably, this is one of the smaller malls in the city:

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Bandung: Malls, Traffic, Anklung, Malls

The Bandung traffic is nestled in with tropical trees and yes, KFC.

Some Cool Peeps:

Jimmy Cotton, pictured here with a fruit bat/flying fox. Tallest and most massive man in Indonesia:

John Akin, headed to UVA Law next year. Note the giant bamboo in the background. When we went to the Anklung (musical instrument made of bamboo) place, we noticed these. They probably harvested the bamboo for their instruments, buildings, signposts, and just about everything else out of bamboo from their own grounds. Genius:

Detroit Mike and PA Ashley:

Erica on the left, Nicole on the right:

Orientation is split between bahasa Indonesia classes and teacher training. Otherwise, we explore Bandung. I captured some of the town in these pictures. Above you'll notice the human-powered taxis. Below is our beloved Novotel, home for these three weeks:

These little shops pepper the side of Bandung's streets. You can buy everything here from drinks to cigarettes to pulsa, or cell minutes:

The well-kept sidewalks. When they are present:

Traffic outside our beloved Ace Hardware mall, so named for the Ace Hardware store on the first floor. A mere ten minute walk from the hotel, this mall's gargantuan food court is a default:

Thursday, September 10, 2009

More volcanoes to come

Apparently there is another volcano nearby - I'm planning to visit Sunday. In the meantime, it's bahasa lessons and teacher training 8 hours every day!