Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The end.

Home sweet home! Call me!
I'll add a link to a Picasa album in a couple days when I get one together.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Yay India!

India is colorful, delicious, and amazing. Ankit is being a great host and I'm having a blast!!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Next stop...

Yesterday was our last full day in Jakarta and we packed in a lot...first was going to the TOP of Monas (see my 7/20 post for a pic--the tall thing with a flame on top). We had gone there the first day we were here, but it was closed, so I'm glad we finally went back for the view. It's like the Space Needle of Jakarta! Next was the National Museum for some fun with artifacts and statues. Then, for dinner, we went with Wiji and Izana to a place known for really good Gado Gado, my favorite dish here--peanut sauce with vegetables, tofu, and rice. When conversation revealed that neither Wiji nor Izana had ever been bowling before, we decided we had to go! Kudos to them for making it through their first games with double digit scores and no bumpers! Still not ready to call it a night, we met up with a couple of Wiji's other friends for karaoke....good times.
A great day, and the perfect way to end a really amazing trip. I could get really mushy here but I'll leave it at that.
Now I'm off to India to visit my friend from college, Ankit. I have long layover in Bangkok, where I plan to squeeze in a couple sights, but most importantly, find myself a plate of authentic pad thai!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Around Jakarta

Over the past weekend, we made several day trips around Jakarta. First, on Friday, we rode the train to Bandung. There we visited the West Java provincial BPS office. We saw more processing of census data, similar to what we observed at the office in Manado, except the scale here was so much bigger! (The Manado office is working with 2 million people's data, this office is handling 43 million people's data.) There was a rented out parking garage stacked with boxes and boxes of completed census forms. I could not have imagined. I was, once again, impressed by the enormity of this task and the organization of it all. We got to meet our boss's husband on this trip too, since he works in Bandung at the Institute of Technology.
Saturday, our friend Izana, who is from Indonesia and also in our MPH program at UW, took us to her family's home in the southern tip of Jakarta. A bunch of her family (her mom and dad are each one of 7 kids!) were getting together to break fast, so she invited us to join in. One part of the custom I really enjoy--eating dessert first! (because of low blood sugar after fasting all day) We had lots of delicious food, some of which I really want to try to recreate when I get home, but we'll see how that goes, and they did prayers for Ramadhan. It was a really fun night.
Sunday, we went to Bogor to see the Botanical Gardens and Presidential Palace--from what I understood, sort of like the Martha's Vineyard of Indonesia, a presidential retreat home. It was a nice place to walk around and breathe fresh non-smoky air.
Now it's our last week in Jakarta, just trying to finish up our projects at work and spend time with the many nice people we've met here before it's time to leave...

Mountains of data.


Jake, Bagus (Izana's cousin), Izana, and myself at the Palace.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Dragons & Flags

I think we pretty thoroughly celebrated Indonesia's Independence Day. Visiting the entire country in one day and watching a ceremony at the President's house is about as much as you can ask a person to do, right?
We started the day by attending the flag raising ceremony at the Bureau of Statistics. It was impressive to see all the staff dressed in their matching batik and although I didn't understand the Director's speech (given in Bahasa), I'm sure it was very inspiring. Next, we headed over to "Taman Mini", which translates to "Mini Park", where they have buildings representing the style of each major region of Indonesia. It's all centered around a lake, so you drive/walk around the perimeter and tour the country! Inside the park there are also several museums, but the only one we visited was the Reptile Museum--lots of big snakes, crocodiles, and a Komodo Dragon! In my experience, zoos traditionally allow you to look at animals through glass/cages, but here they brought the snakes out, letting anyone who wanted to hold and touch them. I did my photo-op with a couple pythons, but I drew the line at going into the cage with the Komodo Dragon! Jake, however did not. He was eaten. Just kidding. After the park, we heard there would be a parade on one of the main streets in Jakarta, so we went looking for the celebration. We kept wandering and weren't seeing anything, but a few people directed us towards the President's house. Apparently there were ceremonies that you could try to get a glimpse of from the street. Well right was we got there, they were allowing a few people to go inside to fill seats set up just outside the gates and we got to go in! We got to see marching bands and some awesome dragon-costumed dancers, followed by a procession of members of all the different armed forces and the flag-lowering ceremony to end the day. Of course my camera battery died right as we got there, but I felt really lucky to be able to see all of it! To cap off the day, we decided that any really good birthday should be celebrated at Benihana, where we toasted Indonesia reaching retirement age.

Mmm...ya, I'll stay here, thanks.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Happy 65th Indonesia!

Back from a great weekend in Bali...it was beautiful and relaxing. My first time to see the Indian Ocean! We were looking at hotel options for an IHME conference next year, and checking out the awesome resorts was my pleasure. We also spent some time in Kuta, the tourist hub of the island. There were lots of restaurants with Western food that I'd been missing and bars with cheap drinks that played American music, which made for a fun Friday night. My favorite part of the weekend was Sunday afternoon, when I took the guide book's advice and headed to the southwest tip of the island to the best beach I've ever seen. It was a postcard come to life and I spent an amazing few hours staring at the waves and lounging under an umbrella.
Tomorrow (Tuesday, August 17) is Indonesia's Independence Day. It's a public holiday and while apparently there are usually various ceremonies and games, I think it is going to be more subdued this year since it falls during Ramadhan, which started a week ago.

Door from the villa straight to the beach.

One of many temples. (Bali is mostly Hindu)
Daily offering set outside of most stores and businesses.

My favorite beach.