Kalimantan means “River of Diamonds” and we saw real diamonds and real treasures while we were there. We went to Derawan Island home to the DAYAK people. Our week there was awesome! We saw baby turtles HATCH out of their eggs!!! We were able to send baby turtles to the sea TWICE! It was INCREDIBLE!! Several nights we searched to see Mommy Turtles laying their eggs but we did not see any.
We also went to KAKABAN ISLAND! it was 50 min by bumpy speedboat and shaped like a cheerio. The inside of the island was a lake. Inside were STINGLESS JELLYFISH! It was a bit creepy at first to get in the water with several million jellys…but they really DON’T sting!! and they were great photo subjects! In Banjamassin, not only did we see the enormous colorful floating market but we also went to a real diamond mine. It was all worked by hand and the panning reminded me of the gold rush in Alaska!
JAVA Ancient WondersWe were in Mt Bromo for Christmas and Chanukah. It was amazing to see the views from the nearby mountains and we did climb to the edge of the crater after crossing the SAND SEA! We wore our extra shirts over our mouths because of all the sulfur fumes.
Borobodur and Prambanan are truly ancient wonders. We were able to go to Borododur twice to see it at sunrise and sunset. It is the largest single Buddhist temple in the world and was built in the 9th century.
In Jakarta, we saw many sites but the BEST was going to see where BARAK OBAMA lived and went to school!! While we have been in Indonesia, everyone says Derimana? (where are you from?) and when we say America…they say OBAMA BAGUS (Obama is good…they claim him as Indonesian since he lived 4 years in Jakarta)
Sumatra Lake Toba and Pulua WehOne of my most favorite spots on this trip has been LAKE TOBA!! BUT I must add it is not the easiest place to get to…Many of the places in the last five weeks have been “YOU GOTTA WANT IT” spots which means it can take FOREVER til you get there by many forms of transport. We were able to stay in a BATAK house and it was a trip highlight. Lake Toba is beautiful and peaceful now. BUT It was one of the largest Volcano eruptions on the planet. The year it exploded there was no summer anywhere on the Earth because of the ash in the sky. When the top of the volcano cone collapsed it created Lake Toba. The lake is ENORMOUS so I can only imagine the cone!
We also went to the FAR North of Sumatra to Bande Aceh. The GAM (Free Aceh Movement) had been fighting to leave Indonesia for 30 years. After the 2004 tsunami leveled the city, there was a peace settlement in 2005. We traveled with Anna who is working to find jobs for the ex-rebels. Stephanie and Michelle were our guides to PULAU Weh. As much fun as they were, it was not our favorite island. We are glad that so many NGOS and UN workers have helped Bande Aceh so much.
We had a great experience coming back to Indonesia. We did have a two month visa but due to the RAINY season some of our plans had to change. We were going to travel overland in Kalimantan but the bus trip which was normally 6-8 hours was TWENTY FOUR hours in rainy season so we FLEW and skipped a few cities.
We also were both sick and found that doctors, clinics and antibiotics are available just about everywhere. I have to say that a Western toilet, toilet paper and clean towels are prized luxuries to me right now.
Our journey to Borobodur (with Eveline and Izy) was about 24 hours..We had one night during high season with no hotel to be found…after looking at 60 of them in 3 cities…we just gave up and kept driving in the taxi. .in the end Grace graced us with a reservation which only happened because of her mom’s rosary…SO we are glad that all the high season and all the holidays-Chanukah, Christmas, Muslim New Year, and our New Year are over…and we think we will not have trouble to find a hotel AGAIN!!!
My dad got a GOLD NASTAR medal skiing in Park City and both my nephews got SILVERS!! SO their New Year started out RIGHT! SO after so many plane, train, car, boat, bus, taxi rides and even some LONG walks…we made it from Indonesia to Langkawi. We leave tomorrow (1/17/09) to go to Koh Lipe, Thailand. We can’t wait for THAI food and some great SCUBA DIVING! HAPPY NEW YEAR! Thanks for reading our newsletter! Please feel free to email us. We would love to hear from you! Lisa and George
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