Friday, October 17, 2008

Wedding Pictures!!!

Here's all the pictures Shelly took at our wedding. If you want the full size pictures let me know and we will mail you copies!

Wedding Day - Getting Ready

Wedding Day - Adam and Natalia

Wedding Day - Wedding Party

Wedding Day - Family Portraits

Wedding Day - Ceremony

Wedding Day - Reception

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Taman Mini

The day after Mom, Dad, Erin and Lee arrived was also the day before the reception in Indonesia, and so we decided to spend this day at Taman Mini, which is a theme park that is very close to Grace and Berthus' house. Taman Mini means Miniature Park. It is named as such because the park contains a large pool with miniature islands that represent the islands of Indonesia.

We picked up Mom, Dad, Erin and Lee at the hotel and then we went to the park. We were suprised when we arrived that there was hardly anybody at the park. This was likely because of Ramadan, and Natalia said it was normally more crowded. Not that we were complaining--it made it very easy to get around and see all the sights.

The first place we visited was the aviary. This was really neat because we saw all sorts of exotic birds, all of which were native to Indonesia. The aviary consisted of several large domes, which were split into two areas. The first area contained birds from Eastern Indonesia, and the second area contained birds from Western Indonesia. The zookeeper said every month they would open up the doors so they could visit each other. Just kidding about that part.

The aviary was really cool, and we saw many different birds. Mom and I talked to a Macaw for about 5 minutes, and we got it all on tape. I was taping for most of the time, but I did get a picture in front of the peacock cage. Don't worry, the pictures get more exciting later on...
After the aviary, which all of us really enjoyed, Dad and I especially, we got on the skyway, which was a cable car that was carried across the entire park. From the cable car we got a birds eye view of the park, and could see the miniature Indonesia islands very well. Here's a picture of the islands.
We actually got two rides across the skyway because we got to the landing area on the opposite side of the park, and the attendant just sort of waved us through! We got a chance to pass everybody, which was sort of fun, and back at the first landing area there was sort of a bump when you landed, and since Natalia and I landed first we got to see everybody react to this, which was pretty funny, let me tell you.

After we rode the skyway we checked out a few of the other sites, which included different churches of the area, which were true churches, and we were able to take a walk through an Islamic mosque. Very interesting.

Another part of the park contained the houses of Indonesia, which you could walk through and look at the architecture of all the different types of houses built in different parts of Indonesia. We only walked through one house, which was very much like a barn. It was interesting because it was built on stilts and you had to walk up two very steep flights of stairs to get to the living area. The upper living space was a very large room that was considered a common living area. It had ventilation on each end, which also made it very barn-like, and then it had smaller rooms all along the sides of the room, and each of these smaller rooms would house a family.

Once we got done checking out the house examples, we went to check out the lizards and snakes. I'm not sure what they call this place. They call big bird houses aviary. What a great name. I guess lizards are too ugly to have a name for where they live. Anyway, we went to where the lizards and snakes live, and we saw many snakes, including the Indonesian Spitting Cobra, and a Monitor Lizard, which is about two feet long. Natalia said this was the same lizard that was stealing the fish out of the Koi pond in her parents' garden! We then went back to the main attraction in the snake-and-lizard-iary, which was a Komodo Dragon. We actually got to walk up and touch the Komodo Dragon, which was pretty cool. Here's the picture of Natalia and I with the Komodo Dragon. It was pretty docile, but I was half expecting it to go, "RAAHHHHHH," and then go after my arm. Fortunately that didn't happen.
So that was pretty cool, and if we hadn't gotten enough of touching scaly animals, they had another feature close to this with a very large python. They let us go up and hold the python, which was really cool. I went first, and here's the picture. You can really feel how powerful the snake is. It's not slimy at all, but I could tell the snake was like, "You know what, this guy thinks he can keep a hold of me, but I could just squirm right out of his hands and coil around him if I felt like it. Well, I just ate that chicken yesterday so I think I'll just play along for now." Ok, so the snake didn't actually say that, but it did squirm around quite a bit. It was interesting because you could feel the scales of the snake sort of bristle out in a wavelike manner, which made it harder to hold onto, and would allow it to back right out of your hands if it really felt like it.
I thought I was really brave to go up, until my nieces went up and held the snake. There was also a little turtle walking around the snake area, and we got a really cute picture of Catherine and Celine.
We all had a really fun day, and it was nice to have a fun outing with Mom, Dad, Erin and Lee on their first full day in Indonesia.

Next up...the big reception!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Mom, Dad, Erin and Lee's Arrival

On the 19th of September Mom, Dad, Erin and Lee arrived. Aldo, Berthus and I woke up and got ready that morning, and we left at about 11:00 to head to the airport. We needed to be at the airport by 1:15 to meet the group when they arrived. We got there just at 1:15 and were at the arrival gate by 1:25 or so. So we had gotten there a little late, and in addition we had no way to call Mom, Dad, Erin and Lee to try and figure out where they were. We waited and waited, and waited for about two hours, and we finally got a hold of them at their hotel. As it turns out, they were taken to the hotel by a shuttle service. As I had experienced when you walk out of the arrival gate, there is a mad rush of transportation service people who will very aggressively try to sell you their services. When Natalia and I had arrived, Aldo and Natalia handled it like old pros. Mom, Dad, Erin and Lee ran into the same taxi service solicitation, but fortunately were greeted by a man who worked for the shuttle service of "The Sultan" which was the hotel where they were staying. This man helped them get out of the madness and got their luggage in the car. The only downside to this was they couldn't contact us until they got to their hotel. As Mom, Dad, Erin and Lee were happily on their way to the hotel, Berthus, Aldo, and I were at the airport growing more and more concerned, yet also bored. There was one spell of excitement when Gunawan, a movie star in Indonesia, got off the plane. Apparently he was on his way back from Mecca. I acted like I was from the American press, "Yes, we American photo journalists use point-and-shoot cameras," and I was able to snap this picture: As you can see, not just anybody could have gotten that shot, but since I towered over everybody else it made it easy. I guess I could always be a photographer in an Asian country, if I ever felt like it. At the time I took the picture, I had no idea who this guy was, only that everybody was snapping pictures and crowding around him. I showed Natalia and Jane this picture later and they could barely contain their excitement.

So afterwards, we went to The Sultan where everybody was staying and met up with Mom and Dad. Erin and Lee were tuckered out, and had already gone to bed. Mom and Dad were troupers, and were up for dinner.

It was about 6:00 or so, and we got in the car and went to a great little restaurant where they served Indonesian food. They had very good Gado Gado, which is like potato salad with lettuce, and peanut sauce, and chicken satay, which, if you're not familiar with it, is grilled meat on a stick, served with hot sauce. Both were very good. Here is a picture of Mom and Dad at the restaurant. Both are looking a little tired!
We had fun and it was good to see Mom and Dad. We took them back so they could rest for the next day.

Back to the Blog

Hey all. I've got no other plans today but to take a marathon run at this blog. Let's see if I can get in all the remaining stories I mentioned, and maybe even some pictures!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Back home now! Still catching up on the blog

Hey All,

We got back home yesterday, and we are still catching up on the blog.

Yep, after Mom and Dad arrived we were busy from then on. We had the reception, which was amazing, then flew to Yogyakarta, Indonesia, where we visited several temples, including the Borobudur Temple, which is the largest Buddhist temple in the world. We then traveled to Bali, where we stayed at the Hyatt resort for five days. Let me tell you, it was rough, especially the constant pampering, delicious food, and countless fun things to do.

Of course, you know this means many more stories and pictures, which I haven't had a chance to post yet. Now that we are back home again in Indiana, I do believe I should have a chance to add new stories from the last part of our Honeymoon.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Trip to Surabaya

Hey all, I wanted to jump on here and give you an update of our weekend excursion to Surabaya. One legend states the city is named after a shark (sura) and a crocodile (baya), which fought for the title of "World's Toughest Animal." I'm not sure how they forgot to include the tiger in this contest, because I think the tiger could take out either a shark or a crocodile, assuming a neutral start, where neither animal had an advantage. The toughest part would be deciding how to start the fight. In a high school wrestling match they have that slightly awkward starting point where one wrestler sort of mounts the other. Well, what we need is something like this for a land based mammal that attacks with its claws versus an amphibious reptile that attacks with its teeth. Maybe start them off in an open field with no grass, but then the tiger gets a slight advantage because of it's ability to run. Then again, if you have water involved you give a huge advantage to the crocodile, who can just sink below the surface and set up a surprise attack. It's a difficult scenario to work out, and believe me, I have though about it for quite some time. This was a big topic of discussion in the bachelor pad of '05, with Ted, Doug, and I, and the discussion continues on today, unresolved, even after video proof on YouTube that the Tiger handily dispatches of the crocodile in an open field fight. Sorry Doug, but the crocodile just doesn't have what it takes to match up to the unstoppable force of the tiger.

Back in the bachelor pad, we never broached the subject of crocodile versus shark, as the city of Surabaya has. Though now that I think about it, it would be an interesting fight. At least in croc vs. shark, the obvious neutral starting point would be a water based fight. I'd put my money on the shark, but if the crocodile was able to clamp down and put the shark into a vicious death roll, that could turn the tables quickly. Also remember, the shark needs to keep swimming to keep the flow water moving through it's gills. If the crocodile was able to figure this out, it could just grab hold of the shark's tail and stop it from moving. However, I don't know if the crocodile could figure this out with it's walnut sized brain. I'm sure the tiger, with it's larger brain, and natural superior cunning and intellect, could likely figure this out in a jiffy, if it didn't decide to simply annihilate the shark with brute force.

Needless to say, this type of legendary background instantly qualifies the city of Surabaya for high marks in my book. But look! In all this prattling on, I haven't even told you a single thing about our trip! Silly me! Let's take you back to the story.

When we left off, we technically had not even started, and thus we resume at the very beginning of the story. Grace, Natalia and I flew into Surabaya on Saturday morning on Garuda Airlines. Jane, Natalia's sister and her husband Heromin picked us up, along with their little girls, Catherine and Celine. The ride back was fun because I got a chance to meet my new nieces and brother in law, and was good to see Jane once again. Catherine and Celine were singing, so I joined in for a few rounds of ABC's, Itsy-Bitsy Spider, Baa Baa Black Sheep, and a few other childrens' songs. I thought I could maybe teach them a few, but they seemed to know all of them already. They tried to get me to sing the Barney song, but I refused, but I sang every other song with them, and they knew all the words.

We arrived at Jane and Heromin's house and got the grand tour. Similar to Grace and Berthus' house, Jane and Heromin's house also functions as a business. They do gift box construction, calendar printing and binding, and book binding. There were about 50 workers there, and they had several assembly lines with conveyor belts that were being used at the time to construct boxes. There were many young workers folding boxes and placing them on the assembly line, with one "efficiency expert" at the end, overseeing everything. I thought it would be cool to tape the assembly in action, so I went up and got my video camera. I must not have heard the lunch whistle because once I got back with my camera many people were resting, some were sleeping, and things were not nearly as exciting. I taped the equipment anyway, and the people resting. I could tell that some people were happy to be taped, and others were not. I told Heromin later that I didn't mean to embarrass anybody if I did. He said, "What, are you afraid they are going to sue you?" :)

Heromin and I had a very interesting conversation about his business. I asked him if he ever considered exporting his products to the US or elsewhere. He said he had thought about it, but the problem is the Indonesian exporting "standards" are sometimes known to change. It seemed to me, as Heromin described it, this would make the export process unreliable. One shipment may be approved, and the the next shipment, produced exactly the same, might not be approved. The other option would be to import the raw materials from the country you eventually wanted to export the final product. Apparently the export authority in Indonesia takes into consideration the fact that the destination of the final product is the same as where the raw material came in from. Basically, if we get the raw materials from the US, then they should have no problem importing the final products. The only problem with this option is that the extra cost of shipping in these raw materials would decrease the profit margin enough that it wouldn't make it worth the while to do this, according to Heromin.

Once we went back up to the house the girls were ready to perform. Catherine played the piano impeccably, while Celine dance beside her. I also got this on tape. I realized later that while I was taping everything, I wasn't doing a good job of taking pictures. However, I did end up with some good pictures later on in the trip, which I will share with you.

Jane and Heromin had a full day planned out for us, and we started off by heading to the mall. The first stop was the hair salon, where Natalia, Jane and Grace got the full treatment. I call it a hair salon, but it was really more like a massage parlor. Natalia pointed out that I could stick around for a hair cream bath, which would help to fortify and strengthen the roots of my hair. I thought, "Wow, sounds great!" This was before I knew you could get a full back, foot, and arm massage at this place. When I found that out, I asked Natalia how much this cost. She told me 65,000 rupias, which sounds expensive, right? Well, it's actually about $6.50. For the foot massage, they focus on the pressure points on your foot, which there seem to be several right behind the ball of your foot, and some right on the front of your heel, and some on the ends of your toes. Those were the ones I noticed mostly, at least, because you can definitely feel it when they apply pressure. I told Jane the girl had "thumbs of steel." I thought the massage was pretty good, but wait until we get to day 2, and I'll tell you about the other massage place we visited....Hey now, don't get the wrong idea!

That evening we ate at a Korean restaurant where we sat on the floor, with a gas stove built into the table. We ordered a "family style" meal (I'm sure there's a name for it, but I don't know what it is), and they brought all types of food, and a soup that they cooked on the burner in front of us. The soup was my favorite, and it tasted like some sort of delicious cabbage stew. Hey, what can I say, I've got Scotch-Irish blood, I like the cabbage.

Here's Natalia, Catherine, Celine, and I after we ate. Aren't they so cute?

That evening we stayed at a resort hotel, which was very nice. I woke up in the morning to sounds of Catherine and Celine playing outside the door, asking when "Paman Adam" was going to wake up. This means "Uncle" in Indonesian.

Here's a view of the pool from our room. There were about 3 or 4 different sections to the pool. I was still in "taping mode" so I didn't get any pictures of the pool or resort up close. You'll have to see the tape later.

We went outside and enjoyed the pool for a while. It was about 7:30 in the morning but it already felt like it was about 80 degrees. The pool felt great, and then Natalia and I hit the sauna. What a morning. Just when I thought it couldn't get any better, we walked into the lobby for the free breakfast. This was the continental breakfast to end all continental breakfasts. There were about 7 different tables, including the main table with a standard Indonesian breakfast with rice and vegetables, and various meats. On the other side of this table was a more American style buffet. The side tables included a full milk and juice bar (not just O.J and grapefruit. I'm talking Mango, Papaya, Pineapple, among a few others). They had an omelette station, and beside it they had a pastry table. I can't remember what all they had. I think they even had a smoothie station. I taped it all, being the good tourist, so I'll have to review it and then give you the full list. It was really above and beyond what I would have expected, and I guess what I have come to expect in general.

Here goes my take on the difference in what to expect as far as service between the US and Indonesia. In Indonesia, you can't always expect the same level of amenities, i.e. the hotel rooms might not have a t.v., the bathrooms might not be as nice, it might be hot as heck because there is no A/C in some places, but I can almost guarantee the employees will fall over themselves to try and better your experience, which to me seems quite rare in the US. This might be because many of these types of jobs in the US are held by employees who might be working towards bigger and better things. College students, and the like, who maybe do like their job at the mall, but it's not their life. In Indonesia, the same mall or waiter job might be the only job some folks can aspire to. They care about the job more deeply, and this really shows in their actions at work I realize there is likely a flipside to the coin that deals with the social and economic status of many folks in Indonesia--many are poor. Instead of veering further off course, I'm going to get back to the story of our trip to Surabaya, with the promise that I am going to try to find what all contributes to these differences in service I see between Indonesia and US.

After the exceptional breakfast we checked out and headed to another mall. Little did I know we were headed towards another foot massage. This was a reflexology place where all the masseuses were from China. There were two to a room, and I was in the same room as Heromin. This massage started with a foot bath, and they dried your feet and wrapped the one they weren't working on at the time with a towel. They also focused on the pressure points like the place from the day before, only they did it with even more pressure. It was about an hour long, and it was excruciating. It felt like they were taking scoops of flesh out of the bottom of your foot whenever they poked the knuckle of their pointer finger into it. It hurt like heck, but then they would give you a break for a while and rub your feet. I came in feeling kind of drowsy, and this really woke me up. I looked over at Heromin and he seemed to be falling asleep while getting the same foot treatment. What a pro. I tried to remain stoic during this intense session, but the masseuse detected a few times, through either my flared nostrils or the my raised eyebrows, that I was suffering. I wanted to get the full effect of the massage, so I didn't want her to back off. Heromin told me how to say, "More pressure" in Chinese, and I didn't bother learning how to say "Less pressure," I just told them I would emit a loud scream if it got too intense, so they should just listen for that. At the end of the massage, my feet felt sore in some spots, but felt great overall. I'm pretty sure this type of foot massage is intended for long term benefits rather than any sort of instant pleasure. Five days later my feet still feel great. I can't really describe it, they are just sort of loose and comfortable now, and I feel like they could handle lots of walking. I would definitely recommend this type of Reflexologie massage. 120,000 rupias ($12).

After this visit, we looked around the mall for a while and then visited the food court, which was in the shape of a big circle (wow, different!), only this food court had kiosks that were themed after different areas in Indonesia, so you could get food from virtually any area of Indonesia. There were many, probably close to 50 different food kiosks. I thought this was pretty cool, but I was unfortunately not hungry enough to try all of them.

We headed out to the airport and took Lion Airlines back to Jakarta. It was a great trip, and we all really enjoyed it. Thanks for your hospitality Heromin and Jane, and I loved meeting you Catherine and Celine. I can't wait to see you again.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Here is Natalia at home, behind the Cong Klak board, which is very similar to Mankala. David, you would like this game a lot.
Here's a picture of Natalia and I at the restaurant where we ate in Bandung with Grace's sister and family.
Here's one of the professional pictures taken of Natalia and I at the tiki hut place.
Here's a shot of Natalia and I in the rowboat also at the tiki hut place.
Here's Natalia and I eating in one of the tiki huts once we were done with pictures.
Here's one of the professional shots at the volcano. You can see the lake and the rim of the volcano in the background.
Here's another shot at the volcano, after it got all cloudy and misty.
Here's a cool shot I got of one of the marketplaces from the car on the way back from Bandung.
Here's a shot of a typical street scene in Bandung.
Here is a shot of one of the tea fields outside of Bandung.
Here's Aldo in front of a lake we stopped by on the way back from Bandung.Here's another shot of a village I got from the car on the way back from Bandung.

Trip to Bandung Part 2: The Volcano

When we left off last time, Natalia, Grace, Aldo, and I were at the hotel, and we were preparing for another day of shooting pictures. Once Natalia was ready we took a few pictures at the hotel and the restaurant beside it. Like I said, both were very picturesque. We then got in the car and took off to our next destination, which was the volcano Kawah Putih. It took about an hour to get there from where we were staying, and we drove through more villages to get there, and up a winding road towards the top of the mountain. There was a small village at the top of the hill where we parked, before walking up a cobblestone pathway that went up a ridge, and then back down towards the volcano itself. When we got down the ridge we could see what we came for. The basin was completely surrounded by tall mountains, most of which had trees and vegetation, however the far side was a vertical cliff. In the center, there was a very large lake that was bright greenish blue color, colored that way, I assume, by the minerals coming from the volcano. There were several jets of steam billowing from the lake. The ground was mostly rock and sand, but along the edge of the lake there was a greenish foam from the minerals in the water. There was one island in the lake that was actually a peninsula, so you could walk out on it and feel surrounded by the lake.

It was very sunny at first, and the photographers were disappointed because the conditions weren't what they wanted for taking pictures. Nonetheless, we started taking pictures right away. After about an hour of shooting, we took a break and ate lunch. It started getting cloudy and looked like it was going to rain. It only sprinkled a little, but it got cooler and suddenly there were very low hanging clouds that concealed the tops of the mountains, and there was a mist that formed over the top of the lake. The photographers were excited because these were the conditions they were after. We took another round of pictures and then finished up.

We then went back to Bandung and met with Grace's Sister's family again and then spent the rest of Tuesday night driving home. It was an exciting trip!

Just to get you caught up on what has happened since the Bandung trip, on Wednesday we met with the vendors, which was not too exciting for me, because I don't understand the Indonesian language well enough to follow along or participate in a conversation. I sat there and listened as well as I could. From what I could tell, they talked about the arrangement of the ballroom, which I think I mentioned is gigantic, the music, the flowers, the photography and the slideshow. The meeting with the caterer had been earlier in the week. During the meeting there was a prayer group of about 50 Muslims that used the other end of the ballroom to pray, which I watched, and found to be very interesting.

After the meeting we ate at Mbok Berek, which is a place where you eat with your hands. They serve fried chicken, so the eating with your hands part wasn't so bad. It got interesting with the remaining dishes, which were, rice, kangkung, which is like green beans, gudeg, which is a mix of cow skin, jack fruit meat, and boiled eggs. This was all served with sambal, which is a hot sauce. You would take a clump of rice between your fingers and mix it with chicken or vegetables or whatever you were eating and then dip it in sambal. It was fun to eat there, and got about as messy as it gets when you eat barbecue ribs. They didn't have wet-naps, but instead they serve the meal with a dish of water you can use to rinse your hands off at the end of the meal.

After the meal we went to Tanah Abang which is a wholesale shopping center. It was a very crowded area and didn't seem to be the best area, but the prices are supposed to be great. Grace wanted to buy new curtains for the room Natalia and I are staying in. This is part of the tradition of fixing up the bride and groom's bedroom for their wedding night. Mom and Grace already fixed up our room at home, but Grace is also fixing up the room here. The visit was very short and they picked out the curtains and then we left. I had meant to look at the prices, but because of the rush the only price I saw was a very expensive looking dress for 75,000 Rupiahs, which is about $7.50. However, it wasn't my color, so I passed on it.

Later on we went to Pondok Indah Mall, which was very nice. Grace bought some towels and we ate at a Thai restaurant, which was good, but probably didn't help the stomach situation. It sounds like a really dumb move on my part, but my thoughts at the time were that I could eat Thai or Indonesian, both of which tend to be spicy and can get to your stomach, so why not have some Tom Yam.

So, that was Wednesday, and then Thursday I wrote about already with my stomach problems and Natalia's Visa. Later in the day we met with the photographers and got the pictures back, which turned out great, as you can see from the postings. We then went straight to bed and woke up this morning at 6:00.

One thing I can't remember if I have mentioned or not is that Indonesia is very Islamic. It is visible in the architecture and in the way people dress, and in what you hear. Specifically, you hear prayer over loudspeakers from whatever Mosques are nearby. Since there are about five Mosques near Natalia's house, you hear prayer over loudspeakers from each. This would be fine, except for the fact that not all of the singers can sing very well. It is really sort of a chant sound, and doesn't really sound like it has words. It's really more of an "AAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH AHHHHHAAHAHHAAAAHHHHHHH" sound than anything. Think Dahler Mendhi, the beginning of "Tunak Tunak" (you can look this up on YouTube if you haven't seen it), though Dahler Mendhi is Hindu and not Muslim, so my statement is not entirely accurate. There are two problems that I can see with this system. First, they put the bad singer in the Mosque closest to Natalia's house. This means that you can hear the good singers off in the distance, and you start to listen to the subtleties of the music, and it's not half bad. Then all of a sudden you will hear the local guy bust in and just totally overpower the other singers. This guy sounds like Darth Vader after smoking about 20 cigars in a row, and Darth can't hold a tune. "HRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHAAARRRAAAAAAAAAAAA" Don't they have tryouts for this job?

The other problem is that all the different Mosques sing in different keys. No matter how nice each singer sounds by themselves (aside from our local boy, of course), when you combine it sounds like a bunch of alley cats. This is especially a problem since each Mosque. jacks up the volume like they are trying to compete with each another. Couldn't they have picked one key, like they did with the slot machines in Vegas?

Nonetheless, I do get a charge out of the chants every time I hear them, because its like nothing I've ever heard before. They pray 5 times a day. This is a month of fasting for Muslims, which means they do not eat after 4 AM and before 6PM. So for this month, there is an early wake up call, again by a guy who gets on the mic and yells, "SAHUR, SAHUR, SAHUR!" Which apparently means, "Muslims, it's 3:00. Get up and eat before 4:00. Non-Muslims, see if you can sleep with this megaphone blaring." This has woken me up a couple times, but last night it didn't, so hopefully that continues.

That should bring you up to speed. I'm still planning on taking pictures of the house so you can see it. Tomorrow we are flying to Surabaya to visit Jane, and we are going to stay there until Monday.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Bathroom Break

Note: We're going to get back to the trip to Bandung shortly. I wrote about my experiences this morning, Thursday 9/10, and I thought I would post them. Enjoy!

Hello! We are back from our adventures and today looks like it will be a day of rest--at least for me--which is good, because I'm not feeling so hot. Natalia is at the US Embassy in Jakarta for her Visa interview. We stayed up late last night trying to find the letter with the confirmation number for her meeting. It wasn't on the list of things required, but she thought it might be needed anyway. She has everything else she needs, other than that. I was up trying to help her until about 1 o'clock until I burned out. She had to get up at around 5 o'clock this morning to go to the meeting. So far I haven't heard back, so hopefully they let her in without that document. She needs this to extend her H1B work visa. Worst case scenario, if it doesn't work out today she can reschedule it online for sometime later this month.

Warning: The next two paragraphs talk about bowel movements. Life is not all daisies and sunshine, and I want you to get the full experience of the trip, warts and all, which is why I am writing on this subject. Don't worry, I didn't get as crude with this as I might be capable of. I actually edited myself. What I edited was a list of things that cross your mind when you can't poop. I had fun writing it, but didn't make the crude cutoff. You have to remember that my Mom is going to read this.

Anyway, Natalia had a little sore throat with a cold right when we got to Indonesia, and I somehow caught it. My throat didn't feel that great yesterday, but today it's feeling much better. That's ,not all, though. Before we left Indiana we went to the doctor who prescribed us medicine for "traveler's diarrhea." So we came equipped with the proper medicine to take care of the bacteria that might cause diarrhea, in case we got it. However, the doctor made no mention of the opposite sort of affliction, which I seem to be suffering from. Is there such thing as, "traveler's constipation?" The symptoms are similar to PWCS, or what is known in layman's terms as "Post-White Castle Syndrome."

Partially due to this unfortunate ailment, I wasn't able to sleep very well last night. This morning I decided to stay in bed and maybe catch up on some rest. Midway through the morning I went downstairs to get some water and Berthus and Aldo wanted me to sit down and eat. I didn't have an appetite. I told them, "The plumbing is stopped up." Aldo laughed at this, which I was pleased by because I don't think he had ever heard that expression, and Berthus gave me his trademark "shocked" expression, with which you are always in for a treat. He told me to stand in front of the table, which I did, and as I stood there he peered at my stomach for a second and then leaned back and chuckled. "This is simple," he said, "sit down." So I sat and he immediately held out his pointer finger from across the table, towards my belly. He started moving his finger in a vigorous circular motion. After about 20 seconds of this, he stopped and said, "That's it." He then advised me to drink some hot water which would help. This was about an hour ago. Not to get too graphic, but I just took a little break in the restroom, and I think things are now back in motion.

It's now close to Noon and both my stomach and throat are feeling much better! Also, Natalia just called and her Visa was approved. She'll get her passport back on the 18th, all processed and ready to go. So there you have it. All's well that ends well.

Trip to Bandung Part 1: Batiks, Tiki Huts, and a Ghost

Note: I am planning to add pictures to this later, but Natalia has the camera so I can't download the pictures yet. I'll get them up here shortly, and you'll love them.

Natalia, Grace, Aldo and I spent Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 7-9, traveling to Bandung to take more wedding pictures, and the locations were a tiki hut garden, the inside of a volcano, and a tea field. We drove out to Bandung Sunday morning and visited some of Natalia's family. Grace's Sister and family live there, and run an open market grocery store. This is one very noticeable difference between the US and Indonesia--the streets are all open markets, and so many places you go you will see shops and street vendors peddling there wares. At first I was a little shocked at this difference, because it makes the streets look very crowded and cluttered, and this doesn't help the awful traffic situation, which I have mentioned before. After driving through these markets, I have started to appreciate them more and more, and it makes it a very exciting and vibrant place, and I enjoy the sights as we drive through. We stayed at Grace's Sister's for long enough to visit, and then travel down to the local market to get some clothes for pictures the following day.

We stayed in a hotel in downtown Bandung until Monday morning, and then we got up and started getting ready to take pictures. I wore a tux and Natalia wore traditional Javanese wedding clothes, which consists of a very ornate skirt, with a translucent sparkly-white shawl-type thing that goes from shoulders to ankles. Don't worry, the top part was not translucent. I was disappointed we were not able to find any traditional clothes that fit me. We could have gone with just the hat, and a jacket, but I said, "All or nothing, baby. If it's not real, I can't bring myself to do it."

Once we were ready, we went out to a place I would describe as a very large garden with Tiki huts and a restaurant with a gift shop. Natalia said this was a place you would bring somebody to eat for important occasions. It was stunning. If you ever watch Anthony Bourdain's TV show "No Reservations" it looked exactly like the Tiki hut where he ate at the end of his Indonesia visit, where he explained he was seriously considering hanging it up and just staying in Indonesia, because he could see himself retiring there. I watch the show pretty regularly and this was the only episode I have heard him say anything like this. This was really my first taste of the "Indonesian countryside," and when I saw this place I could definitely understand his sentiments.

The photographers showed us the pictures when we were done, and they were phenomenal. They include Natalia and I in various Tiki huts, standing in different gardens, walking with a bike, and us in a Javanese rowboat, with me rowing, and Natalia beaming at me with affection. We dressed in the formal wear, and I changed into a Batik, which is a long sleeved button up shirt worn for celebration. It's also very ornate, with beautiful patterns. It kind of reminded me of a long sleeved Hawaiian shirt, only the patterns were more eastern looking.

We spent the remainder of day 2 traveling to the next location, where we stayed in a different hotel. We got there late at night and it was raining. We went to bed pretty much immediately. We woke up at about 5:30 the next day to a rooster crowing. Natalia told me this noise is known as, "Cuckareecoo" rather than "Cock-a-doodle-doo" A cat goes "Meong" a dog goes, "Gong, Gong" (I still haven't figured this one out yet either, but that boxy looking robot with no arms on the Jawa Land Crawler in Star Wars episode 4 comes to mind). When we got up, Natalia started getting ready. I knew it would take me much less time to get ready, so I spent about two hours walking around this place. It was really cool. The hotel was in a small village, and was sort of a resort. It had Koi ponds and gardens all around. To the back you could see rice fields that went up the side of a mountain. Adjacent on one side was a restaurant that had "booths" suspended over a small pond. Adjacent on the other side was sort of an outdoor activity center with places to exercise, family games, and a coffee shop. It had small Tiki huts which were set up for eating, or picnicing, I guess. It also had a zip line with a tower I climbed, from which there was an outstanding view of the surrounding areas. The area was partially surrounded by rice paddies, and we saw farmers working the crops as we walked through.

That morning I talked to Pandi, who is the driver for Natalia's family. He was driving us all around during our adventure. He has driven for Natalia's family for over 25 years, and he is also a very close friend of Berthus. He is somewhat of a mystic, and can sense spirits, and heal with energy. He said the place had spirits, and there was a cemetery behind it. He said that the night before, when he slept on the couch he saw a spirit who sat on the couch by his feet when he was going to sleep. He said she had long hair, and was dressed in a woman's Batik, which is similar to a man's only it is a long dress. He said, it was always customary to ask permission to stay in someone's farm house, so he said, "Excuse me, but may I stay in your place tonight." He said she stood up and moved over to the other chair, and stayed there until he fell asleep. I'm glad he waited until the morning to tell this story.

I haven't finished writing about the trip, but I will do this next and post shortly. Stay tuned for Trip to Bandung Part 2: "I Don't Know Where I'm A-Gonna Go...".

Saturday, September 6, 2008

To Bandung!

We are on the way to Bandung today which is a city about an hour away which is near the mountains. It is a "getaway" place and we are going to shop and take some wedding pictures. We will be there for two days. I was going to post some more pictures today, but this will have to wait until we get back. I'll bring back pictures of Bandung and post them as well.

Talk to you then!
Adam and Natalia

Friday, September 5, 2008

Selamat Datang!

Hello! This is Adam and Natalia's blog. We plan to post pictures of our trip to Indonesia, and everything else that comes afterwards. I guess this means we'll have to start taking more pictures!

For starters, here are some pics from our flight to Indonesia. We started off in Indy, flew to Chicago, then to San Francisco, Hong Kong, Singapore, and finally Jakarta which is where we are now.

We started off in Indianapolis, of course. Mom dropped us off on the 3rd of September. Thanks Mom!

We took some pictures in front of the airport before we checked in.

I've got some more pictures of us in the Indy airport, then in San Francisco, and in Singapore, but I'm not sure where they went. I'll have to re-upload them when I get a chance....stay tuned. To paraphrase Senator Ted Stevens, "The Internet is a series of tubes" and the tube to Indonesia is apparently pretty small.

OK, so there was San Fran, "The City," then we stopped in Singapore, and then made it over to Hong Kong. I had to get a picture of this silver object in the Hong Kong airport because it looked like the missing part from the bean in Chicago's Millenium Park. Maybe you could call this one, "The Donut Hole." Also, it kind of looks like a mini version of the spacecraft from Flight of the Navigator. Compliance!!!

Sweet Natalia looking out at Hong Kong. We were right by the ocean, and were surrounded by mountains that had giant high rise buildings all over the place. It looked pretty crowded.

The Singapore Airport was pretty cool, with lots of places to shop, but we couldn't stay long because we had to catch our flight. Natalia took a little nap on the way from Singapore to Indonesia.

Singapore Airlines was great--phenomenal service--and they had these cool screens for each person, which you could watch shows, or monitor the flight path, altitude, location, etc.

Here's Adam and Natalia reflected off of one of the screens.

Here's the screen again. It's hard to see, but this shows us passing over the Equator. Cross that one off the old Bucket List!

Here's Adam and Natalia right before they landed in Jakarta on Sept 5th at around 1:30 Indonesia time.

After we landed, Aldo picked us up, and we headed home. There were beggars at the airport trying to help us with our luggage, and they wanted us to pay them. Funny how that works. Apparently they thought it would be helpful to us if they touched the luggage. So they would sort of nudge it, then look at you like you were supposed to pay them. Also, they thought it might be helpful to pick up the luggage and try to walk off with it. We didn't find that helpful either. It was kind of like playing this crazy game of tag, where we had to have somebody by the luggage rack and somebody by the trunk to protect the luggage, and still somehow move the luggage, and then also stop them from trying to pick up the luggage. It was pretty funny. Fortunately, we made it through without too much trouble.

After this, we got in the car, and things got exciting. Remember when they used to have race tracks that were shaped like a figure eight? I don't know, maybe I imagined it. Anyway, I felt like I got to experience this in real life. Basically, take equal numbers of bikes and cars, mix in more pedestrians than you have ever seen before in your life, and say, "OK, everybody make up your own rules. Go!" and there you have Jakarta traffic.

I'll try to get more pictures of traffic so you can get an idea, but just imagine drivers forming their own lanes, on a whim--this really helped the traffic situation, bikers just driving wherever the heck they felt like it, between cars, in front of cars, etc., giant groups of 20 or so jaywalkers, walking through traffic, then stopping about 2 inches away from oncoming traffic. Other people standing at areas where people did U-turns asking for money in exchange for helping drivers guide their cars through the turn. It was an interesting ride home.

Here we are at an intersection. It doesn't look too bad, but believe me, it was constant nuttiness.

I saw this little three wheeled car that I thought was kind of funny. It's a taxi that is made out of a modified motorcycle called a Bajaj.

Anyway, we made it home and Natalia's house is very cool. It's in the middle of a very busy area, but it's surrounded by walls that sort of isolate the house. It's a beautiful two story house that has a very unique layout which is unlike any house I have ever seen. It has a garden with a Koi pond, stepping stones, and very exotic looking plants in the back, and has many different fruit bearing trees, which Grace described to me. Berthus' business is also part of the property, which he fabricates metal for buildings, and then transports it on-site for construction.

I plan to have pictures of the house by tomorrow. We're also taking a trip to get my wedding ring resized, and some other shopping, so I will hopefully get some pictures of that as well.

Everything is good here, and I am very interested in checking out Jakarta further! I'll keep you posted!

Terima Kasih!