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Hi Everyone!

This is my first ever in-field yak, and I am a little unsure of how to start, but I guess just jumping in is probably the best thing to do. So, here goes!

In trying to decide on one final topic for my ISP, I found it hard to nail anything specific down. There is so much about life on Bali and here in Sulawesi that is intriuging, exciting, different, and new. With all of the different threads catching my interest, I decided to keep my ISP somewhat open and not limit myself with any one specific topic. I have chosen to begin by studying the life cycle of the people who we are living with, and already I have found very diverse traditions and ideals that make up the roots of the life cycles here. For example, the rich funeral ceremonies of the Tana Torajan people or the respect and reverence of the Hindu religion on Bali. I think that this topic gives me freedom to explore many aspects of life here, while at the same time tying it back to this central theme of important aspects of the life cycle.

Okay, I am not sure if that made any sense, but it is still a work in progress and certianly will make a whole lot of sense by the end of this trip.

Marjorie

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Indonesia Semester, Spring 2011

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My ISP (by Marjorie)

Marjorie Isaacs,Indonesia Semester, Spring 2011

Description

Hi Everyone! This is my first ever in-field yak, and I am a little unsure of how to start, but I guess just jumping in is probably the best thing to do. So, here goes! In trying to decide on one final topic for my ISP, I found it hard to nail anything specific down. […]

Posted On

03/3/11

Author

Marjorie Isaacs

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Hello All!

We arrived by plane in Makassar midmorning Wednesday, and were greeted by our Torajan guide, Otto. He took us to a Buginese bakery, which featured familiar items like donuts and Chinese buns, and unfamiliar items, like grit-cake and candied jackfruit lumps. Stomachs full, we headed north. Along the side of the road were bamboo-and-canvas stands selling what appeared to be pyramids of yellow cannonballs. These turned out to be pomelos, the biggest and sweetest of the citrus fruits, and we stopped to eat a few of them, and took a few with us.Later we stopped for lunch at a seaside restaurant that overlooked a shimmering turquoise bay dotted with white rock islands. Then the cars began to climb into the mountains, and we went uphill for the next several hours. The air grew cooler, the trees grew denser, and dramatic rocky buttresses soared into the sky on both sides of the road. The sun set, and we continued our progress, ever higher. Finally we reached Rantepao, the center of Tana Toraja, where we ate a quick dinner and found our way to our hotel. We had started in Bali at 4:30am, and now it was almost 9 at night.Dreamtime was nigh.

The next morning, Otto described some of the Torajan spiritual beliefs and funeral practices, and informed us we were invited to a local funeral. To honor our hosts, we procured a live pig from a farmer and arrived at the ceremony carrying the trussed pig on a pair of bamboo poles.The village was small, consisting of a few of the distinctive boat-shaped Torajan houses and rice-barns. Their sides were rococo with ornate geometric and stylistic artwork, showing suns and chickens and buffalo. Temporary shelters of bamboo, thin boards, and canvas had been erected for the funeral. The eldest and most honored guests sat under the rice-barns. In the square formed by the houses and rice-barns, two buffalo lay with their throats slit, bleeding into the mud. We set down our pig, and then were directed to two sections of the temporary shelter – boys in one, girls in the other. This arrangement placed us only a few feet from the huge buffalo carcasses.

As we watched, men with cigarettes dangling from their mouths brandished long curved knives called parangs, and starting from the feet, began to skin the beasts.Then a delegation of men from the family came and sat with us boys. They were all wearing black, and some of them were very old, gaunt and toothless, but they shook all of our hands, and offered us cigarettes, which we refused. We talked with them a little, as language allowed, and learned the funeral was for an old woman who had been dead about three months. Then the men left and the women came in, bearing trays of cups, steel kettles, and plates of sweets. From the kettles they poured coffee blacker than midnight on a moonless night, then they sat and chatted with us. Meanwhile, the buffalo-skinners had removed the hooves of the beasts and distributed them to young boys. The boys attached the severed hooves to strings, evidently as a kind of homemade toy, and were seen dragging them about the premises for the rest of the afternoon.

The women left us, and we sat for a while as clouds of cigarette smoke roiled around us, staring at the buffalo dismemberment. The stomachs were huge swollen sacs of almost unbelievable size, that emitted a stunningly foul odor when breached. One man had a long axe made from a single piece of metal, and he began swinging it with all his force, cracking through the heavier ribs and vertebrae. Some men appeared and invited us to watch the slaughter of our pig. This was performed at a different location, behind the main houses in a grassy spot near the public toilet. The pig was extremely unhappy as the men wrestled it out of its truss. They got it into a favorable position, and then a man took one of the pieces of bamboo we’d been using to carry the pig and sliced it with three quick chops of his knife, forming a tube that was pointed at the open end. This he handed to a younger man, who pressed it against the pig’s neck. Then the knife-man knelt on the pig and stabbed it behind the ear. There was a cry of shock and pain, and then the pig was silent, its bright blood running into the bamboo tube. It struggled and twitched for a couple of minutes, and finally fell still. We were all feeling shocked and dazed, and at that point we were informed that the kitchen would host us. We allowed ourselves to be led down the hill to a wide, open-walled cooking and sitting area that thrummed with energy and conversation. There were a few men, but it was mostly women, some of them stoking fires, some of them brewing coffee and tea, and many sitting and socializing. They welcomed us with smiles and hospitality, and were very happy to talk to us. Then, a brief but very intense rainstorm started, and many people crowded into the kitchen. There was a kind of rainy-day-at-the-fair mood, as grinning people jostled each other to keep dry. Soon the rain stopped, and Otto told us that lunch was on the way.

None of us had the slightest bit of appetite, but it seemed to be a matter of some importance that we eat a little bit of pork (not the pork from “our” pig, but an earlier offering.) So we accepted the offer, and they brought a steaming bamboo tube in which fatty pork had been cooked with exotic spices. It was delicious, and we managed to eat quite a bit of it. After we had eaten, thunder began to roll ominously up and down the valley. Someone in the village started an amplified stereo playing a crackly recording of a mournful woodwind, and the treetops tossed in the breeze. It was under this heavy atmosphere that we walked back up to the village, to the main house, to pay our respects to the dead.The woman was in a rather small coffin, covered in bright red cloth with shiny geometric patterns. As we later learned, the Torajan funeral is a celebration of the life that has passed. This woman had touched the lives of many people during her journey across the Earth, and they responded by bringing buffalo and pigs to her last party. These were killed and shared out equally among all the guests, regardless of station or wealth, so that her heritage and memory would be capped by a hearty meal and a lively celebration. This was a relatively small funeral, only four buffalo total, but her passing was also celebrated and honored by people who came all the way across the ocean to see her on her way. Had she touched our lives, somehow, in the course of her voyage? Perhaps she had, and certainly her passage will be with each of us for the rest of our own time here.

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Indonesia Semester, Spring 2011

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Arrival in Sulawesi

Arlo Pelegrin,Indonesia Semester, Spring 2011

Description

Hello All! We arrived by plane in Makassar midmorning Wednesday, and were greeted by our Torajan guide, Otto. He took us to a Buginese bakery, which featured familiar items like donuts and Chinese buns, and unfamiliar items, like grit-cake and candied jackfruit lumps. Stomachs full, we headed north. Along the side of the road were […]

Posted On

02/26/11

Author

Arlo Pelegrin

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The last few days in Tanggayuda were a whirlwind, completely filled with activity and fun. On Monday we visited Pak Sudarta’s school in Tabanan. We met with the students and were all overwhelmed by their kindness and excitement in hosting us. They greeted us with flowers, Balinese cakes and huge smiles. We spent the morning watching Balinese traditional dance (and showing them some traditional American dance, which they found both terrifying and hysterical…) and going back and forth answering questions about our different schooling systems. It was a terrific morning filled with lots of laughs. Then we went to Pak Sudarda’s village where his lovely family had made us a magnificent spread of food for lunch. However delicious, we had to save room for pisang goreng (fried bananas, one of our group’s favorite local foods), where we learned that the secret to the batter is a pinch of chalk. Then back to our bemo to drive to Guru Nyoman’s house for our last language lesson. It was so amazing to review all the information we had learned – I was so impressed at how much Bahasa Indonesia we knew. In just two weeks we have come really far.

The next morning we all woke up at 2:00 am and headed to Mt. Batur. It was a really fun hike, and despite the sickness a few of us had while climbing up, we all reached the top happy, and awestruck at the amazing view. We reached up top just in time to see the sunrise, where the pink sun just peaked through the clouds, illuminating the mountains and lakes in a soft light. It was so nice to get away from the hustle and noise of busy Bali, and get a taste of what lies ahead for us.

We got back to Tanggayuda with plenty of time to pack and sleep before our afternoon upacara (celebration.) We planned a small gathering to honor all of our host families, for all they have done for us. They smiled and clapped, impressed, as we stumbled through our written out speeches, and were so excited to hear us sing some of their childhood songs in Bahasa Indonesia, and to watch Kiara perform traditional Balinese dance. I know I speak for everyone when I say that the kindness extended to us in Tanggayuda was so humbling. Although it was sometimes difficult getting over the language barriers (and our new alarm clocks, cluck, cluck,) I cannot begin to express the gratitude to the kind people of Tanggayuda for opening their arms to us. This morning while boarding the bus for the airport, many felt teary as we said our goodbyes, a clear sign that that experience was so positive and unforgettable. However, our departure is bittersweet, as we are headed to Tana Toraja, excited to begin the next leg of our trip!

Sending lots of love from everyone here,

Anna

PS. Mom, Dad, Tob and Lu – I miss you guys, and love you lots!

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Indonesia Semester, Spring 2011

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Sulawesi Bound

Anna Porter,Indonesia Semester, Spring 2011

Description

The last few days in Tanggayuda were a whirlwind, completely filled with activity and fun. On Monday we visited Pak Sudarta’s school in Tabanan. We met with the students and were all overwhelmed by their kindness and excitement in hosting us. They greeted us with flowers, Balinese cakes and huge smiles. We spent the morning […]

Posted On

02/24/11

Author

Anna Porter

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    [post_content] => Here are a few photos taken during our visit to Denpasar to see the work of Balifokus, an NGO committed to sustainability through grassroots projects on Bali. A lot of the work they do is related to waste management, water resource management, and empowerment programs. On Feb 19th, we had the opportunity to visit several projects and learn about several interrelated issues in Bali.
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Indonesia Semester, Spring 2011

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Trip To Balifokus

Diego Merino,Indonesia Semester, Spring 2011

Description

Here are a few photos taken during our visit to Denpasar to see the work of Balifokus, an NGO committed to sustainability through grassroots projects on Bali. A lot of the work they do is related to waste management, water resource management, and empowerment programs. On Feb 19th, we had the opportunity to visit several […]

Posted On

02/21/11

Author

Diego Merino

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    [post_date] => 2011-02-20 00:00:00
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Our time in Bali accelerates toward its conclusion! We have seen the moon wax full, we have learned about the elements of the Balinese rituals and sensed something of their magic, we have dipped our feet in the rushing river, and soon we will climb the volcano to watch the sunrise. We have shaped wood and wax, yoked our limber energies on the yoga mats, amused children, heard the complex polyrhythmic gong orchestras andseen the great goggle-eyed shaggy demons in effigy as they shamble down the streets.

Busy, busy, busy!

And yet, little snippets of time arise in which we can sit quietly and enjoy the majesty and grandeur of the rice paddy. The ones around our village, Tanggayuda, are marvels of healthy, human-generated ecology. They do not thrive with frogs and eels as they once did - those species suffer early from applications of fertilizer and pesticides - but the insect predators thrive here in wondrous profusion. We can use these as a marker of ecological health - the more predators, the healthier the system; the more diverse the predator population, the more diverse is the prey they feed on. Here are a few pictures of dragonflies, surely one of the more charismatic insects we are likely to encounter here, and only a mild sampling of the wonders to come!

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Indonesia Semester, Spring 2011

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Bali Dragons

Arlo Pelegrin,Indonesia Semester, Spring 2011

Description

Our time in Bali accelerates toward its conclusion! We have seen the moon wax full, we have learned about the elements of the Balinese rituals and sensed something of their magic, we have dipped our feet in the rushing river, and soon we will climb the volcano to watch the sunrise. We have shaped wood […]

Posted On

02/20/11

Author

Arlo Pelegrin

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    [post_date] => 2011-02-19 00:00:00
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HELLO!


I am updating you on our travels from Tanggayuda, Bali.
Last night we witnessed Balinese culture/religion in action. We wentto the full moon temple ceremony in Pejeng. This ceremony takes placein the 9th month of the Balinese calendar, on the night of the fullmoon – makes sense right? We watched as hundreds of Balinese men andwomen dressed in traditional clothing (which luckily I wore,complements of my homestay family) gave offerings to the Gods andprayed. People traveled from far and wide to attend this nationaltemple ceremony and to walk through the pop-up market where you couldbuy things from balloons to suckling pig. This wasthe group’s first taste of traditional Balinese street food besidespisang goring, fried bananas….which we all have had lots of!!


This morning we started our day with Guru Nyoman learning BahasaIndonesia. The group has come very far in learning the language andcommunicating with not only our homestay families but those we haveencountered. This afternoon Kiara, Alex, Monique, Anna and I, alongwith Yogi Katie, took a revitalizing yoga class with an amazingAustralian teacher. We all left class in a Zen-like state and met upwith the group for the bemo (bus) ride home. On the way home, we hadsome extra time and were able to purchase the essentials for ourSulwesi adventure, which we are all very excited for.


Tomorrow we are heading to Denpasar (sp?) to meet with Bali Fokus, anon-profit organization that deals with waste management issuesthroughout Bali. In our short time on this island, we have all
witnessed firsthand that trash not only goes in the yard but whereveryou feel like putting it. To say the least we have all had troublefinding garbage cans! After our meeting, we have a special dinnersurprise and the group is anxious to find out what is in store.

Hope all is well at home. Everyone is thinking about you and sendingall their love!


Mom, Dad, Sister, Brother, Hannah, Eric – I miss and love you!!

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Indonesia Semester, Spring 2011

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Selamat Pagi from Julia!

Julia Cole,Indonesia Semester, Spring 2011

Description

HELLO! I am updating you on our travels from Tanggayuda, Bali.Last night we witnessed Balinese culture/religion in action. We wentto the full moon temple ceremony in Pejeng. This ceremony takes placein the 9th month of the Balinese calendar, on the night of the fullmoon – makes sense right? We watched as hundreds of Balinese men […]

Posted On

02/19/11

Author

Julia Cole

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    [post_author] => 39
    [post_date] => 2011-02-18 00:00:00
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Bakkkkk bakkk bakkkkk, roosters’ clucks wake me up. I open the religiously embellished teak door to my quarters, sunlight pours in glaringly, “Pagi!” Jero shouts from the kitchen porch sitting on a wooden stool. She jumps up without missing a beat before I can reply “salamat pagi” she has traversed the cement floor, her sandals slide from under her feet, barefoot she makes her way up the stairs, while juggling black rice with coconut shreddings, bananas, a mango and kopi bali (ground strong coffee and hot water in a cup, French press sans press). I sit and throw around a few matur suksma and terimakasih (thank you in Balinese and Indonesian respectively). She returns to her stool and questions me how my day will go and I answer in broken and grammatically incorrect Indonesian and lots of carefully annunciated English…

A day in the life of a dragon:

8:29 I run to our Bhasa Indonesia class, guru Nyoman is seated I plop down to complete the circle of pupils. We take out our P.R. (pronounced pee-air), a word dreaded by millions of Indonesian students, but for me it is a way to connect with my homestay parents (they told me the answers the night before). We go over the translated sentences and move on to new nouns and adjectives. 2 hours of class means it’s time for makan siang, conical rice paper filled with rice and tempeh is handed out, I use my right hand to form bolus chunks, which I promptly put in my mouth. I fill up my nalgene with water and head to the bemo (I think it refers specifically to a type of late 1980s minibus), Ubud-bound. We arrive in Ubud, in groups of 2-4 we go to different “internships”: yoga, an orphanage, batik-making, Balinese dancing, and mask making.

I find myself sitting with Marjorie, Melissa, Arlo, and Diego, carving away at a hunk of wood in hopes of making a face with a tennis ball sized nose, taking inspiration from the master carpenter’s finished mask. I get some help from the carpenters, they expedite the process using an apache-like axe, then I do the touch ups with a chisel and wooden mallet. After four hours of hunched over wood-whacking we head out to a nearby temple for a full-moon ceremony. Walking by we see free flowing traffic progress into a sea of backed up motorists, out-pacing the deadlock we reach the temple as the procession is underway. We put on our sarongs and meet up with the rest of the group. I take a seat on the sidewalk next to other Balinese and watch the parade of men in white holding ritualistic umbrellas and offerings to the gods in celebration of the large red-glowing moon overhead. After swarms of people enter the temple to pray, the group reconvenes and an English high school teacher explains the situation, giving us a general understanding of the ceremony, he informs us that it was built in 300 BCE. We walk to the market situated across the temple strolling through stalls selling food, clothing, balloons, knock-off sunglasses, and faux-lexs as well as other watches. A last walk around the outer gate of the temple finished our day and we headed back to Tanggayuda. I walk from the center of town to my homestay and headed straight to bed, falling to sleep to an orchestra of crickets, barking geckos, and mice scurrying over my roof.

Also two of the many things I have learned in just the last few days:

While mangosteens are one of my favorite fruits they haven’t just left a mark on my tastebuds, but have also left a permanent impression on my white shirts. I’ve also modified my understanding of dirty, that is, feet cannot be considered dirty unless post-shower the soles of your feet are still black.

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Indonesia Semester, Spring 2011

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Home sweet Home-stay

Isaac Steinberg,Indonesia Semester, Spring 2011

Description

Bakkkkk bakkk bakkkkk, roosters’ clucks wake me up. I open the religiously embellished teak door to my quarters, sunlight pours in glaringly, “Pagi!” Jero shouts from the kitchen porch sitting on a wooden stool. She jumps up without missing a beat before I can reply “salamat pagi” she has traversed the cement floor, her sandals […]

Posted On

02/18/11

Author

Isaac Steinberg

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Indonesia Semester, Spring 2011

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A few more photos

Katie Hagel,Indonesia Semester, Spring 2011

Description

here are a few more images from our first week in Bali….

Posted On

02/18/11

Author

Katie Hagel

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Hello again from Bali!
Everyone is doing GREAT and we've all be getting SO MUCH out of our time here. Last night, we attended a major temple ceremony in honor of the last full moon of the Balinese calendar. It was quite a spectacle! Thousands of local Balinese turned out in traditional dress, parading through the streets in front of the temple. There were Balinese dancers dancing to welcome the gods to their seats in the temple, gamelan orchestras, processions, drums, gongs and--of course--a plethora of elaborate offerings. It was our first visit to a big odalan and were all stunned by the colorful display of religious fervor. Fortunately, we brought along a local teacher, Pak Sudharta, to help explain the significance of what we were seeing.

I am happy to report that the despite the cacophony erupting in the streets around us, the students were all totally engaged during Pak Sudharta's lecture. It's obvious that this group is definitely interested in learning as much as they can about Balinese culture, rather than simply moving past it in removed observation. Whether it's making offering baskets with their home-stay mother, learning traditional arts such as batik and mask-making or donning ceremonial dress in order to visit a temple, these students are really making an effort to participate in Balinese life and experience the culture on a deeper level. Although it can be challenging at times, they are trying their best to follow the local cultural norms and are constantly checking in with us to make sure that they don't do anything that might be considered offensive. They are also making GREAT strides with the language and spend most evenings chatting away with their home-stay families in Bahasa Indonesia.

We think that this all bodes really well for what lies ahead. As our itinerary progresses, we'll be moving into increasingly remote communities, where English is rarely spoken and the local people have had very little interaction with foreigners. Our groups' willingness to engage with the local culture and speak to the locals in their own language will be of paramount importance. Diego, Arlo and I have high expectations of this group. We feel so blessed to be traveling through Indonesia with each and every one of them!

Be Well,
Katie
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Indonesia Semester, Spring 2011

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Update from Katie

Katie Hagel,Indonesia Semester, Spring 2011

Description

Hello again from Bali! Everyone is doing GREAT and we’ve all be getting SO MUCH out of our time here. Last night, we attended a major temple ceremony in honor of the last full moon of the Balinese calendar. It was quite a spectacle! Thousands of local Balinese turned out in traditional dress, parading through […]

Posted On

02/18/11

Author

Katie Hagel

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Hello All!

There are many parts of Indonesia that are renowed for their batik work - especially Java and Bali. Our students got a taste of batiking at the workshop of Pak Tjok Agung. They tried their had at the traditional djanting tools, as well as using both traditional and modern block prints.

Pak Tjok also runs a local permaculture farm where he grows organic indigo, a much more environmentally friendly choice than synthetic chemical dyes!

Batik is a traditional process that uses a wax-resist technique. A pattern is created using hot wax which prevents the dye from spreading to the entire cloth, ultimately creating beautiful batik designs. The cloth used for Batik can either be cotton or silk as it can quickly absorb the wax used in the dye resisting procedure. Though Batik designs and patterns may be intricate, the design tools are quite simple. A wax “pen” called a “djanting” tool, is a Javanese invention - a thin walled small copper container with a spout having a short handle made of bamboo. It is filled with melted wax and which flows out onto the fabric. The heat and susequnt consistency of the wax changes the speed at which it flows, and the process takes lots of practice to learn! After the application of the wax, the fabric needs to be dyed, and in most cases, the fabric goes through subsequent dye baths. After each new color is applied and dried, parts of the design are waxed over to preserve that color. Finally the wax needs to be boiled out to reveal the finished product.

In a few days, our students will pick up their masterpieces and we will be sure to post photos!

The following day, the group drove up to Mt. Batur and batur Lake to learn a bit more about water management issues in Bali with Gove DePuy. Gove is an Environmental Planner who has worked in diverse contexts from urban Massachusetts to rural Indonesia with clients such as the City of Cambridge, and USAID. As a professional who specializes in green building planning and certification, treatment wetland design, community driven design, and working with indigenous communities, he had a lot of great information to share with our students. At Batur, the group learned about water catchment and the complex water irrigation system in Bali, the “subak”. From Batur, they headed to Tirta Empul, a water temple just outside of Ubud, where they learned about water sources such as the natural spring that emerges at this busy temple.

I am sure that the group will post more stories soon, but for now, here are a few images I would love to share!

Until next time!

Jamie

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Indonesia Semester, Spring 2011

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Batik and Batur…

Jamie Woodall ,Indonesia Semester, Spring 2011

Description

Hello All! There are many parts of Indonesia that are renowed for their batik work – especially Java and Bali. Our students got a taste of batiking at the workshop of Pak Tjok Agung. They tried their had at the traditional djanting tools, as well as using both traditional and modern block prints. Pak Tjok […]

Posted On

02/18/11

Author

Jamie Woodall

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