Wednesday, August 27, 2014


From Bogor I headed out to Bandung via Puncak. I have fond memories of bus rides up and over the tea covered hills and wanted to see it all again. I had planned to ride a public bus, but was fortunate enough to have Erwin Dumalang offer the use of his car. Driving was his nephew (Lisa's son) and accompanying me was his sister Nanet. They knew the road well and arranged for two stops so I could take some tea plantation photos. First stop was the Gunung Mas (gold mountain) tea plantation where I took a delightful short hike through the tea covered hills.

These tea leaves are now picked by machine and not hand.

Joel remembers tea fields like this from an Amazing Race episode in Bandung.

This is a company town. All of the homes are for workers on the tea plantation.

The tea factory is no longer in use. All of the harvested tea leaves are shipped to another processing plant.

I learned that green, black and white tea all come from the same tea leaves.

The original Dutch owned tea factory.

We then climbed higher up the hills of Puncak (which means mountain or summit in Indonesian).

If you look close you can see some women harvesting tea leaves.

I got to Bandung in time to go out an explore, but my body was revolting at something I had eaten the day before and so I hung out at in my hotel in Jalan Braga writing my Bogor Blog and sticking to safe foods.

Next morning I headed out to the first day of the International Indonesia Forum Conference. Along the toll road we passed this brand new futuristic, helmet shaped, soccer stadium for the Bandung Persip football club.

The conference was held in eastern Bandung at the Khatulistiwa (Arabic and Indonesian for Equator) Hotel which was adjacent to Sunan Gunung Djati Islamic State University--the host of the conference. This group photo of the conference participants appeared in a local newspaper.

Most of the conference participants were from various universities in Indonesia, but there was also good representation from Indonesianists from foreign universities too. Nina Nurmila, the woman in this photo, is an education professor at Sunan Gunung Djati University. She gave a very interesting paper describing how the number of women in administration at her university decreases with each rising step in administrative levels. I was impressed that a female professor would feel confident enough and that society was open enough for her to challenge the male dominated hierarchy at her Islamic School.

My paper was on the second day of the conference. Our session was on religious pluralism in Indonesia. The first paper by Mrs. Erni Budiwanti was about how Muslims and Hindus on the island of Lombok jointly participate in a water/agriculture ceremony. Uwes Fatoni's (right) paper was about discrimination by Ahmadiyyah members of ex-Ahmadiyya members who converted to Sunni Islam. My paper was entitled: A Small Sect: Changing Perceptions of Mormons and the Mormon Church in Indonesia. The fourth presenter did not show up (this happened more than a few times) so there was plenty of time for some very good questions and discussions.

I then had some late afternoon time for a little exploring. I walked down to Jalan Asia-Afrika, named for the non-aligned conference of Asian and African countries which was hosted by Indonesia's President Sukarno. The conference was held in Gedung Merdeka (Independence hall) which is now a nice museum.

The meeting hall.

Replica of Sukarno at the conference.

College students from Sumatra and Java who wanted to have a photo taken with me.

Further down the street I visited the old Post Office from where I mailed many a letter home back in the day when all stamps were attached to the letter by applying glue to the back of the glueless stamps by using your finger dipped in a wooden container holding glue.

The central mosque with one of its two big minarets that are fairly recent additions.

Street vendor selling rujak: fruit salad (jicama, papaya, pineapple, guava, raw yams etc.) covered with very spicy peanut sauce. I had some the night before for dinner and really enjoyed it.

Street-side chess.

Becak (pedicab).

I then walked up to city hall with its magnificent umbrella-shaped saman trees. The leaves are only on the uppermost branches.

While taking photos under the trees I got a few mosquito bites. The were red and puffy for a few hours but by morning they were gone and were never itchy. I am still watching to see if any signs of dengue fever emerge.

I took these photos in honor of Ralph Brown, BYU colleague and Indonesian missionary who passed away of pancreatic cancer right before I left for Indonesia. One of his research projects was looking at the transition in SE Asia from pedal bikes to motor bikes. This parking lot at a mall was packed with scooters. Forty years ago it would have been all bicycles. I then made my way to some clothing outlets were I found some much hoped for soccer jersey's for Joel and Will.

View of the main mosque minarets and central Bandung from my hotel

Thursday morning I caught a public bus for a six hour ride to the west coast of Java. We followed a toll road the whole way which made for smooth quick travel. In the old days the only bus route was slow going up and over the winding hills of Puncak. What hasn't changed is the vendors who still ply their fired tofu, peanuts, fruit and drinks up and down the aisles at stops. Also the solicitors who serenade passengers and then walk up and down the aisles asking for donations. I donated to this guy. He sang and played quite well and he made me think of Sarah who has enjoyed learning to play her Christmas ukelele this year.

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