Sunday, August 27, 2006

A Day on Gili Meno

Gili Meno, Lombok, Indonesia
South 08° 21' 18.9", East 115° 03' 41.3"

A father and son prepares to cast off in their fishing boat.

Crystal clear waters

Some old boat in a bad need of repairs.

How every meal starts off with, not breakfast, really.

A boat carrying scuba divers passes local fishermen.

A fishermen brings back his catch.

The only form of transport on the island is donkey and cart. So nice not to have scream of moto-scooters.

The day comes to an end.

Grilling up today's catch. That's my slab of fish there.

When the sun goes down, the Milky Way comes out, complete with a shooting star. I took this photo with a 2 minute long exposure mounted on a tripod while sitting on the beach.

And since I am in the Southern Hemisphere and there is no North Star, you can see the Southern Cross, above the horizon, sitting on its side.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

From Banda Aceh, Sumatra to Kuta Beach, Bali to Gili Meno, Lombok

Gili Meno, Lombok, Indonesia

Leaving Banda Aceh for the final time. Sad.

I arrived in Bali that evening. It's takes a full day to get here from Banda Aceh by plane, which is the northern most point in Indonesia, to Bali, four hours to the southeast. Added to the time, I had two layovers on the way, Medan and Jakarta.

I spent the night in Bali's famous Kuta Beach, which is right next the airport and is where the whole Bali tourism started. Kuta Beach is also the scene of the horrific "Bali Bombings" of 2002 where two bombs (one in a backpack inside a nightclub and the other in a car just outside) causing a blast and fire ball that ripped through two packed night clubs and into the crowed street at a peak hour on a Saturday night killing over 200 people, most of them being Australians and Indonesians. It's a sad story, they think many more Indonesians were killed but were unaccounted for since a lot of the severely injured, not knowing what to do made their way back to their home villages around Bali and Java and ended up dieing there from a lack of medical treatment. The Australians and other foreigners were flown to hospitals in nearby Darwin, Australia by the Royal Australian Air Force.

Today, Kuta Beach has moved on, but hasn't forgotten. The strip along the beach is nothing but hotels, resorts, malls, surfer bars, sushi bars, karaoke bars all alive with Australian Surfers (which almost make up half of the foreigners here) and Japanese, French, Dutch and British tourists (and me).

The following morning, real early, I got on a backpacker shuttle bus to east Bali to catch a ferry for the long five hour crossing to Lombok. Here I am packing on the ferry with the other people in my group.

Crossing the Lombok Strait

On the ferry I met this Balinese, Heri, and his friend, Ridwan, from Lombok. I ended up talking to them for about four of the five hours. They were pretty cool, and he even knows how to play Linkin Park on the guitar.

This father, now and then, would entertain his kids, as they grow restless on the ship.

Lombok comes into view. As you can see, Lombok is more aired than Bali. What a difference a strait can make.

So there is this line, called the Wallace Line (after the 19th-century naturalist Sir Alfred Wallace) that is drawn right between Bali and Lombok. On the north-west side (Bali and beyond to mainland Asia) of this biological division, the flora and fauna is Asian. And on the south-east side (Lombok and beyond to Australia), it's Australian (eucalypt trees, acacias, etc.) Something about during the ice age, when the sea level was lower, animals (elephants, tigers etc. and I guess plants?) were able to walk from the Asian mainland all the way to Bali, but due to the deep Lombok Strait, it was still separated by water and couldn't cross over to Lombok and on to Australia. These differences they say are as great as the differences in flora and fauna between Africa and South America.

Heading over a pass to northern Lombok

After the long ferry crossing, I rode another shuttle bus for two hours up the Lombok coast (with the same group of people I left with in Kuta Beach). While on the shuttle bus, I met and ended up talking to an English girl, that looks like a young Kate Beckinsale. But what shocked me was when she told me she just finished her PhD in physics. Holy shit! A young Kate Beckinsale with a PhD in physics?! England, what a place! Though she said she doesn't know what she is going to do with the degree, so that's why she's traveling.

For the final leg of my journey today, I rode a small boat to Gili Meno. Of course it was overloaded, and at times I thought it was going to capsize.

Not bad for Rp150,000 (US$16) a night.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Goodbyes: Last day in Banda Aceh

The staff

Ijoi wanted to say goodbye at the dinner but couldn't because of the bike accident, so I went to visit him in the hospital earlier today.

So it's been a month already, didn't feel like it.

Training Days III & IV

Banda Aceh, Sumatra, Indonesia

Yesterday, we made the masonry wall. Elizabeth, being the expert on laying brick, demonstrated the correct way to do this. Again, everybody helped in constructing it, laying one course of bricks. And we even showed how to put the bed joint reinforcement in.

Elizabeth listens to a question as she sets up the leveling string.

Elizabeth marks the heights of each brick course.

Irma lays a course.

Wen lays a course.

Puting in the bed joint reinforcement. We are the only NGO that does this.

Elizabeth shows her stuff

Done, remember it's a mock wall, that's why it's so short.

Today we were suppose to cast the column, but when we all arrived at the site, the builders who were helping us already casted the corner column. So I had to go over what they would have had to do.

Irma wants to test out the wall, even though she must only be 90lbs

Job well done. We didn't cast the outer two columns due to time. And besides it's no differnt than the corner column.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Training Days I & II

Banda Aceh, Sumatra, Indonesia

The day before the long holiday weekend (Indonesian Independence Day), I started all the construction supervisors on a seminar I thought up of, a hands-on training exercise to build a mock confined masonry wall. Since all the supervisors are new and young, all under the age 27, the youngest being 21. Build Change hired young, because they are uncorrupted, so they also haven't been able to see how a building is built from start to finish. I believe if they get their hands dirty and help build this wall, complete with foundation beam and columns that represents the major structural element of a house. It'll give them a better understanding on how the houses are put together and in what order, and most importantly, to know the difficulties and to look out for them.

Last Wednesday, which was the first day of training, went well. Everybody was in to it.

With Tety's help, we buy the rebar from the local shop.

Trying to show how it's done, the pressure's on.

Voila, a beam stir-up.

Irma gives it a try.

Pretty good.

Ijol gives it a try.


Putting the rebar cage together.

Today we finished what we started before the long five day weekend, the reinforcing steel in the columns. And then this afternoon we poured the concrete in the foundation beam. The supervisors pretty much did most all of the work themselves. We went over all the steps and what to look out for, and most importantly, explained why we do what we do. Though there were some issues on how to mix the concrete properly.

Nana admires the foundation beam / column connection.

Everybody, even Herman the driver, gets involved.

Nana ties a stir-up to the column bars.

Sayuthi ties one too.

Making sure the lap splice is right.

Into the formwork

Using our concrete spacers, we make sure there is enough clearing on all sides of the rebar cage.

Mixing the concrete Aceh style.

Pour it in, but make sure there is no air trapped inside.

Keep it coming...