Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Bunaken | Indonesia

After feasting for a few days in Manado, we headed across the bay to an island called Bunaken, famous throughout Indonesia for it's rich coral reef and scuba diving. It's about 8 square km and there is but one semi-paved, palm tree-lined road running through the center of the island.

This is the hotel that we stayed at, Cicak Senang (happy gecko). It was definitely more rustic than I was anticipating but it got the job done. By rustic, I mean that we stayed in a wood cabin without air conditioning or hot water and consumed rice and fish for every meal.

Upon our arrival, we decided to explore the island. While looking for some locals to rent motorbikes from, we ran into this lovely bunch throwing quite the bash in their backyard. We weren't exactly sure what they were smoking, drinking or offering us but we did manage to snag their motorbikes for a couple of hours!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Molas Wreck | Bunaken | Indonesia

Diving a shipwreck definitely ranks as one of my top three life experiences so far! It was incredible to see the ship, which was still pretty much in tact, sitting so peacefully under the sea.  This is also my first real attempt at underwater photography, which I will definitely be pursuing as a hobby in the future :)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Manado | Indonesia

This year's fall break took us to the Indonesian island of Sulawesi to a city called Manado:

A town known for eating anything and everything, Mandado was a culinary adventure from the start! We were able to stay with a friend's family. They were kind enough to take us around to the best warungs in the city. We arrived late at night and before heading to their house, we were wisked to a warung

You might remember my previous encounter with dog in a warung last year. Despite that unpleasant experience, I was somehow convinced to give this version a go. Although tasting substantially better thanks to the insane hell-fire sambal of Manado, I was still unable to swallow in the end due to a rogue chip of bone hiding in my bite. Having tried two vastly different dog recipies, I feel that I am now qualified to say that it is undoubtedly unpleasant!

We began the next day with an excursion to a warung famous for bubur Manado. Bubur is an Indonesian poridge, commonly served with chicken in Java. Bubur from Manado is different in that it is vegetarian. It contains water spinach as well as pumpkin. With an extra dash of salt, I overcame my fear of abnormal textures and actually enjoyed the dish! I paired it with es champur. Inevitably different each time you order it, es champur is an icy cold beverage with some form of jellies, sweetened with condensed milk. We topped the meal off with some pisang goreng (fried bananas) which were served with fishy sambal instead of the typical sweet accompaniment.

After our late brunch, we took a break from eating to see what is apparently the second-largest statue of Jesus, after the one in Rio. He looks like this:

From there, we began to wind through the mountains where our driver Joel took us to an absolutely gorgeous outlook. I'm pretty sure we were photographed as much as the mountains.

We started our descent on the mountain, where we stopped for meal number two. At this particular warung on the mountainside, we ordered snails, pork and bat! I don't know about you but I have trouble ingesting things that still look the same as when they were alive. That is how our bat came out. All the spices in the world could not cover up the rubbery texture and taste of eating a bat wing!

From this restaurant, we were picked up by the family of one of my students to go back up the mountain towards our dinner destination. On the way, we stopped for  a quick "snack" of one of my personal favorites, jagung bakar (roasted corn).  Little did we know that we were also being treated to the largest shrimp known to man!

Because we narrowly missed sunset, they decided to take us back down the mountain for dinner to a restaurant on a pier over the ocean. This was a feast like no other I had ever seen before! There were too many dishes to even think about naming and our table was stuffed to the brim with an assortment of plates. Our culinary adventure was the start to a unique Indonesian holiday.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Pumpkin A Week #2 | Pumpkin Pasties

We had a party in celebration of Canadian Thanksgiving last weekend and I thought that would be the perfect time to try out pumpkin recipe #2: Pumpkin Pasties. Pasties (for those of you who aren't British) is short for pastries. Yes, this was a recipie from a Harry Potter website and yes, they were still delicious! Taking a lesson from the previous pumpkin recipe, I doubled the spices in this one which I believe contributed to its yummy success.

Monday, October 15, 2012

A Pumpkin A Week #1 | Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

In an attempt to bring a bit of my favorite season (autumn!) to the equator, I have endeavored to try out a new pumpkin recipe each week. A few things I have learned already:

1) How to puree a pumpkin. Canned pumpkin is called for in most pumpkin recipies but is non-existent over here. On the bright side, it's rather therapudic to chop a pumpkin into pieces! To puree a pumpkin: cut, clean and slice a pumpkin into chunks; bake 45 minutes on med-high heat or until tender; puree.

2) How to prepare spices. Some varieties of spices are readily available in jars. Nutmeg and cloves are not. Through this process, I have learned that nutmeg should be shaved on a cheese grater and cloves look like flowers (which should be ground with the aide of a mortar & pestle)

Needless to say, my kitchen smelled awesome before I even got started baking! My first recipe was for pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. I got the recipe from here. They looked like they were supposed to but were a bit bland for what I was expecting. I decided this was due to the watery quality that most pumpkins here possess. I do have to say that they became much more flavorful a couple days later though! I would give this recipe a 6/10. One recipe down, seven to go!

Monday, October 8, 2012

School | Athletics Day

Friday marked the annual SPH Athletics Day. It's pretty much the same as field day with a few minor alterations. Everyone at SPH is on a house team, just like in Harry Potter. Each team has a color, a mascot, and is named after a volcano in Indonesia. I'm on Merapi (green) then there's Kintamani (red), Bromo (blue) and Krakatau (yellow). We rack up house points through various activities, hoping to be on top at the end of the year! I told my kids to give me their best game face...this is what they came up with:

For the first event of the day, everyone competed in the 50 m dash until a winner for each grade was announced.

Kids were assigned to compete in various events based on prior trials in PE class. There were hurdles, high jump, long jump, and relays, in addition to non-competitive team events (like tug-of-war) for those not participating officially.

Athletics day came to a close with the staff relay. I ran the first leg for my team and Martha was kind enough to take pictures. I'm not gonna lie, I'm still sore three whole days later!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

School | Junior School Assembly

Once a month, a single grade is in charge of the Junior School assembly and guess who was up first this year? Grade 3! We chose to do our presentation on our Biblical studies unit The Bible: A Book Like No Other which we combined with our unit of study on Who We Are. 

Our theme song for the last unit was Remind Me Who I Am by Jason Gray. I hadn't heard it before coming to SPH but it's an upbeat song with an uplifting message. The first video below is the official music video for the song.

We decided to do close our assembly by creating our own interpretation of the video as it played alongside the stage. Like in the video, the students also had cards, depecting negative emotions that we commonly fall into the trap of. 

Towards the end of the song, the students flipped their cards over and placed them together on a large board to depict the same message as the song: we are all beloved.

Meanwhile, on the second screen in the gym, I had been able to photograph the students who were not otherwise participating in the assembly presenation, depicting themselves as beloved, across campus in different areas that students are involved in daily. My video is below. The pictures come in towards the end of the video but if you're running short on time, I've uploaded my favorites down below!


It was great getting the opportunity to work with such enthusiastic students to make a presentation that everyone from Kindy to Grade 6 was able to relate to. I was very impressed with their hard work!