Thursday, March 31, 2011

Indonesia FUN!

Spring break time! Christian and I spent weeks looking around and trying to decide what to do with our spring break this year. Upon a chance, we stumbled on a dive center in Indonesia and thought it was a good time to try our chances with scuba diving.

We flew out on Thursday March 17th from Narita. It was terribly difficult just getting to the airport but after the night bus and airport shuttle bus, (and 9 or so hours later) we made it!

After our fun night out in Singapore, we were back to the airport to fly to the island of Sulawesi. We flew in to Manado and headed to our guest house, The 4 Fish. It was fantastic! We had a lovely little room with a HUGE deck! Down the stairs was a nice pool. The place included breakfast and dinner. The dinner was cooked by their cook who is a local and a fantastic chef! They were so yummy!

Here are some pictures of the guesthouse…

The large patio looking towards the tables/kitchen-

View from our room outward...those chairs were comfy!

The view from the porch (with us)...palm trees galore!

Our room...

The food was spicy and delicious! At the guesthouse, our dinners always had soup, main dish and dessert. This was one of our most interesting desserts...avocado smoothie...

I also learned that sprinkles on toast means breakfast in Holland! It was delicious!

We enjoyed wandering around our local village. We would walk to buy a bit of chocolate or soap. The village was always full of children playing or people working or cattle, pigs and chickens wondering.

me and the street..

Rebuilding the local church...

One of the shops. It was about the size of a one car garage.

Locals bringing fruit to market...

The "road" to the main shop-

The local dive center is called “Thalassa.” We went there on our first day to get the overview of our week and pick out our dive stuff. We worked with our awesome instructor Man over the week to complete the “open water diver course” and “advanced open water diver course.” The open water course was about 4 days long. It consisted of 5 confined water dives in a swimming pool and 4 open water dives in the sea. The advanced course is meant to give you more experience with different dive. We were required to do two specific dives and then allowed to pick three other dives from a long list. The two required were the deep diver (going down to 30 meters) and navigator.

We spent many nights back at the guesthouse studying. Here we are at the table reading…as we were almost nightly!


and more studying...

One of our advanced dives was a photography course so here are some awesome underwater photos…

all the dive sites around the island (we went to about 6 go back!)

On the boat after a dive! COLD!

WOOHOO! Underwater!

FISH! (should learn some names!)

Cute little fish

Crazy looking things grow under the sea...

We loved these cute little fish that lived on large pieces of coral. They would pop up and down lots and were so cute!

One of favorite moments of the whole trip was seeing the sea turtle! I had to chase this out to sea to get a picture but I got him!!

Sea slug. ick.


Lots of fish and lots of coral! It was BEAUTIFUL!

We had lots of fun being neutrally buoyant! (lots of spinning and somersaults!)

On our day off we went into the city of Manado but it turns out it was a total hole. We did get pizza for lunch which was pretty awesome though. We took a taxi for the 30 or so minute dive and it cost about $8! While in the city we bough more chocolate. We also found this terrible and funny “Hello Kitty” wanna be crackers.

After all our dives were done we had a Friday afternoon free, since we had to allow 24 hours before flying home. We spent the afternoon at the fancy spa in the city. It was amazing to get a salt scrub and massage and facial! It was very relaxing!

It was a lovely vacation!! We can’t wait to go back! (We have wreck diving and enriched air on our list as our next courses!)


On our way to Indonesia we had a 15 hour layover in Singapore. Normally that might be a hassle but we were super excited to have a night out in Singapore and lucky to have a friend waiting to show us around!

We arrived in Singapore at about 6:00pm on Thursday, March 17th. Our friend Daphne was waiting for us at the train station and had set up some plans for dinner and was ready to show us around the city.

Singapore, we quickly realized was a pretty cool city with amazing architecture! Here are some pictures of the city…


Daphne had set up a “set meal” at a local market so we could try a bunch of the local foods. The first part of the mail included meat on a stick in some sort of delicious chili sauce, mutton soup, chili crab (something famous from Singapore), chicken and sugar cane drink. We also got dessert which was some interesting soup thing (still not sure of what was in it) and a sweet red bean, jelly thing. Since the set meal was for two but there were four of us, we also ordered stingray.

Here are the four of us (Daphne, her co-work Tok, Christian and Colleen).

The stingray was pretty good…

Mmm…sting ray

After dinner, we strolled around the lake and checked everything out. There is a building we could see that had really interesting architecture. Christian quickly decided it was one of his favorites and took a million pictures.

Here is the building...

And with us…

Cool building for the art science museum…

After exploring for a bit, we had a drink and listened to some live music. That night, Tok let Christian and I stay at his family’s home so we were well rested and ready for the next leg of our trip!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


As you all know, there was a large earthquake just off the east coast of Japan on March 11th. Living on the west coast we felt the quake and were shaking for days after.

At the time of the local quake I was in school and we felt a slow rocking motion. We shook for a long time…long enough that I grabbed my book because I got bored sitting under my desk!

After the quake and then tsunami there was some panic around the country. The earth didn’t really stop shaking for days and we seemed to feel half a dozen earthquakes daily. People reacted in true hording, panicked style. Here are some quick pictures I took at the grocery store.

Instant ramen…GONE! There are usually thousands of packs of ramen but they were nearly ALL sold out.

NO BREAD! I wanted to buy just a small pack of bread for us to have toast for the rest of the week but there was none!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

and another snow festival!

As if we didn't get enough snow last weekend...we felt the need for more! This past Saturday, February 19th we headed south to Tokamachi for their snow festival. The Tokamachi Snow Festival is also celebrating its 62nd birthday but has not grown as large as the Sapporo Snow Festival.

The Tokamachi Snow Festival is spread out throughout the city...which means a long driving course is necessary to see all the sculptures. There is a main event area with some sculptures, the snow stage, a childrens play area and lots of food shops. Here are some pictures from the festival.

We found this sculpture on the drive up...

The first sculpture we say walking to the main stage was this one. It is an "Alice in Wonderland" sculpture. It is really cute. Some of the details were really great too...the cat was adorable and the cards were great. (They might have looked better before the warm days but they still looked good!)

and the cat...

and the cards...

On our walk toward the stage we met many friends. There was an party after the concert we were excited to attend. But before that, we made sure to check out the main snow stage. We caught a terrible Japanese pop group...but the stage was amazing!

After the party we decided to check out a bunch of sculptures before heading home.

The whales...(our car headlights aren't the best spotlights)

The whales and me...

race car!

Something with space...

Some sort of house. I am thinking it was too look like a book.

These two were a pair. The pictures didn't turn out great because we were over taken by some drunk guys who really wanted to help by taking our pictures. They were loud and crazy and totally made my night!

The first one was a samurai

The second one was a house of sorts

Then off to home we drove...icy roads and all! We made it home at about 3am! Slept like a baby!