Journey Around the TemplesMy internship in Indonesia is over, but I still remember the adventurous journeys to Semarang, Surakarta / Solo, Yogyakarta / Jogja, Klaten, Surabaya and Jakarta. I have already written about some of the places visited, activities done and animals met there. There is one thing about Indonesia I have not described yet. As people in this country are very religious, they have many amazing and curious temples constructed in different locations. Not it is time to correct this omission.

Exploring Religion in IndonesiaIndonesia is a multi-religious country. Officially it recognizes 6 religions: Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Catholicism, and Protestantism. However, the dominant majority (about 87%) of population is Muslim. So, if you come to Indonesia and choose to stay at a host family, university dormitory or boarding house, be prepared to be waken up at 5 AM in the morning with a prayer coming out of a loudspeaker at the nearby mosque or even right next to your door.

Praying Time at a Student Boarding HouseHowever, historically the first belief systems in the country were Hinduism and Buddhism brought here around II – IV-th centuries. This is why you can see many temples of these two religions around its islands, and it is them we had explored during our journeys.

The Chinese Temple in SemarangThe first one was the Chinese temple Sam Poo Kong situated in the city of my internship – Semarang. Well, actually, there are 5 temples constructed in a mixed Chinese and Javanese architectural style that form the Sam Poo Kong complex. Beyond the largest temple there is also a cave with an altar, fortune-telling instruments and the healing well.

Sam Poo Kong - EntranceSam Poo Kong - StatuesSam Poo Kong - Main TempleSam Poo Kong was originally found by the Chinese Muslim explorer Admiral Zheng He, who visited this place around 1400. You can admire his statue in the temple courtyard.

Statue of Admiral Zheng HeNext stop was a couple of Hindu temples hear Surakarta / Solo: Candi Sukuh and Candi Cetho on the volcano Mount Lawu. The curious thing about them was that these temples where related to the topics of life before birth and sexual intercourse. So, you can notice many statues and ornaments depicting male and female reproductive organs.

Candi Sukuh - 1Candi Sukuh - 2Candi Sukuh - 3Candi Cetho - 1Candi Cetho - 2And if you wish, you can bring some goods (flowers, food, etc.) to the long and thin… or short and thick phallus and pray for the astonishing fertility and an army of kids.

Phallus - 1Phallus - 2Near these erotic… I mean exotic temples we paid a visit to Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of knowledge, music, arts and science. In Hinduism she helped the god Brahma to create the Universe. Saraswati symbolizes knowledge and learning and is also perceived as the guardian of Earth. Her four arms represent four aspects of human personality in learning: mind, intellect, alertness and ego.

Saraswati - 1Saraswati - 2Finally, on the way from Surabaya to Batu we found a slender Buddhist temple of Candi Jawi. This is a relatively small, but still beautiful shrine built around XIII-th century. And behind it you can admire the view of the volcano called Mount Penanggungan.

Candi Jawi - 1Candi Jawi - 2Mount PenanggunganThat was our journey around the temples of the Java island in Indonesia. As you have probably noticed, we did not manage to visit more well-known religious places, such as Borobudur – the World’s largest Buddhist temple and Prambanan – the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia. But I will definitely pay them a visit during my second trip to this country.

The same thing I advise you to do, my friend. Even if you are an atheist, do come to Indonesia and explore its religious life, especially the ancient one. It is quite interesting and beautiful indeed.




In October 2012 during the last weekend of my internship in Indonesia I visited the second largest (after Jakarta) city in this country – Surabaya. I went there together with a friend from Romania, who was also an intern in Indonesia. Due to some transport challenges (transport system in Indonesia is terrible!) I almost missed the bus, but in the end all turned out well, and we departed to our destination.

Surabaya is situated to the east from Semarang, the place of my internship, in the eastern part of the Java island. This is one of the largest cities in Southeast Asia hosting around 2.7 million residents.

The city’s name Surabaya comes from two words – “suro”, which means shark, and “boyo” translated as crocodile. According to a local myth, this is the place, where these two creatures fought for the title “the strongest and most powerful animal”. In the end they both died. One can see the statue of the giant shark and giant crocodile fighting each other near the city zoo. There are also other interpretations of this symbol, such as the battle between two heroes – Sura and Baya – over the status of the king of the city. Some people align the fight of the shark and the crocodile with the Battle of Surabaya between the Indonesian soldiers and the British and Dutch troops in November 1945.

In Surabaya we visited a lot of interesting places. The first one in the plan was the cigarette museum called the House of Sampoerna. However, as it usually happens in Indonesia, the plan went not as expected. We explained to the local people that we want to get to this museum, and they told us how to get there. “Oh, museum!” – they exclaimed and showed us the way. But soon it turned out that we went to a totally opposite direction and arrived at Bonbin Surabaya, the city zoo. “Yes, mister! Museum!” – the last person we had asked about the cigarette museum nodded happily and showed at the entrance to the zoo.

I do not know about the three Polish Ladies accompanying me, but personally I was happy about such turn of events (although generally I do not approve the idea of zoos). In the zoo we saw camels, monkeys, hippopotamuses, elephants, deer, wallabies, and many species of birds.

I also noticed a rabbit wandering freely around the zoo in search for food.

And on one of the trees we observed this cute couple of gibbons (Hylobatidae):

But the most interesting meeting for me was with the Komodo dragons / monitors (Varanus komodoensis). These incredible lizards from the Komodo island reaching the length of 3 meters and weighting up to 70 kg are one of the largest reptiles in the world. They eat invertebrates, birds, mammals, as well as carrion. Occasionally the Komodo dragons attack even Indonesian people, but these are mostly provoked attacks. The Komodo monitor is considered a vulnerable species and is included in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Despite the misunderstanding between us and Indonesians, we still managed to visit the House of Sampoerna. This is a relatively small museum and one of the cigarette production factories of the largest Indonesian tobacco company PT HM Sampoerna Tbk. There we were introduced to the history of the company and were shown the inside of the factory, where many Indonesian women make cigarettes for smokers.

Besides the Surabaya zoo and the cigarette museum, we also saw the Submarine Monument (Monumen Kapal Selam), represented by a retired Russian submarine standing in the city centre, the Heroes Monument dedicated to those died during the Battle of Surabaya, and the Dolly district, which is the largest red-light district in Southeast Asia with about 2000 prostitutes working there.

Overall, we spend 3 days in Surabaya – we came on Thursday morning and left on Saturday evening. Three wonderful days in the City of Shark and Crocodile.



Earlier on this blog I wrote about some of the adventures during my internship in the city Semarang in Indonesia. But I mentioned only slightly what I had been doing in this country. So, here I want to shed some more light on my tasks and activities in the country of many islands, vast forests and rich biodiversity.

My internship took place in the environmental organization BINTARI, which is involved in the climate change mitigation and adaptation activities in the upstream watershed of the Garang river. It helps the local rural communities reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by introducing and supporting agroforestry, compost and biogas production and education on the climate change issue.

My task during the internship had been to estimate the past, present and future GHG emissions from animal husbandry sector in the Indrokilo village, which is situated on the slope of the Ungaran mountain near the city Semarang in Central Java, and suggest the optimal strategies and initiatives for the village community to reduce these emissions. My results, strategies and recommendations were meant to be used by the community, BINTARI and the Indonesian government to design and implement more efficient climate change mitigation actions in Indrokilo and other villages, which were part of the recently initiated national program “1000 Kampung Iklim” (“1000 Climate Villages”).

As this was the first research on GHG emissions in Indrokilo and there was no necessary data about it available, I had to travel to the village and interview some of its residents. So, together with Mas Nuro we did two visits to the Ungaran region and Indrokilo, talked with some community leaders and observed the GHG emissions reduction initiatives in action. These were short, but quite interesting expeditions.

Firstly, we went deep into the forest on the Ungaran mountain to see how farmers there plant trees as part of the agroforestry program. This yields double benefits: the farmers can harvest coffee and fruits from these trees, and the trees capture carbon from the atmosphere.

As a result, the amount of trees increases and the forest carbon sink grows larger, allowing more carbon to be removed from the atmosphere:

After that we went to interview some leaders of the village community. All people we talked with were quite friendly and open, though they did not have the detailed information needed for precise estimation of GHG emissions (which had been expected, of course). Nevertheless, we spent a very nice time with them drinking locally produced tea and sharing with each other stories about life in Indonesia and Moldova. I have reasons to believe that I was the first one from Moldova they had seen in their whole life.

And at one family I even tried preparing special food for the local wedding ceremony. Mas Nuro explained me that men do such activity for several hours during the day. I was quite sweaty already after several minutes:

Some villagers took us to the local biogas and compost production facilities and showed and explained us how they make biogas for cooking and compost to apply as organic fertilizer on the fields from animal manure. As I am a member of the founding team of DreamUPS – an opensource platform for sustainable do-it-yourself solutions – I used this opportunity to make a video about compost production for our free virtual library of sustainable ideas and write an article about Indrokilo on our blog. You can check the compost production solution HERE and the “climate village” story HERE.

Finally, Mas Nuro and his friend from Indrokilo took me to the local waterfall deep in the forest. The road here was rather long, steep and tiring in the hot climate of Indonesia (the daily temperature stays around +30 oC during the whole year):

However, the trip was worth it – the waterfall was small, but still impressive.

Of course, I did not want to miss the opportunity and took a quick shower under the chilly and fresh waters falling from the edge of the rock above. In the hot and dry atmosphere this was extremely refreshing and revitalizing… especially when I found out that for some local people having shower in this waterfall is part of some sacred ceremony (although in this case they do it totally naked).

So, these were the adventures during my visits to the Indrokilo village. Upon returning to the BINTARI office, I used the information obtained from the villagers to calculate methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions from livestock at the study site, suggested strategies and further actions to be implemented there and elaborated the final research report, which was then submitted to BINTARI.

All in all, I consider the official side of my internship in Indonesia to be a success.

And for this I am very grateful to Mas Nuro and the BINTARI Foundation for giving me the opportunity to explore some of the Indonesian villages and climate change mitigation and adaptation initiatives there.



In the first post about my internship in Semarang, Indonesia, “INTO THE INCREDIBLE INDONESIA” I mentioned that Indonesia is the second richest in biodiversity (after Brazil) country in the World. And you do not need to go deep into the country to verify this statement. Just get into one of the forests that cover more about 60% of Indonesia’s territory, and you will find yourself among many different species of deciduous trees, palm trees, ferns and other plants. Insects and birds will fill in the air between the trunks of different shapes and sizes. And if you dig the soil, you may discover so many fat larvae of the palm beetle that you can quickly fill in a small bucket with them.

Actually, you do not need to go and search for biodiversity in Indonesia; it will find you and come to you. Different butterflies, wasps, beetles and birds will meet you on the way to your residence in the country. And there you will never be alone – ants of various sizes and agile geckos, which easily climb the walls hunting for mosquitoes and other insects, will accompany you during the stay.

Sometimes a large black cockroach will run across your room disturbed by you turning on the light. Or a grey fat frog the size and shape almost of a tennis ball will jump to your chair while you sit in a café, look at you thoughtfully and then slowly and melancholically jump away into the darkness of the evening, which is filled with chirping, snorting and smacking of various representatives of the Indonesian fauna.

And in the morning most probably you will be greeted by a relatively large and gracious lizard with an extremely long tail. It will sit calmly absorbing the morning sunrays and looking at you without any fear. Only if you touch it impertinently, the lizard will run away for a meter or two and then stop and look back at you with indignation against such rudeness.

All this I had experienced during just the first two weeks of my stay in Indonesia. And I have a whole month ahead to spend here. So, I expect many more interesting creatures to meet in this truly “Land of Thriving Life”.

And as a passionate biologist and ecologist I am very happy about that.



In the previous post “INTO THE INCREDIBLE INDONESIA” I wrote about preparations for an internship in Semarang in Central Java, Indonesia. And now I am finally enjoying it!

The adventures though began even before the trip there. In the evening right before the departure I managed to hit hardly the joint of my right hand. So, during the whole following trip I had to try being left-handed.

Then there was the 15-hours sitting in airplanes with transfer in Moscow in the Russian Federation and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. Although tiring, the flights were quite comfortable with much delicious food served. However, the adventures met me also in the middle of one of the flights: somewhere above the Indian Ocean on the way from Abu Dhabi to Jakarta one of the passengers felt very badly. As far as I understood from talking to a stewardess, there was a question of life and death. In these circumstances, the pilot decided to turn the plane back and land at Abu Dhabi. I believe it was a wise decision.

At the Abu Dhabi International Airport we were transferred to another flight, which took off and consequently landed about 7 hours after the scheduled time. Of course, due to this delay I missed the preliminary booked flight from Jakarta and Semarang. Therefore I had to spend a night at the Jakarta International Airport watching movies on my laptop together with mosquitoes and cockroaches, which were quite a few there.

The next day I managed to buy another ticket and finally arrived to Semarang. But one more surprise awaited me there: the host family, where I had supposed to be staying, had gone somewhere and could not host me anymore. Still, I did get a place to live – at the room of a friend of one of the local AIESEC members. This young Lady turned out to be very nice, kind, caring and responsible. We have already explored some streets and corners of Semarang on her scooter (which is a common means of transport here), went to a night party and tasted Indonesian food (that almost burned my throat and stomach as it is very spicy).

I also met the members of the local committee of AIESEC in Semarang. They seem to be very energetic, receptive and friendly young people. And at the welcome party with them I got to know that although I am the first intern from Moldova, I am not the only one here – there are people from Germany, Japan, Romania, Russia and other countries doing eXchange in Semarang through AIESEC nowadays. Hopefully we will organize something together in the nearest future.

Last but not least, I got to know my internship place – the local environmental organization BINTARI. Nowadays I have the office, the person to work with and report to and soon will receive my first tasks.

So, here I am – in the city of Semarang on the island of Java in the country Indonesia. I have already experienced many pleasant and not so pleasant moments. But the real adventures are still ahead.



Invitation, visa, medical insurance, flight ticket, luggage… Yes, I am preparing for another eXchange!

In 2010 in the blog post “HERE WE GO AGAIN!” I wrote about my decision to take a second internship through AIESEC. And after 2 years I finally did it. This time it is going to be 1,5 months of the incredible Indonesia.

The Republic of Indonesia is situated on an archipelago of more than 17500 islands of different size. It is on the 4th place in the world by population with approximately 230 mln people residing there. Jakarta, the capital city, has about 10 mln residents. I will be living most of the time in the nearby city Semarang having 1,3 mln citizens.

Now the interesting part. Firstly, as the country is situated on the islands within the so-called “Pacific Ring of Fire”, frequent earthquakes and sometimes volcano eruptions are experienced there. Secondly, on the majority of islands outside Bali and Java malaria is prevalent. It is a relief that there was no case of a trainee being infected so far (maybe I will be the first one?). And finally, there are terrorists blowing things up now and then. But luckily, recent years were quite calm and peaceful.

It is quite an interesting and adventurous place I am going to, isn’t it? However, these are not the things that make my blood bubbling. It is the fact that Indonesia has the second highest (after Brazil) level of biodiversity in the World. This is a true paradise for such a nature-loving environmental scientist as I am.

Moreover, during the internship I will be working with the local environmental organization BINTARI on projects related to waste management and environmental education. This experience should bring valuable input for the 2 waste management projects I contribute to these days.

So, let the exotic adventures begin!



With the development and growth of the “eXchange” programme of AIESEC Moldova more and more young people from the Republic of Moldova manage to obtain colourful internship experience in other countries. Thus, more and more blogs with interesting stories of their X Worlds appear in the World Wide Web. This trend allows us to find out about the daily reality in other countries, located even far away from our home.

For instance, recently two more adventure-seekers from Moldova have gone on internships to two different corners of the World: Africa and Asia. Elena Scutaru has decided to visit the “Africa in miniature”, as the Republic of Cameroon is usually called, and nowadays she shares her experience on the blog Cameroon in plain Moldavian (in Romanian). Sergiu Matei has chosen the busy streets of the great China – you can read about his adventures on the blog Din Moldova in China (in Romanian).

It is evident that the increasing number of interns would display their X Worlds, giving other people the opportunity to get to know more countries and visit them in the future. Quite good basis of mutually beneficial international relations, isn’t it?

As for me, I will not be able to benefit from the “eXchange” programme… at least for some time. However, visiting other states is still on the “To Do” list, so new stories are waiting their turn to appear here.

Stay tuned for more life-changing experience from all over our grand and beautiful World!