Armstrong Adventures travel blog

School girls in Kuta, Bali

Blowing bubbles in Bali

The Muslim girls Snow stopped to photograph are in the back, the...

Attempting to take a school picture. It was tough to keep the...

Posing for the camera

Muggin' for Snow

Vying for that coveted spot in front of the camera

Chattin' with the girls

Hey, where'd you get the Oreo?

More smiles!

The girls get some camera time

Where's Snow?

A little shy...

Too cute!

Can't get enough of the camera!

Doing the Bucket Dance

Sunset on the beach on Lombongan Island

FHOL--Future Heartbreakers of Lombongan!

It says it all

They're beautiful! They're smiley, and they love the camera!

Our third day on the island of Lombok, just east of Bali we took a guided bike ride on the south end of the island. Since it was just Snowden,our wonderful guide, Bahri and me we could stop wherever and whenever the photo muse grabbed us. It was apparent we were in a part of Lombok not usually visited by tourists. As we rode by an elementary school Snow spotted a group of about 8 Muslim girls sitting in the shade. No sooner had he stopped and pulled out his camera than the group of rowdy boys kicking around a soccer ball on the playground nearby realized that Snow was where all the action was. Children shrieking with delight and comically mugging for the camera quickly mobbed him. Their energy, enthusiasm, and excitement were contagious. Soon their headmaster made an appearance and asked Snow if he would take a picture of the teachers. As Snow move towards the schoolyard the swarm of children followed him en masse. Keeping the kids far enough away from the camera that Snow could actually take their picture was a bit of a challenge as each one wanted to be in front, constantly moving the front line closer and closer to the camera. Bahri's translation skills were invaluable in getting the children to sort of line up.

One of the first questions we are asked (after inquiries about whether or not someone can provide us transportation somewhere—anywhere) is where we are from. In Egypt we felt it would be better to say we are Canadians rather than Americans (although I personally think that anyone who is anti-American enough to really care puts Americans, Canadians, Brits, and Aussies all in the same category). Indonesia's Muslim population of 200 million is the largest of any country in the world. Several people have expressed their concern over whether or not it is wise to travel in Indonesia right now. When asked where we are from we proudly answer that we are American. The response has, time and time again, been a warm welcoming and genuine pleasure to have us visiting their country. Our numbers are pretty small in this part of the world so many are very surprised to learn we are American and often when they are trying to guess our nationality they guess everything but American. One guy honestly guessed we were from Portugal or Spain after we said we weren't German or Dutch. You know, with Snow's blond hair and blue eyes he is often accused of being southern European.

While the children don't care where we are from—we are foreigners with a camera (with the bonus of being able to see the picture after it is taken—also good for a laugh or two)—they take their cues on how to receive outsiders from the adults around them. Friendly waves accompanied by toothy grins and choruses of "hallo" from men, women, and children creates a very welcoming atmosphere to everyone who chooses to visit.

Three bombings in Indonesia in 3 years (the most recent in Jakarta 3 days after we arrived in Bali) has taken a tremendous toll on tourism, and thus the people, of Indonesia. It is so sad to see such a violent, intolerant picture being painted of Indonesia on the global stage. As anyone who has ever been here can attest, Indonesians, in general, are nothing if not warm, welcoming, friendly, and genuinely interested in the people who come to their country. Snow and I have become big fans and look forward to future visits to Bali and Lombok, and to explore the other diverse islands in this beautiful archipelago. And to see how all these beautiful children grow up.

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