Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Business Trip to Bali, Indonesia

In my previous post, I covered some highlights of the 2012 PASEA Study Group symposium in Manila.  Even as the 2012 symposium concluded in June, the Study Group executive committee was soliciting proposals for the 2014 symposium.  So far, there have been proposals submitted for holding the 2014 event in Luang Prabang, Laos, and in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia.  A third option for the 2014 symposium location is Bali, Indonesia.  Here are their locations:

Last week, three of us --- Pat, Dr. Moh'd Anis Moh'd Nor (--- "Anis," an old friend of ours teaching at the University of Malaya), and Yours Truly --- set out for a quick trip to scout the venues for a possible Bali symposium location.  Pat and Anis also hope to identify the key members of the local events organizing committee.  As usual, Yours Truly is just tagging along for the ride --- I've never been to Bali!  (Click on the photos on this page to view an enlarged version.)

We land at the Bali Int'l Airport after a three-hour flight from Kuala Lumpur.  Anis breezes through immigation; his Malaysian passport lets him enter Indonesia without a visa.  No such luck for Pat and me.  A long line of Aussie tourists snakes before us, and a planeload of Chinese tourists is right behind us.

We finally make it through the line.  Anis, bless his heart, has already retrieved our bags, and is waiting for us.  We make our way out of the airport, walking past a familiar American fine dining establishment.  We are headed for the parking lot to a waiting vehicle that we've hired for the next few days.

Our car is one of the smaller Toyota vans, driven by our Balinese driver Wayan.  Pak (Mr.) Wayan turns out to know the area inside out.  Our van can seat five passengers relatively comfortably, and up to seven tightly.  (More if you push it.) Pak Wayan will be our driver for the next two and a half days.

We plunge into the extremely crowded Bali traffic going from the airport to the various tourist beaches (where most Aussies are headed) and to downtown Denpasar, the provincial capital of Bali.  Our hotel is in the middle of Denpasar.

Along the way, we pass many Hindu temples.  Where there would be neighborhood mosques in most of the rest of Indonesia, Bali has temples.  Most Balinese practice a unique brand of Hinduism that is quite distinct from the version found in India.

One neat thing about Denpasar (and much of the rest of Bali) is that government buildings, commercial establishments, and larger private homes try to hew to the traditional Balinese-style architecture.  Even this familiar foreign establishment is trying its best to fit in ...

There appears to be festivals and rituals going on at many temples in town.  These Balinese ladies in traditional dress are entering a temple archway.

Bye and bye, we arrive at Hotel Puri Ayu, a 44-room hotel on Jalan Jendral Sudirman in Denpasar.  This hotel has a simple but great Indonesian breakfast buffet...

Pat and Anis check us into the hotel that will be our base for our Bali stay.  After a short rest, we pay a visit to Anis' friend Rucina Ballinger for dinner that night.  Rucina is an American who's a renowned Balinese dancer, and author of a book on Balinese performing arts.

The next morning, we start on the business portion of this trip.  The map below indicates the locations we show in the photos that follow.  Click on the map markers.

Our first stop is the office of the rector (president) of the Universitas Udayana, the main university in Bali.  The rector's office is in the Buikit Jimbaran campus, while the venue of interest to us is in Udayana's Sudirman campus downtown. 

Today, we are accompanied by Prof. I Nyoman Darma Putra, who teaches Indonesian Literature at Udayana University.  He will introduce us to the University rector, and will, if Bali is chosen, be on the local organizing committee.  Pat and Prof. Dharma confer outside the university admin bldg.

We are ushered into the Rector's office.  On behalf of the ICTM PASEA Study Group, Anis requests the university's participation in the 2014 symposium, if Bali is selected.  The Rector notes that arts promotion is one of the university's missions, and pledges full support.  He tells Prof. Dharma: "Make it so!"

Thus empowered, we travel back to Denpasar to the Sudirman campus of the unversity.  This campus is only about half a kilometer from our hotel, an easy walk should we go back there in 2014.  We check out the building where the auditorium sits.

The auditorium was being used, letting us see the seating and audio-visual arrangements.  In ICTM Study Group symposia, all participants sit together and listen to all the talks --- there are no parallel sessions.  The room must be large, well equipped, and comfortable.  This facility passed with flying colors.

Then on to STIKOM, a private college specializing in IT.  STIKOM sponsors many of Bali's cultural events, working with Udayana U. in many of them.  Their graduates go on to universities in Malaysia and elsewhere for their degrees, both graduate and undergraduate.

We have a sumptuous Balinese seafood lunch with STIKOM's administrators.  Anis and Pat explain how two of the four symposium days can be held at Udayana and the other two at STIKOM.  They stress that the cost must be affordable for Indonesian graduate students from around the country to attend.

We then inspect STIKOM's large meeting room.  With the proper furniture, the room should do well for the symposium sessions.  The auditorium and STIKOM's entire campus are wired to the hilt for audio-visual and internet access.  Pat and Anis are satisfied that both venues will do well for a Bali conference in 2014.

And just like that, the main business portion of this trip is done!  It has been a very successful trip. If held in Bali, the 2014 Study Group symposium will be a blast!  And now it's time to relax for the evening in a touristy setting... this is Bali, after all!  We go out to dinner in the Jimbaran beach area.

The tourist dinner experience is not complete without an "authentic" Balinese dance.  Watching this, Pat and Anis conceive of a 2014 conference sub-topic: "Invention and Re-invention of performing arts" (or something).  This theme would include the pseudo "culture" created for the travel industry.

But enough work and academia for now!  We join Aussie tourists in swilling beer and wine and soft drinks, and enjoy a relaxing meal on the beach.  Tomorrow we tie up minor loose ends, and check out some possible hotels for the 2014 symposium.  On the day after, we visit the town of Ubud.  Stay tuned!

NEXT: A day in Ubud with Garrett Kam ...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Pat's ICTM Study Group Symposium ...

Every other year, Pat's academic society, the International Council for Traditional Music (ICTM), holds its general meeting somewhere in the world.  Last year, it was in St. John's, Newfoundland (Canada), and next year, it will be in Shanghai, China.

In the "off years" when ICTM doesn't have its big bash, individual "Study Groups" of the ICTM hold their regional symposiums at appropriate locales.  Pat belongs to the "Performing Arts of Southeast Asia" Study Group (PASEA), and currently serves as its chairperson.  This "off year," the PASEA Study Group is having its regional symposium in Manila, the Philippines.  Because ICTM and PASEA hold their meetings at interesting and exotic places, I try to tag along with Pat as her official briefcase carrier and bodyguard.

The view (right) from the elevator lobby of our floor shows the approximate location of the venue for Pat's conference.  The low black wall at the middle of the photo shows the beginning of the original Spanish walled city ("Intramuros").  The Filipinos endured 400 years of Spanish colonial rule (remember Magellan?), 45 years US colonial rule, and 4 years of brutal Japanese occupation (in World War 2).  Check out the Wikipedia writeup of the Intramuros here.

The symposium venue in Manila is the building belonging to the Philippines National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).  View a Google Map here.

 Pat, with members of the "executive committee" of the study group, worked with the local organizing committee in Manila and spent the better part of a year organizing this conference via e-mail and a site visit.

The venue is smack in the middle of the Intramuros noted above, and is two doors down from the lovely, 17th century San Augustin Church, the oldest church left standing in the country.  Read up on San Augustin Church here.

The local organizing committee, headed by Dr. Felicidad (Faye) Prudente of the Philippine Women's University, was wating to register us on the opening day.

Soon the registration line was humming with activity as more and more participants arrived to check in and sample the morning coffee...

It's a time to catch up with old friends and professional colleagues.  These scholars and grad students, all specialists in the performing arts of SE Asia, get together only once every year or two ...

In a while, the conference opening session begins.  Faye Prudente welcomes the participants, and introduces the deputy director of the NCCA, who will address the scholars and open the conference.    Faye and Pat have known each other since they were Ph.D. candidates together at Ann Arbor way back when ...

The Deputy Director takes over the podium and welcomes the assembled scholars.  She is especially happy that so many performing arts specialists are here, yadda, yadda, yadda, and good luck with the conference.

Then Pat takes the podium and lays down the ground rules: the presenters get 20 minutes AND NO MORE, with few minutes for Q&A.  She promises horrible consequences for those who deviate ...

Thus admonished, Dr. Elizabeth McLean Macy of Chapman Univ. and UCLA chairs the first session and introduces the speakers.  She will time and moderate the first set of speakers.

First up is Dr. Margaret Sarkissian of Smith College in Massachussetts.  She talks about the music of the Portugese community in Melaka (Malaysia).  Pat and I have known Margaret since she was doing her field research there in the early 1990's.

 All this while, the audio-visual crew is observing from their station, and trying to get the auditorium's audio system to work off the signals from the speakers' Macs and PCs.  Unfortunately, the system isn't communicating very well with the speakers' machines ...

Next up is grad student Celia Tuchman-Rosta of the U of Calif at Riverside, reporting on her Ph.D. research among classical dancers in Cambodia.  At conferences like this, students get valuable feedback from professors and colleagues about their research topic, approach, and results.

Finishing up this session is Dr. Clare Chan of the Sultan Idris Education University in Malaysia.  She talks about evolving musical styles among one of the aboriginal peoples in the mountainous areas of Malaysia.

And now it's lunchtime.  This cycle of three to four speakers, followed by a tea/coffee break or lunch, then on to more sessions, will continue for the six days of the conference.  Lunch is at Barbara's, a fancy restaurant a few buildings away.  The conferees will not starve this week ...

In the every-other-year conference of the ICTM, there are multiple sessions at each time period, and you pick and choose which to attend.  In the "off-year" Study Group symposia like this one, there is only one session per time period, and everybody attends.  (Except Yours Truly, who uses the NCCA's excellent broadband to work on his PC in the lobby.)

At the end of each grueling day of sitting through the talks, the participants are treated to some entertainment.  The first evening, (Thurs) we were bused to the Philippine Women's University, where we watched a performance of the Philippine National Folk Dance Company.

Photography was strictly prohibited, so of course I sneaked in a few photos.  I got caught and had to quit before I could set the camera properly for  decent flash-less photos.

On Friday evening, the Philippine Madrigal Singers were giving a concert next door at the San Augustin Church.  Apparently it's rare to catch them in Manila, as they are usually on international tour.  Their singing was beautiful!

On Saturday, the symposium participants had a whole-day break from the proceedings.  We went on a bus tour to the town of Tagaytay, about two hours' drive from Manila, for lunch and a relaxing afternoon on a ridge overlooking Taal Lake.

Before returning to Manila, we watched a troupe of fire walkers in the nearby town of Alfonso walk over a bed of glowing coals.  The girl in the photo is doing her thing over coals.  Then the long bus ride back to Manila, exhausted.

Sunday was the day Pat gave a talk on how puppet movements in the Malaysian shadow play relate to audience expectations and que musician actions. (Or something like that.) The videos and audio tracks embedded in the slides worked fine.  (Thanks, Nick Vasquez!)
Two friends also gave talks.  Dr. Moh'd Anis Nor from the U of Malaya talked about the Zapin dance, and Dr. Jacqueline Pugh-Kitingan of U of Malaysia Sabah talked about sport and musical tradition. The ensuing Q&A session became lively and amusing.  Anis and Jackie are both long-time friends of Pat.

The evening entertainment for the Sunday sessions was a performance of traditional songs and dances from a village in the Kalinga province in the Philippines.  I felt a bit sorry for these folks because the air conditioner was on full blast as they performed...

The "entertainment" for Monday was a bit different!  Australian dancer Alfira O'Sullivan gave a fun, hands-on workshop for the participants in children's dances from Aceh province in Indonesia.  Alfira's mother is from Aceh.  (Aceh, if you recall, was devastated by the 2004 Asian Tsunami.)

So today is Tuesday, the last day of the conference.  We've just had lunch, and the final session of talks is underway as I write this.  After that session, it will be the closing session where Pat and her committee members tie up various loose ends, summarize the findings of this meeting, and close the meeting.  She will also get the conferees to start thinking of the various themes for the talk sessions to be held at the next symposium in 2014.  The 2014 meeting may be in Bali (Indonesia), Kota Kinabalu (Malaysia), or even in Laos somewhere.  Stay tuned!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Meanwhile, half a mile below the earth ...

A few weeks ago, I jumped at a chance to descend to the bowels of the earth ... and gawk at the state-or-the-art in tunneling technology!  Take a look at the map below.  (You can click on the two icons and the red line.)

The map is a topographic view of part of Kuala Lumpur (KL), and parts of the neighboring states of Pahang and Negeri Sembilan. The building icon on the left is the location of our Sinaran TTDI building.

Malaysia is building a massive tunnel to bring water in from a river in Pahang state (an "inter-basin transfer," as we hydrologists say) to quench the ever-growing thirst of the greater Kuala Lumpur area.  If you see all the development in the KL area, you'll see why!

When complete, the tunnel will be 44.6 km (27.7 mi) long, the 11th longest in the world.  It'll also be among the world's deepest (8th deepest), with parts of the tunnel running under 1.2 km (0.75 miles) under the mountain peaks.

The approximate route of the tunnel is shown in red in the map above.  The white icon along the map shows the approximate location of the tunnel boring machine (TBM) you'll see shortly.

It turns out in 1996/97, I worked in Indonesia with the same engineers building this tunnel (Shimizu Corporation of Japan)!  Soon after Pat and I arrived in Malaysia, we had dinner with construction engineer Takayuki Matsumoto and geologist Frank Pittard of Shimizu (pictured here).  I hadn't seen this crew for 15 years!  (We're all a bit older now!)  At dinner, they invited me to visit their project, and I gladly accepted.

So, along with Mun-wei Leong, a Malaysian engineer who's working in San Francisco but who was in KL on vacation to attend his sister's wedding, I set out to the construction site!  (Pat wanted no part of tunnels that day...)  Click on the photos to see enlargements.

Mun's Dad was passing near the construction site that morning so he gave Mun and me a ride to the site office.  Matsumoto-san gave us work boots and hard hats, and we were off in his pickup truck.  Here we are entering an "adit," an access tunnel to the main shaft.  The floor and walls of the adit are concrete, and equipment and supplies of all kinds line the sides.

After a short ride, we come to the end of the adit and into the main shaft.  This shaft progresses several meters a day when the tunnel boring machine is at work.  The white train will take us down the shaft.  The tubes above provide air circulation into the shaft, and the long conveyor belt above the train brings up the excavated material (muck), out to the surface.  The site is clean!

The graphic to the left is one I shamelessly lifted from Shimizu's presentation materials for the project.  It shows one of the tunnel boring machines (TBMs) in this project (there are three altogether) from fabrication to deployment.  Today TBM-2 is down for maintenance, so we can get pretty close.

We pile into the small utility train that will bring us down 750 meters under the mountain.  Several European TBM specialists are also on the train to do the maintenance work on the machine.  Other tunnel rats are also going down with us.

As the train leaves the station and proceeds downward into the shaft, I take a last look back.  I look for the proverbial canary in a cage, but I see none.  The giant ventilation tubes overhead must be doing their job... <fingers crossed>

We are sitting at the back of the train.  Pretty soon the shaft is dark except for vertical fluorescent lamps set at regular intervals.  Every tenth lamp is red.  Also, while the train station area was fairly cool, the shaft starts heating up as we descend deeper into the earth.  The noise of the train rattling its way down is pretty deafening.

On the way down, we pass gangs of tunnel rats doing maintenance work.  Rails are laid on the bottom, and the floor and walls are lined with concrete.  Conveyor belts, equipment of all kinds, and supplies also line the shaft.  We're sweating buckets by now.
We finally reach the end of the TBM's train.  The cutting edge you saw in the TBM photos earlier is just the head of a long train of equipment.  Besides the power plant for the TBM, equipment of all kinds follow the TBM to remove excavated material, to allow crews to spray shotcrete and erect steel ribs if required to reinforce the shaft, and to pour concrete and construct the rails and other support facilities.  There's also a control room as well.  The area occupied by the TBM train is air conditioned, making it much more comfortable at the cutting edge than in the shaft that we just traveled through.

We disembark from our train and walk past all the equipment toward the cutting head, with Matsumoto-san in the lead and Mun-wei following.  Note the concrete-lined walls of the shaft with utility hooks at regular intervals to carry cables and whatnot.

Things are a lot wetter as we reach the cutting head, much of which was hidden from view by a canvas sheeting.  Thankfully it's still a lot cooler (if also a lot damper) here than in the shaft.

We go from one side of the TBM to the other and crawl down to see the underside of the (back of) the cutting head.  Eveything is covered with rock powder and water.  Matsumoto-san tells us that we're about 750 meters below the mountain range (about half a mile) at this point.

The European techs we saw earlier have gotten themselves into a tight space to adjust and repair whatever it is they are maintaining today.  They, and I, are all covered with rock powder and rock dust.

Matsumoto-san and I pose for the obligatory "at-the-cutting-edge" photo at TBM #2.  Note how smooth the rock behind us is.  The granite formation here is very solid, and the TBM leaves a very smooth and solid shaft that, here at least, does not require immediate reinforcement by shotcrete.

As we head back to the train, we pass a crew taking what appears to be a core sample of the newly excavated granite surface.  Maybe this crew works for Frank the geologist.  The entire area is free of excavated material (muck), the stuff having been efficiently carted away by the 4 km-long belt conveyor system !  The whole tunnel construction system has an efficient wastewater circulation system that carries the murky water you see to the surface for treatment at the water treatment plant!

We stop by at the site control room located at the back of the TBM train.  The operator here is an Indonesian fella who was with Shimizu in Indonesia --- when I was there way back then!  He sees the status of all TBM operations on his monitor panels.

Now it's time to go back to the surface.  We walk back to the utility train that will take us back to the adit where we started.  You are looking at the "locomotive" part of the train.  The train will be traveling backwards, if you will, to go up.

We board the train and start on the half-hour journey that takes us up 750 meters to the surface.  As soon as we leave the air-conditioning unit of the TBM train, the shaft starts getting very hot and humid (and noisy, thanks to the train).

This time, we have an unobstructed view of the train driver.  His locomotive is pushing our carriage on the way up.  It's the same hot, sweaty, and noisy half-hour ride to the surface.

Bye and bye, we pull into the train station at the surface level where the adit meets the descending shaft.  Matsumoto-san's pickup truck is waiting for us.  Before we break for lunch, Matsumoto-san wants to show us another part of the system that's being constructed in a more traditional manner.

 This is the entrance to the NATM-4 portal, the system outlet tunnel where the water from Pahang will eventually arrive.  From here the fresh water  will be distributed to the Kuala Lumpur area's several water supply reservoirs and treatment plants.  This is a mucking truck backing into the tunnel.
This is a traditional drilling-and-blasting operation.  Charges are placed in drilled holes in the face of the tunnel and exploded (see blast doors in previous photo).  Here the muck is waiting to be hauled out by mucking trucks (above).  Tunnel rats then shotcrete the sides and install steel ribs to support the newly-blasted area, and the cycle starts again.

So our tour is done, and we head back to the waiting pickup truck.  The water tunnel is being constructed in seven chunks simultaneously: three are by TBMs, and four are by the drilling-and-blasting method.  Precision surveys are undertaken regularly to ensure that these separate pieces will eventually join perfectly to deliver water to the Kuala Lumpur area.
It's been a long morning!  We wash up at the site office, and we go to lunch at a nearby Thai (!) fish farm.  The Thais operating the farm do a fantastic job of cooking Thai-style dishes.  Mr. Takashi Kawata (right), who's the Shimizu project manager, was also at the site in Indonesia back in '96/97.  I haven't seen him since, so we have a great time catching up.

Matsumoto-san and Kawata-san will be on this job through its projected completion date in early 2014.  Seeing state-of-the-art tunnel construction was awesome!  And it sure was fun to see old buddies again after so many years.  Thank you, fellas, for the great tour!