This July, we traveled to Indonesia for Jonathan’s best friend’s destination wedding.  We went to Medan, which is the 3rd largest city in Indonesia, on North Sumatra.  It was such a fun trip because everyone flew in for this wedding, so their family had tours planned for us each day.  They rented a big party bus for all of us and drove around North Sumatra together.  It was such a fun way to get to know everyone.  Photos to come.

As we drove around, I was inspired by their simple way of life.  It made me grateful for the simple things I have in my life.  It also made me appreciate the luxury things in my life, but more importantly, made me realized that I don’t need them.  This was the first place I’ve traveled to where I was told to not drink their water.  Even when I brushed my teeth, I used bottle water because the water that came out of our hotel sink was yellow/tan, and we stayed in a relatively nice and new hotel too.  As we drove around and saw the kids playing around their huts, I wondered about the water that they drink.  I’m sure they weren’t drinking bottled water all the time like we were.

This Thanksgiving, I would like to donate to charity : water.  As a way of counting my blessings, I will donate $1 for every comment I receive today until Thanksgiving!

charity: water is a non profit organization bringing clean, safe drinking water to people in developing nations. We give 100% of the money raised to direct project costs, funding sustainable clean water solutions in areas of greatest need. Just $20 can give one person in a developing nation clean water for 20 years.  (Visit charity : water for more info.)

I encourage you to consider charity : water as your choice in charity too.  So lets get the comments rolling in!  Nothing to say?  How about share with me some of your favorite charities and why.

And now I leave you with some photos from my Indonesia trip.  Most of these were taken with our 50L, on a moving bus.  I was doing a drive by shooting!  get it?  haha


This is the city of Medan.


I think below is a bakery on a cart?  Their version of a food truck.



I think below is one of their public buses.




We were on our way to some mountain resort that I don’t remember the name to, but there was a fantastic view of Lake Toba from there.  This is a lake that resulted from a volcano.


We took a stop for food.




When I was done with my corn, I asked the shop owners for a trash can.  They pointed to over the balcony/down the mountain.  I thought they were joking, but when I looked over the balcony, I saw all this trash at the bottom of the mountain.   I felt guilty, but they didn’t have a trashcan anywhere.


Of course, I wanted to try Indonesian food!  Very popular there is fried chicken, which was very good.  Below on the right is Nasi Lemak (maybe?).  It’s nasi something.  :P  Nasi means rice.


And here’s all of us aboard the tour bus!



And on with the drive-by shooting.  This next scene caught my eye.  I’m not sure what it is, but that baby sitting in the homemade high chair, alone, but content.  He was just people watching.


This kid saw our bus drive by and eagerly grabbed his plate of satay, hoping to make a sale.  It’s an amazing feeling to me to get smiles from total strangers.  There’s something about the connection that’s made from a simple smile.  I realize this is the same feeling I get at weddings.  I love making connections with the guest as I make my way around the event.


People sit on TOP of the buses there!  I love this next photo of a group of boys we drove by.  It looks like they’re having so much fun cruising on top of the bus.  It reminds me of what my father’s childhood must have been like in Vietnam.


More photos of people cruising on top of a bus.  This following one makes me sad though.


This next one looks like grandpa + grand-kids.


On the way home, we stopped by a farmer’s market like place.  They have ginormous horse flies there!  We saw this horse fly on a window.  That’s my finger on the window for perspective.


The happy (now newly-wed) couple!



This next fruit is currently my FAVORITE fruit of all time:  mangosteen!


This next one is also a favorite fruit of mine:  passion fruit.  The seeds resemble pomegranate seeds, but soft like a kiwi.  the black part inside is like the black part of kiwi seeds.


What is this next fruit??


Left is an avocado.  Looks so different, doesn’t it?


Left is called salat.  The inside resembles garlic clovers, but sweet.  Right is some “new” hybrid produce that’s a cross between some kind of melon and I forget what.


There were also bunnies at this farmer’s market.  I hope it was for pets.






And I love this last photo.  So simple, happy, and innocent.

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  1. Hi Caroline, it is my country, and I am so glad to see your photos here. Even I came from Medan, I never know it before that they hard to find clean water. In Jakarta, where now I live, it is a common habit to not drink the water. Because certainly the water here could not to be drinking. Thank you for the charity, and I am so amazed with your simply way to share the moments.

  2. we’re so happy we had a photographer with such a big heart (and obvious talent) capture our wedding! this is such a thoughtful and fabulous idea! admittedly, it’s been a few weeks since i’ve stopped by your blog (i’ve been busy :b), but i’m glad i made it in time to comment for clean drinking water!

  3. i love your perspectives of life…you always have amazing composition and capture such beauty and emotion in your pictures!

  4. Two things I believe in: clean water and beautiful poetic imagery. You’re awesome! Wish I could help out more. Will another comment contribute another dollar?

    You should also check out While you’re building your vocabulary, you’re also ‘helping end hunger’ :)

  5. Love that you are donating to charity with comments! So sweet! As always love your work. :-) Thanks so much for sharing with us!!!

  6. these pictures are beautiful..especially of the one with the children’s faces…its so awesome being able to capture humanity through your talent!! this reminds me of my summer in the philippines…you are doing such an amazing thing!!

  7. what a great cause to go with amazing pictures~ thank you for sharing your adventure and your heart =)

  8. I loved the photos (and the chance to make a difference just by commenting!). Having lived in West Africa, it’s amazing to see the similarities between that area and Indonesia, despite the cultural differences. I think I may have just added another country to my “To Visit” list… :D Thanks for sharing!

  9. Caroline, Great job for the perfect caught of those different life style. Those pictures remind me about my childhood age! One of the picture brought me back the scene of your grandma with her first grand daughter in the front of her shop step after dinner. Nice thought for the charity! there are lots of country need clean water …

  10. hei Caroline.. thank you for caring for my country =) really touched by your action for a good cause. Hope you had fun here…

    P.s. there’s still so much things to see and do in Indonesia.. come here often and will definitely recommend places for you to visit =)

  11. I love the way you captured the people of Indonesia, especially those sitting on all the different modes of transportation. I like your charity idea and will match your donation for double the A-Phi power!

  12. wow, $20 for 20 yrs? that’s amazing. what a great charity!

    love the colorful photos from the farmer’s market

  13. Hi Caroline! Now you’ve inspired me even more beyond your photographs. This “comment for charity” is a great idea. So here is one from me. Is the comment just limited to this post or other posts as well?

    I like how you include the blue fabric (possibly taken from the back of the bus. It frames the picture and looks interesting. Hey, and I haven’t seen the passion fruit in a while. I forgot what it tastes like. It’s a pretty cool fruit. Did you see any dragon fruits yet?

    Great purpose and great photos, as always. Thanks also for your reply to last email to you. I was so excited to hear from you especially since I admire your work so much!

  14. Ha, I love passion fruit but have never seen it in person, always had the flavored tea/ drinks and stuff… until I see your post ! I love your travel photos ! I feel bad for all the trash on the bottom of the hill too… Glad you had fun !

  15. I think it’s wonderful that you are going to donate to charity water. I love you site! You take amazing photos. I’m years away from getting married, but when I do – I’m definitely going to book you. :)

  16. ayam goreng is so delicious! And all the fruits are wonderful! I love the pickled mangosteens that you can get in Indonesia. It’s my homeland but I can’t get my husband to go with me yet- too nervous about the political unrest there.

  17. I so so so love this idea of the charity as well as the photos from your trip! What a wonderful way to catch a glimpse of a beautiful country. Thanks for sharing as always Caroline!

  18. I usually don’t comment, but I just have to for a great cause.

    Btw, that snakey looking fruit is called salak, not salat. Wonderful pictures as usual :)

  19. i miss indo!

    we used to call salat ‘snake fruit’ when i was there, i suppose because of the skin…

    love the photos!

  20. Hi Caroline,

    thanks for posting these adorable photos that really capture the feeling of the place. And it was just so much fun cruising around the place in our super-happy-friends-and-family-party tour bus!

    Lone :)

  21. Getting money donated without me spending? I’m definitely up for it! Haha… The shots of the locals are very candid! Good job!

  22. Great cause! Thank you! And I also love mangosteen. I’m going back to Vietnam in 2 weeks and can’t wait to have some of those.


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