Kei Islands: the low down

  Guidebooks say it’s got the best beaches in Indonesia. Bloggers say maybe the best in Southeast Asia. The map says it’s a few specks of islands tucked away under Papua and out in the deepest sea Indonesia’s got to offer.   They call it the Keis, and judging by the lack of online chatter,… Continue reading Kei Islands: the low down

Pulau Rhun: snorkel the microcosm

People do strange things to see fishes. Take, for example, our snorkel group. We dragged a reluctant captain from his slumber on the rainiest morning of our stay, loaded up his oversized canoe with fins and tubes and masks, threw in a little fried rice and smattering of fruit, and set out across the widest… Continue reading Pulau Rhun: snorkel the microcosm

Banda Besar: planet earth’s spice factory

Under the arching limbs of centuries-aged almond trees, among their trunks wide as Chryslers and round as chop sticks, we stopped and stared. Far overhead, the leafy canopy rustled, peppering sun and shadows across the park-like earth, pillars of almond trees holding the roof aloft. Beneath, tufted sprouts of green trees popped merrily in and… Continue reading Banda Besar: planet earth’s spice factory

Banda Neira: tops my list

I know it’s not fair—I fell in love with the place before we set out to see it. So of course when our Pelni pulled within sight of the Bandas’ first shores—those glowing green hotspots of heaven hazy in the distant clouds—I was crazy with expectation to arrive. Centerpiece of our trip, bull’s eye of… Continue reading Banda Neira: tops my list

Pelni

More than mere planes string together Indonesia’s thousands of islands: We’ve also got boats. That’s right—sleek boats, fast boats, fishing boats, row boats, cargo ships and canoes and frigates and ferries. Long before the populace was skipping across the clear blue waves in low-cost flights, they were chugging through the tides in boats galore. In… Continue reading Pelni

Ambon: double edge

Murderous waves ripped across the white sand beach, hordes of screaming kids scampered to and fro across the rocks and sand, and the sun blistered its slanting rays through the palm leaves. I checked my watch again: almost four. Just two precious hours to cross forty kilometers of island glory, to grab the backpacks from… Continue reading Ambon: double edge

Pyin Oo Lwin – hidden gem

  The Queen’s officers ran here, once, up the winding mountains paths and through the thickening trees, to escape the oven Mandalay bakes in every summer. They mounted the mountain in droves and settled in shaded groves above, and looked down on the populace they put a thousand meters below their soles.   They planted… Continue reading Pyin Oo Lwin – hidden gem

A Day in Mandalay

City of shady wheelers and whiplash dealers, full of narrow alleys and sweaty cash and jewelers tucked away in dusty corners: two thousand glances from two thousand strangers’ faces. It’s a stained parking garage and it’s a cage of muscle-rippling, thunder-rumbling guard-dogs the owner himself is afraid to enter. It’s a city with rubies squirreled… Continue reading A Day in Mandalay

The Road to Mandalay

  “We’re not lost,” Seinn smiled at us from the front seat of the SUV. “There’s some construction, so we have to take this ro—” a huge crater slammed the front wheel down to the substrata of the earth’s crust and tossed Seinn from her seat and into the troposphere. She landed with a hopeless… Continue reading The Road to Mandalay

Quest for the Golden Rock

“Hang on!” Andy screamed as the truck crested another hill, lifted fifty crazed passengers skyward for a flash-photo moment, then crashed back to earth, flung a rooster tail of gravel over a cliff as we sped around a hairpin turn, and roared down the next incline. Seinn was squealing in glee, Kaori thumbs-upped the GoPro… Continue reading Quest for the Golden Rock

Golden Yangon

  I’d never met a Burmese rapper before, so of course I didn’t know what to do. Shake hands? Fist bump? Get jiggy with it?   What? People don’t say that anymore? You mean they never did? Are you sure? How about letting the dogs out—does that fit here?   Anyway, I only had a… Continue reading Golden Yangon

Gili Monsters

Gili Monsters   Late night, dark jungle, three foreigners under a dull yellow bulb in an un-walled bamboo hut—and they’re angry. They’ve been in sun all day, snorkeling, swimming, hiking, lounging—and now, with bellies full of seaside eats, with minds and bodies worn to a sunburned nub, they’ve come to their lodging, to a quiet… Continue reading Gili Monsters