Interview with Langkawi

Shortly after my trip through colonial stardom with Penang, I took a speedboat ride north and sat down for a little chat with Langkawi.  This fan favorite of Malaysia resides a languid skip away from the mainland, and just another hop from the Thai border.  Everyone knows her, but she can be a bit hard… Continue reading Interview with Langkawi

Belitung: Put This on Your Map

  A blip on the radar, another island lost in the Java Sea, a speck of Sumatra skipped over by guidebooks and travel agents, and the weekend haunt for a thousand tight-lipped Indonesians in on the secret—welcome to Belitung.   There are only two chances you’ve heard of this place: if you watched a 2008… Continue reading Belitung: Put This on Your Map

Amed: Bali’s Next Honeypot?

“Where are you staying, Mister?”   Our inquisitor sat serenely on his motorbike, sarong dancing in the breeze and cigarette smoldering in his lips.   I’d been here twenty minutes, hiked one kilometer down a lonely road, and already he was the tenth person to ask me this. I paused for a moment to adjust… Continue reading Amed: Bali’s Next Honeypot?

Bunaken: Reef Master

Bunaken: Reef Master Andy gripped my hand even harder. The plane rocked, steadied, and dropped lower for its final approach. Our third attempt at a final approach, to be exact. After two last-minute botched approaches, to be even more exact. The first went like this: we sped over mile after mile of runway from a… Continue reading Bunaken: Reef Master

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

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

I Heart Lombok

Two beauties beckon from the crystal seas. Bali calls from her jungle hills and her hollow temples; she draws you close in dazzling colors and wraps you in the wonder of her fabled name. Bali—a fading star who knows her dark charms: ricefields rife with stone demons scowling, gentle drip of water into rippling pools,… Continue reading I Heart Lombok

Faces of Bali

  One year ago, we thought we’d visit often.  One year ago, we said Bali was our backyard and we’d be glad to hang out often. One year ago, we said weekend flights were more than a possibility—they were a responsibility.   One year ago, we had a lot to learn.   Consider, for example,… Continue reading Faces of Bali

Winding Down in Khao Lak

  Booking Phuket is fine and good and simple—it’s all about the tourist, and the tourist needs infrastructure: airports and roads, buses and AC, toilets and English and dozens of dozens of options for all the different budgets and tastes and style. Go here and you get choices. You travel easy.   Khao Lak used… Continue reading Winding Down in Khao Lak

Understanding Koh Phi Phi

  Understand one thing: when Andy and I travel, we do it buffet style. And by that I mean that we don’t order one dish and stick to it. No, no, we pile many plates high and gorge ourselves on forkfuls of variety. We run through visits for 14-hour days, arrive at our lodgings late… Continue reading Understanding Koh Phi Phi

Boon, Bond, and the Diva Nation

  We all know Mr. Bond—that charming assassin of Britain’s secret foes, that cold-hearted international killer, that well-groomed and deadly rascal in a tux—but let me introduce you to Mr. Boon, a shy man with a round face, a little English and a little car.   The sun had just risen, the dew was still… Continue reading Boon, Bond, and the Diva Nation

Pondering Phuket

  The Preconceptions: It’s Vegas without the casinos—Sin City when it stops believing sin exists. It’s a spring break bender on a golden beach where spring is endless, time immaterial, and there’s never any reality to return to. Liquor rains and cocaine snows and the bass beats the rhythm of flesh under it all.  … Continue reading Pondering Phuket