Amritsar 3: The Kulchas

Amritsar 3: The Kulchas In Britain’s strange medley of militarism and well-wishing and racism and white-man’s-burdening that it called its Empire, the story of Jallianwalla Bagh has to be one of the most head-shaking and tear-budding and somber.   It’s the story of a subcontinent asking for freedom, and its wealthy Punjab province spearheading the… Continue reading Amritsar 3: The Kulchas

Delhi: Lucifer’s Lair

Our first taste of India, real India, came with the pre-paid taxi.  “Do you know where this address is?” I asked as the young man in blue sweats chucked our backpacks into the rickety old minivan. “This van is black,” Andy muttered.  “They told us the official taxis were black and yellow.” Good observation—my wife… Continue reading Delhi: Lucifer’s Lair

York: Tradition Running Amuck

  “So this is where that miserable old hunchback seduced the widow over her murdered husband’s coffin?” I mused into the rainy morning.   “Huh?”  Andy muttered between her clattering teeth.   “I said, ‘So this is where—‘”   “I heard what you said,” she snapped, “but tell me said you said.”   Don’t judge… Continue reading York: Tradition Running Amuck

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

Penang: Billy’s Ghosts

Midnight seeped down from sweating stars, and the streetlights twinkled dirty halos on the streets.  Billy scowled his wrinkled eyes and flicked across his iPhone with battered fingers. “Look at it!  Right ‘ere!  Ya see he’s wearing a crown fulla skulls, and that part up over there, it’s just like a scythe!  And if I… Continue reading Penang: Billy’s Ghosts

Pulau Hoga: Alone?

  It didn’t take Andy long to decide.  A boatload of Indomie and smoking Bapaks in Batiks, an unshakeable stench of diesel, and a ceiling so low that only passengers aged to single-digits could walk upright—it convinced her in an instant.  “I’m riding on top.”   We expected the public boat from Wangi-wangi to the… Continue reading Pulau Hoga: Alone?

Angkor Wat: The Big One(s)

They come from all continents, cameras dangling from their sun-screened necks, sunglasses flashing, and hat perched atop their sweated mop heads. Yes, we are hopeless victims of the Angkor maelstrom, a couple more tallies to the thousands for the day, two more pair of flip-flops on the trail, another couple bikes in the parking stall.

Most come here, though, just to see where Angelina Jolie’s breakout hit Tomb Raider was filmed.

Kawah Ijen: Fire on the Mountain

Blue flames everywhere – and not small ones either. We’re talking flames to cover a house, to dwarf a crowd, to light up a forest in flames fit for a gas stove, fit for a steel-cutting torch,  fit for a Bunsen burner. Fit for anything except a huge, stinking pile of rock on top of… Continue reading Kawah Ijen: Fire on the Mountain

East Java: Bromo’s Maw to Ijen’s Ghosts

“Right now,” I sighed, “right here, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a dinosaur strut around that corner.” Everyone nodded in agreement. “I mean, seriously: a Stegosaurus, or a Brontosaurus, or… or something. Or at least their ghosts, you know. At least their ghosts are here. “For sure, at least their ghosts.” By now they… Continue reading East Java: Bromo’s Maw to Ijen’s Ghosts

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