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

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

Bali’s Mount Batur

  Andy’s version goes this way:   Hiking a volcano peak at 4am with flash lights is like walking in sand on your treadmill on a 30 degree incline on a pitch dark winter morning! Mt./Volcano Batur 1750m / 5741ft has been conquered, but the renowned sunrise preferred to snooze in the fluffy clouds. Sigh**… Continue reading Bali’s Mount Batur

Snapshots of Nusa Lembongan

  If you believe clichés, a picture’s worth a thousand words.   That’s actually an old newsman’s quip about the power of photography in the press—that a publishable photo ought to tell a thousand words’ worth of narrative. Now, though, people toss the sentence around as if to suggest a picture is infinite in wordiness.… Continue reading Snapshots of Nusa Lembongan

Pulau Seribu: Indonesia’s Maldives?

The Thousand Red Question Marks: We’d heard the horror stories: trash so thick that the beach was rendered useless; reefs a wasteland choked by the city’s rampant pollution; facilities more abysmal than relaxing. But we still had to go—we just had to.   Even before moving to Jakarta we had our eyes on Pulau Seribu—that… Continue reading Pulau Seribu: Indonesia’s Maldives?

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

Bangkok: The Idiot Tax

Nauseating, expensive, and incredibly inconvenient—it’s the Idiot Tax. I walked out of the flowing AC and pristine offices of the Indonesian embassy and into the chaos of Bangkok streets. Motorbikes whistled by, milk was rotting in a gutter, a street hawker was frying up unidentified meat in week-old grease, and I was already dripping in… Continue reading Bangkok: The Idiot Tax

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

Letter to Bandung

  Feb 7, 2014   1 Jalan Raya Alun Alun Bandung, Jawa Barat Indonesia   Dear Bandung,   Don’t get the feeling that I’m stalking you or anything, but I can’t stop thinking about that weekend we had together—it was great to finally chat after having heard so much about you. If you don’t mind,… Continue reading Letter to Bandung

Sri Lanka 11: Colombo Daze

This was the city I almost forgot to photograph, the city of friends we’d vowed to visit, the city of whining motorbikes, scrambling tuk-tuks, and rainbows of fresh fruit swarming round busloads of elbows and shoulders hanging out windows barreling through intersections and coughing fog behind.   Colombo: city of such welcoming homes and such… Continue reading Sri Lanka 11: Colombo Daze

Sri Lanka 10: Notes on the South Coast

Sri Lanka 10: Notes on the South Coast TANGALLE BLOWHOLE “This is ridiculous,” I hissed. “This is the most—” “Smile and say, ‘Rupees!’” Andy snapped the photo of the feeble jet of water squirting from the rocks. “Relax. At least it’s not the gouging we got at Sigirya.” “Wait,” said the park ranger. “Another is… Continue reading Sri Lanka 10: Notes on the South Coast

Sri Lanka 9: A Drive on the Wild Side

Craziest New Year’s ever? Well, how about the crashing surf roaring through the midnight black, and mosquitoes hounding your haggard face? How about volcano-spicy shrimp peeled apart in ratty lawn furniture and a glassy-eyed chef staring at you over his motorcycle? How about a dingy backpacker dive with lizards and spiders crawling the walls, a… Continue reading Sri Lanka 9: A Drive on the Wild Side