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

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?

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

Jogja Part 3: Planned Anthem

The gamelan will ping and gently gong under a million piercing Java stars; the torchlight will flicker and glow on a thousand anxious faces; and, like a dew slowly soaking Papaya leaves in the still-shadowy dawn, a man draped in the crazy vines and tattoo lines of a royal batik will glide to the mic. … Continue reading Jogja Part 3: Planned Anthem

Jogja Part 2: Zombie Zen

We were the walking undead—moaning, grunting, shuffling lifelessly off the panting train and onto Jogjakarta’s storied soil. “Uuuuggghhhhh.” It was 4 AM.  This overnight train was not ideal for sleeping—too much clacking, too much sideways jerking around the curves, too much light in the aisles, and too cold, much too cold, air blasting from the… Continue reading Jogja Part 2: Zombie Zen