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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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