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

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

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

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

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

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