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

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

Kei Islands: the low down

  Guidebooks say it’s got the best beaches in Indonesia. Bloggers say maybe the best in Southeast Asia. The map says it’s a few specks of islands tucked away under Papua and out in the deepest sea Indonesia’s got to offer.   They call it the Keis, and judging by the lack of online chatter,… Continue reading Kei Islands: the low down

Pulau Rhun: snorkel the microcosm

People do strange things to see fishes. Take, for example, our snorkel group. We dragged a reluctant captain from his slumber on the rainiest morning of our stay, loaded up his oversized canoe with fins and tubes and masks, threw in a little fried rice and smattering of fruit, and set out across the widest… Continue reading Pulau Rhun: snorkel the microcosm

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

The Road to Mandalay

  “We’re not lost,” Seinn smiled at us from the front seat of the SUV. “There’s some construction, so we have to take this ro—” a huge crater slammed the front wheel down to the substrata of the earth’s crust and tossed Seinn from her seat and into the troposphere. She landed with a hopeless… Continue reading The Road to Mandalay

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

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