Amed: Bali’s Next Honeypot?

“Where are you staying, Mister?”   Our inquisitor sat serenely on his motorbike, sarong dancing in the breeze and cigarette smoldering in his lips.   I’d been here twenty minutes, hiked one kilometer down a lonely road, and already he was the tenth person to ask me this. I paused for a moment to adjust… Continue reading Amed: Bali’s Next Honeypot?

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

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

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

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

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 3: Baby Elephants

“It’s an elephant orphanage!” Andy was giddy with excitement.  “Will we get to pet them?”  She was bouncing in her seat. “Yes, yes, why not?” our friend Jaliya assured us. We were on our way to Pinnawala, a definite checkmark on the unofficial Tour de Sri Lanka, and like Andy’s already told you, an orphanage… Continue reading Sri Lanka 3: Baby Elephants

Maldives: Gems on a Shoestring?

“I have a problem.” Those were the first words the owner spoke to us.  Fresh from ninety minutes of sapphire oceans lapping sweetly at the lazy hull of our ferry, fresh from a sea-breezed nap on the sun-drenched top deck, fresh off cruising the palm-studded isles draped in royal luxury, through the ancient spice isles,… Continue reading Maldives: Gems on a Shoestring?