Komodo, Diver’s Paradise

Tony diving off the coast of Rinca

It’s not exactly a secret among experienced divers, but Komodo has some of the best diving in the world. While land-lubbers are more focused on the famous Komodo dragons, underwater fans realize that Komodo National Park protects some of the best-preserved coral and underwater life on the planet.

Why? As with Nusa Lembongan, deep channels with cold currents from the south seem to be protecting much of the coral from the hot water streams that have ravaged calmer Asian waters to the north. So far, bleaching seems to be less of a problem than in other parts areas of the tropics. Moreover, nature has gifted Komodo with wild ripping currents which make dynamite fishing difficult. Poachers can blow up the reef, but the strong currents drag all the fish away.


Exploring The Tribal Villages of Sumba

Tribal western Sumba is without question one of the most fascinating cultural regions in all of Indonesia. Eclipsed by more famous destinations such as Papua, Sulawesi, Sumatra and Flores, remote Sumba is primarily visited by travelers with a keen interest in ethno-tourism. Way off the beaten path – or any path for that matter – you don’t just end up here by mistake; you come here specifically to take in the unique Sumbanese tribal art, architecture and cultural heritage.

Sumba is a tough place to travel: there are few hotels, roads can be terrible, English is non-existent and the tribal communities can be somewhat volatile. Conflicts can break out at any time, even in the larger population centers such as Waikabubak. In fact, on our way to dinner one evening in Waikabubak, we were turned back because Continue…

Lash from LashWorldTour.com

We’ve never met face to face (not yet), but Lash from LashWorldTour.com is a kindred spirit and fellow nomadic blogger who lives to travel just like we do. She’s independent, adventurous, and seriously upbeat. Lash has also had some very interesting experiences out on the road, including a stint working with the crew of the TV show Survivor. We decided to interview her to hear about some of those adventures, get some advice on travel, and find out about how this contemporary nomad handles the challenges of life on the road.

Q: Your world travels began when you moved to Japan in 1991. After 6 years in Japan, you decided to go nomadic. What led you to take the leap? And how have you made a living while on the road?

A: Actually, that’s not quite the way it happened, truth be told. 🙂

I had decided to travel the world before I left for Japan. My move to Kyoto was part of my bigger plan to travel the world for as long as possible. I moved to Kyoto specifically to save money for that.

I thought it Continue…

Goodbye Indonesia, Hello Pixlr

Indonesia has so much to offer, I have no doubt that we will return in the future to explore more of its unique cultures and adventurous offerings. It is truly one of the world’s greatest destinations.

Interestingly, just as I was sitting down to design a graphic to sum up our time in Indonesia, the online service Pixlr and its associated Chrome app came to our attention. Pixlr offers a free, relatively advanced online photo editor, which can be quite useful for travelers – especially those without a laptop – who wish to work with their photos while on the road.

Easily used from Internet cafes, Pixlr works like a pared-down version of Photoshop, enabling travelers to alter photos, resize and crop photos, add interesting filters, and reduce photos for web use. What really distinguishes Pixlr in my mind is the inclusion of layers and layer masks. Nice.

Intrigued by a completely web-based photo editor, I set out to Continue…

Petition to Protect Kutai National Park

As a follow-up to our previous post, we wanted to draw our visitors’ attention to a petition to save Kutai National Park started by our friends Sarah and Pete. The petition encourages the Indonesian government to save Kutai National Park and its orangutans from land claims by Churchill Mining, a British company which seeks to mine within the boundaries of the park.

As you can see from the Google Maps shot below, such mining is devastating to the local environment. The red dot marks the approximate location of where we photographed the orangutan mother and baby shown in the picture above. Many locals we spoke to in the area, who indeed expressed an interest in saving the park, felt powerless when confronted with the overwhelming wealth and influence of the mining industry.  Please support this effort to save Kutai National Park as well as other efforts to preserve orangutan habitat in Borneo and Sumatra.

Kutai NP Educational Campaign Features our Orangutan Content

Orangutan Experience brochure

We are thrilled to write that our posts on Kutai National Park have caught the attention of national park authorities in Indonesia. We were contacted by representatives from Kutai NP who asked to use our photos in educational materials that they will be distributing to schools and government offices across the country. How exciting!

Orangutan brochure

My post titled The Orangutan Experience was translated into Indonesian and included in a 34-page educational brochure which also includes articles from researchers and political figures concerned about the park. As you can see in the first image above Continue…

Bali Pictorial

Those who know us well – especially fellow nomads – have expressed surprise that we spent so much time in Bali, a destination they associate with package tourism and sprawling resorts. In all honesty, I avoided Bali on my first trip to Indonesia ignorantly dismissing the island as little more than tourist central. But guess what, Bali is beautiful.

While it’s true that portions of Bali have embraced the dark side of tourism and a visit to Kuta can leave you cringing as hordes of drunk Australians stumble their way through the streets, the larger island provides plenty of room for off-the-beaten-track exploration. There is much to discover here: Bali’s unique Hindu culture and architecture is visually stunning; colorful festivals and parades occur throughout the year; the sand runs the spectrum from powder white to glistening gold to charcoal grey to jet black; and the lush tropical center of the island provides for great walks. Perhaps the greatest discovery for us was that the scuba diving is absolutely world-class (and I don’t say that lightly.)

We liked Bali so much that we decided to put together a pictorial to share some of the island’s unique beauty. (I’ll admit the pictorial is a bit culture heavy, but – hey – how many more pictures of rice terraces can we post?) 🙂

Indonesia: What a Dollar Can Buy You

Indonesia used to be one of the cheapest places in Southeast Asia. But in recent years, prices in the large archipelago have caught up with those of other countries in the region. Especially areas such as Kalimantan, eastern Nusa Tenggara as well as Papua can be painfully expensive, with transportation and accommodation often being the main culprits.

I know, I must sound like a broken record. Haven’t I complained about rising costs in every other country? The fact is that prices in the developing world are shooting up at lightning speed which makes backpacking on a budget increasingly challenging. And Indonesia is the poster child for such change.

One interesting oddity is the price ratio between Coke and gasoline. Indonesia has the most expensive Coca Cola but the cheapest gas we have seen anywhere in Asia. You would think that the low gas prices would be reflected in transportation costs – but as I mentioned above, this is not always so. In addition to that, Tony’s Coke addiction has set us back quite a bit (as we all know, Coke is to Tony what gas is to a car).

Fortunately, there are plenty of affordable things to go around. Here’s what you can get for 9,000 rupiah or around a buck:

  • 1 load of laundry (about 3.5 kg)
  • 1 creamy avocado shake
  • 2 km taxi ride
  • 4 liters (1 gal.) of drinking water
  • 1 pre-cut pineapple on touristy Seminyak beach, Bali
  • 1 hour of Internet access
  • 1 vegetarian meal in a typical warung
  • 2 liters of gasoline
  • 0.5 liter of Coca Cola
  • 3 packs of local cigarettes
  • 1 mandatory donation to enter traditional Sasak village, Lombok
  • 7 Yakult probiotic yogurt drinks
  • 4 angkot rides (public minibus covering city routes)
  • 1 sleeping mat rental on overnight ferry

Thomas vs. Philip Morrisovich

Monkeys (and Russians) just want to have fun. But when this unsuspecting Russian tourist graciously offered a Balinese macaque a lit cigarette to clear his primate palette, ultra-radical environmental activist Thomas had to put the kibosh on the poor tourist’s Slavic fun.

Alerted from my perch atop a nearby temple by the booming echoes of Thomas’ enraged voice, I just had time to snap a shot of the exact moment he stamped out the cigarette. You could clearly see the disappointment in the poor monkey’s face… and the Russian’s. (Oh, so sad.)

Let’s just say, I’ve never been prouder.

Explorations in Ubud

A massive cloud of laziness descended upon us in Ubud. I guess even nomadic souls need some downtime every now and then. Luckily, the motivationally challenged can find plenty to do within a few minutes of the center of town. Check out our mini-gallery above for some ideas.