Sunday, November 8, 2009

Last day at HARRIS Tuban

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Friday, November 6, 2009

My last day at Banjar Hills

Saturday, October 31, 2009

This about sums up Bali time:

Arrival some day!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Bali Hai

I've safely arrived back in Bali and am on my way up to Banjar Hills for another relaxed week by the poolside.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Recrossing the Wallace Line

Stories of exploration make for fascinating reading and they impress on the mind that exploration is a joint venture even though often the name of a single person is attached to a given account. Alfred Russell Wallace (1823-1913), the great English naturalist and traveller, has a sharper eye for others than himself in his exploits. A good example is a wonderful sentence from his "The Malay Archipelago" (1869):

'It was on the 13th of June, 1856, after a twenty days' passage from Singapore in the "Kembang Djepon" (Rose of Japan), a schooner belonging to a Chinese merchant, manned by a Javanese crew, and commanded by an English captain, that we cast anchor in the dangerous roadstead of Bileling on the north side of the island of Bali.'

In the book, Wallace gives a marvellous description of the geography, the natural world and the great variety of human culture of the Malaysian and Indonesian islands. But he is not only a describer; he also theorises about what he sees. On the basis of his observations he put forward the theory of the Wallace Line. This is an imaginary boundary running through the Lombok Strait (between the islands of Bali and Lombok) which separates the zoogeographical areas of Asia from Australia.

Although the Strait is rather narrow - only about 22 miles across - it is extremely deep and was a barrier that in theory kept the flora and fauna of Asia divided from those of the Australian region.

This idea has today basically been abandoned. But the fact of the difference between the various species of plants and animals of those continental areas helped Charles Darwin conceptualise his theory of the origin of species.

This photo shows a plantation of palm trees, a thatched beach hut, and the blue waters leading to the Lombok Strait. My back is to magnificent Mount Rinjani, and from this spot in clear weather you can see to the east the outlines of Bali's Mount Agung.

'Leaving Bileling,' writes Russell a few pages on, 'a pleasant sail of two days brought us to ... the island of Lombock...' And he continues: 'We enjoyed superb views of the twin volcanoes of Bali and Lombock, each about eight thousand feet high, which form magnificent objects at sunrise and sunset, when they rise out of the mists and clouds that surround their bases, glowing with the rich and changing tints of these the most charming moments in a tropical day'.

With a book on my knee, a gin-and-tonic at hand, and this view: what more could one wish to enjoy!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

28.10. Returning to Senggigi

Day 5 aboard ship

Official itinerary: (08.00) Arrive in MOYO. After breakfast, get ashore and walk past Labuhan Haji Village to a water fall. Along the way see the local people’s daily activities. Laze out and swim on the fresh-water pool of the water fall .

(12.00) Leave Moyo, have lunch on board while sailing westward to Keramat Island. Upon arrival, jump for the brave or use the speed boat to cross to Keramat Island for snorkeling or swimming.

This is the last activity of the HUNTING KOMODO BY CAMERA program. After the program the boat sails back to Labuhan Lombok. Upon arrival at Labuan Lombok harbor, have a farewell dinner on board, then leave the boat for a bus transfer to MATARAM or SENGGIGI.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Day 4 aboard ship

Official itinerary: (05.00) Depart from Labuan Bajo to RINCA ISLAND. At 06.00 you can enjoy the beautiful sunrise view from the boat. Breakfast on board.

Rinca is the second-biggest island of the Komodo National Park. This place is not only home to Varanus Komodoensis but also home to wild animals such as Sunda deer, wild buffalo, wild boar, the macaque monkey, wild horses and snakes. It also offers a more natural situation.

From Rinca the trip continues to GILI LABA for swimming and snorkelling. Then, sail west to MOYO Island – a nature reserve.

On the way we stop for dinner on board at WERA.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Day 3 aboard ship

Official itinerary: (08.00) Arrive in Komodo Island – the main highlight of the program. Have breakfast, then go ashore for HUNTING KOMODO by CAMERA.

Led by two rangers walk through the jungle to find the Komodo dragons as well as enjoy the island’s mesmerizing flora & fauna.

(11.30) Leave Komodo Island to Red Beach – an exotic white sandy beach with beautiful underwater world best for snorkeling. Have lunch on board, then sail to Labuan Bajo.

(16.00) Arrive at Labuan Bajo for some extra programs such as walk around the town, see sunset and get other interesting activities.

(19.00) Get on board for a lively FAREWELL PARTY with activities like dinner, entertainment by the crew and share experience .

(23.00) The party ends and the west-east guests (HKC 01) leave the boat with a thousand memories of the happy ending trip.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Day 2 aboard ship


Official itinerary: (07.00) Arrive in Satonda island - a beautiful small island with a salt water lake inside. Go ashore, then led by the guide do a morning exercise.

Afterwards, go sightseeing around the island, hiking, bird watching and swimming on the lake. Back to the boat, then have breakfast while sailing to Tanjung Batu Besar for snorkeling and other activities.

(17.30) Leave Donggo on night sailing to Komodo Island. Dinner on board.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Day 1 aboard ship

Official itinerary: Depart from SENGGIGI (09.00), from MATARAM (10.00) by PERAMA bus to Labuhan Lombok.

On the way make some stops to visit traditional villages to see people’s daily life and traditional markets. MAS BAGIK is one of Lombok’s main pottery – producing village with old traditional Lombok design, PERAMA DOCKING - see how people build a traditional phinisi boat and enjoy banana fritter served by Haji Materu.

On the way to Kayangan Harbor we pass KAMPUNG PADAK, a fisherman village which is developed to become a tourist object by Perama Center.

Take a walk along a short trail to see the panorama of fisherman village with their daily life, outrigger boats, traditional docking, old harbor, and view of the top of Mt.Rinjani.

Get on board, have lunch, then sail to Perama Resort – a small island with white sandy beach, turquoise water with coral reefs & colorful fishes completed with a spectacular view of Mt. Rinjani. On the way see traditional fishing boats along Lab. Lombok harbor .

(15.00) Arrive at Perama Resort for such activities as swimming, snorkeling, playing volley ball, seeing sunset. Perama invites you all to be involved in the coral replantation activity. Enjoy fish barbeque dinner and dancing/ singing together around bonfire.

(21.00) Leave PERAMA Resort with nice memories on night sailing to Satonda Island.

24.10. Leaving Senggigi to board TALA 114 at Labuhan Lombok

[Here] are the boat's details!

Friday, October 23, 2009


I'm doing it tough at the Batu Bolong Cottages in a top-of-the-range beachside bungalow. What a hard life!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

22.10. Padang Bai PURI RAI Hotel

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The latest news from Bali!

Are the cows of North Bali so attractive that their beauty outshines the charms of local maidens? Or is it something in the water?

In any case, front-page news in several Bali newspapers carries the shocking revelation that a 33 year-old farmer, I Made Widiana, from Kebutambahan on Bali's north shore, has been caught in flagrante delicto with a local cow on October 13, 2009, just as Bali began its Galungan celebrations marking the victory of good over evil.

Although Widiana's unnatural act was witnessed by a neighbour, it was the perpetrator himself who admitted his act to local community leaders. Freely admitting that he had sinned and put him community at risk by defying the natural order of things, Widiana claims in mitigation that the cow cast some sort of spell over him causing him to see a beautiful woman instead of a cow. It was only when his neighbour scolded him for his behaviour, that he awoke from his smitten stupor and became aware of his act.

Widiana, married and the father of four, must now wait for a meeting of village elders to be convened and a course of action laid out that will restore order to the cosmos which is now off-kilter because of his transgression.

This is second time such an incident has occurred in that otherwise quiet corner of Bali. On August 17, 2008, a 70 year-old man, Sutarya, who lives only a few kilometers from Widiana, committed a similar act that demanded elaborate ritual cleansing and the sacrificial drowning of the pregnant cow in the nearby ocean.

Both Widiana and his "contented" cow await the decision of local religious leaders as to what must be done to restore good order to the Universe.

Last-minute dashes

This morning it's just a quick dash "up the road" to collect my tickets from the PERAMA office in Jalang Legian and to buy some food stuffs from the Discovery Shopping Mall in Tuban. Who knows what they will feed me aboard their boat? In any case, I like a bit of a midnight snack, so here we go!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

20.10. Arriving in Denpasar HARRIS Tuban

Before leaving Australia, my favourite hotel in Bali had sent me this email ...

HELLO,,,,HELLO…..ALL WE'RE PREPARE AND WE WILL PICK YOU UP AT AIRPORT…it really nice to welcome you again in Harris Hotel Tuban BALI…see you tomorrow Mr.Peter and we will upgrade your room to suite room

... and, true to their word, they picked me up at the airport and whisked me away to a beautiful suite room in the HARRIS Hotel Tuban.

Another beautiful start to another beautiful Bali holiday!

"I'm leaving on a jet plane"

RIP: Mary Travers of Peter, Paul and Mary

"All my bags are packed,
I'm ready to go.
I'm standing here outside your door.
I hate to wake you up to say goodbye.

"But dawn is breakin',
It's early morn'.
The taxi's waitin',
He's blowin' his horn. . .

"I'm leavin' on a jet plane.
Don't know when I'll be back again.
Oh Babe, I hate to go."

Mary Travers has gone on her final journey. We know that she won't be back again, but her music is her legacy. We'll miss her broad smile, her creative talent, her stage presence, her straight blond hair, her distinctive voice that harmonised so well with Peter Yarrow and Noel Paul Stuckey, her idealism. The whole package. Listen to Peter, Paul & Mary's rendition of what I think of as the most poignant travel song.

I'm leaving on a jet plane to Bali but my destination is merely a by-product of the journey. Travel is the act of leaving familiarity behind, of seeking new horizons, meeting new people, and gaining new insights.

P.S. While on the road, I can be reached via

Saturday, October 17, 2009

My bag is packed!

Well, just two days to go and my rucksack is packed - all 5 kg of it! I will carry only the most essential items. One change of clothing will be enough as, apart from the cruise, I will always stay in hotels that have a swimming pool.

For somebody travelling as light as me, a pool is just one giant washing-machine: jump in fully clothed and do a few breaststrokes to remove whatever stains are on the front; a vigorous dog-paddle works wonders on the old jocks; and backstrokes remove all those sweatstains from under the armpits!

As a last-minute item, I've added a bright-red inflatable buoyancy jacket. If the old PERAMA boat should suddenly spring a leak, I will not only stay afloat but also be seen to have stayed afloat!

That just leaves the selection of suitable reading-material for those long hours on the plane and for those long, tropical nights under a starry sky. I've settled for Dan Brown's "The Lost Symbol" and, for a bit of thoughtful and slow reading, I've packed Hermann Hesse's The Glass Bead Game.

I couldn't find anything in the local bookshop written by my old Greek "mate" Ἐπίκουρος, so he will have to wait until my next trip. Travelling is the perfect time for a bit of "heavy reading", quite apart from the fact that if something should happen to me, it's good if they find me clutching an intelligent book in my rigor mortis hand. It will make them think that I was somebody important enough to be stuffed into the body-bag with a litte more reverence.

When I'm finished with my books, I usually pass them on to fellow-travellers. In this way, I have introduced others to the thoughts of Joseph Conrad, Ernest Hemingway, Somerset W. Maugham, Patrick White, et al, which has resulted in the odd email, received long after the trip was over, saying "Thank you for having enriched my life."

Friday, October 9, 2009

Some light reading for those seemingly endless hours on the plane!

There has always been a cloak of mystery over the Knights Templar and, what are supposed to be their modern-day successors, the Freemasons.

The American author Dan Brown, best known for his book "The Da Vinci Code", has just published a book, "The Lost Symbol", which is doing for the Freemasons what its predecessor, "The Da Vinci Code", did for the Catholic Church's Opus Dei — showering new fame, and new fictions, on an age-old brotherhood which has been accused of everything from conspiring with extraterrestrials to practicing sexual deviancy to engaging in occult rituals to running the world — or trying to end it.

I've bought this book for those seemingly endless hours on the plane and as bedtime reading during my forthcoming travels in Indonesia.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Only a few more days to go to my Bali trip ...

... and I need to bed down my share investments so I can forget about them while I am away, espcially since we're into October which is one of the most peculiarly dangerous months in the stockmarket (the other are July, January, September, April, November, May, March, June, December, August, and February).

As I sat here, twiddling my cufflinks, I came up with this brilliant idea ...

Totally off-the-cuff, as it were!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Whetting my appetite!

Click on above icon for full screen

It's still some time before I set out on my next tropical adventure but pleasures are always greatest in anticipation, aren't they?

This time I'll cross the Wallace Line as I hope to travel from Bali to nearby Lombok and the tiny Gilis, and then on to Komodo and Flores. Nothing is booked and nothing is planned - except for my first night in Bali with my old friends at HARRIS Tuban - as I want to take each day as it comes and live entirely in the moment. However, I may have to prebook the 5-day PERAMA-cruise as I am getting a bit long in the tooth for deck passage and would prefer a cabin to myself.

Cruise itinerary

Click on map to enlarge