Selayar Island

Selayar Island

Selayar Island is a secret find; an unspoilt island tucked away in South Sulawesi.  The charm of the island combines genuine, warm hospitality with first-rate diving and a little German hospitality. Selayar Island is positioned near the famed Takabonerate National Sea Park, in South Sulawesi and is the third-largest coral

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Memoirs of the Tsunami

Memoirs of the Tsunami

Sri Lanka is a tropical island of legendary beauty. It is often described as the “teardrop island” as it sits off the coast of India like a tear. It is a compact island with beautiful beaches, sheltered bays, ancient relics, wildlife and is largely untainted by tourism. I embarked on

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Romancing the Waitakere Ranges

Romancing the Waitakere Ranges

The Waitakeres Ranges is a 16,000-hectare parkland of outstanding beauty. The one-hour scenic drive through the Ranges is studded with tree ferns, giant Kauri trees and spectacular views. It’s easy to fall in love with the soft romantic waterfalls, misty bays and birdlife. If you prefer beaches, then at the

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Secrets of the Unknown

Secrets of the Unknown

North Lombok Largely unexplored, North Lombok offers a peek into an exotic world of natural wonders and ancient communities. Under the shadow of Mount Rinjani,  a stunning coastline and beautiful rice terraces await you, as well as a culture that holds strong to its traditional values. Only 35 kms east of

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Horse Riding Lombok

Horse Riding Lombok

According to Chinese astrology, the Year of the Horse is a time for fast victories, unexpected adventure and surprising romance. It is an excellent year for travel, and the more far away and off the beaten track the better. On Lombok, not only do you have the deserted beaches of

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Nomads of the Sea

Nomads of the Sea

I sat talking with Asman, an ethnic Bajau Palauk on his wooden fishing boat as sea cucumbers dried on the upper deck and we spoke about his seafaring life. “We love to be on the ocean. The ocean is our land. We feel very happy and content and it is

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Discovering Orangutans

Discovering Orangutans

A journey on the Rungan River, Central Kalimantan allows you to explore primate country, experience traditional village life on the river and have contact with the local Dayak culture in a pristine jungle environment, with no other tourists around. Gaye and Lorna, the Australian and English owners of the Rahai’i Pangun

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Banjarese – The River People

Banjarese – The River People

Recommended by Stephanie Brookes    Written by David Metcalf    Photos by David Metcalf  www.davidmetcalfphotography.com Packed in with hundreds of jukungs you float around small boats with piles of vegetables, towers of fruit, a bounty of fresh fish carefully laid out and hardware items for sale. The activity kicks off

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A trip on the Mighty Mahakam

A trip on the Mighty Mahakam

Recommended by Stephanie Brookes   Written by David Metcalf    Photos by David Metcalf  www.davidmetcalfphotography.com Kalimantan is one of Indonesia’s greatest adventures. Tales of fierce headhunters moving stealthily through the rainforest, poison blow darts speeding through the air from apparently invisible sources, dangerous bears, giant snakes and enormous leeches deterred

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Mountain of Fire

Mountain of Fire

Mount Bromo Sometimes you just have to get up at 3.30am to view a spectacular sight and hope for that wow factor.  Most of the places worth seeing in this world always require a bit more of an effort and Mt Bromo is no exception.  It might be hard to believe that

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Kawah Ijen Volcano

Kawah Ijen Volcano

East Java Extremes There are some pretty extreme locations to visit in Indonesia and up near the top of the list is a hotspot that may leave you breathless and hot.  Ijen crater lake sits high on a plateau 2,386 metres above sea level and its steaming hot – volcanic

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Jakarta Expat lifestyle

Jakarta Expat lifestyle

Living in Jakarta is one big adventure, moment by moment. It’s a busy city teeming with people, bicycles, motorbikes, chickens, buses, noisy bajajs (three wheeled passenger vehicle pedicabs), cars squeezing between lanes and street cart vendors pushing their mobile shops around. To live amongst this is both exciting and bewildering

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Central Java

Central Java

Central Java – Hidden gems of Central Java Far from the maddening crowds there stands a tropical gem in Central Java.  As I awoke in the early morning, the volcanic peaks of Central Java started to reveal themselves.  A backdrop of eight volcanoes surrounded by swirly mist, slowly came into

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Banyuwangi and Beyond

Banyuwangi and Beyond

Are you interested in getting a closer look at a steaming active volcanic crater? Are you into adventure travel? Have you ever heard of Banyuwangi? If you are keen to get way off the beaten track then Banyuwangi, a little tucked away spot in East Java, a region that gets

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5 must-do’s in Jakarta

5 must-do’s in Jakarta

1. EATS Eating at Lara Djonggrang (http://www.tuguhotels.com/laradjonggrang) is like taking a step back in time. Take a walk through the ancient beauty of Indonesia and treat yourself to a unique dining experience. The restaurant is in a majestic old house and you can tour through the many different rooms with artifacts

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10 things i love about Jakarta

10 things i love about Jakarta

The capital of Indonesia and its surrounds are full of surprises for the visitor. Jakarta – a city full of life and colour, with the outlying regions offering just as much diversity. At ground level you will see people hanging out of bus windows, street musicians busking, motorbike taxis expertly

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Wae Rebo – A lost village in Flores

Wae Rebo – A lost village in Flores

A lost village in Flores A last minute decision to buy a pig before setting off into the isolated mountains of Manggarai, Western Flores proved to be a wise decision. I was about to embark on a three-hour trek to the old Manggaraian village of Wae Rebo and I felt

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Komodo and Beyond

Komodo and Beyond

As the crew heaved and tied off in practiced unison, the seven sails billowed and flapped as ropes snapped into place. The sails filled and caught the breeze. The sleek wooden schooner came into its own; we were sailing. We cut through the white waves (Ombak Putih) with ease and,

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Malang – Grand Old City

Malang – Grand Old City

Stephanie Brookes glides through the streets of Malang, on foot and by becak, to discover its urban colonial charm and rural countryside. I stood outside the Tugu Hotel in Malang, pondering which becak (cycle rickshaw) driver I was going to use for the day. All of them were sporting tennis-ball-sized

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The Baduy People Urang Kanekes

The Baduy People Urang Kanekes

Hidden Heritage: A Cultural Journey of Discovery Text Stephanie Brookes | Photos David Metcalf Diversity : Our travel stories this month take us back to a former time of innocence in the backwoods of Java, and an adventure to the fabled Ring of Fire. The Baduy are a proud group

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Waisak Day Festival – Borobudur and the Birthright of Humanity 

Waisak Day Festival – Borobudur and the Birthright of Humanity 

Every May, on the night of the full moon, thousands of Buddhists gather at Borobudur Temple for Waisak Day. This holy festival celebrates Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and parinibbana (ultimate freedom). It is affectionately known as Buddha’s birthday. The celebration serves as a moment to create world peace among people regardless of racial,

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West Kalimantan – Karimata Islands

West Kalimantan – Karimata Islands

Pontianak in West Kalimantan is the starting point for a trip to the Karimata Islands. The bustling harbour is alive with activity and home to a myriad of traditional boats. After stepping down from the pier, I had to scramble across a number of unseasworthy looking boats and was delighted

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An Interview with Kinari Webb

An Interview with Kinari Webb

Saving Lives and Rainforest An Interview with Kinari Webb, MD of ASRI Medical Clinic, West Kalimantan How does a remote medical clinic, in West Kalimantan, come up with ideas like “payment in kind”, a non-cash exchange for medicine and life-saving treatments? What is behind their successful health project that has

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Life & Death in Toraja

Life & Death in Toraja

Life & Death in Toraja Believed to have descended from the stars, the Torajans of Sulawesi are a unique people who practise elaborate funeral rituals for their deceased. Words: Stephanie Brookes  Photography: David Metcalf Located in the middle of the Indonesian archipelago, between Kalimantan and Maluku, Sulawesi sprawls out across the sea,

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The Celebration of Love

The Celebration of Love

Romance for many unfolds around nature, the whispers of the inner and the outer world, framed by a setting that allows you to climb to the top of stairs and shout “yes”. Whether you are planning to get married, wish to fall in love for the weekend or have loved

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The life of a fisherman

The life of a fisherman

The Sasak and Bugis coastal settlements, some dating back as far as 4,000 years, hug the Lombok coastline and many traditional small fishing villages can be found in between mountain regions and fertile alluvial plains. The local people of Lombok, known as “Sasak”, share a few insights into life in

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Into the heart of Borneo

Into the heart of Borneo

What is a New Zealand photographer doing with a documentary film crew in a longboat in the wilderness in Borneo? David Metcalf is passionate about the Dayak people of Borneo (Kalimantan) and has spent years exploring the outer reaches of one of the most ecologically diverse landscapes on the planet.

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The plaited craft

The plaited craft

As mina (aunty) Herta sat on the wooden floor of her humble weathered eighty-year-old home, she flexed her big toe and masterfully plaited three strands of rattan.  This would soon become a handle for the rice basket she was making. Between the strands of a woven basket, there is a

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Tales of the Naga

Tales of the Naga

The Hornbill Festival of northeastern India celebrates the 16 major tribes of Nagaland, bringing to life the ancient tales of the Naga people through song, dance and storytelling. Hornbill feathers are worn when performing ceremonial dances. The power and majesty of the hornbill, which soars above the mountains of Nagaland,

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Blitar – Hidden relics of the past

Blitar – Hidden relics of the past

Falling into history and stumbling upon ancient relics is what is in store for you when you take a journey to the far east of Java. The 80km stretch from Malang to Blitar reveals weathered stone shrines and alluring temples from the Majapahit Kingdom, which ruled eastern Java from 1293

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Emerging into the light

Emerging into the light

Cambodia and Laos Cambodia has returned to the tourist’s radar screens, and is alive and kicking. Tourism is moving so fast, it is now in the top three money-earners for the nation. Emerging from the brutal years of the Khmer Rouge rule and two decades of Cold War, the country

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Travelling Spoon

Travelling Spoon

TRAVELLING SPOON The concept of Travelling Spoon is to put people in touch with locals and allow for a cultural exchange over dinner. This concept is based on the idea that food brings people together. It is growing and expanding worldwide, really changing the way people travel and allowing genuine

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The Joy of Ubud

The Joy of Ubud

For anyone keen on music, culture and the arts, a trip to Ubud is a must-do during your stay in Bali. The drive takes just over one hour from Denpasar and, as you gently wind your way up towards the central mountains, you will be treated to views of terraced

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The Essence of Bali

The Essence of Bali

The essence of Bali starts with a villa experience. The privacy of a villa transcends you from a busy, hectic lifestyle to one of peace, serenity and exclusivity. When you experience a one to one staff ratio, the pampering is beyond words however, pampering by a local Balinese person is

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Teaching English Ubud

Teaching English Ubud

VOLUNTEER TEACHING ENGLISH — UBUD In a little village, about 10 minutes drive from Ubud, an English tutor volunteer program is well established and you can join an English class and assist the Balinese English teacher. I found my way to Pejeng village having contacted the teacher, Made, beforehand to

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Pure Indulgence

Pure Indulgence

Puri Wulandari Sometimes it’s all about romance. Anniversaries, honeymoons and birthdays – we all have them but how many times in our lives do we indulge in a truly luxurious treat. Dial “6” on your phone and its all arranged. This links you to your butler – all villas at

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SOS Orphanage Tabanan

SOS Orphanage Tabanan

SOS ORPHANAGE — TABANAN Before I visited the SOS Children’s Village Orphanage I was a little hesitant about what conditions I might discover and I wondered if this was going to be a positive or negative experience. The SOS Children’s Village, Tabanan, is 30km from Denpasar and I had called

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Negara Buffalo Races

Negara Buffalo Races

Recommended by Stephanie Brookes   Written by David Metcalf    Photos by David Metcalf  www.davidmetcalfphotography.com Negara Buffalo Races – The crowd erupted into a loud roar as one of the chariots slid off the track trying to round the corner, taking a risk with balance and speed to gain valuable

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Kingdom of Pejeng

Kingdom of Pejeng

Gunung Kawi I followed wayan, the temple sweeper, down a crooked path. “Come this way,” he said, “I will show you a waterfall and a hidden temple.” I followed him along the jungle path with mossy overhangs towering above and steamy misty jungle rice fields that dropped away below. As

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Hidden charms lie beyond the tourist strip

Hidden charms lie beyond the tourist strip

Leaving Kuta behind, STEPHANIE BROOKES explores a fascinating island Getting out beyond Kuta can reveal a whole new Bali experience to the traveller — one of heart and soul, allowing you to observe how the Balinese live in harmony with their land. Journeying to the mountain regions and quiet villages

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Grand Mirage Resort

Grand Mirage Resort

Hotel Review I am standing with my toes in the sand on a private beach in Nusa Dua.  The beautiful white sandy beach stretches out in front of me and the feeling of “being in Bali”, with the tropical balmy breezes and the relaxed beach vibe is ever-present. Sometimes we

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Visit to an Orphanage

Visit to an Orphanage

What can a visitor do that will give them something to take away? STEPHANIE BROOKES discovers a few of the many experiences the island can offer. SOS ORPHANAGE — TABANAN Before I visited the SOS Children’s Village Orphanage I was a little hesitant about what conditions I might discover and

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Sari Organik

Sari Organik

SARI ORGANIK GO INTO THE GARDEN, PICK YOUR INGREDIENTS, AND THEN SIT BACK AND ENJOY THE VIEW WHILE YOUR MEAL IS PREPARED FOR YOU AT SARI ORGANIK. I bent down over the masses of green leaves in the sari organic garden bed and  tried to decipher which one was iceberg lettuce

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Devdan Show Review

Devdan Show Review

Treasure of the Archipelago Bali, Indonesia – Nusa Dua This mega production show is a theatrical experience that will keep you elevated, with its lofty acrobatics, intrigued with its journey across the Indonesian archipelago encountering animals and dramatic scenery, and spellbound and fascinated with its hi-tech special effects of volcanoes

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Bali Aga Sacred Ways

Bali Aga Sacred Ways

Bali Aga Sacred Ways – Karangasem Kingdom Karangasem regency is an area of intense beauty. Mount Agung towers in all its glory at 3,142 metres and creates a stunning landscape over East Bali. The dramatic foothills and crevices created by centuries of lava flows from the peak of Bali’s most sacred

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Alam Sari

Alam Sari

Alam Sari Life in an open-air villa, perched 42 steps up on top of a rice paddy immediately transcends you to a very peaceful place. As I roused from my slumber, I could hear a faint, soft, tinkling sound of a village cowbell…. somewhere in the distance. Was this in

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5 places to stay in Bali

5 places to stay in Bali

Why not explore some different options next time you make your travel plans? Stephanie Brookes gives some top accommodation picks, which we hope will inspire you to find the true spirit of the island. KUTA: Ramayana Hotel — Shopping and entertainment What I love about this hotel is the history.

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Stradbroke Island

Stradbroke Island

Stradbroke Island  – Island of Charm North Stradbroke Island is affectionately known to everyone as “Straddie”.  Not only do you have beaches, wildlife and a chilled atmosphere but also unusual things happen on Straddie.  From September to January you will see a strange sight on the beach.  A local guy

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Tempting Mount Tamborine

Tempting Mount Tamborine

It’s Friday afternoon and you’ve left work early. This well overdue weekend escape has been on your mind forever, and finally it is your time to relax. Your destination is Mount Tamborine, a mere 70 kms out of Brisbane. If you are searching for beauty and tranquility then look no

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Mount Barney and Beyond

Mount Barney and Beyond

It’s not often a weekend in the countryside offers two free-roaming alpacas munching leaves outside your kitchen window at 6.00am. It is equally pleasing that as you step outside onto the porch at your lakeside cottage, you immediately have more encounters with wildlife. A turtle sluggishly cruises across the lake.

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