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VOL. 6 · NO.

1, July 2018 Journal of Globerovers Productions · GR

GlobeRovers
Feature Article

10 Indonesia: Emerald of the Equator


Eloquently known as Zamrud Khatulistiwa (“Emerald of the Equator”), Indonesia is vast, spanning over 1.9 million
square kilometres - the world’s 14th largest country in terms of land area. Come along as we explore this archi-
pelago of over 17,500 islands. Known for its active volcanoes, deserted beaches, colourful tribes, remote villages,
ancient ruins, and wildlife in dense jungles, we start in the historic town of Yogyakarta with its 9th-century temples;
we then visit Borobudur Temple, the Dieng Plateau, and the islands of Bali, Lombok, the Gilis, and Flores.

ARTICLES + PHOTOS REGULAR SECTIONS


70 Myanmar’s Myeik Archipelago SPECIAL FEATURES
Located in the Andaman Sea off the
coast of southern Myanmar, the Myeik
64 Sensible Travel Gear
(or Mergui) Archipelago remains largely 118 Tasty Traveller’s Treats
undiscovered by foreign travellers. Join
us as we stay at Wa Ale Island Resort, a 188 Postcards to Mom
privately owned eco-tourism project on
the island of Wa Ale in the Lampi Ma-
rine National Park. This is paradise!
CONTRIBUTIONS
66 Ozzie Loos
102 South Africa’s Cape Peninsula 82 Diving Myanmar’s Myeik Archipelago
Table Mountain iconically renders Cape
Town as one of the most picturesque 92 Myanmar’s Tattooed-Face Women
cities in the world. We start our journey
beneath the mountain, then travel south 132 Dempster Highway - Arctic Canada
to Cape Point, visiting fishing villages
and beaches along the way. We then visit 174 The Dolomites. Proudly Italian
the beaches at Blouberg, Melkbos, and 182 Wines of the Dolomites
Yzerfontein along the Cape West Coast.
184 Save the Rhino
134 Laos, Land of a Million Elephants 192 Travellers in the Spotlight
While Laos may no longer have a million
elephants roaming its jungles, this diverse 196 Book Reviews
country, rich in scenery and activities,
caters to the needs of most adventurers,
culture seekers, Buddhist aficionados, and TOP LISTS
even the foodies! We explore mountain-
ous areas in the north to the Mekong 44 10 Travel Experiences in Indonesia
River islands in the far south. 156 9 Must-Do’s in Laos
PHOTO ESSAYS IN THE NEXT ISSUE
48 Darwin’s Galapagos Islands, Ecuador 198 Europe’s Lilliputian Countries
We explore Europe’s smallest countries:
120 Hill Tribes of Sapa, Vietnam The Vatican, Monaco, San Marino, Liech-
tenstein, Malta, Andorra, Luxembourg,
160 Belarus: Castles, Churches, Singing Ladies Cyprus, Kosovo, and Montenegro.
Candi Bukit Ijo, Desa Sambirejo,
Prambanan, Java, Indonesia.

1
07/01-5

2 Globerovers · July 2018


Editor‛s Message
“Not all those who wander are lost”. J.R.R. Tolkien
John Tolkien (3 Jan 1892 – 2 Sep 1973), an English writer, poet, philologist,
university professor, and author of ‘The Hobbit’, and ‘Lord of the Rings’.

Dear Readers,
THE FRONT COVER:
Sunrise over the 9th-century ruins of In this 11th issue of Globerovers Magazine, we are pleased to bring you a variety of
Borobudur temple, Java Island, Indonesia. exciting destinations and other reading enjoyment. 

The feature destination is Indonesia, with its thousands of islands and the world’s
Globerovers Magazine second longest coastline (after Canada). Join us as we explore Central Java, and the
is currently a biannual magazine, available islands of Bali, Lombok, East Nusa Tenggara, and many more idyllic locations.
in digital and printed formats.
We focus on bringing exciting destinations We also have inspiring stories about the unspoiled and unexplored Myeik Ar-
and inspiring photography from around chipelago of southern Myanmar. Turquoise crystal clean waters and silky white
the globe to the intrepid traveller. beaches complete with a brand new resort fit for royalty! Staying in Asia, we
explore the mountains and hill tribes of northern Laos, the thousands of islands in
Published in Hong Kong the Mekong River to the far south, and a few places in between. We also have our
Printed in U.S.A. and Europe regular stories from South Africa. This time we travel from Cape Town around the
Cape Peninsula and then north along the beaches of the Cape West Coast.
WHO WE ARE:
Editor-in-Chief - Peter Steyn We have Photo Essays of Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands, the far north of Vietnam,
Editorial Director - Tsui Chi Ho Belarus - the former Soviet Republic, and Myanmar’s tattooed-face Chin women.
Graphic Designer - Peter Steyn
Photographer & Writer - Peter Steyn A special thank you to our sponsors and also to our contributors who we introduce
Chief Proofreader - Janet-Lynn Vorster on page 5.
Advertising - Lizzy Chitlom
Lets connect on social media and visit
Sales - Leon Ringwell www.globerovers-magazine.com. 
For easy access, scan the QR codes
FOLLOW US: on page 7.
www.globerovers-magazine.com
www.globerovers.com Feedback: editor@globerovers.com.
facebook.com/GloberoversMag I travel so you can see the world!
pinterest.com/globerovers
twitter.com/globerovers
instagram.com/globerovers
Peter Steyn PhD
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher
CONTACT US: Copyright © 2013-2018. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any part of this magazine
editor@globerovers.com is strictly prohibited without the prior written approval of the publisher. The pub-
lisher does not take responsibility for any potential inaccurate information herein.

THE FRONT COVER

The 9th-century ruins of Borobudur temple, located on Indonesia’s Java Is-


land, are best visited before sunrise. The hues of pink and blue are surreal.

3
4 Globerovers · July 2018
CONTRIBUTORS
In this issue
Thanks to our Contributors
All words and photos by Peter Steyn, except where otherwise indicated. A very special thank you to our
awesome contributors in this issue. Without you, Globerovers Magazine just wouldn’t be the same!

Janet-Lynn Vorster, Cape Town, South Africa (page 102)


Janet is a numerologist by profession, and journalist, editor and photographer by hobby. She is
the proud mother of three grown children and granny to three grandchildren. Janet is the South-
ern African editor as well as Chief Proofreader for Globerovers Magazine.

Marion Halliday, Adelaide, South Australia (page 66)


Marion is “Red Nomad OZ”, author, blogger and Aussie traveller who loves discovering nature-
based attractions and activities – and scenic loos – all over Australia. Her Aussie travel blog and
published book “Aussie Loos with Views” provide inspiration for other Aussie explorers.

Juan Gallardo, Yangon, Myanmar (Page 82)


Juan is a born adventurer from the Spanish city of Seville and has lived in the UK, the US and
Europe. Juan first visited Myanmar in 2012 and has been living in Yangon since 2014. He is
passionate about photography and Burmese cuisine.

Gilad Fiskus, Tel Aviv, Israel (Page 92)


Gilad was born in Montréal, Canada, in 1965 and has been living in Israel since his early child-
hood. In 1989 he graduated with honours from the Dentistry School at the Hebrew University of
Jerusalem. He currently practices dental aesthetics from his office near Tel Aviv.

Yrene Dee, Lumby, BC, Canada (Page 132)


Yrene is the founder of BackcountryCanadaTravel.com. She was born in Switzerland, lived and
worked on different continents and travelled the world before she settled in Canada. She is an
entrepreneur, wilderness nut, and animal lover who prefers off-the-beaten-track places.

Daniele Sommavilla, Belluno, Italy (page 174)


Daniele was born and raised in Belluno, the heart of the Dolomites, and is an avid skier and
hiker. He works at Certilogo in Milano, an innovative consumer technology platform enabling
passionate skiers globally to validate the authenticity of their ski gear before purchasing.

Elisabetta Tosi, Valpolicella, Italy (page 182)


Elisabetta is an experienced freelance wine journalist, wine blogger, and new media consultant.
From Valpolicella (Veneto region) where she lives, she writes about Italian wines and wineries for
international online and offline magazines, and she is always ready for new travel adventures.

Katherine Johnston, London, England (page 184)


Katherine is Save the Rhino International’s Communications Manager. She read Modern His-
tory and English at Oxford, before completing an MA at London’s School of Oriental and African
Studies. She is a consultant to the Lynx UK Trust and Trustee of ResonanceFM.

Additional Contributors:
A special thanks to our interviewees in the “Travellers in the Spotlight” section, Jessica and Laurence Norah, Craig
Thompson, and Yrene Dee. Thanks also to our authors Michela Fantinel and Chris Backe for their book interviews.

5
The Globerovers‛ World
Globerovers Magazine was created by Peter Steyn, an avid explorer who is constantly in search of the
edge of the world. He will always hike the extra mile or ten to get as far off the beaten track as he can.
It is his mission to discover and present the most exciting destinations for intrepid travellers. He has
visited 122 countries (including territories: Greenland, Hong Kong, Macau) and is poised to explore
Africa & the Pacific Islands in the coming months. Peter’s home is wherever he lays down his cameras.

Afghanistan El Salvador Macau Serbia


Albania Estonia Macedonia Singapore
Andorra Finland Malaysia Slovakia
Argentina France Maldives Slovenia
Armenia Georgia Malta South Africa
Australia Germany Mauritius South Korea
Austria Greece Mexico Spain
Azerbaijan Greenland Moldova Sri Lanka
Bahrain Guatemala Monaco Swaziland
Bangladesh Honduras Montenegro Sweden
Belarus Hong Kong Morocco Switzerland
Belgium Hungary Myanmar / Burma Syria
Belize Iceland Namibia Taiwan
Bolivia India Nepal Tajikistan
Bosnia-Herzegovina Indonesia Netherlands Thailand
Brazil Iran New Zealand Timor Leste (East Timor)
Brunei Ireland Nicaragua Turkey
Bulgaria Israel North Korea Ukraine
Cambodia Italy Norway United Arab Emirates
Canada Japan Oman United Kingdom
Chile Jordan Pakistan United States
China Kazakhstan Panama Uruguay
Colombia Kosovo Papua New Guinea Uzbekistan
Costa Rica Kyrgyzstan Paraguay Vanuatu
Croatia Laos Peru Vatican
Cuba Latvia Philippines Vietnam
Cyprus Lebanon Poland Yemen
Czech Rep. Lesotho Portugal Zambia
Denmark Liechtenstein Romania Zimbabwe
Ecuador Lithuania Russia
Egypt Luxembourg San Marino 122 and counting...

6 Globerovers · July 2018


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CANADA
Page 132

ITALY
Page 174

GALAPAGOS
Page 48

SOUTH AFRICA
Page 102

DESTINATIONS
IN THIS ISSUE
8 Globerovers · July 2018
BELARUS
Page 160

VIETNAM
Page 120

MYANMAR
Page 70

LAOS
Page 134

AUSTRALIA
Page 66
INDONESIA
Page 10

9
Komodo Island
Jakarta

Central Java
Bali and
Lombok Islands

10 Globerovers · July 2018


Indonesia
Feature Article

Emerald of the Equator

T hinking about Indonesia


evokes visions of active
volcanoes, deserted
beaches, colourful tribes
and their festivals,
remote villages, ancient
ruins, and wildlife in dense jungles fac-
ing the rapid destruction of their habitat.
Sounds like another country qualified to
be promoted under the slogan of “Many
Countries in One”. While this slogan may
be well founded, this “one country” is surely
Planning a travel adventure through the Indonesian Archipelago
can be overwhelming! Where to start and where to end. What to do and
what not. Don’t fret. Get in on the one side and out on the other side. In
between, grab as many adventures as possible! No regrets!
verified by a United Nations working group
referred to as the UN Group of Experts on
Geographical Names (UNGEGN). That sure
is a lot of named islands to visit, let alone the
tunities to discover the undiscovered are
almost uncountable!
For travellers who have never set foot in
this vast and diverse country with a popula-
not surveyed in one single visit, unless you yet unnamed islands! tion of over 261 million people, it is tough
are spending months on end. Among the larger islands are Sumatra, to recommend the ideal starting point. Let’s
Indonesia is vast, and that’s an under- Java, Kalimantan (part of Borneo Island), start with a few of the highlights, and in the
statement. Spanning over 1.9 million square Sulawesi, and West Papua. Many of the future, we will talk about the islands hardly
kilometres, it is the world’s 14th largest smaller islands that are popular among ever visited by travellers. Welcome to the
country in terms of land area. Also referred travellers are Flores, Bali, Komodo, Lombok, Indonesian islands of Bali, Lombok, the
to as the “Indonesian Archipelago”, it con- and a few others. When it comes to intrepid Gili Islands, the islands of Flores, Komodo,
sists of over 17,500 officially listed islands, of travel across Indonesia, the sky is the limit. Padar, Rinca, and the central region of Java
which 16,056 island names have now been The adventures are endless and the oppor- Island.

Feature l Indonesia | 11
IndonesiaYogyakarta
Indonesia:

all of Indonesia. Much of the complex is is Indonesia’s second largest Buddhist


well preserved, and much appreciated by complex (after Borobudur), which includes
the locals and foreign visitors alike. the temples of Lumbung, Bubrah and Asu.
YOGYAKARTA & SURROUNDINGS Entrance fees for foreigners are steep These are mostly decorated with the Indo-
and the number of local visitors can be nesian version of the Ramayana illustra-
“Jogja City” is the soul of Java Island
known for it culture, arts, and history. overwhelming, so best arrive at 6 am when tions. While overall not as impressive as
the gates open. Prambanan,
Sewu is a

T
he city of Yogyakarta, gateway
Located “Jogja” is a vibrant cultural city with many feast for the
on the border
to Central Java Island, has more
between the
historical landmarks. A great base from where to eyes if you
than enough attractions to keep are looking
the curious traveller busy for a few days. two provinces explore the vast temple complex east of town. for the small-
of Yogyakarta er details.
If you are into arts and crafts, start off
and Central Java, the other structures
with a look at how the artistic locals create Other temples in the wider area
within the Prambanan temple compound,
batik fabrics. Several markets and even include the Buddhist temple complex of
known as the Prambanan Archaeological Plaosan, which is near the Dengok River
some museums showcase their intrinsic
Park, include the 8th-century Sewu temple and surrounded by rice paddies along
works of art.
complex. In total, the park has around 500 with vegetation such as bananas and corn.
Yogyakarta is home to the garden cha- temples.
teau of Taman Sari Palace, with its elabo- The complex consists of about 250 smaller
Sewu temple, with its four pairs of temples and stupas, many of them merely
rate series of swimming pools built during
the Portuguese colonial times. Nearby giant Dwarapala gate guardian statues, in a state of jumbled pieces.
Keraton Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat Pal-
ace, simply known as Yogyakarta Palace, is Prambanan temple. Sewu temple.
the main seat of the Sultan of Yogyakarta
and his family and has a cultural centre
with a museum. Don’t miss the theatrical
performance with shadow puppets (Way-
ang Kulit) at the Sonobudoyo Museum
around the corner from the palace.
Yogyakarta is also the gateway to many
interesting places around Central Java Is-
land. If you are craving for beach life, head
south of the city to Pantai Parangtritis,
Pantai Parangkusumo, and Pantai Cemara
Sewu Bantul.
However, if spectacular ancient temple
ruins are of interest to you, drive about Prambanan temple.
15 km east of the city to the impressive
Prambanan temple, surrounded by several
slightly less significant temple complexes.
Prambanan temple, also referred to as
Candi Prambanan or Loro Jonggrang,
built in the 9th century, is dedicated to the
Hindu god of Shiva and consists of no less
than 240 temples in total.
The three tallest temples at Prambanan,
rising to a height of up to 47 m, are deco-
rated with reliefs illustrating the ancient
Indian epic poem of Ramayana and dedi-
cated to the three great Hindu divinities of
their god as the creator (Brahma), the pre-
server (Vishnu) and the destroyer (Shiva).
Three surrounding temples are dedicated
to the animals that serve them.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site,
Prambanan is the largest Hindu temple in

12 Globerovers · July 2018


Central JavA
Built in the mid-9th century during your eyes adjust to the low light and you
Central Java’s Hindu-Buddhist Kingdom of will find that apart from the small entrance Yogyakarta
Medang, the Plaosan complex is split into chamber, there are also three small rooms
a smaller southern section, Plaosan Kidul, serving as shrines. interesting and complex relief carvings of
and the larger northern section, Plaosan In the entrance chamber is a pair of deities, monks and dignitaries from the
Lor. monsters flanked by winged half-bird, Medang Kingdom.
The mid to southern side of Plaosan half-woman creatures, known in southeast You can easily spend hours trying to
Lor is the most spectacular, in particular Asian Buddhist mythology as kinnaras. figure out the inscriptions and composi-
the two main shrine buildings known as In the central shrine chamber are two tions. Be careful not to hit your head or
the viharas. The southern vihara, which Bodhisattva statues in the typical vara- even your knees or hands against the wall
has been better protected than its northern mudra Buddhist pose. While some of the as they are constructed of ancient volcanic
counterpart, houses mostly male statues in statues’ arms or hands have been broken rock with very sharp edges.
contrast to the mostly female statues in the off over the years, some left hands are
The Plaosan complex gets consider-
northern vihara. While there is no cred- holding a flower, which identifies them as
ably fewer visitors than Prambanan and is
ible explanation for this, some conjecture Avalokiteśvara, a bodhisattva (someone
a peaceful area to explore. Only the large
theories are that the northern vihara was a practising the way of life of a Buddha) who
fearsome-looking statues of the Dwarapala
nunnery, while the southern a monastery. embodies the compassion of all Buddhas.
Other than the male and female statues, The small chambers on both sides
both viharas are very similar in their contain a similar layout of Bodhisattva
layout. statues of which most sit on lotus thrones
As you step into the dark interior, let on an elevated altar. The interior walls have

Plaosan Lor temple and smouldering Mount Merapi


in the background.

A few tips

Foreign visitors pay substantially


more than local Indonesians to visit
these temples. Recently, fees were hiked
significantly. As an example, the entrance
fee to Ratu Boko for foreigners is US$25
while locals pay IDR 40,000 (about
US$3). Similar fees apply to Prambanan
temple, though a combo ticket for Ratu
Boko and Prambanan costs US$40.
To rent a car and driver to take you to
these temples costs another $50 to $60
per day. All in all, an expensive day to
see crumbling ruins.
To save the cost of hiring a taxi, you
can easily take a local bus, such as bus
1A, from Yogyakarta’s main street, Jalan
Malioboro, to the end of the line, which is
near Prambanan temple.
To reach all the surrounding temples
will require a fair amount of walking
though. Plaosan lies about 3 km northeast
of Prambanan (Sewu temple is along
the way), while Ratu Boko is about 3 km
south of Prambanan. Sambisari temple
is a few kilometres west while Ijo temple
is on a hill a few kilometres southeast of
Ratu Boko.
You will thank yourself if you at least
hire a taxi once you are done at Pramba-
nan to take you to the rest of the temples.
In total, three to four hours to visit all the
temples should be enough.
Feature l Indonesia | 13
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14 Globerovers · July 2018


Indonesia:
Indonesia: Yogyakarta
Yogyakarta

temple guardians can disturb your peace was discovered by chance when a farmer, Ratu Boko temple, located at the highest
and quiet. Armed with a snake, rope and a working in his paddy field, hit a solid ob- altitude of all temples in this area (410
sword, they protect the temple against all ject and then dug deeper to unearth a large metres), is Ijo temple, located in Bukit Ijo,
evil spirits. But don’t fear, as I heard they solid carved stone. in the Sambirejo regency.
also protect inquisitive travellers. After reporting it to the Yogyakarta Also built during the 9th century, this
Directly south of Prambanan temple is Archaeological Office, they concluded that complex consists of 17 buildings across
Ratu Boko Temple Palace, fondly referred a large ancient temple was buried here 11 terraces, though only those at the top
to as the “sunset temple”, as most visitors under the rocks sent by an erupting Mount terrace have been restored. The temples
come here to see the setting sun throwing Merapi in 1906. After a long and tedious are decorated with various forms of Hindu
its last fainting rays around the ancient excavation, reconstruction and restoration, carvings.
archway remains of the temple. the temple was finally opened to the public The views from Ijo temple are spec-
Located on a hillside overlooking the in 1987. You won’t see this temple from tacular and a popular spot for romantic
Prambanan temples with Mount Merapi afar as it remains about 6.5 metres below lovers to come and watch the sun setting
as its backdrop, Ratu Boko was built in the surrounding ground level. over Yogyakarta’s Adisutjipto airport, and
the 9th century. Sadly, much of it has been Descend one of the stairways situ- the city of Yogyakarta. The small temples
destroyed so only a few door archways are ated at each of the four corners to reach are not nearly as spectacular as this setting
still standing and the long flight of stairs to the small temple. The main temple is 7.5 high above the city. Don’t miss the views
reach them. metres tall with several niches on all sides of smouldering Mount Merapi volcano,
Halfway back to Yogyakarta is the decorated with statues of Shiva, Mahaguru, which lies less than 30 km to the north.
small sunken Sambisari temple, also Ganesha, and Durga. You could easily spend a few days
known as the “underground temple”. It Southeast of Prambanan temple and exploring this area!

Sambisari temple. Sambisari temple.

Bukit Ijo temple. Bukit Ijo temple.


Feature l Indonesia | 15
16 Globerovers · July 2018
Candi Plaosan Lor in Bugisan village, Central Java
The smouldering Mount Merapi rises high in the background of Candi Plaosan.
Surrounded by rice paddies along with vegetation such as bananas and corn,
this mid-9th century temple was constructed during Central Java’s Hindu-Bud-
dhist Kingdom of Medang.

The complex consists of about 250 smaller temples and stupas, many of them
merely in a state of jumbled pieces. Here you can spend hours trying to figure
out the inscriptions and compositions on the inside and outside. Be careful
not to hit your head or even your knees or hands against the walls as they are
constructed of ancient volcanic rock with very sharp edges.

Feature l Indonesia | 17
Central JavA
borobudur

Sunrise over Borobudur temple.

18 Globerovers · July 2018


Indonesia: Borobudur

including 36,000 foreigners.


For most travellers to Indonesia’s
Central Java region, the ruins of Borobu-
BOROBUDUR TEMPLE dur temple are the highlight of their visit
One of the crown jewels in the world’s and the main reason for coming here. For
many, Borobudur is the only place they
collection of ancient temple ruins.
will visit before they fly out to faraway

A
places.
re you fantasizing about an an- Borobudur can get crowded, very
cient temple lost for centuries crowded, especially during the annual
in the dense tropical jungle, celebration of Buddha’s birthday, known
only to be rediscovered by you whilst rid- as Vesak Day. This day commemorates the
ing on an Asian elephant? That may be an birth, enlightenment (Buddhahood), and
exotic dream, but you should have been death (Parinirvāna) of the Buddha.
here in the early 1800’s, or at least before
On Vesak Day, Thursday May 11th
the late 1980’s.
2017, about 40,000 devotees flocked
At the time when the remains of the through the gates! Also on location were
9th century ruins of Borobudur temple about 3,500 merchants, and over 70 tour
were rediscovered in 1814, it looked very guides. Get the picture?
different from what we see today. Don’t despair! Visit Borobudur in
What we see today is even different January, February or March, reliably the
from just 10 wettest time
or 20 years Arrive at the temple before sunrise and witness as the of the year,
ago. It’s not and you will
so much the sun rises over the smouldering Merapi volcano casting find signifi-
ruins them- hues of pinks and blues over the ruins. Surreal. cantly fewer
selves that visitors. July
changed over and August
the past decade or two, but the increase in are usually the driest months, but the heat
the number of visitors. Gone are the days and high level of humidity can make a full-
when you could feel like a lonely jungle day visit unbearable.
explorer at Borobudur. So, while you can find times of the
As you approach the large car park, the year when fewer people visit, it is a surreal
modern entrance gates, and the line-ups of experience to be here during the Vesak
people, you may feel like turning around! Day festival when orange-robed monks
The Borobudur Temple Tourist Park Man- descend from all over Asia!
agement reported that Borobudur received Festivities start early in the morning
close to four million visitors in 2016. Back with a Buddhist mass prayer and medita-
in 1974, only about 260,000 tourists visited, tion at the nearby 9th century Mendut
temple. A very colourful
and long, slow-moving
parade then leaves the
temple, passing by the 9th
century temple of Pawon,
and 4 km later delivers
the holy water and eternal
flame to Borobudur
temple.
This is an incredible
parade you don’t want
to miss. The evening
performances in front of
Borobudur temple include
mass praying with monks
chanting and meditating,
as well as colourful tradi-
tional dances. Late in the

Feature l Indonesia | 19
Indonesia: Borobudur

evening you can join in the mass release with 2,672 relief panels and the images of For the next few years, several expedi-
of flying paper lanterns, which is quite a 504 Buddhas.  tions arrived to survey the site and made
spectacle, albeit poorly organized. Photo- Following the decline of the Hindu detailed sketches of the temple remains.
graphing these performances and lanterns kingdoms on Java Island as people increas- The first photograph was taken in 1872,
on this beautiful full moon evening, with ingly converted to Islam, Borobudur’s most likely using a gelatin dry plate as
the imposing Borobudur temple in the importance started to diminish during photographic paper film was only invented
backdrop, is an opportunity all photogra- the 10th or 11th century and was all but in 1885. As more people became aware
phers cherish. The festivities continue until abandoned by the end of the 14th century. of the find, it attracted many “souvenir
sunrise following hours of meditation, It then fell into ruins and was subsequently hunters” and thieves who plundered the
praying, and a ritual of walking three times covered by volcanic ash and swallowed ruins. One of the “inspectors” who visited
around the temple. by the dense jungle. Some local supersti- in 1882 even recommended that all the
Even during high season, it is possible tions associated the ruins with unfathom- beautiful reliefs should be moved away to
to have a peaceful time at the temple. The able bad luck, misfortunes, and misery, museums. In 1896, King Chulalongkorn of
day before your intended visit, hop over so people were forbidden to get near the Thailand, then known as Siam, visited the
to the Manohora Hotel, located near the ruins.  area and took eight cartloads of sculptures,
main entrance, to buy your “sunrise tour” Forgotten and lost for centuries, it Buddha images and other items home
ticket at a hefty IDR 450,000 per foreigner. wasn’t until the early 19th century that with him, which are still on display in the
At current rates, this amounts to about Java’s British ruler, Sir Thomas Stamford Java Art room of The National Museum in
US$33. However, there is no limitation Raffles, investigated rumours of a lost civi- Bangkok.
to the number of sunrise tickets the hotel lization in Central Java. With help from the The first restoration of the temple
sells, so technically you can purchase the local Indonesians, he roughly pinpointed commenced during the early 20th century.
ticket at the hotel ticketing counter at 4.20 the location and then sent H.C. Cornelius, However, it was not until 1975 that the
am on the day you want to see sunrise over a Dutch engineer, to find the temple. With Indonesian government, supported by
Borobudur temple. Included in the fee is a a load of natives alongside, he cut through UNESCO, undertook a complete restora-
small flashlight which you will need when the dense jungle for about two months tion. It took more than 600 workers, at a
entering the temple grounds at about 4:30 to eventually reach the ruins. Sadly, they total cost of almost seven million US dol-
am until the sun rises at around 5:40 am, could see little of the ruined temple as it lars to complete the project over the next
depending on the time of the year you visit. was mostly covered in jungle and volcanic seven years. The work has been compared
You will also be entitled to coffee and ash. It took another 20 years before the to putting together the pieces of a massive
a snack at the time of leaving, but not later entire temple complex was unearthed.  one million-piece jigsaw puzzle. Borobu-
than 9 am when the hotel’s free coffee
stand closes!
A regular day ticket, which allows you
to enter at 6 am, costs $25, so the sunrise
AMANJIWO RESORT
ticket is only $8 more. Is it worth this
higher fee? Absolutely. At the time I visited
Borobudur Java, Indonesia
there were about 30 of us who entered at Amanjiwo, set within an amphitheatre of lush palms and rice fields,
4:30 am. Between the time we entered, is a sanctuary inspired by Java’s ancient past and vibrant present.
which was still quite dark, and the time of
sunrise at 05:42 on May 12th, the light is at
its best.
The best part of the sunrise was during
the early twilight period before the sun
actually peaked over the horizon. The
blue and pink hues against the stupas and
statues were surreal. By the time the gates
opened at 6 am for the general public,
the sun was already high and the magi-
cal hours were long gone. Along with the
bright sunlight came the hordes of school
children. I was amazed that the kids got up
so early in the morning to see the temple.
Ds. Majaksingi, Borobudur,
Borobudur temple is a Mahayana Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia
Buddhist temple, and the world’s largest Tel: +62 293 788 333
Buddhist temple. The imposing central Fax: +62 293 788 355
dome, surrounded by 72 Buddha images Email: amanjiwo@aman.com
inside perforated stupas, rests on top of www.aman.com/resorts/amanjiwo
nine stacked platforms that are decorated
20 Globerovers · July 2018
dur was eventually listed as a UNESCO
World Heritage Site in 1991.
The newly rebuilt temple continues to
fight the daily onslaughts of the elements
of destruction. In 1985, nine stupas were
badly damaged by nine bombs, a bombing
carried out by an Islamic extremist group.
The Indonesian branch of ISIS recently
threatened to destroy Borobudur and other
statues in Indonesia. An ongoing threat
is the overload of visitors trampling all
over the brittle stone blocks, and don’t be
surprised to find graffiti on the stones. The
eruption of Mount Merapi in 2010 covered
the temple in a layer of acidic volcanic ash
up to 2.5 centimetres thick.
Spend at least three or four days in the
town of Borobudur. While there are ample
accommodation options, be sure to book
months in advance if you plan to visit dur-
ing any festive period, particularly during
the Vesak Day festival.
Central Java is a gem. If you are into
active volcanic action, including hiking up
the slopes, or love visiting ancient temple
ruins, Central Java is the place for you!

Feature l Indonesia | 21
22 Globerovers · July 2018
Borbobudur Temple, Central Java
Borobudur, the 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist temple (the world’s largest
Buddhist temple) shines in the early morning sun near Magelang, Central Java.

Feature l Indonesia | 23
Indonesia: Dieng Plateau

Setyaki, Candi Arjuna, and further to the Java Island and into the Indian Ocean,
north is Candi Dwarawati. All four of over a distance of 181 km.
these temple ruins are of similar size and To the south of Tuk Bimo Lukar
DIENG PLATEAU stature. lies Telaga Warna, the “colourful lakes”.
Get close to raw nature with bubbling While incomparable to the Prambanan The surrounding natural forests create a
mud pools and steaming vents. or Borobudur temples, they are so unim- mystical atmosphere, which is sometimes
posing, standing in the middle of the rice accompanied by a white mist that envelops

F
fields, that the location is almost more im- the area. The name of the lake is derived
ormed by the eruption of ancient pressive than the small temples themselves. from the natural phenomenon that causes
Mountain Prau, Dieng Plateau is its waters to fluctuate from green to yellow
Dating back to between the 7th and
a complex of calderas situated at to blue-purple, and sometimes all colours
8th centuries, these Hindu temples are
about 2,000 metres above sea level, 130 km of the rainbow at once! This phenomenon
among the oldest known standing stone
northeast of Yogyakarta city.
structures in Central Java. Originally, there occurs due to the high sulphur content,
The plateau derives its name ‘dieng’ used to be many more than the few we can so depending on the position of the sun it
from the two Sanskrit words of ‘di’ mean- reflects a variety of colours.
see today, with some estimates ranging
ing ‘place’ and ‘hyang’ meaning ‘gods’, so it between three to four hundred. Some of Drive up into the hills where you can
is the ‘place of the gods’. Some folk- climb a wooden lookout tower for
lore has it that the name refers to The marshy plateau, located 2,090 metres above great views over the lakes.
‘strange beauty’ because the plateau For the hot sulphur lakes and
has many beautiful places to visit. sea level, is a perfect getaway from the heat and
steam vents, head south to Kawah
This is true, and visitors to the area bustle of Yogyakarta. Sikidang, or northwest to Kawah
can attest to this. Sileri, or even further northwest to
Attractions can be grouped into an- these temples, such as Arjuna, found by Kawah Candradimuka.
cient temple ruins, volcanic activity, volca- a British explorer in 1814, used to be in The latter is far from the other at-
nic lakes and mountains, and rice terraces. the middle of a lake. By draining the lake, tractions and hard to access, so it is often
The drive from Yogyakarta to Dieng the temple was exposed and later recon- skipped by travellers. The tiny road leading
Plateau is invigorating, especially as you structed. up to Kawah Candradimuka is a difficult
get closer to the steep roads up to the pla- Stop at Tuk Bimo Lukar fountain, lo- one and should only be attempted on foot,
teau with the cool thin air. cated in the same area as the temples. This or with a strong four-wheel drive. Even a
On the eastern side of the plateau are ancient bathing spring is considered holy motorbike is not advisable unless you have
several temple ruins worth visiting. These as it is the origin of the Serayu River which a powerful scrambler. Once there, the re-
include Candi (temple) Bima, Candi flows from northeast to southwest over wards are outstanding! A narrow flight of
stairs leads down past lush ferns and into
the crater where you will find two boiling
Steam rising out of Kawah Sileri. pits of water: the biggest pit often boiling
so vigorously that it ejects water high into
the air. The power of the steam vents and
bubbling boiling waters can be frighten-

Lonesome Candi Bima.


24 Globerovers · July 2018
Central JavA
any warning, Sileri ejected a column of
ing. What makes this a special place is that
steam, gasses, and mud, which fell up to
it’s mostly void of people. It’s you and raw Dieng Plateau
nature side by side. Sometimes you have 50 metres from the lake. Sadly, the rescue
to hold your breath when moving around helicopter crashed, killing the eight people
to prevent breathing in the sulphurous on board. A similar but larger eruption oc- Dieng Plateau, and a good way of saying
smoke. Do not slip and slide or you will curred here in September 2009 affecting an goodbye to this beautiful part of Central
become softly cooked soup. The bubbling area of 100 metres radius. As with any area Java, is to wake up early in the morning
waters here are fierce and they are right of volcanic activity, we are taking a massive and set out at 4 am into the dark to climb
next to the footpath among the lush grow- risk to get close to the source, as sudden Sikunir Hill near Sembungan village. From
ing ferns. A sudden and intensive outburst over-activity can occur without warning. the village, it is about a 30-minute steep
of boiling water can cause severe damage If you still desire more volcanic activity hike up the stairs to the top of Sikunir Hill.
to all life in the vicinity, including yourself.
with steam vents and strong sulphur emis- Here you will wait with a small but dedi-
So, walk carefully and pray for the best! sions, drive over to Kawah Sikidang. This cated crowd for sunrise over the smoke-
Kawah Sileri is a peaceful steaming volcanic crater has ample steaming vents puffing Gunung Sindoro volcano. On a
giant! A smoking crater filled with gently and frantically bubbling mud ponds. Hold clear morning, look east into the rising
boiling water and eerily drifting steam. your breath as you walk around, as the sun and you will see both active Merapi
However, be warned as this sleeping giant sulphurous smoke can be intense. Exercise and dormant Merbabu volcanoes. Even in
had a sudden steam-driven explosion caution as there are few guard rails to keep the wee hours of the morning, the many
(phreatic eruption) during July 2017 which you from slipping off the trails and into the friendly food vendors along the hike up Si-
injured several people, some of who were boiling waters. Don’t become soup! kunir Hill provide a welcoming aroma. Try
hospitalized with severe burns. Without Arguably the highlight of a trip to the wok-fried locally grown baby potatoes!

Dieng Plateau terraces. Kawah Sikidang. Kawah Candradimuka.

Sunrise over smoke-puffing Gunung Sindoro


volcano as viewed from Sikunir Hill.

Feature l Indonesia | 25
Indonesia: Bali Island

from the surrounding areas. For months rice farmers are known globally for their
the volcano continued spewing ash clouds, skills in producing high quality rice.
mudflows and fire. Locals remain on high Maybe it is because the Balinese believe
BALI ISLAND alert.   that Dewi Sri, the goddess of rice, should
Bali is known for its beaches. Those in be honoured to ensure good rice harvests.
The “Island of Gods” is developing fast The farmers even set up shrines in their
the south tend to have white sand while
but remains charming and beautiful. rice paddies to honour Dewi Sri.
those in the north and west have black

C
sand, ample evidence of Bali’s historic Rice is an inherent part of Balinese
ommonly referred to as the formation and reshaping by volcanic erup- life. The Balinese even have three names
“Island of a Thousand Temples”, tions. The big swells make for great surf- for rice, depending on the form it takes:
“Island of Gods”, and “Bali ing, and being surrounded by coral reefs when growing it is referred to as padi,
Dwipa”, Bali island is the most-visited makes diving one of the main attractions when stored in a bag it is beras, and when
Indonesian island by foreign travellers. for many travellers flocking to Bali. cooked and ready to be eaten, it is called
While most travellers start and end their nasi.  
Indonesia journey in Bali, often fixated on One of the best areas to experience
The Crowded South
their luxurious tourist resorts and spas, these splendid rice terraces is at Tegalal-
Indonesia is much more than Bali. Many The largest concentration of tourist
lang, about 10 km north of Ubud town.
seasoned travellers to Indonesia will argue hotels is in the south along the beaches of
The Jatiluwih rice terraces in central Bali
that Bali is not Indonesia. Bali is uniquely Nusa Dua and Sanur on the eastern side,
are also beautiful. Belimbing’s rice ter-
Bali, and not typical of Indonesia.  and Kuta, Legian, and Seminyak on the
races to the southwest of Jatiluwih are also
west.
As a starter, while most Indonesian among the best! 
people are Muslim, the Balinese
people practice Balinese-Hinduism. Bali’s main tourist attraction areas are suffering riceThere is no best season to see the
terraces of Bali. It all depends
The Balinese-Hindus celebrate greatly under mass tourism, though its easy to get on whether you want to see some
about 60 religious holidays a year, so reflection in the water shimmer-
they commonly organise their lives away and escape the crowds and development. ing around the newly-planted rice
around the practice of their religion seedlings, or the flourishing green
with almost every aspect of their lives in- Over the past ten to twenty years, these
stage, or different shades of yellow before
volving prayer, worshipping, and offerings once rustic areas have been invaded by the rice is harvested. In fact, seeing and
to their gods.   luxury hotels, superstores, fancy restau-
photographing rice cultivation at any stage
rants, and upscale nightclubs. There are
Different ceremonies form an essential is fascinating, from planting to harvesting.
ample famous Western brand fast food res-
part of every Balinese person’s journey However, do make sure to visit Bali
taurants and luxury clothing stores. Areas
through life, a journey of colour, aromas, that once had a little scattering of travel- when the hillsides and valleys are at their
and celebration. Their culture is vividly lers, are now crowded with tourists from greenest, which is at the tail-end of the wet
expressed through their traditional arts, around the world. The roads are jammed season, from February to April. Rice in Bali
dances, festivals, and religious offering with cars which makes even crossing the
ceremonies.   road difficult.
The island of Bali lies just over three I find it rather sad how the southern
km east of Java island, separated by the part of Bali has been transformed from a
Bali Strait. The island has the shape of a “rustic village” to a crowded upscale tourist
sick chicken facing west towards Java, with destination. The product of mass tourism!
a land area of almost 5,800 km².
If you despise beautiful islands over-
Bali’s central mountains include crowded with tourists, head up north, past
several peaks rising over 3,000 metres in Seminyak to the beaches of Kerobokan
elevation, with Mount Agung, or locally and Canggu, and even further north to the
known as Gunung Agung, the highest at beautiful Tanah Lot Temple. Bali island
3,031 metres. Mount Agung is an active is large and there are many areas along
stratovolcano which, prior to the current the coast which still remain off the beaten
eruptions, last erupted in 1963, one of the track, imbued with tranquillity and a rustic
most devastating volcanic eruptions in the laid-back character.
modern seismographic history of Indone-
sia. The cone-shaped peak dominates the
surrounding area, even influencing the The Rice Terraces
rainfall patterns. Since September 2017 Once you leave the larger towns such
there has been an increase of seismic activ- as Denpasar and the touristy areas of Kuta,
ity around the volcano which has resulted Legian and Sanur, you will drive past end-
in the evacuation of thousands of residents less rice fields and terraces. The Balinese

26 Globerovers · July 2018


Kacek dance at Pura Luhur Uluwatu. Crowded Seminyak beach in the south.
BALI ISLAND

Hindu prayer time on Kuta Beach.

Highlights of Bali

The island of Bali has enough attractions


and activities to keep anybody occupied
for weeks on end. Here are a few high-
lights for first-time visitors:

• The crowded towns and beaches in the


south still have some charm, in particu-
lar during off-season.
• Ubud, the cultural heart of Bali, is a
Jatiluwih rice terraces. place where you can easily spend many
days relaxing, being pampered in
spas and enjoying the cuisines at many
romantic restaurants and resorts.
• Northwest of Ubud are the Alas Keda-
ton temple, the Pura Luhur Batukaru
temple located on the southern slope of
Mount Batukaru, and Pura Ulun Danu
Beratan, a Shaivite water temple.
• Northwest of Ubud are the Pura Ulun
Danu Batur temple and the scenic
Danau Batur Hot Springs.
• A bit further south lies the Pura Besakih,
the “Mother Temple of Bali”, on the
southwestern slope of active Mount
Agung volcano.
• There is so much more to see and ex-
perience than this short list. Rent a car
and drive all around the island.

Feature l Indonesia | 27
Indonesia: Bali Island

is harvested during the dry season which the Bali Zoo, Tegenungan Waterfall, and are considered sacred, and with the hordes
generally lasts from early June to the end of the Goa Gajah Gianyar (Elephant Cave of flying foxes, they have taken over the
July. Note that many areas have more than a Temple). A few minutes’ drive east will get Alas Kedaton temple and its moss-covered
single crop per year. Some have up to three you to Pura Samuan Tiga, and the same walls which are being swallowed by the
crops, which makes it hard to pin down the distance south to Yeh Pulu with its ancient dense misty forest of tall nutmeg trees.  
exact time of the year to see the lush green Balinese rock carvings. Continuing further north you will find
terraces, though in the wet season you are From here drive to Ubud and sleep the Pura Luhur Batukaru temple, located
guaranteed swathes of greenery! in one of the many guesthouses or hotels on the southern slope of Mount Batukaru,
catering for all budgets. Some of the more
Ubud Town special accommodation is located on the
fringes of Ubud town, nestled among the Pura Taman Ayun.
A typical day trip from the southern
rice fields.
beaches driving north to the town of
Ubud will provide an opportunity to enjoy Among the highlights in the art-lover’s
the interesting Bali Bird & Reptile Park, town of Ubud are the monkey forest, the
Pura Taman Saraswati temple, the Pura
Padang Kerta temple, Puri Saren royal
palace, and the art markets around town.
Make sure to see an evening perfor-
mance of Kecak dance at the Pura Dalem
Taman Kaja, and visit a spa and have a
Balinese massage. Other interesting tra-
ditional performances include the Barong
“scary mask dance”, Baris “war dance”,
Legong “pointed lady finger dance”, and
Ubud - It’s a Way of Life the cendrawasih dance performed by two
ladies depicting the mating rituals of the
bird of paradise.  
Ubud has a long history for many travel- Get up before sunrise and walk down
lers who stay here on every visit to Bali, to the bridge over the river at the Gunung
many who moved here to make Bali their Lebah temple. From here the Campuhan
seasonal or permanent home. Ridge Walk meanders high above the
quaint valleys on both sides, past beautiful
Ubud is a way of life. You either have
scenery and a few small restaurants that
Ubud in your blood, or you soon will.
serve breakfast with strong Bali Kinta-
Like many places on the island, Ubud has
mani coffee. The air is cool, and the hillside
seen more tranquil times in the past.
vistas are beautiful.
Back 20 years ago, on my very first visit,
the town was rustic and laid back with The Northwest
only a handful of foreign visitors. Sadly,
The area north of Ubud to the crater
nowadays the streets are often locked in
lakes of Danau Beratan in the northwest,
traffic jams with bus-loads of tourists des-
and Danau Batur towards the northeast,
cending on Ubud, taking day trips from
are best explored over a two-day period.
the southern beach resorts and hotels.
On the first day, stop at the beauti-
Still, Ubud is a way of life to many who ful Taman Ayun temple in the village of
live by the rhythm of the town. It has Mengwi. Built in the early 17th century,
it all: great restaurants, yoga, medita- this temple is a classic example of tra-
tions, spas and massages, artists, shops, ditional architectural features loved by
temples, museums, everything you need. the rulers of the Mengwi kingdom. The
towering tiers of the temple shrines and its
Cycle or hike out of town, or stay in a courtyards and enclosures, complete with
guest house on the fringes of town, and expansive garden landscapes with lotus
you will be at ease among the lush tropic- and fish ponds make this temple special.  
al vegetation only interrupted by ancient
A short drive to the north of Taman
moss-covered Hindu temples and shrines.
Ayun temple will take you to the Alas Ke-
Sit down next to a meandering stream
daton monkey forest. This monkey forest
and find peace and quiet. It is a way of
gets far fewer tourists than the Ubud mon-
life. Ubud life!
key forest. The Balinese long-tail Macaques
28 Globerovers · July 2018
Bali’s second-highest volcano. Built dur- limits to tourists. The vegetation around Dewi Danu, the Balinese water, lake and
ing the 11th century and destroyed in the the temple is very colourful and lush. Look river goddess. This temple is one of Bali’s
17th century, it was rebuilt in 1959. The out for the massive tree ferns. most famous and picturesque landmarks,
tallest, seven-tiered tower, is dedicated to and likely the most photographed temple
Head further north to Pura Ulun Danu
Mahadewa, the god of Mount Batukaru. in Bali. The mirror reflections of the tall
Beratan, a Shaivite water temple on the
This highly sacred temple offers the local tiered towers on the smooth surface of the
shores of Lake Bratan.
Hindus several ceremonies throughout the lake surrounding it give the impression
year and many parts of the temple are off- Constructed in 1633, it is dedicated to that it is floating on the water.

Pura Luhur Batukaru.

The Ubud way of life.

Pura Tuluk Biyu Batur.

Feature l Indonesia | 29
Indonesia: Bali Island

30 Globerovers · July 2018


The mist-covered mountains encircling an elevation of over 900 metres along the so the raised alerts should be monitored
the lake provide a scenic backdrop to the southwestern slope of active Mount Agung before visiting this area.
temple. Be here during sunrise or sunset volcano, it is the most revered and largest Be here during a full moon when
for brilliant photographic scenery.  Hindu temple in Bali. pilgrims throng to the temple. During
The artistic temple complex covers a April, the temple is elaborately decorated
 The Northeast vast area and offers breathtaking views of for the festival of Odalan when pilgrims
the surrounding mountain scenery. hike through the heavily incensed air while
Directly to the east of Lake Bratan lies humming ancient prayers for a prosperous
While some ancient inscriptions dat-
Mount Batur, another active volcano. To life.
ing back to the 2nd century refer to this
the east side of the volcano is the cal-
temple, there is enough evidence that it Done with Pura Besakih, head southwest
dera Lake Batur known for the many hot
was a popular and one of the holiest Hindu to Ubud town for a well-deserved spa treat-
springs along its western shores.
temples by the 15th century. ment and traditional dance show, followed
To the west side of the volcano is Pura by a romantic dinner. You will be so happy
The centre of the temple complex,
Ulun Danu Batur temple, the second you are visiting Bali, the island of the gods!
known as Pura Penataran Agung, consists
most important temple in Bali, after Pura
of 22 temples on six rising terraces and
Besakih to the southeast. Also dedicated is the main place of worship. Assumed to
to Dewi Danu, the Balinese water, lake and have been saved by the gods, the temple
river goddess, this temple was built in 1926 miraculously survived a devastating
after a violent volcanic eruption destroyed eruption by Mount Agung in 1963 which
the earlier 17th-century Mengwi Kingdom killed an estimated 1,100 to 1,500 people.
temple. The tallest 11-tiered tower was Mudflows caused by heavy rainfall after
spared by the volcano and still stands today.   the eruption killed an additional number
After a relaxing time in the Danau of people. Even more people were killed by
Batur Hot Springs, head southeast to pyroclastic flows a few weeks later. At the
Pura Besakih, affectionately known as time of writing, June 2018, Mount Agung
the “Mother Temple of Bali”. Located at continues its high levels of seismic activity,

Danau Batur Hot Springs.

Pura Besakih temple.

Feature l Indonesia | 31
32 Globerovers · July 2018
Pura Ulun Danu Beratan, Bali
This Shaivite water temple on the shores of Lake Bratan was
constructed in 1633 and is dedicated to Dewi Danu, the Balinese
water, lake and river goddess.

Feature l Indonesia | 33
Indonesia: Lombok Island

Photo Left: Kuta Beach remains the playground of


the local kids and the friendly stray dogs, though a new
resort is being built on the beach.

Photo Below: Performance at a wedding, Kuta Beach.

Selong Belanak Beach.

LOMBOK ISLAND come popular among tourists. Fortunately, The town’s beach remains undeveloped,
the most touristy places are confined to although this is set to change during late
Long described as the perfect getaway the areas around Senggigi Beach along the 2018 and beyond. For now, it is mostly
from Bali, Lombok remains pristine. western coast, and Kuta Beach in the far crowded with a few fishermen and school
south. The kids, as well as

D
irectly east of Bali lies the rest of Lom- Lombok Island is mostly void of mass tourism some friendly
island of Lombok. Spanning bok remains stray dogs.
a total land area of 4,725 km², very peaceful
with many parts unspoiled and undiscovered. The town is a
which makes it slightly smaller than Bali, and void of Hop on a bicycle or scooter and explore! perfect base
Lombok’s main tourist areas are in selected any signifi- for the south-
spots on the western and southern coasts. cant number of tourists. ern beach areas located to the west and the
For a while now people have advised trav- The small town of Kuta in the south- east of Kuta.
ellers in search of tranquillity to hop over central part of Lombok has been a travel- West of Kuta are the beaches of Are-
to Lombok to avoid the crowds of Bali. lers’ favourite base for a long time. Here Guling, Mawun, Tampah, Lancing, Mu-
Well, too many travellers have listened you will find many small guesthouses, nah, Telawas, Mawi, and Selong Belanak.
to that advice, so even Lombok has be- hotels, home stays, and restaurants. Selong Belanak is the furthest west of these

34 Globerovers · July 2018


Lancing Beach. LOMBOK ISLAND

Semeti Beach.

Mawun Beach.

Selong Belanak Beach.

beaches located about 25 km from Kuta. It this beach, though I’m not sure if that is road, about 56 km from Kuta, is Tanjung
is not possible to visit all these beaches in possible, you will reach the long beach of Ringgit at the southeastern tip of Lombok.
one day, so select about four or five them. Selong Belanak where you may see water This area is quite remote and beautiful. At
Do make sure to visit Mawi Beach buffaloes right on the beach. This is a great some places, the cliffs rise several metres
(Pantai Mawi). To reach Mawi Beach, rent photo opportunity as the buffaloes walk above the turquoise sea.
a scooter from Kuta and take the road lazily on the beach. Lombok’s highest peak is Mount
towards the west. At around the 20 km Northwest of Selong Belanak lies the Rinjani, an active volcano that soars up
mark, turn left onto a small dirt road. This port of Lembar, the gateway to a few small 3,726 m, making it the second highest vol-
is a rough road and at times you may want islands such as Gili Asahan and Gili Gede. cano in Indonesia. Rinjani last ejected ash
to push the bike or turn around. Don’t turn Here you will find a few places to stay and into the atmosphere on 27 September 2016.
around. Keep going. You will reach Mawi a very laid-back lifestyle. Lembar port Surrounded by the Gunung Rinjani Nation-
Beach about 4 km further, and you will is best reached within 2.5 hours by boat al Park, an increasing number of travellers
think you’re in heaven. Have a cold beer across the Lombok Strait from Bali’s Benoa venture into this area. Climbers are allowed,
under one of the small basic thatched roofs (Denpasar) port, or further north at Bali’s when the volcano is inactive, to climb
and then hike northwest along the beach Padang Bai port, which is a shorter cross- down the 200 metres deep caldera lake,
and over the rocky outcrop to another long ing. or to make the more arduous climb to the
and spectacular beach. highest peak. Hiking trips include sleeping
Just 5 km to the east of Kuta Beach is a minimum of one night on the mountain.
Should you continue further along Pantai Tanjung Ann. Further along this Sunrises and sunsets are stunning!

Feature l Indonesia | 35
Mawi Beach, Lombok Island
Mawi is hard to reach but it certainly is worth the effort. Here you can
sit under the palm thatch beach cafés sipping a cold Bintang beer while
watching the surfers riding the waves.

36 Globerovers · July 2018


Feature l Indonesia | 37
Indonesia: Gili Islands

Balinese, the Sumbawa people, Tionghoa small tables with flickering candles. As the
Peranakan (Chinese), the Flores people, smallest of the three, least populated and
and some Indonesian Arabs. least developed, Gili Meno is also known
THE GILI ISLANDS Located to the furthest west, Gili as the romantic island, ideal for lovebirds
Trawangan, or affectionately called “Gili and honeymooning couples. Gili Meno
Famously portrayed in Julia Roberts’
T”, is the biggest of the triplets. As it is the is famous for its snorkelling, outstand-
movie “Eat, Pray, Love”, this is bliss! ing white sand beaches, and turquoise
first stop for most ferries coming from
waters as well, and can still be described as

G
Bali, Gili Trawangan is where most of the
ili islands: No cars, No motor- backpackers and their rowdy mates get off. somewhat “untouched, unspoiled, and an
bikes, No problem! It is the party island, unquestionably. It is unshared sanctuary”.
Gili means “little island”, also the most developed of the three, and A reminder that while Gili Meno had
and there are several “gilis” around Lom- the best island to find a scuba dive school, few tourists not too long ago, nowadays
bok, particularly off the southwest and pool parties, boutique spas with Balinese the island has its fair share of tourists and
northwest coast of Lombok. However, massages, beach cafes, cooking schools, tourist developments. Beaches on the
when you say “Gili island”, most locals gift shops, and barbecue dinners. north and east sides are safe for swim-
know you mean the gilis in the northwest At night, ming which
of Lombok. Gili Trawa- makes Gili
ngan comes
Meet Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air: Meno popular
Imagine a small island fringed by
white-sand beaches and coconut palms, alive with three little paradise islands laying side by side in among fami-
beach par- lies with small
surrounded by turquoise sea waters. And the Bali Sea. This, is paradise! kids in tow.
yes, no cars, and not even motorbikes. This ties, dancing,
drinking, While the
is as close to paradise as you can get. But
bonfires, and everything a lonely back- number of guesthouses and restaurants are
wait. Multiply this by three, as there are
packer and the dedicated party-goers want, far less than on Gili Trawangan, they are
three such islands side by side.
such as the monthly full-moon parties! scattered around the island except for the
Welcome to the triplets of Indonesia’s southern part which is almost uninhab-
There is no lack of a variety of accom-
Gili Islands! ited. Beaches in the south are not great and
modation, including budget guesthouses,
Meet Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and fancy villas and all-inclusive resorts. some sections are covered with pebbles
Gili Air: three little paradise islands laying However, somewhere along the two-hour and rocks. On the east side of the island is
side by side in the Bali Sea. Located off hike around the island, or while cycling, a small turtle hatchery.
the northwest corner of Lombok Island, you will find tranquil spots to escape from The best beaches on Gili Meno are on
these island triplets were once tranquil and the bustling social life on the island. Pop in the north and east coasts but be sure to
totally undeveloped, until their paradise at the turtle hatchery and look out for the mark your spot at one of the many beach
secrets became public a few years ago. turtles while snorkelling. bars on the western side to see the sunset
Since then, their popularity, in particular
If you are less inclined to partying with over Gili Trawangan, and Bali Island in
among partying backpackers, has exploded
the backpackers, then get off at the middle the distance. On clear days you will see the
and so have the continuing development of
island, Gili Meno. Here partying is limited beautifully cone-shaped Mount Agung, an
hotels, guesthouses, restaurants and a slew to sipping cocktails at candle-lit beach bars active volcano and the highest peak on Bali
of tourism-related services. Speedboats and listening to romantic music. Even bet- Island. Before you leave, take a hike to the
from Bali zip back and forth to bring loads ter, sit on one of the big beanbags strewn brackish lake towards the western side of
of excited tourists. During high season, the around on the sandy beach, separated by the island, which is arguably the quietest
loads are bigger and rowdier. Sound like
another disastrous result of increased mass
tourism? Indeed, it is.
But fear not, as each Gili has its own
distinct personality, and each tends to at-
tract a different type of traveller. 
While most of the local population on
these islands are of the Sarak ethnic group
who can also be found on Lombok, several
ethnic groups were drawn here by the
booming tourism industry. Traditionally
the Sarak people live off fishing, but they
are increasingly turning to the lucrative
tourist arrivals. You will also find a small
minority whose faith is Bodha, which is a
belief in a mixture of Animism and Bud-
dhism. Other ethnic groups include the Sunset over Bali Island and active Agung volcano.

38 Globerovers · July 2018


part of the island. islands, such as diving, snorkelling, drink- GILI ISLANDS
If neither Gili Trawangan nor Gili ing, and even a little partying, the focus
Meno suits your taste, then head further here is on the big chill. Chill out in the
east to nearby Gili Air. This is the ideal morning, afternoon, evening, sleep, repeat!
island if you are looking for a more lazing While full moon parties do exist, and some
around or hippy adventure where Bob partying at night, parties here are more and once in the afternoon. Small outrigger
Marley tunes are blaring while you gaze subdued and under control than on Gili boats are also available for rent if you want
towards Mount Rinjani, an active volcano Trawangan. to check out all three islands in one day
located on Lombok’s mountainous north- and do some snorkelling at a few different

“Each Gili island appeals to


ern coast. spots.
Gili Air can be described as a more Due to the schedule and unpredictable
weather, it is not a smart idea to plan a
upmarket, alternative social scene. Along a dif ferent type of traveller. day trip from either Bali or Lombok to the
with the laid-back atmosphere, there is
also an air of sophistication with a more Everyone can find an area that Gili islands. Even though it can be done if
you are lucky, more so from Lombok, you
mature crowd. Here you will also find most appeals to them. Love it!” should stay a night or two to enjoy the vibe
more of the Sarak indigenous local popula-
tion than on Gili Meno. So, if you want to during sunset and sunrise over the islands.
experience a more authentic local indig- From Bali, catch a fast boat from Don’t miss these magical hours!
enous scene where the locals have main- several ports including Amed, Padang Staying a few nights on each island is
tained their own identity, then Gili Air is Bai, and Serangan to Gili Trawangan from the best decision, though if you have to
the place. where you can board a small boat if you choose one or two, remember their distinct
The island has a good supply of fresh choose to rather stay on Gili Meno or personalities: Gili Trawangan for the fun
water, so locals are farming actively. Gili Air. From Lombok Island, the public and partying young, and young at heart;
Though some accommodation tends ferries and private fast boats leave from Gili Meno for the romantic atmosphere
to be more rustic than the other two Gili Bangsal harbour. Alternatively get on a fast and family-friendly white sandy beaches;
islands, which may just be what your hippy boat from Teluk Nara, south of Bangsal.   and Gili Air for the humour of the local
adventure is all about, there are enough Hopping among the three islands is Sarak people and the alternative, more ma-
upscale places to stay. While Gili Air has easily done by local shuttle boats that ply ture travellers who are more upscale and
most of the amenities of the other two the routes, mainly once in the morning like to reminisce on their hippy past.

Beaches of Gili Meno.

Gili Meno jungle. Beaches of Gili Meno.

Feature l Indonesia | 39
Indonesia: Flores Island

While the town sees numerous travel- respectively green and reddish-black and
lers mainly heading to the islands, the separated by a crater wall.  
rest of Flores has an undeveloped tourist Labuan Bajo, where most travellers fly
FLORES ISLAND infrastructure, and hence few travellers. A into the Komodo Airport just 2 km from
few hotels are dotted along the coast and the centre of town, has several guest-
While Bali bursts with tourists, Flores sits another few in the centre of the island at
houses, hotels and even a few resorts. Head
quietly and waits for the lone visitor. Ruteng Pu’u village where you can stay in uphill, north of the town, for the better
a traditional round wooden thatched-roof places with brilliant views over the nearby

A
s one of the Lesser Sunda house. Other interesting villages include islands. Many of these nearby islands offer
Islands, located in the Nusa Bena and Wae Rebo village. excellent snorkelling and diving, including
Tenggara region in the eastern Located in the far west of the island, the islands of Kanawa and Seraya.
half of Indonesia, Flores Island, meaning the Kelimutu National Park has some of Most travellers who fly into Labuan
“flowers” in Portuguese, was first visited by the most spectacular wonders that nature Bajo come here with one thing in mind:
the Portuguese traders and missionaries in has to offer. seeing the Komodo dragons in their natu-
1511. ral habitat. While not truly a “dragon”
While Flores is the tenth big- Most travellers come to Flores Island with one as we would like to imagine, it is the
gest Indonesian island, as well as world’s largest lizard. They are truly
the tenth most populous, its tour-
thing in mind: To have a close encounter with the magnificent and massively big!
ist population is minuscule. Komodo dragons in their natural habitat. The world sanctuary of the Ko-
Divided into eight “regencies”, modo dragons is the Komodo National
the largest regency is the West Manggarai The park’s highest peak is Mt. Kelibara Park, which spreads across the three larger
Regency, with the town of Labuan Bajo (1,731 metres). Here you will find three islands namely Komodo Island, Padar
as its capital. Once a small fishing village, lakes known as the “tri-coloured lakes” Island, and Rinca Island, as well as some
Labuan Bajo is now a fair-sized town of as they change colour dramatically and 20 smaller islands. Founded in 1980 to
over 220,000 people and serves as the gate- unpredictably: blue, green, and reddish- protect the Komodo dragons, the Komodo
way to Flores and the nearby islands, in- black. The westernmost of the three lakes, National Park was declared a UNESCO
cluding the Komodo National Park, which Tiwu Ata Mbupu (the “old people’s lake”) World Heritage Site in 1991.
spans across several islands. The park is is usually blue, while Tiwu Nuwa Muri Getting to see the dragons, which live
home to the Komodo dragon, which is the Koo Fai (the “young people’s lake”) and mainly on Komodo and Rinca islands, you
area’s biggest tourist draw. Tiwu Ata Polo (the “enchanted lake”), are need to get on a boat which leaves from

Boat trip from Labuan Bajo, Flores Island.

40 Globerovers · July 2018


the Labuan Bajo harbour. To the north of Padar island lays Manta FLORES ISLAND
Depending on your agreement with the Point, aptly named after the creatures that
captain, your trip will include stops to see frequent these waters. Bring along your
the dragons on Komodo island and Rinca snorkelling equipment, or better still, your
island, and a hike up the beautiful peaks diving gear, and spend some quality time
of Padar island, the third largest land mass with the incredibly inquisitive manta rays.
within the Komodo National Park. This 20 This may be something you have never
to 30-minute hike may be the highlight of done, may never have the opportunity to
do again, and you certainly won’t forget

Flores is the 10th biggest


this thrilling experience for the rest of your
life. Just float on the water surface and wait
for these large creatures to come closer to
Indonesian island, and the 10th you and circle around you. If they wander
most populous. Its tourist off, just follow them. They swim ever so
gracefully, turn back and circle around you,
population is minuscule. as if they want to get you moving and not
lose you. You may think they are leading
Picking your Boat
your boat trip as the magnificent views of you to the rest of their pack, which is ex-
the nearby islands are stunning, particu- actly what I personally experienced. At one
To see the dragons, which live
larly at sunset and sunrise. The sharp rocky point I counted no less than fifteen manta
mainly on Komodo and Rinca islands,
outcrops and turquoise bays change in co- rays circling around me. Don’t fear, they are
you have a few options.
lour as they catch the rays of light, creating totally harmless, and have no venomous
many “Kodak moments”. tail spines like their stingray cousins. The cheapest is a day tour with a
large group of people in a big boat,
while the most expensive is a luxury
Padar Island. private live-aboard yacht on a multi-
day excursion. Many options in be-
tween these two extremes are possible,
depending on your available time and
budget.

If you are visiting in high season


around June and July, everything is
more expensive, and it is advisable to
book a boat well in advance. Going
during the off-season, but preferably
outside the rainy season of January
to March, you will save money by not
booking in advance but rather select
and book upon arrival.

A day or two before your planned


boat departure, walk down the main
street to compare fees at a few agen-
cies. Also, go to the piers and check
out the boats and negotiate directly
with the boat captains.

Book a trip of at least two nights


so you will sleep on the boat, either
inside a cabin or outside on the deck,
but under cover. The boat itself can be
a great adventure, but make sure to
carefully select a good boat, depend-
ing on your budget, which comes with
a friendly captain who speaks sufficient
English.

You’re off on an amazing adventure.


Kelor Island. I promise you!

Feature l Indonesia | 41
Indonesia: Flores Island

Don’t miss the early evening spectacle the long row of fresh fish restaurants lined included in the price. Sit down at one of
at Kalong Island, also inside the Komodo up along the harbour. These restaurants are the wobbly plastic tables, order a cold Bin-
National Park, where thousands of flying- only open in the evenings and they spread tang beer, and wait for your meal to arrive
fox bats put on an amazing display as they out their daily catch in front of their grills. a few minutes later. Its fresh, its good, and
leave the mangrove forests to go night Bargaining seems to be fruitless as they all if possible you will return the following
hunting. have similar set prices. These are among night, and again the night after that.
After at least one night on the boat, the freshest seafood on sale at any restau- In the early mornings check out the
return to Labuan Bajo, but make a stop at rant I have ever seen, anywhere. Choose interesting wet market at the harbour, in
Kelor Island for a short hike and snorkel- the fish of your liking and explain how you particular the fresh and dried fish sections.
ling. The views from the top of Kelor’s want it to be prepared: steamed, pan-fried, It is a market filled with surprises and
peak are awesome. Along the way, the boat or grilled. Rice and veggies are generally friendly merchants. GR
passes a few small villages of sea nomads,
such as the primitive yet friendly Mesa
village. Here you will see houses built Indonesia is a vast country to explore. While some areas such as Bali
precariously on stilts over the water, and
hundreds of small fish out drying in the are quite touristy, many places are void of any tourists.
sun. While the village has no fresh water,
many houses have satellite dishes! Drink-
ing water must be transported to the island The locals are generally friendly, the food is great, and nature is
from nearby sources. spectacular. Once you have discovered the of f-the-beaten-track
Be happy when you arrive safely at the
Labuan Bajo harbour and then head out to
parts of Indonesia, you will return again and again!

42 Globerovers · July 2018


ESSENTIAL INFORMATION

Getting There Getting Around Photography


The main hub for arriving in Indonesia is The fastest way to get around the many Even though most people in Indone-
the capital, Jakarta. Many airlines have islands of Indonesia is by flying. Garuda, sia are Muslim and more conservative,
hubs in cities such as Denpasar (Bali), the national airline, recently improved their photographing people in their daily life is
Surabaya, Yogyakarta, Medan and Band- safety record and has an extensive network generally not a problem. Always follow the
ung. Several of these cities can be reached of routes among the islands. Where Garuda golden rule to take portraits without people
from around Asia such as Singapore, does not fly, you likely will find another local knowing, or to ask first. Indonesia is incred-
Bangkok, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and airline that covers the route. Renting a car ibly photogenic: beaches, mountains, active
others. Indonesian airlines don’t have great and driver is a great idea, rent a scooter, or volcanoes, ancient temples, religious cer-
safety records, though Garuda is the best. take taxis, minibuses, trains, and boats! emonies, and endless “Kodak moments”.

When to Go Where to Stay Packing


Indonesia is vast, so its weather can’t be Indonesia is one of the travel destinations Indonesia has the largest Muslim popula-
generalized. However, roughly speaking, where you will find the greatest variety and tion in the world, so it is wise to dress
the driest time is May to September while best value-for-money accommodation. Ac- respectfully and conservatively. It is a warm
the wet season is between November and commodation options are generally good country, so unless you climb the high eleva-
March with January and February being the and mostly very affordable. Even in some tions you won’t need warm clothes. If you
wettest. In Sumatra it is almost the oppo- of the most off-the-beaten-track destina- travel to remote places, first stock up on all
site. Wet season travel has its benefits! tions will you find places to stay! kinds of medication that you may need.

Dining Out Train Journeys Cost of Travel


While Indonesia is not generally known for The majority of Indonesia’s rail tracks are While Indonesia caters for all budget sizes,
its cuisine, you will find many unique re- on Java Island, stretching from the far value for money is generally good, espe-
gional dishes, most of which are delicious. west to the far east near Bali. Sumatra has cially in Bali. The price of food, accommo-
Being an archipelagic nation, seafood is limited tracks. Trains are cheap, comfort- dation, tours, transport, and everything else
abundant, and not expensive. Bali is a able and air-conditioned. Construction is is very reasonable, except in some tourist
culinary delight, but in less touristy places underway to expand rail services, including spots where the “local mafia” operates to
it can be hard to find a good restaurant. on the islands of Kalimantan and Sulawesi. rip off unsuspecting tourists. Be vigilant.

Feature l Indonesia | 43
10 rt avel
Experiences in Indonesia
1 Borobudur Temple
View sunrise from the ruins
The 9th century ruins of Borobudur temple on
Central Java Island are spectacular. Choosing your
visit during the right time of the year and the right
time of the day is important.

Plan your visit to coincide with the annual Vesak


Day Festival in April or May. Participate in the long
and colourful procession as it winds through the
streets from the Mendut temple to the main temple
of Borobudur. Enjoy the evening and all-night
festivities complete with chanting monks, medita-
tion, colourful traditional dances, and the release
of thousands of lanterns into the full-moon sky.
Return to the main temple at 04:30 to enjoy and
photograph a stunning sunrise over the ruins.
The twilight period before the sun peaks over the
smouldering volcanoes and the ruins will paint your
photos in soft blue and pink hues. Awesome!

2 Orangutan
spotting in Sumatra 3 Temple Hopping
in Bali and Central Java 4 Volcanic Active
Dieng Plateau

The riverside village of Bukit Lawang in Indonesia has no shortage of temples, Indonesia is both cursed and blessed
the northern part of Indonesia’s Suma- which reflects its pre-Islamic history. with volcanic activity. Most of the is-
tra Island is the gateway to the Gunung The three main temple types that can lands, including the two largest islands
Leuser National Park, home to the be found are the Javanese ancient of Sumatra and Java, are still being
Sumatran orangutans. If you are on a Hindu temples (candi), Balinese temples shaped by ongoing volcanic activity. In
very short stay, at least visit the feeding (puram), and the Indian Hindu temples addition to witnessing active volcanoes
station near the village. Best is to hire (mandir). While modern Indonesia is from a safe distance, or sneaking closer
a guide and set off into the jungle for at predominantly Muslim with some Chris- during times of lower activity, one of
least one or two nights. A porter or two tians, Bali’s population remain followers the most exciting places to have close
will take care of the tents and food. You of Balinese Hinduism. As most ancient encounters with the raw force of thermal
should be lucky to come across many temples across Indonesia are merely earth is at the Dieng Plateau in central
orangutans, Thomas leaf monkeys, gib- museum pieces, the temples of Bali are Java Island. Located about 140 km north
bons, and other wildlife. Always remain still home to daily worships and frequent of Yogyakarta city, the plateau is dotted
eco-friendly and do not allow yourself or colourful festivals. Many temples are in with steam vents, bubbling mud pools,
your guide to feed the wildlife! striking locations. geysers, and boiling sulphur lakes.
44 Globerovers · July 2018
5 Volcano Hiking
among smouldering vents 6 Beaches
unlimited and unspoiled 7 Cultural Dances
of the Balinese people

Almost every island in the Indonesian With a coastline of over 50,000 km Bali has a rich history of traditional
archipelago has an extinct or still ac- long, Indonesia has no shortage of dancing which is largely influenced
tive volcano to conquer, spanning all beautiful beaches, many of which are by its Hindu roots. Hence, most of the
levels of difficulty and thermal activity remote and hardly visited by anybody. dances are sacred, rather than purely
levels. Some of the more accessible Just fly over the islands and you will be for entertainment purposes. The Wali
volcanoes, where finding an experi- stunned by the number of remote white dances such as the Baris war dance
enced guide is not too hard, are on beaches with turquoise waters. Among and the Sanghyang are mostly per-
Sumatra (Mount Kerinci), Java (Kawah the easy-to-reach beaches are those on formed in the temples. Some sacred
Ijen, Mount Bromo, Mount Penanjakan, the south shores of Lombok Island, a dances are also performed at tourist
Mount Merbabu), Bali (Mount Agung, short flight from Bali. In the small town venues. Among the dances often per-
Mount Batur), Lombok (Mount Rinjani), of Kuta Lombok, rent a motorbike and formed are the Kecak, Barong, Legong,
and Flores (Mount Kelimutu). Some real head out to the east, visiting as many Kebyar, and the Sanghyang fire dance.
easy sunset climbs are Sikunir Hill at beaches as you can. The more remote Some of the other dances include the
Dieng Plateau and the peaks at Rinca and hard to get to, the more beautiful. Gambuh, Topeng, Pendet, Wayang-
Island in the Komodo National Park. Head west and discover more beaches. wong, Janger and the Joged dance.

8 Komodo Dragons
world’s biggest lizards 9 Manta Rays
follow-the-leader 10 Hot Springs
of northern Bali

Using the town of Labuan Bajo on On the same multi-day boating ad- Being a volcanic active island, with
Flores Island as the springboard for venture, visit the manta rays at Manta smouldering volcanoes, Bali has many
a multi-day boating adventure among Point, known as Karang Makassar hot springs. Whether you like a secret
the idyllic islands, make a few stops by the locals. Some of these majes- hot pool nestled in the jungle, or a
within the Komodo National Park, which tic creatures can have a wingspan of natural hot spring pool adjacent to your
spans across several islands includ- up to 4 m. Just swim along and they luxury hotel, you will find some place
ing Komodo and Rinca Islands where will likely lead you to where most of that fits your taste and budget. Along
most of the Komodo dragons live. their friends are. Then, they will circle the shores of Lake Batur are several
These “dragons”, which are nothing but around you, checking you out. Don’t hot springs located in an idyllic spot.
overgrown lizards, are huge and rather fear as they are as inquisitive as you Alternatively, soak at the Tabanan Hot
fearsome. Early mornings are best to are, and are totally harmless. Some Springs on the banks of the flowing Yeh
visit, and you will be chaperoned by other creatures you may come across Panas River below Mount Batukara, the
one of the park rangers equipped with a are turtles, giant trevallies, huge clams, sacred healing waters of the Banjar Hot
long stick to protect you from an attack- eagle rays, cuttlefish, and even the odd Springs in the central far north, or the
ing dragon, if they wake up! shark. hottest one: the Belulang Hot Springs.
Feature l Indonesia | 45
46 Globerovers · July 2018
47
Photo Essay
GALAPAGOS ISLANDS

I slas Galápagos, named after


the shells of saddlebacked
Galápagos tortoises, is an
archipelago of volcanic islands
distributed around the equator, almost 1,000
kilometres west of continental Ecuador in
South America.
earlier, at the tender age of just 22, his Gala-
pagos stop-over was only a short part of his
almost 5-year global rendezvous via Austra-
rage of 74 people who joined his journey, few
people lived on the islands.
While the first known permanent hu-
These islands are famed for their lia, South Africa, and Brazil. man resident was Patrick Watkins, an Irish
endemic species. Studied by Charles Darwin His short visit to the Galapagos is sailor, the islands became popular hunting
back in the 1830’s, they contributed to the arguably the most significant contribution grounds for whale hunters. Some of the
inception of Darwin’s theory of evolution by to his book, The Zoology of the Voy- whalers stayed behind to grow food for pass-
natural selection. age of HMS Beagle, which consists of five ing whale ships.
Darwin, aged 26, reached the remote parts: Fossil Mammalia, Mammalia, Birds, An unofficial “post office under the
Galapagos Islands in September 1835 on Fish, and Reptiles. tree” was also established where whalers
board the HMS Beagle, a three-mast ship, At the time of his visit, Darwin was picked up and dropped off letters. This “post
from Devonport (Plymouth) in the United likely one of only a few humans roaming office” remains active to this day. Write your
Kingdom. Having left the U.K. five years these remote islands. Other than his entou- letter and drop it in the wooden box where
48 Globerovers · July 2018
Ecuador

Galapagos Islands “ Extreme tameness is common to all the terrestrial


species. A gun is here superfluous; for with the muzzle
I pushed a hawk off the branch of a tree.”
Charles Darwin, Voyage of HMS Beagle

Photo: Marine iguana.

subsequent visitors will sort through the and on about 100 live-aboard boats and and unique fauna and flora, the Galapagos is
letters and take along and deliver those ad- cruise ships. the place to visit.
dressed to homes near their future destina- The growth of the lucrative tourism The best way to experience these natu-
tions. industry is not exactly out of control, accord- ral wonders is to board a live-aboard boat for
It was back in 1835 when Darwin ar- ing to the Ecuador government who claims a week or two. They sail at night between the
rived. Fast-forward 183 years to 2018. Now to “fully understand and control” the impact many islands and offer daytime hiking and
more than 25,000 souls live on the Galapagos, of tourism on the fragile ecosystem of the diving among land and sea creatures.
mostly in the town of Puerto Ayora on Santa islands. Apparently “thousands of tourists” One of the most amazing experiences
Cruz Island. Among the other inhabited is- are annually refused entrance to the islands, on the Galapagos Islands is that the animals
lands are San Cristobal, Isabela, and Floreana. in their effort to minimize the human impact. have little fear of humans. Walk up close to
In addition to the permanent resi- The Galapagos Islands are arguably most animals but keep a comfortable distance
dents, over a quarter of a million tourists the crown jewel of South America. If you are in respect of this special human-animal rela-
visit annually, staying in almost 300 hotels interested in geology, volcanology, evolution, tionship of trust. Never touch the animals!

Photo Essay l Galapagos Islands | 49


Galapagos Islands, ECUADOR

Marine iguana.

Land iguana.

50 Globerovers · July 2018


Land iguana.

Marine iguana.

Photo Essay l Galapagos Islands | 51


THE GALAPAGOS MARINE IGUANAS
The only sea-going lizard in the world can be found on about every rocky part of the Galapagos Islands shorelines.
They dive deep down into the water to graze on a variety of seaweeds. While the waters provide them with an abun-
dant source of food, they can’t linger too long in the cold water and need to return to the rocks to warm up in the sun.

Don’t get too close or they will blow, or likely sneeze, saltwater from their nose in your direction! Their population
has been estimated at between 200,000 and 300,000.

Their cousins, the land iguanas, are yellowish in colour and live in the drier areas of the islands where they feed
mainly on low-growing plants and shrubs, as well as fallen fruits and cactus pads. Both land and marine species are
under threat of strong El Niño events, oil spills, as well as cats and dogs.

52 Globerovers · July 2018


Photo Essay l Galapagos Islands | 53
Galapagos Islands, ECUADOR

Nazca boobies.

54 Globerovers · July 2018


THE NAZCA BOOBY
The Nazca booby breeds primarily on the Galapagos of Ecuador and the Malpelo Archipelagos off
the coast of Colombia. There are also small breeding populations along the Ecuadorian and Peru-
vian coasts as well as off Central America’s Pacific Coast. This mother was very determined to feed
her chick this large fish, but after about ten minutes of struggling she gave up and swallowed it.

Photo Essay l Galapagos Islands | 55


Galapagos Islands, ECUADOR

Galapagos sea lions and American oyster catchers.

Nazca boobies.

Swallow-tailed gulls and Galapagos sea lion.

Juvenile magnificent frigatebird. Magnificent frigatebird.


56 Globerovers · July 2018
Galapagos sea lions.

Galapagos hawk. Blue-footed booby. Juvenile Nazca booby.


Photo Essay l Galapagos Islands | 57
Galapagos Islands, ECUADOR

Blue-footed boobies.

Galapagos sea lions.

58 Globerovers · July 2018


Sally lightfoot crab.

Sally lightfoot crab.

Photo Essay l Galapagos Islands | 59


60 Globerovers · July 2018
THE GIANT GALAPAGOS TORTOISE
The Galapagos Islands were named for their giant tortoises. Early explorers
called them “galapago”, the old Spanish word for saddle, due to the shape of
their shells. Since the early days about 100,000 to 200,000 of these giants
have been slaughtered for their meat and fat, which has lead to the extinction
of three species. Today, about 20,000 to 25,000 giant tortoises are still alive.

Photo Essay l Galapagos Islands | 61


Galapagos Islands, ECUADOR

Cactus at Tortuga Bay, Santa Cruz Island.


62 Globerovers · July 2018
Roca Leon Dormido (Kicker Rock), San Cristobal Island.

Pinnacle Rock, Bartolome Island. Pinnacle Rock, Bartolome Island.


Photo Essay l Galapagos Islands | 63
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64 Globerovers · July 2018


65
Aussie Loos
The Australian Amenities Adventure Tour

Marion Halliday is Red Nomad OZ,


author, blogger and Aussie traveller who
amenities admiring in every Australian state
loves discovering nature based attractions
and territory, I should know, right?
and activities – and scenic loos – all over
Australia. Turning a simple Aussie holiday into an
adventure toilet tour is easy. Australia’s best
Her Aussie travel expertise, photography landmarks, vantage points and attractions
and the storytelling skills she developed in often have a loo close by. Luckily for us toilet
corporate life come together in her Aussie tragics, it’ll often come with a stunning view.
travel blog where the highlights (and low- Or a superbly scenic setting. Or unusual
lights) of her many years of downunder travel architecture or decoration, which means the
provide inspiration for other Aussie explorers. loo itself is the view.
Or, on a lucky day, all three!

T
Words & Photos by Marion Halliday Is this poo-patter or toilet-talk in bad
taste? I don’t think so! Downunder dunnies
he tide rolled in and the famous It was 2012, and I was eight years into an become more important the older you get and
Quobba Blowhole shot another All-Australian Top Toilet Adventure Tour. the further you travel. They also contribute to
massive plume of spray high At least that’s what it felt like sometimes. increased hygiene, sanitation and preservation
into the air. The travellers below Dunnies aren’t unique to Australia, but of iconic Aussie landmark sites!
me were getting a drenching. when they’re combined with Aussie wildlife-, But they also add a whole new dimension
Luckily the blowhole held their attention landmark-, and sunset-watching, they’ll turn to my travels! Let me take you on a mini-tour
as a gust of wind blew the dunny door wide your Aussie experience (and photos!) from and show you what I mean.
open, exposing me to the elements. If they’d ordinary to extraordinary.
looked towards me they’d have got way more And after 25 years on the road and 14 years Point Quobba, North of Carnarvon, West-
than they bargained for! of dunny detecting, convenience chasing and ern Australia
Back at the ancient wooden Aussie Loo
with its defective door I had a king-sized
view of heaving seas, cavorting whales and
fountains of spray as killer waves pounded the
wildest coastline in OZ.
And the raised platform underneath made
it snake proof. Didn’t it?

Mount Kosciuszko, Thredbo, New South Wales


Thrilling though it was to conquer my
first (and possibly only) Seven Summits peak,
the Kosciuszko Express Chairlift and gently
undulating purpose-built trail made the climb
almost too easy, even for a non-hard-core
hiker like me.
So the real thrill came at Rawson Pass
with just 1.67 km and 100 metres of eleva-
tion to go – and a view of Australia’s highest
mountain peak from its highest public toilet.
Point Quobba, Western Australia. From Mount Kosciuszko’s peak, the bunker-

66 Globerovers · July 2018


like highest-little-loo-in-OZ not far below is There aren’t any murals in Innes National UN-Water World Toilet Day
unmissable! Park, centrepiece attraction of ‘the Yorke’, but After a blog series about Scenic Aussie
I bet the other Seven Summits peaks don’t the superb coastal scenery more than makes Public Toilets, a couple of loo calendars and
have the same attraction! up for it. And if you don’t spot an emu or a book – Aussie Loos with Views! – I thought
kangaroo while you’re there, don’t bother I’d established my loo-lover credentials. But
buying a lottery ticket because it’s clearly not embarrassingly, I’d never heard of November
Birdsville and Diamantina Development your lucky day! 19 aka World Toilet Day, or given thought to
Road Junction, Outback Queensland the nearly 2.4 billion people without a proper
Unless, like me, you count any day you
The challenge of dunny discovery is find a new killer scenic loo as lucky. toilet, or the nearly 1 billion with no toilet.
especially important when road-tripping the
vast distances between Aussie Outback at-
tractions, as a lapse in concentration can end
in disaster. Even at designated ‘rest stops’ the
loos are few and far between so crossing your
legs becomes a way of life.
And that’s just what we expected to keep
doing at a remote, windswept crossroad on
the dusty plains of Outback Queensland
1,300 km from Brisbane, 1,700 km from
Sydney and 1,400 km from Adelaide. Finding
amenities at this junction between Bedourie,
Windorah and Birdsville – otherwise known
as ‘the middle of nowhere’ – was pretty
unlikely.
But to our surprise, leg-crossing (or its
West Cape loo and view, Innes
nasty cousin ‘the squat’) wasn’t required here. National Park, South Australia.
Because at this lonely landmark I found the
Little Loo at the End of the Universe!
In the Book
St or e

The little loo at the end of the universe,


Birdsville Rd, Queensland.

Yorke Peninsula and Innes National Park,


South Australia
After the Outback’s dearth of dunnies, it’s
virtually impossible to avoid finding a loo
almost anywhere along the Yorke Peninsula’s
485 km of coastline.
It’s such a sure thing that you can easily
discover the surfing and swimming beaches,
fishing and crabbing hot spots, hiking trails,
rocky cliffs and stunning coastal scenery of
South Australia’s best kept secret holiday hot
spot just by checking out the conveniences.
No time? No problem! Just head for the
nearest mural and there’ll probably be a loo
behind it!

Contribution l Australia | 67
I became an amenities advocate when I Standing in three states at once, playing Water was way too precious to squander on
compared the horrifying worldwide statistics the Tri-State Golf Course, or stocking up in indoor plumbing! So a lot of downunder
with 10 of Australia’s coolest conveniences the famous roadhouse are all very well. But dunnies haven’t survived the ravages of
(like this one on Lord Howe Island) – and I my favourite Corner attraction is the view of weather, wind and water.
realised we’d won the loo-lottery with superb the iconic 3-state junction from the road- However, the combination loo/picnic
scenery, good sanitation and inventive archi- house loo! shelter/information centre/viewing deck
tecture. constructed in 1966 when Fyans Creek was
Lake Bellfield, Grampians, Victoria dammed to form Lake Bellfield, raised the
Lord Howe Island In the remote areas of arid Australia, standard for outdoor dunny design – it’s sur-
Tasman Sea. home and public toilets were often built out- vived some cataclysmic weather events, too.
side with whatever materials were at hand. Over the years I’ve explored many re-

Mount Wellington, Hobart and Bruny


Island, Tasmania
Nowhere more so than atop Tasmania’s
Mt Wellington where a glass wall is the only
thing between you and the staggering scenery
in the architect-designed amenities block.
Unless you’ve closed the cubicle door to
protect your modesty!
If Hobart’s most popular attraction is too
civilised, take the short ferry ride to Bruny
Island – same size as Singapore but with 600 View of the dunny down below in the
residents to Singapore’s 6,000,000 – where Neck Car Park, Bruny Island, Tasmania.
the natural attractions are wild, full of wild-
life and way less crowded.
The stunning view along ‘the Neck’
with the ocean on one side and the
D’Entrecasteaux Channel on the other is
worth the climb, but add a strategically
placed, eco-friendly loo in the car park
below and the landscape becomes peculiarly
Australian.

Cameron Corner, Junction of New South


Wales, Queensland and South Australia
The only place in the world where three
Australian states meet puts Cameron Corner
on every serious Outback road-tripper’s
bucket list. It’s a six-hour drive north from
Adelaide to Broken Hill; then four hours
north to Tibooburra – hottest place in
New South Wales. Too many road hazard
variables like dust, potholes, claypans, rocks,
wildlife and other vehicles make it impos-
sible to estimate travel time for the last 140
km leg northwest to the Corner.
View from the loo to Cameron Corner where New
Especially if it’s been raining! South Wales, Queensland and South Australia meet.

68 Globerovers · July 2018


markable peaks, hiking trails, historic sites Luckily, the purpose-built pontoon had adventures off the tourist trail in Australia’s
and waterways in the Grampians National enough reinforced steel to survive an attack intriguing destinations, landscapes and at-
Park, so taking the easy 1 km (return) walk by Victoria River crocodiles up to six metres tractions.
across Lake Bellfield’s dam wall to view the long – and that makes it a loo with one of the All you need to plan your own Dow-
loo wasn’t a priority. But when I finally got most unique views downunder! nunder Dunny Adventure Tour is a sense
there, the views to and from the loo made it Since my first ever Scenic Loo photo of adventure, a copy of Australia’s quirkiest
the Grampians most scenic. of the Kata Tjuta car park conveniences in travel guide – Aussie Loos With Views! – and
As an added bonus, the view of the loo 2004, I’ve had a love affair with the rugged a pair of dunny goggles!
and surrounds is even more spectacular from scenery and iconic landmarks that make the
nearby Boronia Peak! Northern Territory public loos so memo-
rable.
Marion Halliday blogs as
Victoria River, via Timber Creek, Northern So when this amazing Aussie adventure “Australia by Red Nomad OZ” at
Territory turned into an amazing new dunny discovery www.redzaustralia.com.
in the tiny, Top End town of Timber Creek, I
Bad weather isn’t the only hazard an Aus-
figured it was no ‘accident’. Follow Marion @rednomadoz on Twitter,
sie dunny sometimes has to withstand.
Google +, Pinterest, Linked, and Flickr.
After a couple of hours into a 70 km river
Aussie Amenities Adventures – YOUR turn! Facebook: RedzAustralia.
trip and a few drinks while admiring the
sunset, I wondered whether I’d make it back Still reading? Then you’re probably either
Buy her book: “Aussie Loos with Views!” at
to base without a comfort stop. But where a closet or full-blown toilet tragic like me!
Amazon.com, eBay and at
do you go when nature calls and you’re on a It’s been 14 years and thousands of road-trip
www.exploreaustralia.net.au
crocodile cruise in the middle of Australia’s kilometres since my first Aussie Loo photo,
wildest river? and I’m still discovering new loo views and

Victoria River crocodile-cruise loo.


Timber Creek, Northern Territory.

Contribution l Australia | 69
Article

Myanmar
Wa Ale Island
The unspoiled beach at the Wa Ale Island Resort on
the Island of Wa Ale is home to nesting turtles. Sunsets
over the beach are incredible.

70 Globerovers · July 2018


Myanmar’s Myeik Archipelago
Undiscovered and off-limits to tourists for a long time, this is what awaits you: An archi-
pelago surrounded by brilliant azure sea waters dotted with hundreds of remote islands
with pristine white-sand beaches lined with palm trees and covered in abundant wildlife in

L
dense jungle. Swim amongst spectacular marine life, untouched corals, and seashells.

et your mind go wild for a moment that covers approximately 36,000 square kilome-
and just imagine this… You are tres (13,900 square miles) and lies in the Anda-
transposed to a location on planet man Sea off the Tanintharyi Region’s coast in the
earth described as: “Nature’s unex- extreme south of Myanmar.
plored lost kingdom where nobody knows all the The Tanintharyi Region encompasses the long
species that live in the dense jungle and in the narrow southern part of the country known as the
turquoise waters. A pristine paradise of primal Kra Isthmus. It borders the Andaman Sea to the
seclusion which is irresistibly lovely, and one of west, and the 1,700 km (1,056 mi) long Tenasser-
the last few paradises on earth. Here everything is im mountain range, beyond which lies Thailand,
alive, even the shells are crawling”.  to the east. To the north is Myanmar’s Mon State,
Wake up and stop dreaming. Its real! You are and to the south is Thailand and the idyllic Thai
in Myanmar’s Myeik Archipelago!  islands of Surin and Similan.
This is the place for adventure dreamers to The archipelago lies in a 400 km (248 mi) long
make their dreams north-south scatter-
come true. This is a The Myeik Archipelago ranks in beauty among ing across the An-
place for explorers. daman Sea, in
A place for those the Seychelles, Maldives, Tahiti, Bora Bora tropical waters where
who are yearning for (French Polynesia), and Hawaii’s Lanikai Beach. temperatures are
destinations that still consistently pleas-
remain untouched, immaculate, and unspoiled by ant with average lows between 20-24°C (68-75°F)
mass tourism. This is a place where tourism is a and average highs ranging between 28-33°C
brand-new terminology. (82-91°F). These are ideal conditions for tropical
Known as the Myeik or Mergui Archipel- wildlife to thrive, both in the sea and on land.
ago, this name is as confusing as the country’s The archipelago consists of more than 800
name. In their effort to erase some of the remain- scattered islands mainly composed of limestone
ing reminders of their former colonial rulers, the and granite. They vary in size from small jag-
military government changed the country’s name ged rocky outcrops to large islands many miles
from Burma to Myanmar, together with many in diameter. 
other colonial-era names, including the Mergui Most of the islands are covered in evergreen
Archipelago which became the Myeik Archi- forests and very dense jungles that drop into
pelago. While both the colonial name and the the turquoise waters, interrupted only by bril-
Myanmar names are still used interchangeably, it liant white powder-soft sandy beaches and rocky
is more correct to refer to it as the Myeik Archi- headlands. Some of the islands have tidal rivers
pelago. and are fringed by large mangrove forests where
The Myeik Archipelago is an immense area fish and other small creatures flourish. The islands
Article l Myanmar | 71
Myanmar

are surrounded by a coral reef and beds of money” ransom in the form of blue-white
seagrass that add to its diverse fauna and diamonds worth £100 million on an island
flora. The majority of islands remain unin- off the coast of Burma. 
habited and untouched, except for some of Another early historical event that
the larger islands which are home to small placed the region in the Australian news-
communities of Burmese fishermen and papers was back on November 8, 1935.
the Moken people. Air pioneer Sir Charles Edward Kingsford
Smith and his co-pilot John Thomp-
son “Tommy” Pethybridge flew the Lock-
HISTORY OF THE ARCHIPELAGO
heed Altair monoplane named “Lady
While the archipelago, at least for now, Southern Cross” overnight from Alla-
remains undeveloped and almost unnoticed habad, India, to Singapore in their attempt
by the world, it has an interesting history. to break the England-to-Australia speed
Centuries ago the port at the mainland record. Sadly they perished in the area.
was an essential stopover for European An intensive search failed to find them
trading ships crossing the Malay Peninsula alive, or to recover their bodies. Eighteen
on their way to reach the city of Ayutthaya, months later, Burmese fishermen found
capital of Siam, now Thailand. Talking the landing gear from their plane which
about ancient Siam, it has been reported washed ashore at Aye Island to the north.
that the Myeik Archipelago’s indigenous The Myeik Archipelago undoubt-
Moken people, the so-called “sea-gypsies”, edly has a rich history unknown to most of
are the ones who introduced the people of the world. Most stories remain untold.
Siam to brown cowrie shells. Cowrie shells
were used by the Siamese as their currency,
centuries before they started to mint coins. 
During the days when Burma was
ruled by British India, some of the islands Through The Eyes Of Captain W.E. Johns
were named after captains of the empire,
such as the islands of Great Swinton and In the 1946 book “Biggles Delivers the Goods” written by Captain W.E. Johns,
Lord Loughborough. Some were even the eponymous goggled hero flies over the Burmese coast and the Andaman Sea as
called Cocks Comb Island, Bushby Island he conquers the Japanese.
and the Alladin Islands.
Creative naming seems to have come This is how he describes what he sees below him:
to an end, so we are left with islands with
name tags such as “Island No.115”.  “To the right, the horizon was defined by a long dark stain that was the forest-clad hinter-
land of Lower Burma. Below the aircraft, like a string of green beads dropped carelessly
on blue velvet, were the islands of the archipelago, lonely, untouched by civilisation, each
Several of author W.E. Johns’ books hiding beneath its tangle of jungle, a wealth of
of the 50’s and 60’s make reference animal, bird, and reptile life, which a stranger to
to “Burma”, often mentioning the the tropics would from a distance have suspected.”

“Mergui Archipelago”.
He continues with:
Most, if not all of the islands in the My- “…the forests provided a secure retreat for
eik Archipelago, were officially off-limits to elephants, tigers, rhinoceroses, panthers, wild pigs,
foreigners for decades, until 1997 when the crocodiles, snakes of many kinds - including the
first dive operators from Thailand negoti- venomous cobra and the huge python - and insects
ated limited access to selected dive spots.  in countless myriads”.
For years this part of the world enjoyed
scant international media coverage, except
for a few mentions such as in Captain W.E. He describes the sea below him:
Johns’ “Biggles” air adventure books.  “In the turquoise water that separated the islands
In the 1965 James Bond movie from the mainland, seeming from above so
“Thunderball”, the ruthless Persian cat- innocent of danger, lurked marine monsters of un-
petting Ernst Stavro Blofeld demands a believable size and horror - shark, octopus and the
vast ransom in diamonds. The British giant decapod.”
government then plans to drop the “blood

72 Globerovers · July 2018


PEOPLE OF THE MYEIK ARCHIPELAGO rather than fishermen as they do not use their population is growing. The current Mo-
Guarding this paradise are indigenous nets. The men use three-pronged spears to ken population is estimated to be between
people of Malayo-Polynesian descent, hunt big fish spotted from their boats, 2,000 and 3,000, increasingly corralled into
an Austronesian subgroup of people. Meet while women dive to the bottom of the small permanent villages on the islands. 
the Moken, as they call themselves, or sea to collect a variety of molluscs and sea Spread over the archipelago, about 400
Salone, as they are referred to in Myanmar. urchins with their bare hands. They are live within Lampi Marine National Park
They are known by the Thais as the Chao also known to collect sea cucumbers at low in the villages of Makyone Galet, Nyaung
Lay. They are also referred to as the “Sea tide, often as deep as 10 to 12 m. Wee and Ko Phawt. 
Gypsies” or “Sea They are made to live like fish out of
Nomads” and In the myths of the nomadic Moken seafarers, who have water while large trawlers and squid boats
described in infringe on their territories. The Moken
the romantic
lived here for about 4,000 years, the islands broke off
can’t compete with these large boats for
lexicon of West- from the mainland following a great mythological flood. the limited resources. The seas they pre-
ern writers as sided over for centuries are now getting
a quasi-amphibious race living in a tropical Sometimes they embark on multi-day busy, even though the Myanmar govern-
paradise. fishing trips in search of food, though ment is trying to control the influx of
The Moken seafaring people have the trend seems to be shorter trips which foreign boats. As they are threatened by
lived among these islands, undisturbed is due to a decrease in the number of the competition for fish resources by large
their traditional Moken big houseboats, fishing boats, it is not clear how they will
for centuries, and are one of Myanmar’s
called kabang. These days the govern- live a sustainable existence. They likely
most distinct ethnic groups. Living a
ment does not allow them to cut the will turn to the lucrative influx of tourists
rather nomadic sea-based life, these people
thickest trees needed to construct these ka- and abandon their traditional lifestyles.
have adapted themselves to the water over
bangs. They increasingly use smaller dug-


many hundreds of years. Traditionally
out canoes and row close to the coastline
they have lived on the seas in their house- in search of fish and other food items
boats for months on end and made season- harvested from the water and on land. 
The Moken people like privacy
al migrations. They are the masters of free
While the Moken believe one should
and do not like meeting with
diving, and while holding their breaths for
a very long time, they are able to perfectly
not be greedy and only take from the sea many people"
Moken interpreter
what you need, they also believe that re-
focus their vision under water.
sources are infinite.
When living on land during the rough
As they have traditionally moved from As we visited a typical Moken village
monsoon season, they build their huts
one island to another and kept their popula- on a remote island, we found several stalls
close to shore so they can constantly moni- tion numbers small, resources could easily selling foods and candies, much of it pack-
tor the sea and their boats.  replenish. However, as they now tend to aged individually in plastic. Lots of locally
They are considered hunter-gatherers move less and remain in established villages, produced dried fish are also available.
Article l Myanmar | 73
Myanmar

The customers are Moken who now have trees and on the small verandas of the stilt- mained one of the world’s best kept natural
settled down permanently on land, as well ed adobe homes. Life is truly very peaceful environments not tainted by property
as Burmese from nearby islands or even here and fits my image of life on a small developments and the destruction caused
from the mainland. Sections of the village remote tropical island. by mass tourism. 
paths are carpeted with discarded glass, British photographer Cat Vinton, The white sand beaches that rim the
plastics and cans, though the beach itself is who spent several weeks in 2009 aboard steep jungled interiors stand as empty
fairly free of litter. a kabang documenting a Moken fam- as neighbouring Thailand must have been
The kids are friendly and very wel- ily, wrote that she was amazed by “their about 50 years ago. But for a few intrepid
coming to foreign visitors, though some nomadic free spirit, their lack of a routine, travellers, this was the best travel secret
gasp in shock. Perhaps they have never their knowledge of the sea and the jungle, waiting to be discovered at the right time.
seen white people. Their faces are painted their love of nature, their raw energy, their Fortunately, Myanmar’s military
almost comically with the typical Burmese smiles and their hearts”. She continues government started lifting some travel
thanaka, a yellowish-white paint made with “their nomadic life is spent wander- bans into the area in 1997, while keeping
from ground bark. Several young kids were ing around the islands as hunter-gatherers; very strict regulations in place. When op-
rolling in the powdery white sand and then they are the sea gypsies, floating nomads, position leader and activist Aung San Suu
ran off to play with a small wooden boat in living on ancient-designed, roofed boats Kyi joined the government, it became
the clear turquoise waters. They really do called kabangs. These elusive people are politically and morally acceptable among
seem very much at home in the water and born, live and die at sea. The Moken chil- international travellers to visit Myanmar,
I can believe these kids can swim before dren can swim before they can walk. Their hence a further push to open up the area
they can walk. philosophy focuses on pride in the face of to tourism.
scarcity. Kabangs symbolise the ownership

“These beaches never have


of nothing”.

“I'm quite amazed by the


However, the lives of the Moken have
changed significantly over recent years
and are set to change even more as these footprints. I'm alone on this
cleanliness of the waters right at islands are increasingly opening up to
outsiders and tourists!  planet!"
the edge of the village. Crystal
clear indeed."
OPENING UP Today, the vast majority of islands
remain undiscovered by tourists with
Some adults smoke the locally rolled Since the end of World War II, many of them inhabited only by colour-
green-coloured cheroots, a potent Bur- dangerous sea pirates and Myanmar’s ful wildlife and the odd fishing village.
mese cigar, as they lazily sit outside their military dictatorship have kept unwanted While tourism has been on the increase
homes and shops gossiping about the outsiders away from this beautiful part of since the late 1990’s, the lack of any kind of
latest news. Some are happy to see foreign the world.  tourism infrastructure, even basic means
visitors while others seem to be noncha- The region’s decades-long isolation of transport and lodging, resulted in only
lant or even aloof. Babies casually sway in and the absence of tourism meant that a couple of dozen visitors to the entire
small hammocks hanging between palm this large uninhabited archipelago re- area each month mainly via chartered

74 Globerovers · July 2018


yachts and live-aboard diving operators Recently some media even proclaimed: a famous island, Cocks Comb, have been
from Thailand or Indonesia. However, the “The end of a way of life: Burmese islands damaged by the uncontrolled influx of
region is poised for change as the almighty - that are home to 2,000 sea gypsies - set visitors during the past two years. Appar-
tourist dollars are knocking on the door! to be turned into a ‘new Phuket’ with 30 ently Chinese and Thai tourists comprise
hotels and a casino”. With the government the majority of visitors to this island. 
having their eyes on the lucrative income In early 2018 it was reported that the
CHANGE OF TIME from tourism, one of the planet’s most Myanmar Investment Commission has
As the Myanmar government’s per- unspoilt destinations is possibly under given permission to six properties in the
mit policy continues to slowly loosen, serious threat.  Myeik Archipelago to construct hotels.
more tourist vessels have been setting sail It has recently been reported that However, for now, they only permit tour-
among these islands. A few resorts have about 2,000 tourists visited the region by ism on 12 of the over 800 islands in the
been constructed on some of the unspoilt boat between October and May when sea archipelago. Things are sure to change, and
islands, and so have golf courses and even conditions are most favourable. Some re- we can only hope that the protection of the
a casino!  porters claim that 90% of the coral reefs on islands and marine life will be priority.

Article l Myanmar | 75
Myanmar

THE ISLANDS Lampi is home to the National Wild water or tea along with traditional Mo-
Life and Marine Park which was estab- ken food. Buy dried cuttlefish and watch
From flying high above, or just looking
lished in 1994 and declared an ASEAN the men building dugout canoes as their
at a map of the Myeik Archipelago, the
Heritage Park in 2003. The park covers ancestors did centuries ago.
many islands appear to form three vague
a group of islands in the Myeik Archi- Sit back and see life go by in a small
strings or columns, strung down over
pelago, is the only marine national park in island community.
many miles. The inner string is closest
Myanmar, and protects a rich biodiversity
to the coast while a vast scattering forms Towards the end of the dry season
of over 1,000 species of animals, plants and
the middle column. The outer string of around February, the “Salone Festival” is
marine life. 
isles, furthest from the coast, remains even held in the village to mark the annual mi-
more undiscovered.  The park is rich in biodiversity with gration of the fisherman from living on the
195 evergreen plant species and 63 plants sea to the islands as the monsoon season
With so many islands in varying siz-
associated with its vast mangrove for- approaches.
es, there are many pristine sandy beaches, ests. There are 228 bird species, 19 of
most as yet unnamed.  After living on their boats for a long
which are classified as “a threatened spe-
time, they now return to the safety of the
cies”, including the plain-pouched hornbill


islands to escape the choppy waters and
and the Wallace hawk eagle. The park
occasional stormy seas. During the festival,
The beach. The word doesn't is also home to 10 amphibians and 19 they will perform animal sacrifices, tra-
quite conjure the perfection of reptile species, three species of sea turtles,
and 19 species of small, medium and large
ditional and spiritual dances, diving and
rowing competitions, and perform uplift-
the place, of sand so fine it felt mammals. Furthermore, surveys have ing folk songs.
reported 42 species of fish, 42 crabs, 50 sea
like flour between my toes." snails and sea slugs, 41 bivalve molluscs, 35 You will also be treated with a tradi-
CNN, Condé Nast Traveler tional Moken feast of curries, tea leaf salad,
sea-cucumbers, 73 seaweeds, 11 seagrass,
and 333 species of plankton. rice, and fresh fish to further demonstrate
their fascinating way of life.
Among these are many globally threat-
Common features of the islands are ened species. Some of the most incredible While fishing is too dangerous during
the turquoise waters and pristine white creatures on and around the island are the monsoon season, they live off the wild-
beaches skirting the heavily forested inte- the loggerhead and green sea turtles, the life on the islands by setting up snares to
riors, untouched by any significant human Sunda pangolin and the dugong. catch the tiny lesser mouse deer. They also
intervention.  hunt wild pigs with their dogs and kill wild
Some of the activities include canoe-
Taking a closer look at the islands, you ing among the mangroves and on the two birds with slingshots.
will see stretches of mangroves and white- perennial rivers on the west side of the The festival was created by the govern-
sand beaches that are interspersed with island where the best-conserved mangrove ment to promote tourism to the area, so
rocky headlands, tidal creeks and some forests are to be found, and hiking in the not everybody will find it authentic and in
freshwater rivers. jungle, even though there are not yet any the spirit of the Moken people.
While the beauty is comparable to official hiking trails.
the scatterings of the Maldivian Islands, Observing the sea turtles at their nest-
the Maldives is half sunken atolls while ing sites from January to March and spot-

“The beach was fringed with


the Myeik Archipelago looks more ting the babies hatching from the eggs and
like rock formations that shot out of the dashing into the rolling waves is a spec-
seabed towards the sky. tacle not to be missed. 
With way too many islands to discuss Visit the traditional Moken villages turquoise water, with the dry and
here, let us just talk about Lampi, the long where houses are built on stilts and join
L-shaped island, Bo Cho Island at the
powdery white sand full of white
them for diving and snorkelling in the
southernmost tip of Lampi, and Wa Ale, pristine waters of the Andaman Sea. shells and little white crabs busily
its small neighbouring island at its most
western edge.
scurrying backward and forward.
BO CHO ISLAND Farther from the shore, tiny balls
The village of Ma Kyone Galet, located
LAMPI ISLAND of sand were arranged in geomet-
on Bo Cho Island across a narrow chan-
Lampi Island lies almost 20 km off the nel at the southernmost tip of Lampi ric patterns around little holes
mainland of Myanmar, at a similar latitude Island, has a number of Moken res-
as Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital. idents permanently settled in houses built
made by sand crabs.."
The island is one of the largest at about 48 Yvonne Gordon
on stilts. The long curved beach at the vil-
km long and about 5 km wide and looks lage is lined with palm trees and the shore Award-winning travel writer
like an L-shaped boomerang with a short is laden with wooden fishing boats. Here
western side. Its highest hills are 150 to 220 you will find a Buddhist monastery with
metres above the surrounding seas.  friendly monks. Enjoy some fresh coconut
76 Globerovers · July 2018
WA ALE ISLAND Wa Ale Island is part of the vast Lampi creatively constructed with local materials
Marine National Park, an ASEAN Marine including river stones and reclaimed wood
Arguably one of the most beautiful
Heritage site. The island is known for its to minimise its impact on the surrounding
islands of the archipelago is the quaint
pristine kilometre-long dazzling white- environment.
island of Wa Ale at the most western edge
of Lampi Island.  sand beaches, flanked by rocky cliffs, and The Resort’s 11 luxury tented beach
backed by lush evergreen jungles. villas and three treetop villas overlook the
The 9,000 acre Wa Ale
Island can be described as beautiful beaches at its doorsteps.
an annexe of Lampi Island
No roads, no resorts, no sun loungers or umbrellas, no The restaurant serves Asian-
with a 220 metres wide man-made structures of any kind, just raw nature. Though Mediterraneantop British chef,
cuisine created by a
using ingredients
channel (Salet Galet cove)
that separates Kyunn Tann this paradise is going to change! coming from the resort’s organic
Shey on Lampi with Wa Ale garden and local fishermen who
Island. This cove is a popular anchor to the Its crystal clear deep turquoise waters are strictly required to use sustainable fish-
fishing boats in 10 to 12 metres waters and teem with wildlife, including whale sharks, ing methods. 
popular among the Moken people, particu- dolphins, dugongs, turtles and manta rays. Recreational activities on offer
larly during periods of turbulent weather. The shores are ideal for snorkelling the include snorkelling and scuba diving,
The cove is also home to a small communi- reefs, and paddle boarding or kayaking paddle boarding and kayaking through the
ty of Moken people settled on a tiny island. through the mangroves. mangroves, long hikes through the dense
Along the shores of Wa Ale are dense The only accommodation on Wa Ale jungle, and relaxation on the white-sand
mangrove forests with inlets perfect for Island is the brand-new Wa Ale Island beaches.
kayaking. Resort. The entire luxury resort was Wa Ale Island Resort is truly stunning!

Article l Myanmar | 77
A luxury resort amidst untouched islands - Endless Memorable Experiences
Staring at the website I read: “Savour our Dining is normally a set menu served in the im- swimming, surfing, visiting the tiny villages of the
kitchen’s farm-to-table dining prepared from fresh pressive open-air pavilion with the sight and sound of friendly Moken (“Sea Gypsies”) and Burmese fishing
produce harvested from our chef’s garden and the breaking waves just a few steps away. Ray, a bril- communities, and more. The fauna and flora in the
fresh seafood caught daily from the archipelago” liant and creative chef, truly impressed me with his Myeik Archipelago remain pristine as this area was
and “This intimate island retreat sits in a beautiful healthy blend of Asian and Mediterranean flavours. off limits to foreign visitors for decades! Swimming
protected cove with luxury tented beach villas over- He proudly served his Myeik Prawn bisque: at nearby Turtle Beach and the kilometre-long Hon-
looking a pristine beach and majestic rock forma- “a bisque that is inspired by the classic European eymoon Beach is sheer bliss!
tions”. When my eye caught: “A sparsely inhabited, style bisque made with a rich prawn stock of fresh The resort offers the main pavilion with open-air
unspoiled, undiscovered archipelago consisting of local Myeik prawns”. After slow cooking the stock, beach restaurant & bar, a river cafe & bar, a dive &
no less than 800 heavy forested islands, fringed with the bisque is finished off with a splash of Cognac, activities centre, a spa, exercise facility, and a game
mangroves and sandy white beaches where your tomato, and cream giving a smooth, elegant and & recreation centre.
footprints will be the only prints for days to come”, I slightly sweet taste.
was immediately sold. If you have the choice of only one get-away from
His “Wa Ale 7-hour Curry”, his version of a Beef everything, the Wa Ale Island Resort is it!
Myanmar is one of the top 122 countries I have Balti, one of his favourite curries made from beef
photographed, and unspoiled islands are close to rump, is marinated overnight in a house-spice blend
my heart! Tourism is a brand-new term here! of cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, coriander and
My first contact at Wa Ale Island Resort was Myanmar turmeric. It is then seared and cooked
Alyssa Wyatt, and I could feel her island-inspired with local coconut and yoghurt for seven hours until
energy in every email! tender and coated in a rich, aromatic sauce. Topped
I approached the Wa Ale luxurious yacht at the with toasted almonds and fresh coriander, this is an
jetty of Kawthaung. Alyssa, literally bouncing and amazing dish.
leaping towards me, threw her arms around me to For dessert, Ray served us a Lime Leaf Panna Cot-
welcome me to Wa Ale! What a great, energetic first ta: “our version of Panna Cotta, using coconut milk
introduction! The three-hour luxury boat ride past which we infuse with kaffir lime leaves”. This dessert
countless islands overgrown with evergreen primary is light, creamy and floral. To add a crunch it is served
forests was pleasant. Tasty snacks, frosty white and with a lime shortbread or coconut sugar biscuit. I
cool red wine, and fresh tropical fruits hinted at could stay here just for the food, and the free-flow-
what was yet to come. ing excellent wines and locally grown coffee.
On arrival at Wa Ale cove, well-dressed staff Located inside the Lampi Marine National Park,
were waiting with both ice-cold drinks and wet face the focus is on eco-friendly construction, alternative
towels. On the jetty, elegantly constructed from energy sources and eco-friendly water supply and
reclaimed wood, I met Chris, the resort owner. I felt sewage systems. The resort supports Sea Turtle Con-
instantly at ease with him. Our first stop was the servation and Coral Protection and donates to educa-
main pavilion, a masterpiece of stone and wood- tion and medical programs for the local community.
work, also constructed from reclaimed materials. There are several turtle nests, the resort their guard-
Chris explained: “the philosophy is to emphasize ian, right in front of the tented beach villas.
conservation and be committed to giving back to the When the sun and clear skies return this coming
surrounding environment and local communities”. October, the resort will be ready for the first guests.
The entire resort is constructed mostly with re- Once the eleven luxury state-of-the-art tented
claimed materials from old houses, boats, and even beach villas and two treetop villas are completed,
the odd piece that washed up from the sea. All is this luxury resort will be top-notch. The treetop
beautifully and luxuriously done! Not your average villas amidst a canopy of trees blend into the lush
resort, it sure took vision to create, and with such tropical beach environment. Managed by Alyssa and
panache! hubby Ray, an award-winning chef, supported by
their incredible local staff, this is going to be one of
Sponsored Accommodation the loveliest little paradises you have ever seen.
Activities on offer are almost endless: snorkel-
REVIEW ling, scuba diving, paddle boating, kayaking, hiking
through the thick jungle, bird spotting, boating,
78 Globerovers · July 2018
MYEIK ARCHIPELAGO, MYANMAR

AN UNTOUCHED PARADISE
WAITING TO BE DISCOVERED
Wa Ale Island Resort... the world’s first luxury resort to open in the
Myeik (Mergui) Archipelago in March 2018! Discover the remote,
pristine paradise that is Wa Ale. Dive the emerald green Andaman
Sea, kayak or paddle board through the lush mangroves, walk
along the deserted beaches and encounter a paradise like no
other. Wa Ale Island Resort, a true experience for the senses.

We invite you to experience the


ultimate in barefoot luxury...

www.waaleresort.com

Article l Myanmar | 79
Myanmar

THE WILDLIFE CONSERVATION SOCIETY


By Colin Poole, Regional Director, Greater Mekong, Wildlife Conservation Society

The New York-based Wildlife Conservation So- has long supported the conservation of the last
ciety (WCS) has worked to conserve wildlife and dolphins of the Ayeyarwady River which are now
wildlands in Myanmar since 1993. One of the first slowly making a comeback after years of decline.
expeditions carried out by local and international A key component of their long-term recovery is
WCS scientists at that time was to Lampi Island, the role of well-managed dolphin tourism that
which led to the creation of Lampi Island Marine contributes to the livelihoods of local villagers
National Park in 1996. and the management of the protected area.
Such ecotourism is critical to the future financial
In late 2015 Dr Steve Platt from WCS www.
wcs.org and Dr Kalyar Platt from the Turtle Surviv- sustainability of rural communities and protected
al Alliance Myanmar Program www.turtlesurvival. areas across Myanmar, and WCS is working with
org returned to Lampi Island, with the support of the Lampi Foundation to promote appropriate
the Lampi Foundation, to reassess the importance models where tourists directly contribute to the
of the island’s beaches for nesting sea turtles, to well-being of both local people and the environ-
establish the island’s first turtle hatchery and to ment.
train Wa Ale Resort staff, national park staff and
WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide
local community wardens in turtle conservation
through science, conservation action, education,
and managing the hatchery.
and inspiring people to value nature. Over the
This program has been extremely successful. past century, WCS has committed a long-term
Sea turtle nests are located, fenced, and guarded conservation presence in the last wild places
against people and predators such as macaques across more than 65 countries, working with
and monitor lizards. While in past years, nearly local partners to protect these last wild places
100% of the nests on the island were collected because they are intact, biodiverse, most resilient
by poachers, now, almost every nest survives to to climate change, and bastions for large, iconic
produce hatchlings. Most of the nesting turtles wildlife species.
are Green Turtles and Hawksbill Turtles. How-
In Asia, WCS works from the forests of Russian
ever, most surprisingly in late 2016 a Leatherback
Far East to the coral reefs of Papua New Guinea
Turtle was observed coming out to lay eggs on
and the mountains of Afghanistan. In South-east
a Lampi beach and two months later five young
Asia, among other successful initiatives, WCS has
hatchlings emerged from the nest. This is the first
confirmed nesting of this globally threatened worked together with governments and local

ocean giant in Myanmar for over 100 years. partners to recover colonies of endangered large
waterbirds – storks, pelicans and ibises – around
Elsewhere across Myanmar WCS is working the Tonle Sap Great Lake of Cambodia, and to
with government agencies and local communities restore a healthy tiger population in the West-
to promote sustainable use of forests and other
ern Forest Complex of Thailand adjacent to the
natural resources and to secure protected areas
Myanmar border.
for future generations. In Mandalay Region, WCS

80 Globerovers · July 2018


CONSERVATION animals in the Lampi Marine National for the local authorities to take action and
Park alone, including 20 dipterocarp spe- protect the fauna and flora of the reefs and
UNESCO recently examined the My-
cies, three species of sea turtles, dugong, islands before it is too late.
eik Archipelago as a tentative World Heri- and a variety of fish, coral, sea cucumbers,
tage Site for its biodiversity, and its report and other marine species. The Myeik Archi- Fortunately the Wa Ale Island Resort has
concludes with: pelago is large enough to support landscape committed themselves as the guardians of
“The Myeik Archipelago contains most species like the plain-pouched hornbill and Wa Ale Island, including the protection of its
of Myanmar’s coral reef, along with some of maintain the full suite of ecological and population of nesting green-, hawksbill- and
its best-preserved mangrove forests, lowland evolutionary processes.”  leatherback turtles, and is instrumental in
evergreen forests, and seagrass meadows, While it is too early to determine what the creation and funding of the Lampi Foun-
and forms an ecological system of outstand- long-term prospects are for this fragile dation, in partnership with Global Medical
ing biodiversity and integrity. Surveys have ecosystem, hopefully, the increasing interest Volunteers and The Wildlife Conservation
recorded 50 globally threatened plants and in ecotourism will provide enough incentive Society (WCS).

THE LAMPI FOUNDATION

To help fund social welfare and conservation


projects in and around the Lampi Island Marine
National Park, the Lampi Foundation was founded
by Christopher and Farina Kingsley. According to
their website:
“the Foundation is funded through efforts
of the Wa Ale Island Resort and other part-
ner contributions including: Global Medical
Volunteers and The Wildlife Conservation
Society. Through eco-tourism, Wa Ale Island
Resort pledges to annually donate 20% of net
profits and 2% of room revenue from Wa Ale
Island Resort to the Lampi Foundation. It is Wa
Ale Island Resorts’ commitment to help pre-
serve and protect the Lampi Marine National
Park under the guidance of the Myanmar
government with the hope to set a precedent
for future tourism projects in the Myeik Archi-
pelago”.

The Foundation built the first sea turtle hatchery


in Lampi Marine National Park with the support of
the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Ministry
of Environmental Conservation and Forestry of
the Union of Myanmar. 

The Lampi Foundation has empowered local


villagers to safeguard all future nesting grounds
of the green, hawksbill and leatherback turtles
that nest on nearby Wa Ale Island. Wa Ale lies a
mere 220 metres, at the shortest crossing, off the
southwestern point of Lampi Island.

Article l Myanmar | 81
Myanmar

SCUBA DIVING
Myanmar’s Myeik Archipelago

There was plenty to do between the dives, After three days of diving, we all put our
such as paddling out on kayaks to explore pictures together and identified no less than
deserted islands. The untouched white sand fifty individual mantas. Because manta rays
beaches and the clear water felt like paradise. have unique spotted patterns on their under-
Apart from diving, kayaking and eating, my side it is quite easy to differentiate between
Words and photos by Juan Gallardo other favourite activity was to head up to the them.
www.MyanmarTravelEssentials.com top deck to relax on the sunbeds. This is the While the manta rays were amazing, let’s
perfect place for reading and naps, especially not forget the other incredible underwater life
after breakfast following the first dive of the we saw. The area is home to numerous species
I recently spent eight days on a liveaboard morning. of brilliantly-coloured soft corals on limestone
in the Mergui (Myeik) Archipelago and it was rock. I particularly enjoyed looking at the
The highlight of the trip was our visit to
the best diving adventure I’ve ever had. The massive gorgonian sea fans with the colourful
Black Rock. We arrived on the third day and
fact that we didn’t come across other boats reef fish playing around in the background.
nothing could have prepared us for what we
at any of the dive sites made it extra special, The large moray eels hiding in cracks were
were about to witness. We jumped into the
especially for the underwater photographers awesome and the scorpion fish and octopus
water just before 7 am and were immediately
amongst us.
greeted by manta rays. We saw several mantas camouflaged on the purple and violet algae-
The diving sites are incredibly beautiful on the second, third and fourth dives. We were covered rocks were really cool. I also saw my
with colourful, soft corals, swim-through caves, so excited that we voted to stay a second day first turtle, a large stingray, and a small shark.
macro life, and a big chance of meeting a at Black Rock. And guess what? It was as good For those with a keen eye, seahorses, or-
whale shark or giant manta rays. as the first day; we saw mantas on every single nate ghost pipefish, frogfish and stonefish are
The boat I chose had an amazing crew dive. The same thing happened the next day, common on many sites as are the schools of
and the diving instructors were super friendly so in the end we spent three days at Black barracudas, rainbow runners, tuna, trevallies,
professionals with great respect for the Rock doing 12 dives. and Spanish mackerels.
environment. They conducted clear briefings On one of the dives I was surrounded by To top this all off, I was also able to
before every dive, which made me feel safe six huge mantas with wingspans of about four advance in PADI by doing the Enriched Air
and comfortable under water. or five metres. They swam so close to me! (Nitrox) course during my first two days. What
The boat has three decks and eight cabins, Truly unforgettable! a wonderful trip!
all of them with air conditioning and a sea
view window that can be opened. The upper
Juan Gallardo is a born adventurer from the Spanish city of Seville and has lived
deck is the chill-out area and the area where
briefings take place before each dive. Instruc- in the UK, the US and Europe. Juan first visited Myanmar in 2012 and has been living in
tors are so familiar with the diving sites that Yangon since 2014. He is passionate about photography and Burmese cuisine, which he
one of them has created maps of the different captures in his book: “Delicious Myanmar – Discover Myanmar through its people and food”.
islands, which are used to explain the diving
plan prior to every dive.
The upper deck is also the dining area
where you can help yourself to coffee, tea,
toast, water, electrolyte drinks, fresh fruits
and, my favourite, pineapple jam biscuits. If
you have ever dived in Thailand, you will be
familiar with the biscuits I’m talking about.
Special mention goes to the chef on board
and her assistant who prepared the most
delicious Thai food. The wide variety of food
included meat, fish and vegetable dishes far
tastier than in most restaurants. In the morn-
ings we had a European style breakfast includ-
ing corn flakes, muesli, fruit, brown bread,
pancakes, omelettes, fried eggs, sausages, tea
and coffee.
We did a total of 22 dives, starting in
the early morning before breakfast, with the
fourth and final dive just before sunset. We
also had the opportunity to go on a night dive,
which is always exciting.
82 Globerovers · July 2018
ACTIVITIES Kayaking and paddle boarding offer the archipelago is scuba diving, as well as
great opportunities to slowly move across snorkelling. There is no better way to enjoy
The Myeik Archipelago is vast and
the shallows that skirt the enchanted this adventure than to embark on a live-
offers almost unlimited activities to the
mangrove forests and up the small rivers. aboard boat and set off on a multi-day
adventure-spirited intrepid traveller.
Get a glimpse into the lives of the many excursion that covers a wide area. 
Among the many activities are just loung-
ing around on one of the many beautiful small critters that live in these shallow pro- The area has a fascinating topogra-
beaches, snorkelling, scuba diving, wildlife tected waters. phy and prolific fish and invertebrate
spotting during jungle hikes, island hop- Yachting is one of the most sustain- life. In the more shallow waters, you will
ping, kayaking, paddle boarding, and able forms of ecotourism and leaves the come across many species of corals as
anything else you like to do on remote areas they visit exactly as nature intended, well as parrotfish, domino fish, butterfly
tropical islands.  provided their guests follow strict rules fish, snapper, grouper and colourful sea
While official hiking trails are still very to respect nature and not to litter. If anemones.
limited, if you are adventurous enough to the yachts and their guests leave no traces While diving, on a good day, you
take on the dense forests, you will find jun- of pollution, and no signs of disruption to may see several shark species such as the
gles on the islands to be one of the most the reefs, beaches, and jungles and their nurse, grey reef, and bull sharks, as well
rewarding experiences in the archipelago.  inhabitants, then this is the best way to as eagle and manta rays, the dugong,
experience the archipelago. While the giant stingrays, octopus, seahorses, frog-
A diverse range of wildlife can be
jungle is home to so many creatures, likely fish, scorpionfish, ribbon eels, ornate ghost
found including the cute spectacled
many not been identified, the diversity on pipefish, schools of barracudas, rainbow
leaf monkey, gibbons, Sunda pangolin,
the islands is more than matched by life in runners, tuna, trevallies, and Spanish
pythons, monitor lizards, oriental small-
clawed otter, lesser mouse-deer, monitor the sea, showcasing an incredible variety of mackerels, and the list goes on and on.
lizards, civets, chevrotains, gibbons, and marine life.  The diving spots across the region
many more. Watch out for the scampering Diving here is still in its infancy, as the are diverse and far apart, most of which
crab-eating macaques foraging for crabs entire region has been off-limits to divers have not been explored. In the far western
on the islands’ rocky shores. Among the since the late 1940s. After years of negotia- corner of the archipelago where the conti-
most unique birds in the Myeik Archi- tion by several of the Phuket-based dive nental shelf drops off into the deep sea, is a
pelago are the plain-pouched hornbill, operators, the archipelago was opened to range of underwater mountains known as
Wallace’s hawk-eagle, white-bellied sea them in 1997, though much of this vast the Burma Banks which consist of the is-
eagles, crested partridge, red-throated sun- area remains virgin territory to divers. lands of Rainbow, Silvertip, and Roe Bank,
bird, brown-winged kingfisher, Pacific reef Today, an increasing number of boats visit plus the Coral and Heckford Banks. This
herons, emerald doves, and more. the area, so one of the best activities across area offers some serious adrenaline-pump-
Article l Myanmar | 83
Exclusive Dive Cruises
Away from the crowds!
Myanmar’s Mergui Archipelago is a well-hidden divers’ paradise.
With 800 islands and countless pinnacles, it offers incredible diving opportunities with magnificent coral reef
inhabited by a diverse macro life as well as pelagic sea life.

Excellent customer service, delicious food and a friendly atmosphere make


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84 Globerovers · July 2018


Myanmar

ing open ocean diving where friendly which covers several of the most beautiful
shark encounters are virtually guaranteed. dive spots across the region. They guar-
Other highly recommended diving antee that their friendly and professional
sites include Black Rock, Little Torres Is- service, combined with their yummy food,
lands, and also Shark Cave which is home means “time cruising between uninhab-
to a group of nurse sharks. Tower Rock at ited secluded islands on sapphire-like blue
the northern part of the archipelago has water will be nearly as wonderful as the
a dramatic topography with deep walls time you will spend underwater.” Their
studded with corals and fans, providing boats to the Myeik Archipelago depart
ample shelter to lobsters, shrimps, oysters from Ranong in Thailand and Kawthaung
and clams. Often massive manta rays glide in Myanmar. Their brand-new boat, the 25
silently past this impressive backdrop. The metres long MV Smiling Seahorse, will sail
number of dive sites surveyed so far is the Myeik Archipelago starting on the 26th
numerous, yet the area is vast with much of October 2018. See their advertisement
of it unexplored by divers. on the opposite page for more information.
A great way to find a suitable live-
aboard is to visit liveaboard.com which
currently has a listing of 384 liveaboards
with 23,073 cruises. Choose from a variety
of destinations such as the Maldives,
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Islands, Mexico, and many more, including
of course Myanmar’s Myeik Archipelago.
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Article l Myanmar | 85
Maliwan Spa

Souvenir Shop

The Cliff Lounge


www.victoriacliff.com
Victoria Restaurant

Fitness and Sports Centre

Meetings and Events Rooms

Tranquil Landscaped Gardens

Accommodation choices
Hillside Villas
Lake View Villas
Ocean View Villas
Ocean View Wing

Victoria Cliff Hotel & Resort


Kawthaung - MYANMAR

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT US:


No 1, Bogyoke Rd, Shwe Pyae Soe Quarter, Kaw Thaung, 14091 Myanmar.

Myanmar telephone: (+95) 092-5386-9977, (+95) 092-5386-9979


Thailand telephone: (+66) 092-448-7171, (+66) 077-810-701
email: info@victoriacliff.com, sales@victoriacliff.com
@Victoria.Cliff.Hotel.and.Resort
86 Globerovers · July 2018
Myanmar

KAWTHAUNG - THE GATEWAY see the eight meditation niches that repre- small water park with slides. 
sent the eight days of the Buddhist week. It The downtown area also offers a few
One of the gateways to the Myeik
also contains 14 Buddha images. lovely restaurants serving up authentic
Archipelago and the port from where the
luxury private yacht of the Wa Ale Island About 3 km further north is the Mey Burmese food, as well as coffee shops and
Resort departs is Kawthaung, the most Paw Kyan Pagoda. At the northern end interesting markets. Close to the har-
southern town of Myanmar. Kawthaung is of town along the river is a large area of bour, the street is lined with a number of
only separated from Thailand’s Ranong stilted houses built on the edge of the river. simple seafood restaurants and lively beer
Province by a broad estuary in the Pak- This is an interesting area to explore. Dur- stations. At the most southern tip is the
chan River, also known as the Kra Buri ing low tide, the residents scour the muddy Nagayone Temple right at the water’s edge.
River. Known as Victoria Point during riverbed for molluscs and crabs, while Nearby is the Kawthaung Grand Spirit
the British rule of Burma between 1824 during high tide the kids are like fish in the Shrine.
and 1948, it is a charming and laid-back water. They run along the wobbly planks At the southern end of the harbour
town straddled across the hills between connecting the houses and then jump into lies the modest Cape Bayin Naung park,
the Kra Buri River on the east side and the the water. The people are very welcoming named after King Bayinnaung, a Bamar
Andaman Sea to the west.  and curious to engage with visitors. A few (Burmese) monarch who invaded Thailand
The town and the surrounding areas restaurants and drinking spots make this several times between 1548 and 1569. Here
offer several sights of interest such as the an enjoyable part of visiting Kengtaung. you can find a large bronze statue of the
town’s 21 metres high Pyi Daw Aye Pagoda Some 40 km north of Kawthaung, to famous king in full battle gear and bran-
located on a hill overlooking the town. the south of Maliwun village, is the Mali- dishing a sword pointed in the direction
Built in 1949, do walk inside the temple to wan Waterfall with a swimming area and a of Thailand. A warning to the Thais not to
Article l Myanmar | 87
dare invade. It requires a short but steep ous mudskippers. can also find a few T-shirt shops and snack
hike up to the crest of a hill on the cape. The south side of the island is covered vendors.
One of the highlights of the with mangroves and is best explored by The northwest side of the island
Kawthaung area is Palautonetone, a low- kayak rather than by land.  is home to a lively yet rustic and pictur-
lying island about 9 km northeast of the esque fishing village partly build on stilts
A hundred metres or so before the
Kawthaung harbour. The island is linked to over the water. The people are a mixture
northern tip of the village, a dirt track
the mainland by a 1,000+ metres long old
turns off to the left to circumvent some low of Bamar Buddhist, Chinese Buddhist and
teakwood bridge which is open to vehicu-
lar traffic. Best to avoid the crossing on a hills and lead you to a long wide brownish- Muslims, and while they are not used to
sand beach on the island’s northwestern seeing many tourists, they are generally
motorbike which is quite nerve-wracking,
side. While the beach is reasonably clean, very welcoming. Be prepared for a string
especially when wet! A better way to cross
the seawater is quite murky. Where the of happy kids following you, laughing at
the bridge is on foot. Where the bridge
reaches the island, notice the abundance of small road terminates at the beach, a string most every gesture you make! Most of
critters in the mud during low tide, in par- of seafood restaurants and beer sta- them love having their photos taken. 
ticular the large mud crabs and amphibi- tions serve basic meals and cold beer. You During low tide, the sea recedes quite

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88 Globerovers · July 2018


Myanmar

far which allows the locals to scour the lakes, swans, and very tall palm trees and ing the bridge and don’t forget to check
exposed seabed for anything edible or incredibly well-maintained giant bonsais. out the critters down below as you leave
valuable. During high tide the waters sur- Their restaurants serve top class Burmese, the bridge on the island. A new bridge is
round the stilted houses, almost splashing Asian, and Western cuisines with stunning currently under construction which will
inside the basic wooden homes. This is the views over the sea and nearby islands. replace this old teakwood bridge. Appar-
time when even the youngest kids come Enjoy a large swimming pool as well as a ently, the old bridge will be saved and used
out to dive and swim in the waters well smaller infinity pool overlooking the sea. as a footbridge, though the adjacent new
over their heads. After a day of exploring the Resort or the concrete bridge will unquestionably spoil
The island of Palautonetone can be southern tip of Myanmar, have a relax- the photo opportunities. GR
reached by tuk-tuk from downtown, or ing massage or scrub at the Maliwan Spa
even better, stay at the lovely Victoria Cliff or workout at the well-equipped fitness
Hotel and Resort, located some 6.5 km centre overlooking the large pool and
from the Kawthaung harbour. The Resort gardens. The Resort can accommodate up
to 500 guests for weddings, conferences, Globerovers Magazine
offers a variety of luxury accommoda- acknowledges with great
tion types which include the Ocean View or any kind of celebration. Pure bliss!
appreciation the sponsorship by
Wings, the Lake View Villas, Ocean View From the Resort it is a short tuk-tuk Wa Ale Island Resort and
Villas, and the Hillside Villas. The Resort ride to the bridge, or rather take on the Victoria Cliff Hotel & Resort
grounds can best be described as well- roughly 2 km walk to the island village.
groomed botanical gardens, complete with You will take a lot of photos while cross-

ESSENTIAL INFORMATION

Getting There Getting Around Photography


Foreigners are not currently allowed to Getting around Kawtaung, the gateway to Myanmar is generally paradise for
travel independently around the Myeik the archipelago, is easy. Ample taxis and photographers. Literally around every
Archipelago. Government restrictions tuk-tuks (motorbikes with sidecars) are on corner is a “Kodak-moment”. Most people
still require foreign visitors to join an ap- the roads. Around the islands, your tour are happy to have their photos taken,
proved tour company. Tours depart from operator will take care of all the arrange- in particular the kids who truly love to
Myanmar’s Kawtaung and from Thailand. ments which are usually by liveaboard see themselves on your digital camera
Most cost-effective way to Kawtaung is to boat, speedboat, or luxury yacht. Kayaks screen. Best is to ask permission when
fly AirAsia or Nok Air from Bangkok to Ra- are often provided to explore the man- photographing elderly people and in pri-
nong and then cross by 20-minute ferry groves. vate areas such as inside homes.

When to Go Where to Stay Safety


The best season to visit is from October If you are not on a liveaboard such as As with much of Myanmar, the town of
or November to April or May during the The Smiling Seahorse, then stay at the Kawtaung and the entire archipelago is a
dry season. December to March is high exclusive Wa Ale Island Resort which is safe destination for foreign travellers. The
season, with hot sunny days and cool top notch in everything they do. A few only danger may come from the weather
temperatures overnight. April and May are other hotels and resorts are available in and nature, so be vigilant. The ocean can
very hot. June to September is rainy with the area. In Kawtaung, the best place to be treacherous, especially during the mon-
most dive operators and resorts closed. stay is the Victoria Cliff Hotel and Resort. soon season. The jungle has hidden traps.

Dining Out Packing Cost of Travel


Kawtaung has several eateries along While most of the year is hot and humid, As you can’t travel independently around
the harbour which vary from lively beer December and January can be cool at the Myeik Archipelago, you need to book
stations with snacks to expansive buffets night. Bring long hiking pants and long with a resort or a liveaboard. Neither
Myanmar style. Just point at a few dishes sleeve shirts if you plan to hike the jungle. comes cheap. Whatever you pay, you will
and pay later as food is very affordable. On the islands are no drug stores, so obvi- realize it’s worth every cent. Kawtaung
Elsewhere, your tour will be full-board. ously bring everything you need. Kawtaung and the mainland can be visited indepen-
Myanmar Beer is good, so enjoy it. stores have decent basic supplies. dently, and travel is not expensive.

Article l Myanmar | 89
90 Globerovers · July 2018
Lifetime Travel Memories

Myanmar Creating Treasured Memories

Phone: +95-1-394952
+95-9-420065267
Contact our awesome team to create your adventure!
+95-9-420231540
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Article l Myanmar | 91
Meet the Tattooed-Face Women
Photographer of Myanmar’s Chin State
Gilad Fiskus was born in Montréal, Canada in 1965 and has
been living in Israel since his early childhood. In 1989 he
graduated with honours from the Dentistry School at the
Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

He currently practices dental aesthetics from his office


near Tel Aviv. As a photographer, his artistic work
concentrates primarily around unique human cultures.
Being an autodidact photographer, he is passionate
about capturing cultural ceremonies, people in trad-
itional dress, and rituals. Over the years his photos
have been displayed in more than 100 exhibitions
around the globe. Gilad travels once or twice a year in
search of unexplored and authentic destinations, filling
his soul with new experiences and creative photography.

His photography is showcased at www.fiskus-photos.com

A
Globerovers Magazine talked with Dr. Gilad Fiskus about
his passion for photographing human culture.
Photo credit: Avshalom Levi

s a cultural photographer, I am fascinated over and over by exotic and ering seemed more like a party than a mourning ritual. For the next three
colourful tribes. I recently debated where to travel next. There are days, locals were dancing, singing and playing happy tunes on their ethnic
so many exciting destinations to photograph, yet I have limited time musical instruments - all blended with homemade alcohol and frequent
and money to spend on my travels. However, once I laid eyes on photos of blank gunshots fired into the air.
the tattooed-face tribes of Myanmar’s Chin State, I knew that it must be my
destination for 2018. Traditionally, the practice of tattooing Chin State women’s faces was
intended to protect them. Known for their beauty, the women were prone
Once I arrived amidst the Chin people, I was captivated. The overwhelming to being kidnapped by the soldiers of the Burmese kings. Tattooing their
welcome by the enchanting people, the untrammelled photographic oppor- faces was an attempt to disfigure their femininity. Their “ugliness” over time
tunities and the diversity of photo shots, made my journey so exceptional turned into an expression of “beauty”, which became a unique element of
and unforgettable. their culture.

Six tattooed-face tribes still exist in Chin State. Each is unique in their own
I love the tattooed women’s portraits and the proud hunting tradition of
style of tattoos. The M’uun tribe has large emphasized D and P shaped sym-
their husbands. I adore the joyful kids looking so lively with the yellow-
bols. The M’kaan women have lined tattoos on their foreheads and chins.
ish-white cosmetic thanaka paste (made from ground bark) smeared over
Dai and Yin Du tribes have long vertical lines shaped like cobwebs. The
their faces. It was delighful to watch the boys playing their local version of Nga Yau tribe women combine dots and stripes, while the Uppriv have their
sepak takraw, a popular ball game in Myanmar and other countries in the entire faces covered with dots, giving them an ashen look. The diversity in
region including Thailand, Malaysia, India and Indonesia. The game is some- tattoo designs is indicative of their effort to differentiate between tribes,
what of a fusion between football and volleyball, and so much fun to watch. perhaps to prevent bride-kidnapping among the tribes.

During my stay in Chin State, I attended a unique ceremony related to However, this unique tradition has been outlawed for over 50 years, par-
mourning rituals. While having lunch at a local restaurant, sudden gunshots ticularly to prevent infections due to inadequate sanitary conditions. In the
startled me. It turned out that one of the elders in the village had passed past, infections caused death in some cases. Nevertheless, despite the ban,
away, and people came from all over the state to pay their last respects. tattooed women in their thirties and forties can still be found in the remote
I was invited into the local bar where the ceremony took place. The gath- areas of Chin State.

92 Globerovers · July 2018


Meet the Photographer l Gilad Fiskus

Meet the Photographer | 93


94 Globerovers · July 2018
Meet the Photographer l Gilad Fiskus

All photos by Dr. Gilad Fiskus

Meet the Photographer | 95


96 Globerovers · July 2018
Meet the Photographer l Gilad Fiskus

All photos by Dr. Gilad Fiskus

Meet the Photographer | 97


98 Globerovers · July 2018
Meet the Photographer l Gilad Fiskus

All photos by Dr. Gilad Fiskus

Meet the Photographer | 99


100 Globerovers · July 2018
101
s t C o a s t . P a r t 1
Th e C a p e W e & F is h in g v il lages.
s e r te d b e a ches h Africa
de n c e, S o u t
Cape Provi

Words by Janet-Lynn Vorster In our series, Village LIFE, our Southern Africa correspondent, Janet-Lynn Vorster,
Cape Town, South Africa. takes us around the Cape Peninsula of South Africa’s Western Cape Province (Part 1),
All photos by Globerovers Magazine, before heading northwest along the lower West Coast to visit the coastal retreats from
unless where otherwise indicated. Bloubergstrand to the long stretched beaches of Yzerfontein. Part 2 in December 2018.

T able Mountain is a highly visible


and well-recognised land mark
internationally. It is as spectacu-
lar as any other world-renowned
C P
The ape eninsula
Gateway to the West Coast
land mark. If you don’t recognize it at a
glance, your travels and general knowledge
of the world are sadly lacking.
The Cape Peninsula, which stretches Majestic Table Mountain
from Gordon’s Bay to Blouberg Strand, is
Table Mountain National Park encom-
arguably one of the most beautiful places
passes a vast part of the peninsula, 221
in the world. It lies at the southwestern tip
of Africa, not quite as far south as Cape km² in total. It was proclaimed on 29 May
Agulhas where the Atlantic and Indian 1998, to protect the natural environment of
oceans meet though. the Table Mountain Chain, particularly the
The Cape Peninsula, incorporating rare fynbos vegetation. Few people know
Cape Town, is flanked by the cold Ben- there are five dams on Table Mountain and
guela Current of the Atlantic Ocean. This billions of cubic metres of fresh, drinkable
current wells up, bringing cold, mineral- and crystal-clear water in natural aquifers
rich water from the depths of the Atlantic below it. You must take the cable car to the
Ocean, which surfaces along the west coast top of Table Mountain. If the cableway is
of Southern Africa and then flows north- closed due to wind, rain or poor visibility,
wards. just reschedule. You will never forgive
It is difficult to explain to people who yourself for coming to Cape Town and not
have not experienced this city, how one going up the cableway. Never! The views
can drive for hours within Cape Town, a from up there are spectacular!
small city by world standards, and have
To experience the glory of this moun-
at least 30 different beaches to visit, a
national park, and many mountains to tain there are hikes you can book with
climb. This is due to the irregular coast- guides, depending on how fit you are. Hik-
line that juts out into the Atlantic. These ing or mountain biking into the mountains
jutting out areas, known as the peninsula, covered in indigenous forest and fynbos
include Cape Point and the Cape of Good is a favourite pastime of Capetonians. The
Hope. Both lie side by side at the tip of the laid-back surfing community, compris-
peninsula. ing body boarders, surfers, kite boarders,
102 Globerovers · July 2018
Village LIFE
Cape Peninsula, SOUTH AFRICA

Cape Peninsula and the lower West Coast

windsurfers and stand up paddle boarders, the little coloured change houses on Mui- of coastal road along the cliffs. Stop at
is in stark contrast to the executive and zenberg Beach. This distance is 23 km as one of the places designated to safely pull
international business conducted in Cape the crow flies. However, should you choose off the road and take photos. As you pass
Town. It is an active, vibey yet relaxed city. the scenic route from the ferris wheel, my Llandudno, you can either continue to
favourite drive, and travel along the coast- Hout Bay, or turn in and drive very care-
line to Muizenberg Beach, you will travel a fully down some extremely steep roads to
False Bay and Table Bay distance of 89 km. the beach below. This is one of the most
To the east of the peninsula lies False Before you leave V & A, visit the beautiful beaches in Cape Town. Llan-
Bay. This is the bay protected by Cape aquarium, harbour and shopping mall. dudno is also where you can park your car,
Point to the west, and to the east it extends Take a cruise across to Robben Island, a at the southern end of Sunset Avenue, and
as far as Pringle Bay in the Overberg helicopter flip, or stay for the open-air walk quite a long way (about 20 minutes)
region. Harbours in False bay include the cinema. Visit the Maritime Museum or to a hidden beach known as Sandy Bay,
Simonstown Naval Base, Kalk Bay Har- the Museum of Gems & Jewellery. There which is the only (unofficial) nudist beach
bour, and Gordons Bay Harbour. is no shortage of places to savour culinary in Cape Town.
To the west of the peninsula lies Table delights anywhere in the peninsula, and V Once in Hout Bay, you have more
Bay, stretching from the Cape of Good & A will not disappoint. choices to make about lingering or con-
Hope to just beyond Blouberg. Within this Now, buckle up and let’s get going! tinuing. World of Birds Wildlife Sanctuary
bay lie the harbours of Hout Bay and Cape and Monkey Park is an avian, reptilian and
Town, with Robben Island just offshore. wildlife sanctuary in Hout Bay. Hout Bay
This is the island where Nelson Mandela The V&A Waterfront in Table Bay is home to the famous Mariner’s Wharf
was imprisoned for many years. From the ferris wheel at the V & A, at the harbour, and its well-visited shell
According to my research, the pen- take the M6 and travel along the coast past and clothing shop. There is also a harbour
insula has been an island many times in Mouille Point and Sea Point where you market. From this harbour you can charter
the past five million years, but it presently may see our new president, Cyril Rama- a boat to view the seals at Seal Island. At
forms part of the African continent. phosa, jogging along the promenade and the far end of Harbour Road is a little place
posing for photos with the locals. Con- called Fish on the Rocks - a favourite fam-
tinue past Bantry Bay, Clifton, Camps Bay, ily place for good old take-away hake- or
A trip around the Peninsula and Bakoven. Stop off along the way at calamari and chips.
To better explain the vast and scenic Camps Bay Beach, and swim or just stroll From Hout Bay, take Chapmans Peak
distances you can travel within Cape Town along the beach. Across the road from the Drive, still M6, and the only toll road
alone, I measured the distance from the bot- beach are many places to wine and dine. within Cape Town, so take cash or an ac-
tom of the ferris wheel at the Victoria and You will be spoilt for choice. ceptable bank card. Enjoy this spectacular
Alfred Waterfront, known as the V & A, to From Bakoven, there is a scenic stretch stretch of coast. Pass beneath daunting
Village Life l South Africa | 103
UNWIND IN A PERFECT STATE OF BLISS
+27 21 551 0441
25 Albus Drive, Sunset Beach, Cape Town, South Africa.
info@blissboutiquehotel.co.za
www.blissboutiquehotel.co.za

This little slice of heaven is a premier location, offering luxury accommodation surrounded by natural fynbos and
a private pathway to the beach. With uninterrupted views of Table Mountain, Table Bay, Robben Island and the
Atlantic Ocean as far as the eye can see, we invite you to relax, unwind and find your perfect state of BLISS.

We offer boutique hotel or villa accommodation with covetable luxuries such as your own private beach, a pillow
menu, a personalised minibar with services and facilities to enhance your experience with us.
104 Globerovers · July 2018
overhanging cliffs as you get closer to From Scarborough you will turn right
Noordhoek. Be very careful of falling rocks at the T-junction, still on the M65 though,
on all the scenic coastal cliff drives in the and drive towards Cape Point. This is
wet and rainy season if the road has not baboon area. Do not feed them. Do not get
been closed. out of your car or open the windows. They
Noordhoek is a horsey suburb. It has a can be very manipulative and will some-
much-loved beach, although not my favou- times block the road to prevent you from
rite, due to long distances to walk from the passing, hoping for food. Just be patient.
car park across the sand to the beach, so They will eventually move. Whatever you
this beach is not advisable for older people do, do not run them over.
or tiny tots, or for carrying beach umbrel- Soon you will see the turnoff to Cape
las, picnics and the likes. It is perfect for Point on your right. Turn in to take photos
horse rides and long walks, though! at Cape Point, or your Cape Peninsula visit
The Noordhoek Market is well worth a is incomplete. After paying at the gate,
visit. My favourite culinary experience in look down towards the sea on your left,
Noordhoek is to go to Cape Point Vine- and see Smitswinkel Bay. It is a 15-minute
yards overlooking Noordhoek and the bay walk down on foot, so only for the fit!
on a Thursday late afternoon between 4:30 Cape Point needs an article of its own,
pm and 8:30 pm and watch the sunset. as do most places in Cape Town. However,
Phone ahead to check they are open as of interest here is the rich maritime- and
they close in the rainy season. Here at the cultural history related to this majestic
community market you can buy a variety and beautiful piece of mountainous land
of culinary delights, wine and craft beer flanked by the ocean on both sides. Walk
from the various stalls. Sit at the tables on the Shipwreck Trail, kayak or mountain
the patio or on the lawn next to the dam. bike, find a deserted beach, swim in a tidal
There is plenty of place for kids to run pool, dive, snorkel, eat out at a top-class
around and play here, which is great news restaurant, and buy curios. If you are a
if you are travelling with children and find birding enthusiast you are in for a treat,
that the restaurants test your parenting and you may be lucky and spot whales or
skills. You will be amazed at the variety dolphins; perhaps even the legendary “Fly-
and quality of the food. Take cash to pay at ing Dutchman” ghost ship!
the various stalls.
From Noordhoek, continue on the M6, False Bay en-route to Muizenberg
and turn right onto the M65 in Sun Valley Continue to Simonstown, where there
to go to Kommetjie - one of my favourite is plenty to do and see. Just past Cape
little off-the-beaten track suburbs within Point, the road changes from M65 to M4.
Cape Town. Enjoy the beach or take the Visit the penguins at Boulders Beach or
wooden walkway to the lighthouse and the crystal shop called Scratch Patch. Look
back again. Fisherman’s Kommetjie is out for a statue on Jubilee Square of a dog
lovely in good weather, and a meal under called “Just Nuisance”. On Friday, 25th Au-
the trees comes very highly recommended; gust 1939, Just Nuisance was enlisted into
Especially for Sunday lunch, when they the Royal Navy. There are some amazing
usually have a singer with a guitar as stories that accompany the history of this
entertainment. Continue through Noord- Great Dane, so don’t leave Simonstown
hoek and pass Witsand which is a hangout without the full story, which you will get
beach for surfers and kiteboarders with the from the museum. There are two museums
whitest sand I ever saw. Passing through – one of the them the South African Navy
Misty Cliffs, don’t blink or you will miss it. Museum.
You may feel as if you are in a completely If you prefer, you can park your car
desolate place on earth and will have to re- and take the train from Simonstown to
mind yourself that you are in Cape Town. Muizenberg. It is very affordable. You
The next suburb is Scarborough. It still can get on and off at any station between
has untarred roads in places and the beach these two points all day long if you wish. It
is as Mother Nature made it. I love this meanders along the shoreline and passes a
beach, as its rocks are just the right height few beaches and tidal pools along the way.
for sitting on, and parking is almost right You could make a whole day out of this
on the beach. trip alone.
Village Life l South Africa | 105
Positioned in the most romantic valley on earth,
Franschhoek Country House & Villas is an exclusive
boutique hotel reminiscent of a village in Provence yet
with an elegant Cape sensibility. Set in gardens of
lemon trees, lavender and vines – with fynbos draping
the nearby mountains – the original, charming country
maison includes 14 standard and luxury rooms as
well as the award-winning Monneaux Restaurant
while the 12 Villa suites are havens of privacy &
understated opulence. Swimming pools, a candle-lit
cellar, a treatment room and sun-down verandas are
all a traveller needs as you live la vie extraordinaire.

For current special offers and packages


visit our website at www.fch.co.za

Tel: +27 (0)21 876 3386


Email: info@fch.co.za

106 Globerovers · July 2018


But, let’s continue driving. china tea sets and other items, literally proximity to one another: a mere twenty
Leaving Simonstown and passing the jam-packed from floor to ceiling. Tread minutes from the city centre.
suburb of Glencairn on the way to Fish carefully here and don’t go in there with In the suburbs around the foot of
Hoek, you will find the pub and grill, children! Eateries are everywhere, and the Table Mountain, you will find many places
Dixies, en-route on your left. This comes well-known Brass Bell, the heart of Kalk of spiritual healing, yoga and medita-
highly recommended by myself and my Bay, boasts three tidal pools and a view tion. Table Mountain is a special place
family and is a delightful place to watch of the harbour while ordering food and of spiritual energies. There are an ever-
the sun setting. drinks. So, take your bathing costume and increasing number of people who believe
towel with you and spend some time here. that the earth has “energy centres”. Twelve
Continue to Fish Hoek and turn right
Get dressed up a little and end your day in of these are regarded as major, compris-
at the circle, still on the M4.
the Kalk Bay Theatre, an intimate theatre ing eight chakras and four spinner wheels,
The beach in Fish Hoek is a huge that seats 77 people, and have dinner there. each relating to either earth, air, fire or
favourite. I love this beach purely for the
Next you will pass through St James, water. The spinner wheels are places that
feeling of the sand. Due to the gentleness
of the waves in this protected bay, the sand with its many historical buildings, and radiate energy to the earth’s chakras along
is powdery soft, and the sensory experi- hidden tidal pool, beach and fishing spots. ley lines, also known as serpent or dragon
ence of burying my feet in it is magical. You must park in the street and walk un- lines. Two major ley lines intersect at Table
Don’t be surprised if you want to bury derneath the railway tracks to get there, for Mountain and this mystical mountain is
yourself completely with just your head which there are tunnels constructed. regarded as one of the four spinner wheels
sticking out, as you perhaps did as a child. Continue driving and you will arrive and is assigned the earth element. Table
It has that effect on one. You may have in Muizenberg. Turn right into Atlantic Mountain is believed to carry a nurturing
to pay to visit this beach in season, but it Road, drive under the railway bridge, and energy. Small wonder that Capetonians
is well worth it. The restaurants here are the Muizenberg Beach with the coloured who reside at her feet refer to Cape Town
good. Look out for the artists who make change houses will be on your right. as the “Mother City”.
sculptures using the beach sand, weather This is just a little taste of the Cape
and tide permitting. They are brilliant. Peninsula, and while I feel I have not done
Cape Town: South Africa’s Mother City
Give them a generous tip and they will it justice, I sincerely hope I have piqued
pose for you next to their work. Your Cape Town boasts some of the most your curiosity enough to come and experi-
photo will be unique. They never make the valuable properties in South Africa. It is ence it. Perhaps I will see you soon in or
same sculpture twice. fast becoming an international commu- around Cape Town where I live and work
nity and the new Hollywood for making as a numerologist when I am not busy with
En-route to Kalk Bay, stop off at the
movies, with low production costs, a solid GlobeRovers Magazine.
harbour and refresh at one of the pubs.
reputation and a multitude of options for
If you are staying in self-catering accom-
perfect shooting locations.
modation, you may be lucky enough to
get some fresh fish as the fishermen come Telegraph Travel Awards chose Cape
in with their fishing boats, usually around Town as the Best City in the World in
midday. 2015/2016, coming in ahead of both Van-
couver and Venice.
Did you know?
I love shopping in Kalk Bay. The cloth-
ing and jewellery shops are quirky. The Cape Town also took the top honours The following movies were partly
antique shops and bric-a-brac are fasci- as the number one food city in the world or wholly shot in Cape Town:
nating. I discovered, hidden in one of the in Condé Nast’s Reader’s Choice Awards.
alleys up some steps, a delightful second- 1. Tomb Raider, starring Alicia Vikander
Wine farms in and around Cape Town
hand china shop called Whatnot & China are plentiful. In Constantia Valley alone
Town, which sells ceramics and fine bone there are nine wine farms in very close 2. Blood Diamond, with Leonardo DiCaprio,
Jennifer Connelly, Michael Sheen.

3. The Dark Tower, with Idris Elba and Matthew


McConaughey.

4. The Perfect Wave, featuring Clint Eastwood’s


son Scott Eastwood, Rachel Hendrix and
Cheryl Ladd.

5. Safe House, with Ryan Reynolds and Denzel


Washington.

6. The Brothers Grimsby, with Mark Strong and


Sacha Baron Cohen.

Village Life l South Africa | 107


Journeying Up the West Coast
from Bloubergstrand to Yzerfontein

L
Words by Janet-Lynn Vorster.
Photos by Globerovers Magazine, unless where otherwise indicated.

et’s get moving and leave Cape a long beach and many restaurants and Hungry or thirsty? Blue Peter and “Ons
Town. We will travel west, places to stay. The best photographic views Huisie”, as it is now known, built prior to
hugging the coastline where of Table Mountain are often taken from 1853 and declared a national monument in
possible. After passing through Bloubergstrand. The water is colder here 1973, are two of the places I have personal-
a few suburbs to the west of Cape Town than further east in Cape Town, and it can ly visited in the area. Ons Huisie is virtually
harbour, such as Paarden Eiland, Brook- be very windy. However, this is exactly on the beach and serves delicious, tradi-
lyn, Milnerton and Sunset Beach, you will what makes it a favourite spot for kitesurf- tional West Coast cuisine. It is also vegetar-
get to Bloubergstrand. ers and windsurfers. Watching them seem- ian friendly and offers vegan options.
ingly effortlessly go through their moves is I recently met friends for a business
an exhilarating experience which will keep coffee at Melissa’s in Blaauwberg Street,
Bloubergstrand
your focus riveted on the ocean. and I bought an olive bread, bacon jam
Blouberg translates as blue mountain, and sour fig jam to take home with me.
If you are passionate about exploring
referring to Table Mountain which domi- What a treat! Cape Sour Figs are indig-
the wealth of fauna and flora in the area,
nates the skyline in a shade of dark blue Blaauwberg Nature Reserve has a rare enous to the coastal regions in the Western
across the bay, which should by now be combination of vegetation which is seldom Cape. The plant produces a beautiful yel-
forever etched on your mind. If you look found in one conservation area. Over 40 low flower that develops into edible sour
out to sea, historical Robben Island will of its over 560 plant species are considered fig fruit. The jam has a delicate tartness to
be clearly visible (weather permitting, of threatened with extinction. A variety of it.
course). Both Table Mountain and Robben mammals, reptiles, amphibians and but- So, what is this sour fig really? Carpo-
Island are World Heritage Sites. terfly species have been identified at the re- brotus edulis is an easy-to-grow succulent
Bloubergstrand is a vibey area, with serve. Over 140 bird species are on record. groundcover, which grows wild along

108 Globerovers · July 2018


the sand dunes in the Cape. You will find This is, like Bloubergstrand, a popular Yzerfontain in the Swartland
them on the dunes in Bloubergstrand, with water sports beach. Leaving Bloubergstrand and Melk-
their yellow flowers. The sap in the leaves As you cycle along this road, you will bosstrand behind you, take the R27 West
is anti-spasmodic, anti-septic, anti-fungal find many beaches that are the play- Coast Road and travel about 58 km to
and more. Simply pick a leaf and chew a grounds of kitesurfers in the area. Yzerfontein. This should take you about 40
piece of it or rub it onto scratches or insect minutes.
Melkbosstrand has a distinctly differ-
bites if you have nothing else at hand. They
ent feel to Bloubergstrand, providing a However, if you stop at the Westcoast
are great for bluebottle stings, so just crush
seaside holiday village experience with all Farm Stall it will take you considerably
the leaves and apply them to the site of the
amenities close by. In fact, you are still well longer, but hey, you are on holiday, right?
sting.
within reach of anywhere in and around It is on the corner as you turn off the R27
My herbal teacher always said that if Cape Town if you choose to stay here and to Yzerfontein. You can’t miss it with its
we ever had to leave the planet and could make this your base. brightly-coloured parrots painted on
take only one plant with us, it would have notice boards outside the farm stall. I was
to be the sour fig. My gran used to cook “Melkbos” refers to the Euphorbiaceae
bushes which grow on sand dunes in the there when I went to find out more about
jam for us as children, and we knew it by Yzerfontein, and being over a weekend,
its local name, ghaukum. area.
they served a yummy buffet breakfast
If aviation excites you, a visit to the Air
where you pay by weight, together with
Force Museum will be right up your alley.
Melkbosstrand farm-baked bread. They serve traditional
I can vouch for Café Orca on the South African favourites such as oxtail,
A little further along the coast, yet well beachfront. It is a fine-dining seafood
within reach of Blouberg or Cape Town, bobotie and tripe, and I plan on sampling
restaurant situated in a cottage on the pic- those at the soonest opportunity.
you will reach Melkbosstrand. A beautiful
turesque beachfront of Melkbosstrand.
cycling lane has been constructed between I just love the quirky crocheted cur-
Bloubergstrand and Melkbosstrand, which Melkbosstrand is the entry point for tains in the ladies’ loo and in the dining
was close to completion when I drove that South Africa’s undersea communications area together with the painted murals. If
road between the two towns very recently. to Mauritius, India, Malaysia and the UK, you enjoy knitting and crocheting like I
So, rent a bicycle, and cycle along the with branches to more than 10 African do, and you are here to relax, this farm
coast. I measured the distance as almost west coast countries. Now you know it too! stall has a small but delightful selection of
seven-and-a-half kilometres from the last For golfing enthusiasts, the Atlan- yarns, as does Periwinkles in Yzerfontein.
traffic circle in Bloubergstrand to the traf- tic Beach Golf Course can be found at Wander out through the back of the farm
fic circle in Melkbosstrand, where 500 m Melkbosstrand. It is one of South Africa’s stall and you will find a delightful nursery
to your left you will locate the main beach. premier 18-hole golf courses. and bird park with talking birds.

Village Life l South Africa | 109


Yzerfontein got its name from the iron Yzerfontein has plenty of really good surfing equipment, you can purchase these
deposits in the drinking water. It literally self-catering places and guest houses, but at Periwinkles. You have, after all, 16 miles
means iron fountain. no hotels. For a large group you will find of uninterrupted sandy beach and year-
I met with Marion at Wildflour Café you can rent an entire house. Most places round sunshine waiting for you. The water,
in Yzerfontein, her favourite coffee shop. in Yzerfontein are close to the sea, and though, is cold! Perhaps you might prefer
Marion is the owner of Chez James, a love- many have a sea view. sunbathing, long walks on the beach or
ly self-catering apartment with views to die If you are staying in self-catering ac- fishing to swimming without a wetsuit.
for; cosy and modern. Her place is in Pearl commodation, there is no need to pur- The Southern Right whales come into
Bay, the newer section of Yzerfontein, chase supplies before driving to Yzerfon- the bay between July and December to give
which stretches out along the seashore. We tein. The local Kwikspar has most things, birth, against the backdrop of Table Moun-
had a delightful chat over a latté, and she like fresh milk, meat and vegetables and tain. I could not believe it when I saw the
shared much of what follows in this article other basic groceries and toiletries. mountain, and I had to do a double take. I
with me before I drove around and went Marion suggests getting your bread measured the distance (on Google Earth)
to meet some of the people myself. She and pastries from Rosemead Artisan Bread as the crow flies from Yzerfontein to Table
speaks German, which is a bonus. and Pastries in Yzerfontein. They bake the Mountain, and found it was over 70 km
Bottom line: if you want an upmarket “real deal”. The best dining experience, she away, and that the line of sight went right
seaside village experience this is the place to says, is Lula’s Portuguese Mediterranean over Robben Island.
be. It is quiet and peaceful, yet within reach Family Restaurant. There are at least five hiking trails in
of many interesting day trips, less than two If you need beach flip flops, bathing the vicinity, of around two-and-a-half
hours away – including Cape Town! costumes, wellies, hats, sunglasses or any days each. Other trails include cycling and
110 Globerovers · July 2018
canoeing trails. The trails are all appar-
ently relaxed and not too intense. Carry The town of Darling
only your day pack. Your luggage will be
transported. Tours are all guided, catered, Close to Yzerfontein you will locate the little town of Darling. It is inland, about 25 min-
utes’ drive (25,2 km) from Yzerfontein via the R315. Here you will find a lovely array of
comfortable and safe.
sights and places to tantalise the senses.
You can book through Cape West
Coast Biosphere, and you will find their • Experience the tasting room at Darling Olives, with cheese, wine, marmalade and
office at the Westcoast Farm Stall as you olive chocolate. The entire range of olive products is available for tasting during a
30-minute presentation.
turn off to Yzerfontein. They will also give
you information on the heritage sites in • Visit the old Darling station, home of Pieter-Dirk Uys and Evita se Perron, meaning
the area, like !Khwa ttu San Culture and Evita’s platform, a cabaret theatre and restaurant.
Educational Centre and the West Coast
Fossil Park. • Go wine tasting on the Darling Wine Route.
There are also camping sites, numerous • Visit the Darling Brew, a craft beer microbrewery. The tasting room is open to the
Nature Reserves and industrial landmarks public for an interactive tasting experience and boasts a locally-sourced braai-in-
in very close proximity to Yzerfontein. spired menu. With its kiddies’ play area, it is a great place for the family to unwind.
If you need peace, tranquillity and time When returning to Yzerfontein from the wine- and beer tasting in Darling, you may not
to rejuvenate, a few day trips and some see pink elephants but ostriches strutting through the streets or your garden. Leave them
gentle outdoor activities, then Yzerfontein alone and you will be fine. And no, you will not be “seeing things” or imagining it, so
will tick all the boxes. GR snap a few photos or nobody will ever let you live the story down.
Village Life l South Africa | 111
Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve
THE RED CARNATION HOTEL COLLECTION
On a beautiful Autumn day, I was picked up at or iPod docking station as I was magnetically Nikki’s massage as one of the Top 5 in the world.
Twelve Apostles Hotel in Cape Town and shuttled drawn to the paintbrushes, watercolours and Her resulting iridescent glow and calmness did
to Bushmans Kloof, just over three hours away paper provided on the table beneath. not go unnoticed.
via the N7. I was warmly greeted by all the staff
The fridge was well stocked. A variety of teas, The heavy drapes and blinds in front of the
and refreshed with iced tea and a wet face towel.
coffees and snacks, a kettle and Nespresso ma- windows do a splendid job of keeping the light
The beautiful deluxe room, Masson, would chine completed the picture. out should you wish to sleep in.
be mine exclusively for the next two days. “A
Pre-dinner drinks were followed by an Whether you need a break away in nature,
multitude of simple pleasures and extraordinary
exquisite four-course dinner. On both evenings. a pampering in a luxury spa, delicious culinary
experiences” is how Bushmans Kloof is described.
I was joined by Joanne from Tumbleweed Com- experiences, rest, outdoor adventurous activities,
“Comfort, beauty and luxury”. I agree whole-
munications (PR and media liaison), journalists, a romantic place to propose or historical cultural
heartedly!
editors, manager Rory and director and owner experiences viewing one of many Khoi San rock
Makana, a thatched open-air restaurant Michael Tollman. Rika from Cape Nature chatted art sites, Bushmans Kloof has it all.
was the setting for the daily high tea. What a to us about the conservation at Bushmans Kloof. Bushmans Kloof, you may wear your five stars
beautiful spread fit for a queen, complete with Executive chef Charles and his team are brilliant, with pride.
cucumber sandwiches. with a little help from the Josper oven.
On my first evening game drive, far from Back in my room, bedside lamps on, slippers,
the city, I vowed to be fully present and enjoy robe and a snack waiting for me, I received a
every moment. The guides were super friendly bedtime story called “The Bird’s Great Race”.
and knowledgeable, and the land rovers well On night two my bedtime story was titled “The
equipped with warm, waterproofed ponchos. Ghost of Oupoort”. Below the story, Bushmans
The chill set in as dusk descended while enjoying Kloof team wished me good night. I fell asleep on
sundowners at the open-air boma. both nights, literally purring in total bliss.
Back in my room, I unpacked into a large, A lovely hot shower and blissfully comfortable
heavy wooden wardrobe and noticed the impos- bed completed my first day. On day two, I relaxed
ing chest of drawers against the opposite wall. for about an hour in a steaming hot bath, the
Had I come with a partner and packed for a long aroma of bath salts swirling around me.
stay, packing space would have been ample!
Breakfast daily was a buffet feast and/or tradi-
Carved wooden walking sticks, umbrellas, yoga
tional English breakfast.
mats and a hairdryer added thoughtful touches.
En-route to the annual Ceder Tree Event in
The tranquil bathroom was adorned with
the mountains on the Saturday, Koro Lodge was
delightful toiletries from their signature range, a
pointed out. This private lodge is for families with
scented candle and fragrant oils in a burner.
children, or groups of friends, and comes with a
This deluxe room had everything I needed. private chef.
I read the story of Bushmans Kloof and all the
An opportunity to join a new-found friend,
information provided, including the expected
Carol, presented itself on night two. She showed
temperatures, precipitation and wind speed and
me amazing photos of the buffet she had the
direction for the next few days.
previous night at Kadoro, originally a shepherd’s
I barely noticed the satellite TV, DVD/CD player hut, with rustic farm-style décor and many, many
burning candles. Bushmans Kloof has a variety of
Sponsored Accommodation fabulous and more.
options and settings for dinners, picnics

REVIEW A self-confessed spa junkie, Carol told me her


experience at the spa was exquisite. She rated
112 Globerovers · July 2018
The Oyster Box
Voted No 1. ‘Top Hotel in Sou th Africa’
in TripAdv isor Travel l ers’ Choice Awards 2017

THE RED CAR NAT I O N HOT E L CO LLEC T I O N


Red Carnation Hotels are a collection of family-run, award-winning boutique hotels in South Africa,
the UK, Ireland, Switzerland and the USA. Each hotel is a landmark of history and tradition, with
a peerless reputation for exquisite fine dining, leading spas and sumptuous surroundings. We are
renowned for delivering warm, thoughtful and highly personalised service.

TH E OYS T ER B OX – Um h la n g a
TH E TW E LV E A PO S T LES H OT EL A N D S PA – C a p e Tow n
BU S H M A N S K LOOF W I LD ER N ES S R ES ERV E – Wes te rn C a p e
w w w.Re dCar nat i o n.co m

Village Life l South Africa | 113


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114 Globerovers · July 2018


Photo: Janet-Lynn Vorster

CHASING WAVES
Inspired by an interview with
Stefan Pheiffer
the third in our series

comes to ocean sports around the Cape, leaving. The equipment (not cheap) com-
Amber is well-informed. prises a wetsuit, board, and various kites
To learn kitesurfing, Amber suggests suited to different wind conditions.
booking three lessons over three days in Amber suggests progressing from
Langebaan, 132 km from Cape Town via the lagoon at Langebaan to Kite Beach
the R27. Langebaan lagoon has great wind, between Sunset Beach and Big Bay in
and is shallow without waves, which is the Blouberg. From here, once you have mas-
safest place for beginners to literally learn tered these conditions, you can attempt the
What to do in Cape Town when the the ropes and find their feet. incredible windspeeds and gigantic waves
south easterly wind is pumping insanely The lagoon is in close proximity to at Witsand and Scarborough near Cape
with speeds of around 55 km per hour? many kiteboarding schools. Lessons come Point.

Head down to the beach of course! with an instructor and kitesurfing equip- If it is a thrill you are seeking, make the
ment. Acquiring a kite and board and waves in Cape Town your holiday play-
To kiteboard. heading for the open sea without any expe- ground.
Stefan is not a kiteboarder, but a hard rience is a very bad idea. Here is a guide- In the upcoming December edition of
core bodyboarder. However, in our most line of what to expect from these lessons: “Chasing Waves”, Stefan chats to me about
recent chat his exciting rendition of this 1. Stand on the beach and get your surfing on the West Coast.
crazy and fast adrenalin sport inspired kite airborne. Learn to play with
me so much that I just had to find out the wind and to handle a kite. Plan your trip to Cape Town with
more. I have since watched the guys (and
2. Get into the water, stand on the Amber:
gals) kiteboarding, and find it completely
board, and at the same time get www.cmycities.com/south-africa/#capetown
enthralling. It seems to me like a combo of
kite flying, skiing and flying! your kite into the air. Follow Stefan at:
www.instagram.com/stefan5fer
I met with Amber, to ask her how 3. Kiteboard across the lagoon, turn
travellers can experience this popular around and come back.
Cape Town and West Coast sport. Amber Once ready to kitesurf on your own, CHASING WAVES continues in the next issue
provides tips, advice and information to equipment can be rented or bought. Most of Globerovers Magazine.
travellers visiting Cape Town. When it people buy, and then sell it again before
Village Life l South Africa | 115
“ Here is a place
where you will
feel welcome and
experience a home
away from home.
I know I did”.
Photos: Hermanus Boutique Guest House

South Africa’s favourite guest house in Hermanus along the Cape Whale Coast

For reservations, visit:


hermanusguesthouse.co.za
Tel local: 028 313 1433
Tel Intl: +27 28 313 1433
reservations@hermanusguesthouse.co.za

Follow us:

@HermanusGH

HermanusGuesthouse

116 Globerovers · July 2018


Hermanus @ South Africa’s Cape Whale Coast

Follow Burgundy:
www.burgundyrestaurant.co.za

@BurgundyHer

burgundyhermanusrestaurant

NATIONAL MONUMENT

Village Life l South Africa | 117


Tasty Traveller's Treats
Authentic, affordable, clean food is every traveller’s dream.
Enjoy these tasty morsels from far-away places.

Bali Island, Indonesia Java Island, Indonesia Flores Island, Indonesia

Lombok Island, Indonesia

118 Globerovers · July 2018


119
os va
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n M
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r gy os
Ky La
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Ja
ay os
w La
or
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e
or
ap
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Si
a
re
Ko
th ng
or
N Ko
g
on
H
ru
Pe
r ia
Sy
ca
ri nd
Af la
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h ai
So Th
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ed ic
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Photo Essay
Vietnam

120 Globerovers · July 2018


Vietnam
Trekking around Sapa
Endless rice terraces, friendly hill-tribes, aromatic coffee...

V ietnam’s far north, close to the southeastern bor-


der of China’s Yunnan Province, is known as the
“Land of the Big Skies”. Here, tranquillity prevails
over the vast cascading rice terraces and rippled
mountains covered in low-hanging fog.

The region is home to many indigenous hill tribes, welcom-


ing travellers who go on single or multi-day hikes from the
town of Sapa.

Sapa was first inhabited by highland minorities such as the


Black and Flower Hmong, the Yao, and the Tay and Giay.
Today these four minority groups share the region with the
Red Dzao and the Zai people.

Between treks, enjoy the stunning views from your Sapa


guesthouse where almost every guesthouse has views
over the deep terraced valleys. Visit the authentic markets
and enjoy the superb local Vietnamese coffee.

Getting to Sapa is a thrilling experience. A few daytime and


overnight sleeper trains travel from Hanoi to the small town
of Lao Cai from where an exhilarating 38 km (24 mi) ride in
a bus, jeep or taxi reaches Sapa in the high hills.

First sights upon arrival in Sapa will be the colourful Black


Hmong and Red Dzao people. Through the heavy fog, you
may see the impressive Fansipan Mountains, the highest in
Indochina at 3,142 metres (10,308 ft). As you sip a hot and
strong Vietnamese coffee, you will realize you came to the
right place where tranquillity rules!

Photo Essay l Vietnam |121


Sapa Town
Vietnam

Holy Rosary Church (The Stone Church).

122 Globerovers · July 2018


Photo Essay l Vietnam | 123
Sapa Town
Vietnam

124 Globerovers · July 2018


Photo Essay l Vietnam | 125
Ta Van
Vietnam

126 Globerovers · July 2018


Photo Essay l Vietnam | 127
128 Globerovers · July 2018
Hua Thao
Vietnam

Photo Essay l Vietnam | 129


Cat Cat
Vietnam

130 Globerovers · July 2018


Photo Essay l Vietnam | 131
Dempster Highway Arctic Canada
Words and Photos by Yrene Dee, a Lumby (British Columbia, Canada), based writer and adventurer.

The 741 km long Dempster High- learned: always come to a full stop retains some of the gold rush vibe.
way stretches from Dawson City in whenever a semi-truck approaches to By the time I arrived at Tombstone
Canada’s Yukon Territory up north to limit the amount and severity of rocks Mountain Territorial Park, 72 km north-
Inuvik in the Northwest Territories. It hitting the windshield. east along the gravel highway, my car
is one of the world’s most spectacu- was covered in dust; my throat was
I took a break from my journey in
lar road trips and is the only road in dry, and my head was throbbing from
the Wild West town of Dawson City,
Canada that crosses the Arctic Circle. manoeuvring through the rough ter-
with my small tent squeezed between
The route calls for a fantastic large RVs at Dawson’s main camp- rain. I stopped briefly to marvel at the
journey through an ever-changing ground. Being aware of the remote- superb views of the Tombstone Moun-
landscape of mountains, open tun- ness and solitude of the road ahead, tains, filled up my water bottle at the
dra, rivers and bogs. The road takes I didn’t mind the hustle and bustle Interpretive Centre and inquired about
you into the land of the midnight sun, of Dawson and tried to take in some the road ahead. “Keep driving to make
where you have 24 hours of daylight. of its vibes and Klondike history. it across Eagle Plains another 300 km
The Klondike region lies around the north. Rain is in the forecast!” I was
An all gravel surface to protect the
small Klondike River, which flows into advised.
permafrost, which the road sits on,
the road is like a raised bridge with the Yukon River near Dawson City. I continued on the rough stretch
no sides. If the permafrost melted, the Famed for its “Klondike Gold Rush” across the Ogilvie Mountains and
road would sink. of the late 1800’s, Dawson City still scaled the North Fork Pass (1,289 m),
I was nervous about the challenge
I was about to undertake, but the thrill All you need for this trip is an adventurous spirit, a reliable vehicle,
of adventure was stirring wildly. excellent tyres, a couple of spares, and a jerrycan with extra gasoline.
My road trip to the Arctic started
far south in the Okanagan Valley, Brit-
ish Columbia, ten days before reach-
ing the start of the Dempster Highway
at Dawson City.
My Toyota RAV4 was equipped
with the best all-season tyres I could
find, so I was well prepared for the
journey ahead. I realized early during
my trip that things would be rough.
The front windshield of my vehicle
was rock-chipped before I even
reached the Yukon border. Lesson
Arctic Canada’s scenic Dempster Highway.

132132 Globerovers
Globerovers · July
l July 2018
2018
the highest elevation on the highway. Beaufort Sea is scattered with tens of
thousands of small lakes!
My adrenaline jumped a mile high

Canada
when I heard an aircraft engine just It was an amazing feeling to reach
as I was approaching the part of the the end of the legendary Dempster
Dempster that is often used as an Highway and arrive in Inuvik, a sleepy
airstrip. Luckily, the plane flew by. town that saw its glory days during the
gas and oil boom in the 1990s. Today,
Climbing and descending through 150 km north of Inuvik. Another story,
the town is a vibrant mix of Inuvialuit
the Eagle Plains and the subarctic for another adventure!
(Western Canadian Inuit people), the
tundra, I made it to the halfway point
Athabaskan-speaking Gwich’in peo- As I stood here in Inuvik, thankful
at the Eagle Plains Hotel, where I
ple, and some non-native residents. that I made it to the end of the Demp-
camped for the night and topped up
Inuvik is Mile 0 on the brand-new Inu- ster Highway, I quickly remembered
the gas tank.
vik to Tuktoyaktuk Highway. Tuktoyak- that my journey was just beginning
Thick, heavy fog and drizzling rain tuk is located in the extreme far north and that it was a long drive back to
greeted me the next morning, warn- of Canada along the Beaufort Sea, Dawson City.
ing me about what was yet to come.
Nothing was going to be like the day
before. The clouds hung low over the
barren land when I reached the Arctic
Circle at the 405 km marker. From
here the highway turned into a deep
muddy track and I had to travel at
walking speed for about 50 km to the
Yukon/Northwest Territories border.
Once I passed Midway Lake, the road
conditions slowly improved.
Soon after crossing the Peel
River I reached the tiny Athabaskan-
speaking Gwich’in Dene village of Fort
McPherson, known for its traditional Iglu Church in Inuvik, Northwest Territories. Welcome to Dawson City.
Tent and Canvas Shop.
The last thrill of the day was the
rough Mackenzie River ferry crossing
at the 608 km marker further north-
east of Fort McPherson. The area
from here all the way north to the

Entering Canada’s Northwest Territories.

Dawson City, Yukon.

Yrene is the founder of BackcountryCanadaTravel.com. She was born in


Switzerland, lived and worked on different continents and travelled the
world before she settled in Canada. She is an entrepreneur, wilderness
nut, and animal lover who prefers off-the-beaten-track places.
Follow Yrene on Twitter @backcountrycana, and Facebook @ backcountrycanada
“Back Country Canada Travel” Toyota RAV4.

Contribution l Canada |133


133
Article

Laos
Luang Prabang’s Novice Monks
Rise before sunrise to witness the Buddhist ritual of
barefoot saffron-clad monks collecting alms at sunrise
- known as tak bat.

134 Globerovers · July 2018


Laos
Land of a Million Elephants

L
Laos is diverse and rich in scenery and activities, catering to the needs of most adventurers,
culture seekers, Buddhist aficionados, and even the foodies!

aos is more renowned as “the most Most travellers who have visited Laos are
heavily bombed country in history left with memories of friendly people, colourful
relative to the size of its population” temples, monasteries and monks, the mighty Me-
than as a popular tourist destination. kong River, dense tropical jungles, and rice paddy
During the Vietnam War, the US Army workers surrounded by imposing limestone rocks.
dropped about two million tons of ordnance dur- While I have come to see it all, my calling was
ing 580,000 bombing missions, mostly in the to share a few days in the lives of the ethnically
western region of the north and the entire south- diverse tribes, the monks and their monasteries,
ern region of Laos. This is equal to a planeload of all in harmony with the Mekong River.  
bombs every 8 minutes, 24-hours a day, starting While only about 60% of the Lao people are
in 1964 and lasting until 1973. All this in an effort Buddhist, compared with 95% in Thailand, 90%
to disrupt supply lines being used by the commu- in Cambodia, and 88% in Myanmar, in Vien-
nist Vietnamese forces. tiane and Luang Prabang Buddhist temples and
Though the bombing ended in Laos in 1973, monasteries are found around almost every cor-
over the next two years a Vietnam and Soviet- ner. Luang Prabang is known particularly for its
backed civil war raged and brought the commu- many temples, monasteries, and barefoot saffron-

Lan Xang
nists of the Pathet clad monks collecting
Lao political party Laos used to be known as , meaning alms at sunrise.  
into power. 
While the com-
The Land of a Million Elephants

Start the journey
”. After years of in the Lao capital of
munists of the Lao war and loss of habitat, there are not many left... Vientiane, the most
People’s Revolution- popular entry point
ary Party (LPRP) remain in power today, the war to the country. From here, travel about 160 km
is long forgotten.  north to Vang Vieng, a popular town among
Once you have travelled through this narrow backpackers, known for its relaxing vibes and
country, which shares a border with Vietnam of excellent hiking among limestone karst with steep
over 2,000 km long, and a border with Thailand cliffs and rice paddies.
of almost 1,800 km long, you will know that the From Vang Vieng, the winding road snakes
war is not talked about. Except for the estimated over high mountain passes, often covered in thick
80 million cluster bombs that did not detonate, fog, before descending into Luang Prabang. After
most of which are still buried in the jungles and a few days in and around this lovely town with its
farmlands, few signs remain of the war. many temples and hill tribes, head north along
Since the war ended, over 20,000 people have the Mekong, and then down to the most southern
been killed or injured by unexploded ordnance. point of the country to explore some of the 4,000
Efforts to clear these dangers are ongoing, so islands smack in the middle of the Mekong River. 
accidents have decreased from 310 cases back in Come along as we find out what makes Laos
2008, to about 50 per year nowadays.  such a special destination to travellers.

Article l Laos | 135


Laos

structure in 1566 when he moved the Lao tiny Buddha images and rows with tens
capital from Luang Prabang to Vientiane. of larger seated Buddhas dating back to
The King’s statue stands in front of the the 16th and 19th centuries. If you count
THE LAO CAPITAL - VIENTIANE main entrance to Pha That Luang. Looted all the Buddha images made from wood,
of much of its gold plates by the Burmese, stone and bronze, you may get a total of
The languid former French trading post 6,800 in total! 
Chinese and Siamese during invasions in
is slowly waking up to the world.
the 18th and 19th centuries, it was all but Built in 1818 on the order of King

L
destroyed by the Siamese invasion in 1828. Anouvong, the temple served as the lodg-
ocated on the banks of the The stupa was restored by the French colo- ing place of the 1928 Siamese invaders and
Mekong River near the border nialists in 1900 and reconstructed in 1930, was therefore spared destruction. 
with Thailand, Vientiane is not and again after World War II. Wat Si Saket was restored by the
the sleepy town it used to be, though it During November every year, the stupa French in 1924 and 1930 and is now
still seems to be dreaming. Most travellers is the centre-point of the annual Boun That regarded as one of the oldest Buddhist
who have walked through the arch of the Luang Festival.  temples in Laos.
Patuxai, Vientiane’s Gate of Triumph and
the Lao version of the French Arc de Tri-
omphe, will agree that Vientiane was not HAW PHRA KAEW WAT SI MUANG
their reason for visiting this country. First built in 1565 to house the Just about 1 km to the southeast
While the capital cities of neigh- Emerald Buddha, which now resides in of Haw Phra Kaew and Wat Si Saket is
bouring Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, Bangkok’s Grand Palace, Haw Phra Kaew the 16th century Wat Si Muan temple.
and even Cambodia can keep travellers has been rebuilt several times, most no- Destroyed during the Siamese invasion in
entertained tably by King 1828, it was rebuilt a few times. The cur-
for days, if not
weeks on end,
The laid-backcapital of Laos has a tranquil
Anouvong
in 1816, and
rent temple dates back to 1915.
While the building itself is fairly un-
remarkable, legend has it that the temple
the Lao capital historic old quarter with golden temples and the French between 1936 was named after a woman called Si Muang,
remains a
rather sub- Buddhist monks, surrounded by wide boulevards. and 1942. In who sacrificed herself to appease the evil
dued town. the 1970’s the spirits by throwing herself into the pit that
temple was converted from a place of wor- holds the central pillar of the structure.
Vientiane, which became the capital Look out for a small statue of this lady at
ship to a museum of Lao religious art. 
of the Kingdom of Lan Xang (now Laos) in the temple.
1563, was invaded and looted (they
Many worshippers come here to
took back the Emerald Buddha) by the WAT SI SAKET
make merit and be blessed by the resident
Siam forces (now Thailand) in 1778, and Very similar in design to Haw Phra monks. The temple was also home to an
again looted by the Siamese during the Lao Kaew, nearby Wat Si Saket is famous for old and rather bad-tempered and territo-
Rebellion (1826-1828). its cloister wall housing thousands of rial stork, though it recently passed away.
Among the most notable attrac-
tions not to miss are the Pha That Luang
stupa, Haw Phra Kaew temple which is
the former home of the Emerald Buddha,
the Patuxai Arch, and the lazy barbe-
cue dinner evenings along the Mekong
River.

PHA THAT LUANG


Known as the “Great Stupa”, Pha That
Luang is the most sacred Buddhist stupa
and a national symbol of Laos. This large
golden stupa dates back to the 16th cen-
tury and stands 45 metres high. According
to folklore, a Hindu temple first occupied
this spot during the 1st to 3rd centuries to
house a holy relic, likely a breastbone, of
the Lord Buddha, brought to Laos by an
Indian missionary.
During the 13th century, a new Khmer
temple replaced the original. However, Guardian of the
King Setthathirat erected the current Wat Si Muan temple. Patuxai Arch.
136 Globerovers · July 2018
PATUXAI ARCH was inhabited by a seven-headed dragon here and live in the adjacent blue, red and
The Victory Gate or Gate of Triumph, or snake that tried to protect them from white monastery.
known among travellers as the “Arc de Tri- the invading Siamese.
omphe of Vientiane”, was constructed be- Standing on a quiet roundabout near TAD MOUN WATERFALL
tween 1957 and 1968 to honour those who the Talat Sao morning market, the crum-
fought in the struggle for independence bling and weatherworn structure seems to About 20 km west of Vientiane, located
from its earlier occupiers: France, Siam be totally unbeloved and neglected. How- at the southern tip of the Phou Phanang
and Japan.  ever, being so obscure, non-glittering, and National Bio-Diversity Conservation
almost natural looking, the stupa shows Area, Tad Moun Waterfall, though more
The Royal Laotian Government built
“its unadorned self ”,  and one can stare at akin to mild rapids, makes for a pleas-
the monument by reassigning American
it and imagine its turbulent history. ant day visit out of the city. Spend the
funds intended to build a new airport,
hence its nickname of the “vertical run- day hiking through the jungle, splashing
way”.   in the rapids, or just lazing under the small
WAT ONG TEU MAHAWIHAN thatched huts while enjoying a picnic
Known originally as the Anousavali Famous for its large bronze Phra Ong lunch and Beer Lao.
(memory) monument, it got its current Teu Buddha image, the largest Buddha in
name when the Pathet Lao communists Vientiane, the temple was constructed dur-
overthrew the Lao monarchy during the ing the 16th century by King Setthathirat. MEKONG RIVER SUNSETS
1975 Laotian Civil War. AND NIGHT MARKET 
Demolished by the Burmese and
For a small entrance fee, climb to the Siamese invaders, the temple has been After a long day of temples and mon-
top of the arch for panoramic views of reconstructed several times. asteries, check out the Vientiane night
Vientiane and Thailand across the Mekong market for some interesting foods, and
The temple is known as an educational
River. then go and grab a few beers and enjoy the
institute teaching Theravada Buddhism.
Hidden behind a large, ornamented gate, sun’s spectacular show as it sets over the
THAT DAM the temple’s cold floor tiles and rich archi- Mekong River.
Known as the “black stupa”, That tecture is a welcome retreat from the heat A festive atmosphere rules as people,
Dam used to be covered in gold until it all and noise of the Vientiane streets. sitting at their blue and red plastic chairs
disappeared during the Siamese invasion You most likely will come across sev- and tables, drink Lao Beer and watch the
in 1828. According to local folklore, it once eral bright orange-robed monks who study sunset over the slow-flowing river.

Old house in Vientiane.

Sunset over the Mekong. Fried insects for dinner.

Wat Si Saket. That Dam. Novice monk, Wat Ing Peng.


Article l Laos | 137
Laos

exploring the caves, tubing down the river, and large groups.
kayaking, and swimming in the lagoons, Vang Vieng will never be the same. 
too many travellers came here for the
If the action on the main street is not
VANG VIENG rough parties of endless drinking, smok-
for you, it is easy to escape. Head across
ing, and the beer bars serving pasta and
Where the peaceful natural beauty is the river for some tranquillity, where basic
pizzas along the main drag.
only interrupted by rice paddy workers. as well as more luxurious cottages are lo-
Slowly they would get stoned while cated on the west bank of the river. Highly
watching pirated copies of Seinfeld and

O
recommended are the Pasanchai Bunga-
n the eastern banks of Friends at the bars decorated with Rasta- lows right next to the river.
the Nam Song River, just 160 farian flags.
Hire a bicycle, cross the river to the
km north of Vientiane on the Some stayed for days on end, some west side, and just follow the small roads
Luang Prabang road, lies the small town of never left, some even died. 
leading past an uncountable number
Vang Vieng. The town, settled in the 14th Fortunately, a few years ago the gov- of limestone karsts and rice paddies. Don’t
century, was originally known as Mouang ernment intervened and now the place is hesitate to interact with the locals, even
Song but was renamed by the French colo- no longer its former hedonistic playground
while they are tending to their rice pad-
nial rulers in the 1890’s as Vang Vieng.  but has become more subdued, and the dies. These people are generally welcoming
The area’s towering limestone karst natural surroundings are once again the and not too camera shy, but always ask
with mysterious caves, combined with the main course on the menu. permission before clicking away. 
town’s location
next to the Vang Vieng has recently been reborn after years of travellerThe type While Vang Vieng is not the place
where you would come and search for
Nam Song
River, created of being an out-of-control party-den for backpackers. coming to
Vang Vieng
authentic Lao culture, cycling out of town
a reputation of
a remote des-
Now the focus is again onnature and tranquility . has changed
in the process,
tination where adventure and relaxation with more Asian visitors such as Chinese
lived side by side. people often arriving in large groups. The
Over the past two decades, it has type of accommodation is also changing
become a popular place for backpackers from being mostly basic backpacker lodg-
in search of nirvana. While some came ing to larger hotels such as the Riverside
for the hiking, cycling among rice pad- Boutique Resort and the Amari Vang
dies, climbing of the sheer limestone cliffs, Vieng, catering to more upscale clientele

138 Globerovers · July 2018


does offer ample opportunities to interact from the streaming sunrays, you can ex- with most of the visiting travellers unaware
with the locals and to witness their tradi- plore vast areas of the cave system. of it and its history.
tional way of life.   Done exploring the cave, head back Despite Vang Vieng not being the
About 8 km to the west of town near down and plunge in the crystal-clear sleepy village it used to be some time ago,
the village of Ban Na Thong, lies Tham Phu waters of the lagoon, a serene natural para- and the changing demographics in recent
Kham cave and a beautiful bluish lagoon. dise. Local kids jumping from the trees years, it remains a beautiful place where
into the lagoon will likely entertain you. tranquillity is not far away. Here you can
The road you will travel to get here is
cycle for hours among some of the most
beautiful as it passes through the coun-
beautiful natural scenery you have ever
tryside littered with karst rock forma- Vang Vieng is a pleasant stop come across. Lakes, lagoons, rivers, caves
tions, tiny villages and endless rice pad- with underground lagoons, and so much
dies. between Vientiane and Luang natural beauty.
The cave’s entrance is about halfway Prabang - though you may not If you have travelled around Laos to
up the limestone cliff along a hiking trail
through the lush forest. The climb to the want to leave again. enjoy the local cuisines, which may not
always be as delicious as you were hop-
entrance is steep in some sections, but ing for, you will be happy to know that
a handrail is available for a good grip. Hard to believe that from the 1950’s your old favourite dishes are available in
It’s worth the climb as the cave offers a to 1970’s this area was home to an Ameri- Vang Vieng. Try the Thai and Chinese
labyrinth of chambers decorated with sta- can air base known as Lima Site 6, along restaurants, pizzas, burgers, and some
lagmites and stalactites. A large reclining Route 13, from where bombing raids were great French-owned bakeries. Le Cafe de
Buddha in the first chamber will welcome launched. Of the asphalt airstrip, little but Paris and Gary’s Irish Bar will not disap-
you. With a flashlight and some help a crumbled potholed strip is still visible, point you.

Article l Laos | 139


LIMESTONE KARST MOUNTAINS OUTSIDE VANG VIENG
The countryside outside Vang Vieng is dominated by rice fields that stretch
between towering limestone karsts. Several hiking paths lead from the town
into the beautiful countryside where you can cycle and meet the friendly
locals. Stop to cool down in a blue swimming hole and explore some of the
many interesting caves. Don’t hesitate to try the local food and Beer Lao at
one of the many small family-run restaurants in the area.

140 Globerovers · July 2018


Article l Laos | 141
Laos

142 Globerovers · July 2018


along the main road, chasing puppies and nana leaves. Sun-dried strips of beef jerkies
harassing the chickens. Vans, buses and called “sien savahn”, and some “sai oua”
ROAD TO LUANG PRABANG cars speed through these villages and I or “sai gork” Lao sausages are also usually
wonder how often these kids get run over. on offer. It is a sensory experience to try
It’s the journey that counts and not the
Life at this high elevation is tough, as this food. Don’t fear. If the Lao people can
destination. So true for this road!
you will see etched on the locals’ faces. eat it, then so can we all.

O
High elevation villages are often shrouded The so-called “new road” between
nce you are done with Vang in fog and smog, and it can get quite cold. Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang is an
Vieng, hop onto one of the There seems to be a constant slash-and- upgraded old road which forks west at
many public buses, “VIP burning of the hills with a thick smoke- Kasi through the mountains to Road 4
buses”, minivans, or cars, which head up haze blocking out the blue sky. Many of from where it later rejoins Road 13 just
northwest to Luang Prabang on the scenic, the fire-ravaged hills are left with brown before arrival at Luang Prabang. The new
winding, and nauseating mountain road. scars, devoid of the green jungle it once road takes about five hours, so is about
The “original” road goes from Vang was. Unfortunately, the Lao government one to two hours faster, mainly because
Vieng on Road 13 through Kasi, Vieng is too busy entertaining the Chinese Gov- there are less scenic points to stop at, and
Kham, and Phou Khoun and takes roughly ernment’s investments in hydroelectricity it is less winding than the old route. If you
six to seven hours, depending on which have a choice, take transportation that
vehicle you choose, how many stops it The mountain road from Vang Vieng to Laung follows the old road all the way via

pure sensory
makes, and how long passengers spend Road 13, but before boarding tell the
at each stop. Unscheduled stops are Prabang is a adventure. driver to please take it easy and to get
often required for dizzy and nauseous you to Luang Prabang alive. Make sure
tourists, in particular those who chose the projects and large-scale food production he will at least stop at a few scenic spots
minivans. The road is very scenic and a for the China market to care about the along the way. Having a private car and
stop or two in the high elevations is usually well-being of the Hmong and their un- driver is the most desirable way to do this
on the cards. sustainable exploitation of their natural route. Note that there have been incidences
The Hmong people are some of the environment. of violence along this route, and further
poorest people of Laos living along this The food stalls sell interesting lo- off the route, though not directly target-
route. They are increasingly catering to cal Hmong delicacies, including ing foreign travellers. Also note that large
the needs of the visiting tourists, but still “khai look”, a boiled duck egg with an buses can only take the old route due to
mostly go about their own way of life. As embryo that is eaten from the shell. You steep hills on the new route.
the ladies are selling their farm produce will also find “mok pa” which is catfish, or You will be relieved when you arrive at
and ready-to-eat fried foods, the kids play other local river fish, steamed in fresh ba- your destination!

Article l Laos | 143


Laos

Wat Wisunalat.

food? You will find plenty of great res- Want to barter for colourful Lao um-
taurants here. Or how about learning the brellas at a night market, or even buy an
skills of traditional Lao cooking where you elephant made out of the remnants of a
LUANG PRABANG will prepare Lao favourites such as mok pa diffused Vietnam War bomb? Luang Pra-
Where you can stay for a long time and (the steamed fish in banana leaves that bang night market is waiting for you.
still not get enough. you tried on the road from Vang Vieng) Depending on your interests, you will
or Larb, the “national dish of Lao”, which isfind something very special about Luang

D
a minced meat and herb salad.  Prabang, if not within the town then cer-
esignated a UNESCO World
Heritage Site in recognition of If you are into anthropology you have tainly on the outskirts and surrounding area.
its unique blending of tradi- come to the right part of the world to learn One of the reasons many people come
tional Lao temples with French colonial about the hill tribes of the region. here is to appreciate and photograph a
buildings, Luang Prabang will in some way Are you into outdoors activities? The special event which plays out around town
or another appeal to you. While it has be- area around town has enough waterfalls, at sunrise.
come a popular tourist destination, While most people are still
there is so much available around Luang Prabang is famous for its laid-back sleeping, some are lining up along
town, that you are bound to fall in
love with at least a few things that atmosphere, glittering temples and monasteries, the streets of Luang Prabang to wit-
ness the Buddhist ritual of receiv-
the town and surroundings offer. 
wandering monks, and variety of guest houses. ing early morning alms. Known
If you are into sleepy laid-back as tak bat, the barefooted saffron-
river towns to chill out for a few days, you hiking trails, mountain climbing, spelunk- clad monks walk single file, oldest first,
will find one in Luang Prabang. If you like ing, zip-lining through the jungle, and carrying their orange, copper and silver
temples, monasteries, monks, and even a boating or tubing on the mighty Mekong alms bowls in front of them as they are
royal palace museum, you will find more River to keep you busy for weeks on end. receiving their daily alms from the local
than you most likely found anywhere else. Do you want to try your hand at devotees making merit.
Do you appreciate delicious Western and ploughing the rice fields with a water buf- Nobody speaks during this ritual as
Asian cuisines, and even traditional Lao falo? That can easily be arranged. the monks walk in meditation and the
144 Globerovers · July 2018
Monastery of Wat Nong Sikhunmeuang.

Wat Xieng Thong.

almsgivers respect this symbiotic relation- Sadly, the growing popularity among those with cameras, keep a respectful
ship by not disturbing their peace.  tourists to act irresponsibly and with- distance and do not use flashlights. This is
The alms include mostly the Lao staple out respect may eventually result in the also not the time or place to walk around
of sticky rice, but can also include soups, elimination of this ancient ritual. in your sexy beachwear!
curry, fruits, water, and even meat. For To avoid the many tourists, and it is
both the monks and the almsgivers, this is Located in the heart of the not as bad as it sounds, visit during the
a special time of the day. Most laypeople wet season. This means afternoon showers
will be kneeling in front of the monks, mountainous region, it is a with plenty of sunshine during the rest of
with the older monks often doing a short great base from where to the day.
blessing ceremony. 
explore northern Laos. The wettest months are August and
The experience of being here is quite September when there may be flooding
humbling, though some tourists think this around the Mekong River. The wet season
is a cultural show to entertain them, so Many monks and devotees do not want has the least tourists and you may often
they stand right along the monks’ path- to be part of these photo sessions as they find yourself quite alone, which is great.
way to photograph them, complete with cause offence to their spiritual redemption. Best is to avoid peak season, which is De-
their bright flashing cameras. It is crucial that all tourists, in particular cember and January.
Article l Laos | 145
146 Globerovers · July 2018
THE TOWN OF LAUNG PRABANG VIEWED FROM PHU SI HILL
Luang Prabang is located at the confluence of the Mekong and the Nam Khan river,
surround by verdant greenery and rolling mountains. Views from Phu Si Hill high above
the town reveal its many temples and the patchwork of traditional Lao red-roofed
wooden houses with a touch of European architecture reminiscent of its French colonial
past. The mountains are home to the many hill tribes of northern Laos.

Article l Laos | 147


Laos

A second prominent ethnic group is The Hmong people who live around


the Hmong who descended from the Yel- Luang Prabang are generally not well-
low River basin of central China before to-do and are often in need of basic ne-
settling in the southern provinces of China cessities. However, they are friendly to-
THE HILL TRIBES wards visiting travellers. They live in
during the 18th century. Since then many
Spending a day in the life of the hill have migrated to the rugged uplands of the hills and highlands, with their homes
tribes is a highlight of this region. northern Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, and built on bare earth, rather than raised
the eastern parts of Myanmar. The Hmong above the ground on stilts. Many homes

T
people’s cultural life and religious beliefs are without any significant flooring, other
he northern part of Laos is
are extremely interesting, and it is a re- than a clay floor. Houses consist of one or
home to several ethnic minori-
warding experience to spend a day or more two rooms, with the entire family sleeping
ties such as the Khmu, Hmong on raised bamboo beds.
among these people. With the help of a
and the Yuan. The Khmu people build
local guide who can be the translator, you Make sure to meet the local shaman
their houses on two levels, with the main
will be amazed at the stories they tell.  of the village, who is the person believed
living area elevated on stilts to protect
them from invading animals and crit-
ters. They live in the lowlands as well as
in the green belt halfway up the hills. The
ethnic Lao people regard the Khmu as the
first inhabitants of the area and they be-
lieve the Khmu have power over the local
spirits. While most are animists, some are
Christians and Buddhist. 

148 Globerovers · July 2018


to possess special powers through ecstatic A day or two, even three or four, are
religious acts. He is responsible for the reli- well spent trekking the lowlands, high-
gious and medical well-being of the village lands, and the hills in search of the ethnic
which he does by communicating with tribes of Laos.
the spiritual world where he often asks for Once you have soaked up all the ex-
advice and prophecies. citement of Luang Prabang and everything
As a visitor to a Hmong village, it is around it, head straight north to the village
good practice to first visit the village chief, of Nong Khiaw along the banks of the
and literally “ask permission” to enter the Nam Ou River, then by boat further north
village. You will almost always be granted to Muang Ngoi, and continue on to go
your request, and probably be invited into trekking in the Muang Khua and Phong-
his home, meet his family, and have a cup sali areas. You will be delighted with
of tea. northern Laos.

Article l Laos | 149


VISITING THE CHIEF OF THE VILLAGE
Northern Laos is ethnically diverse with many tribes practicing hunting and
subsistence living in the mountains outside Luang Prabang. Upon entering one
of the many villages it is custom to first meet the village chief to secure permis-
sion to visit. Most chiefs are more than happy to welcome foreign travellers.

150 Globerovers · July 2018


Article l Laos | 151
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152 Globerovers · July 2018


Known in Laos as the Mènam Khong, it crosses from China into Myanmar it is
at a length of about 4,350 km (2,700 miles) known as the Lancang River. In Myanmar,
the Mekong River is the longest river in it is known as the Mekong!
Southeast Asia, the 7th longest in Asia, and From Myanmar, the river flows
THE MEKONG’S 4,000 ISLANDS the 12th longest river in the world. While through Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and
the Mekong River is measured at about eventually Vietnam where it flows through
Unquestionably one of the quietest 4,350 km, from source to ocean it is almost
corners in southeast Asia! the southern Mekong Delta of Vietnam
5,000 km long! Though, strictly speaking, and empties into the South China Sea.
the stretch that carries the name “Me-

N
In southern Laos, just before the river
o trip to Laos is complete kong River” is only about 2,700 km long.
crosses into Cambodia, it fans out into a
without a few days of island Whichever measurement you prefer, it is a
very wide labyrinth of shallow waterways,
hopping in the southern Me- long and mighty river!
islands and even waterfalls. 
kong River.
Take a long bus ride, or better yet
The operating words here are Over many years the river streams
fly down to Pakse in the far south of
Laos. From here it is a 2 to 3-hour
RELAX, SLEEP, EAT, DRINK, REPEAT, REPEAT have created thousands of sandy-beach
islands and tiny bushy outcrops. Many
of these islands and bushes are sub-
transfer by bus or minibus to Nakasong
from where a longboat ride takes about 10 The geographic source of the Me- merged during the wet season while the
minutes to Don Det Island, and about 20 kong is a glacier on the north side of larger islands are dotted with small villages,
minutes to Don Khon Island. From either Guosangmucha Mountain at an eleva- mostly stretched along the riverfront.
one of these two islands, you can explore tion of 5,514 m (18,086 ft) on the Tibetan In the lower half of this large area of
the other bigger and smaller islands. Plateau. The tiny glacial stream here is river islands are a few islands of interest to
You can hop around well over 4,000 called the Lasagongma, which then flows travellers, including the islands of Don Det
islands (locally known as Si Phan Don in into the meandering Gaoshanxigu stream, and Don Khon, and located much closer
the Champasak Region), not surrounded which then flows into the Guoyong River to Pakse, the island of Don Khong (not
by seawater, but the murky brown waters that becomes the Zhaa River and then to be confused with the most southern of
of the mighty Mekong River. merges with the Zhana River. Just before the three, Don Khon). Located right be-

Article l Laos | 153


Laos

tween Don Khong (to the north) and Don tiny communities, and friendly locals who road” along the river.
Det (to the south) is Don Som island, which seem somewhat aloof. If you have a lot of energy, join a kayak
is also a good option for a peaceful stay. The islands are not known as major tour, advertised by almost every travel
This part of Laos will interest you if party spots. Don Det has more of a back- agency and many guesthouses on the
you love river islands and hanging out packer vibe, especially closer to the very islands. Another great adventure is to rent
around rustic restaurants by the riverside. northern tip around the ferry drop-off a private longboat with skipper for three to
The main reason to come here is to do point. Don Khon is slightly more upscale, four hours to take you around a handful of
nothing. Drink, eat, drink, sleep (on the has more mature visitors, and is also the many islands.
bed, in the hammock, at the restaurant, slightly more expensive. Dolphin tours are also widely ad-
anywhere). Repeat! While the islands were more popular vertised by travel desks on the island.
On more energetic days, rent a $1 about five years ago, nowadays even during The river south of the Somphamit Water-
bicycle for the day and cycle along the the peak season of Christmas and New falls past the southern tip of Don Khon
circular road around Don Det Island, Year accommodation is easily available is known as the home of the freshwater
and across the old French bridge to Don for walk-ins. A local German guesthouse Irrawaddy dolphins. They come close to
Khong Island. Visit Somphamit Waterfalls owner noted the recent decline in visitors, the waterfalls to give birth, as the oxygen
and then cycle all the way down to the which is great news if you are looking for levels are much higher around and below
old Hang Khone French Port on the south- tranquillity. the falls. No tours guarantee any sightings,
ern tip of Don Khong Island. Here you can The islands are quite popular among so it is a matter of luck whether you see the
sit at a cosy riverside restaurant and stare European (French, in particular) families, dolphins.
across the river over the jungle of Cambo- older people, and a fair share of backpack- And so it is time to go back to Pakse
dia while sipping on a Beer Lao and eating ers, the latter who tend to prefer the livelier and off to the airport to fly away. I bet you
a green papaya salad. area at the northern tip of Don Det. have great memories of Laos and will be
Along the way to the south, you will On both islands, most accommodation back soon to do the rest! GR
cycle past water buffaloes, temples, stupas, and restaurants are along the single “main

154 Globerovers · July 2018


ESSENTIAL INFORMATION

Getting There Getting Around Photography


Most visitors to Laos fly via Bangkok Getting around Laos is an adventure. Photographing people in their daily life
into Vientiane, Luang Prabang, or Pakse Your choices include barely river-worthy is generally not a problem. Always follow
airports. By overland, the best crossings boats, crowded buses, and aged jalop- the golden rules to take portraits without
are from Thailand at Nong Khai to reach ies with hard seats. Increasingly, fleets of people knowing it, or ask first. Be very
Vientiane or Huay Xai to the northeast of VIP tourist-grade minivans ply the roads. discreet when photographing in temples
Thailand’s Chiang Mai. To reach Pakse by While they are more comfortable than and always ask permission in monaster-
land, the crossing is not far from Thai- most local transport, some routes can be ies. During morning alms collections, keep
land’s Ubon Ratchathani. Also fly via nauseating! Lao Airlines and Lao Skyway a respectful distance from the monks and
Vietnam, Cambodia, China, or Malaysia. are good options. Trains are coming. do not use flashlights.

When to Go Where to Stay Packing


November to January are the best times Though the tourist infrastructure in Laos Your packing depends on where you go
when not excessively hot. This is also a is much less developed than in Thailand, and when you go. While the country is gen-
good time for river travel when high water the amount and quality of lodging are erally hot, the cooler months of December
levels make passage along the Mekong improving. Established tourist spots such to January in the higher elevations can be
River easy. In the rainy season (May to as Vientiane, Vang Vieng and Luang quite cold. Outside Vientiane, you should
October) roads are muddy. March to June Prabang have many choices, though pack all medication and special items you
is hot, though cooler at high elevations. less-travelled areas are catching on fast. need, as stores can be quite basic.

Dining Out Train Journeys Cost of Travel


Vientiane and Luang Prabang are known Currently, Laos has just 3 km of railway Laos caters for all budget sizes and value
for their culinary delights at upscale tracks connecting the Thai border with for money is generally good, especially in
restaurants. Vang Vieng is less blessed the outskirts of Vientiane. The under- Luang Prabang. Prices of food, accom-
with good eateries, while in the rest of the construction Pan-Asia Railway Network modation, tours, transport, and about
country you will need to get used to the will introduce a central east-west line everything else is very reasonable. If you
many exotic foods (or non-edible, depend- connecting Thailand and Vietnam, and a want the best deals, head to the far south
ing on your spirit of adventure). Vientiane to China’s Xishuangbanna line. to the islands in the Mekong River.

Article l Laos | 155


9 Must-Do’s in Laos
a z i n g
a m

1 Visit the Hill Tribes of


Luang Prabang
The lowlands and hills surrounding Luang Prabang are
home to several ethnic minorities such as the Khmu,
Hmong and the Yuan people. Just go for a hike outside
town and into the hills, or better yet, book a full day or
even a night or two homestay in a village with a local
guide. The guide will skilfully direct you to the most in-
teresting villages, be a much-needed translator to assist
in communicating with the locals, and obtain permission
from the village chiefs to enter the village.

Meet the shaman of the village and get invited into his
home to hear about the tasks he performs for his village.

It is an eye-opening experience to visit these tribes and


experience a day in their life. Trekking from one village
to another through rugged jungle and hills is a thrilling
experience not to be missed.

2 Meet local rice farmers


outside Vang Vieng 3 Join Luang Prabang monks
collecting alms at sunrise

The major attraction of Vang Vieng is the beautiful natural It is a humbling experience to be part of the daily
setting of the rice paddies among the tree-covered limestone ”tak bat” ritual when barefooted saffron-clad monks walk
karsts jutting into the sky. single file, oldest first, carrying their orange, copper and
silver alms bowls in front of them as they receive alms
Rent a bicycle and head into any direction in the tower- from the local devotees making merit. Get up before
ing landscapes. One of the most beautiful settings can be sunrise to head into the streets of the town. Ask before-
reached by crossing the small bridge to the west of town. A hand which streets are best to see the monks.
short ride later will place you amongst the rice paddies and
incredibly beautiful scenery. Often you need to put down the Please be invisible while you attend. Bring your longest
bike to talk to local farmers tending their muddy rice paddies. lens while leaving your flashgun behind. Sit on the other
side of the street and pretend not to be there. Watch in
The area offers dozens of caves to explore and cool tur- silence as the monks walk in meditation and the almsgiv-
quoise swimming holes. Continue further west to the village ers respect this symbiotic relationship by not disturbing
of Ban Na Thong and its nearby Tham Phu Kham cave and a their peace. And neither should you disturb their medita-
beautiful bluish lagoon. It is easy to spend a full day here! tion. It is a daily religious ritual not to be missed.
156 Globerovers · July 2018
4 Laze around
Mekong islands 5 Action outside
Vang Vieng 6 Travel along
nauseating roads

If you are interested in island life, as Vang Vieng is a lot more than tranquil Traveling from Vang Vieng to Luang
in river islands, where the motto is landscapes and rice paddies. While Prabang, in particular via the “old
“do nothing”, then this is the place for the extremely disorganized river tub- road” that winds through the moun-
you. The reason to come here is to ing has been tamed down, there are tain passes, is truly a nauseating
drink, eat, drink, sleep - on the bed, many more natural discoveries to experience. While most people can
in the hammock, at the restaurant, indulge in. tolerate this exhilarating ride, some
anywhere. Then repeat! people get dizzy and sick.
Some of the many activities around
If after a day you find this a boring town include hiking, cycling among The narrow winding mountain road
ritual, cycle around the islands to the rice paddies, climbing the sheer passes through small hill tribe villag-
waterfalls, beaches, old French ports, limestone cliffs, exploring the caves, es, often shrouded in fog, where you
and old French locomotives. Then kayaking, hot air ballooning, and can stop to stretch your legs and fill
when tired, get back into the ritual swimming in the small lagoons. And if your belly with local staples such as
you came for: drink, eat, drink, sleep, you really want to tube down the river, boiled duck egg with an embryo, and
repeat! you may still do it. steamed catfish in banana leaves.

7 Boat rides on the


Mekong River 8 Monasteries of
Luang Prabang 9 Vientiane markets
and sunsets

Join a full-day kayaking tour that will If you appreciated the early morn- While the Lao capital of Vientiane is
take you past many islands and stop ing ritual of barefoot saffron- not the most exciting capital city in
at a few waterfalls. Alternatively, hire clad monks walking down the streets Southeast Asia, one of the not-to-be-
a longboat with a skipper and just sit to collect alms, visit them in their missed experiences is the colourful
back and go with the river-flow. temples and monasteries. night market and sunset BBQ dinner
at the Mekong River.
There are 4,000 islands waiting to be Luang Prabang has more temples and
discovered! Even some sandbanks monasteries that you can manage to The night market offers delicious,
are worth visiting if you see a small visit in a single trip. Each unique in albeit a bit oily, fried dishes. If the food
shack set up to serve the local fisher- their own way. Many temples have a does not attract you, try a BBQ dinner
men. They eat simply, noodles and monastery that is home to the monks. right next to the Mekong River. The
tea, and may even order a cold beer Don’t be afraid to ask the monks to area comes alive just before sunset
from the shore that will take about 5 show you their living quarters. Visit when red and blue plastic tables and
minutes to arrive. Slow rides on the the monks inside the “Cave Shrine” chairs are spread out on the grass.
Mekong are so magical. known as Wat Tham Phu Si. The food is good, and the beer cold.
Article l Laos | 157
158 Globerovers · July 2018
159
Photo Essay
BELARUS

160
T here are a few countries still frozen in the
Soviet era. Among these are North Korea,
Turkmenistan, Transnistria, and Belarus.
Though hardly comparable with one an-
other, or even to Russia, each of these countries is

Globerovers · July 2018


unique in many ways. Among these places, Belarus
is likely the most easily visited and least bizarre.
Though the KGB is still feared in Belarus under the
dictatorship of Alexander Lukashenko, it is not too
difficult to travel around the country. While most
A PHOTO JOURNEY THROUGH
BELARUS In this secretive state under dictatorial rule where the KGB
continues to instil fear in its citizens, we found a country with
gentle people and fascinating architecture.

travellers have to apply for a visa and also register comfortable and major railway lines head in many dir-
at a police station within a certain number of days of ections. In addition to Minsk being an interesting city
arrival, exploring this interesting country is not too with fascinating Lenin-styled architecture, the country
challenging. Homestays are possible, and a variety of has many exhilarating destinations to explore, without
hotels are open to foreign visitors. Train travel is fairly encountering masses of tourists.

Photo Essay l Belarus | 161


Minsk
Belarus

Museum and a Palace


The original building of the Museum
of Great Patriotic War (left) and the
Trade Union’s Culture Palace (right)
are prominent buildings in Minsk.
The museum tells the story of the
bloodiest war of the 20th century.
The Culture Palace stages hundreds
of events every year.

Palats Republiki
“Palace of the Republic of Belarus”,
was constructed from 1985 to 2001.
It is used for official state functions
including meetings, conventions,
concerts, symphony orchestras, and
important events. The building is
famous for its impressively large
lavatories with tens of urinals.

KGB Headquarters
One of the few countries that kept the name
“KGB” after the dissolution of the Soviet Union
is the much-feared State Security Agency of the
Republic of Belarus.

Human rights advocates claim that the KGB


continues to play a key role in the violation
of human rights and political repressions in
Belarus.

The building construction began in 1945 and is


the first of Stalin’s many empire style buildings
in Minsk. The KGB building is known to locals
as “Amerikanka”, which refers to the Pre-Trial
Detention Centre (prison) of the KGB of Belarus.
162 Globerovers · July 2018
Yakub Kolas Square
The statue of Yakub Kolas,
Belarusian State Circus the folk poet and one of the Holy Spirit Cathedral
Constructed between founders of the classic Bela- The central cathedral of the
1954-58 the stone-built rusian literature, on the square Belarusian Orthodox Church
circus in Minsk was the first named after him in 1956. The dates back to 1633-1642 but
stationary winter circus in statue dates back to 1972. was reconstructed after the
the Soviet Union. Yakub was born in 1882. devastating 1741 fire.

Victory Square
Soldiers parading at Victory
Square with its 40 m (131 ft)
obelisk erected in 1954 as
a memorial to the country’s
war dead.

Gates of the City of Minsk


Located at the Minsk
Railway Station Square, the
“twin towers” is another
example of Stalin empire
architecture.

Photo Essay l Belarus | 163


Minsk
Belarus

Independence Square
MINSK

164 Globerovers · July 2018


Independence Square
Located along Independence Avenue in the centre of Minsk, Independence Square was designed to serve as Minsk’s
main ceremonial venue during the Soviet times. The Nazis destroyed most of the buildings around the area during
World War II. Formerly known as Lenin Square, it lost its significance between 1946 and 1984 when nearby October
Square served as the ceremonial heart of Minsk. After the dissolution of the USSR, Independence Square was recon-
structed.

The most prominent building at the square is the House of the Government (in the photo) with a large statue of Vladimir
Lenin in the foreground. Other notable buildings around the square are two state universities and the famous red-brick
Catholic Church of Sts. Simon and Helena.

Photo Essay l Belarus | 165


Nesvizh
Belarus

Town Hall of Nesvizh


Dating back to the 16th century, the Nesvizh Town Hall was
designed by Italian architect Giovanni Maria Bernardoni.
Even though it has been partially burned down more than
once, it is one of the oldest and best-preserved buildings in
Belarus.

The Nesvizh Castle


Surrounded by a moat and ponds in the river of Usha,
the history of the palace goes back 400 years. For much
of this time it was owned by the powerful Radziwiłł
family, until 1772 when the Russian forces seized it and
expelled the family. They returned in 1881 and were
expelled again by the Soviets in 1939. Since 1994 is
has been the designated national historical and cultural
reserve, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2005.

166 Globerovers · July 2018


Corpus Christi Church Benedictine Tower
Slutsk Brama (Gates) The church is connected Castle Memorial The Nesvizh Benedictine
This Baroque style gate was with the Nesvizh Castle by a The typical Soviet memorial Sisters Convent was founded
built in 1760 and is the only causeway. It is home to the in front of the Nesvizh in 1593. It has a tumultuous
city gate that remains out of coffins of 72 members of Castle is dedicated to history of invading Russians
five in the fortifications of the Radziwiłł family. the soldiers of the Great and Nazi Germans!
the city of Nesvizh. Patriotic War.

Photo Essay l Belarus | 167


Mir
Belarus

Mirski Zamak (Mir Castle) the Nesvizh Castle. The castle was aban- in the castle moved out in 1962. Renova-
Constructed during the early part of the doned during the 18th century and then tions were done from 1983 and it was listed
16th century, the castle is built in Belarusian severely damaged during the Battle of Mir in 2000 as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Gothic style with five towers surrounding (1812). It was rebuilt during the late 19th It opened as a museum in 2010 complete
a courtyard. Initially owned by the Ilyinich and early 20th centuries but then occupied with conference rooms, hotel, restaurants,
dynasty, it later fell into the hands of the by the German forces when they invaded and a souvenir shop. About 300,000 tourists
influential Radziwiłł family who also owned the Soviet Union. The last family who lived visited the complex in 2017.

168 Globerovers · July 2018


Photo Essay l Belarus | 169
Church of Saints Boris and Gleb
The Kolozha Church, also known as
the Church of Sts. Boris and Gleb, was
constructed in the 12th century. It is a
unique example of Eastern Orthodox
architecture in Belarus. Standing on
the banks of the Neman River, it was
named in honour of the first Russian
saints – Princes Boris and Gleb.

170 Globerovers · July 2018


Grodno
Belarus

Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church of the
Protection of the Virgin was
reconstructed in 1904-05,
built in a Pseudo-Russian
Style. It remains open for
Sunday services.

Roman Catholic Church


The St. Francis Xavier Cath-
edral is located at Sovietskya
Square. Built during 1687-
1705 it was originally a Jesuit
church. The Soviets closed it
from 1960 until 1987.

Photo Essay l Belarus | 171


Grodno
Belarus

Bernardine Monastery and Church


The Bernardine Monastery and its adjacent Church of the Holy Cross Discovery
were built during the 16th to 18th centuries in Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque
styles.

The interior of the church contains unique Renaissance sculptures as well as an


organ dating back to the 17th century. Adorned with images of the 12 Apostles,
the interior suffered during the Soviet period when the church was used as a for-
ensic medical laboratory. In 1990 it was returned to the Roman Catholic Church.

172 Globerovers · July 2018


Photo Essay l Belarus | 173
Ac t i o n
Re p o r t

We explore the Italian Dolomites Mountains


with Daniele Sommavilla who grew up in the
area and remains a frequent year-round visitor.

174 Globerovers · July 2018


ThePr oDu dolomites
l y It a l i a n
Imagine a fusion between the Swiss Alps and the mountains of
Torres del Paine in the southern Chilean Patagonia region.
Think Dolomites!
Words and photos by Daniele Sommavilla and Peter Steyn

M assive bone-white and


orange-yellow rock
formations jutting out
to gigantic propor-
tions, surrounded by verdant valleys and
low-hanging morning fog - complete
with a vast network of World War 1
mountain tunnels and to top it off, a “ri-
formations that they attracted the
attention of French chemist and miner-
alogist, Deodat de Gratet de Dolomieu
(1750-1801), after whom the mountains
are named. 
The discovery of an unknown
mineral, calcium magnesium carbon-
venturers flock to the area for trekking,
caving, mountain biking, horse trekking,
climbing, rafting, and several winter
sports such as skiing, carving, sledding,
tobogganing, snowboarding, and the list
goes on.

Evenings are spent around wood


ate, CaMg(CO3)2, resulted in the fires, enjoyed with Italian cuisines
fugio” with spectacular panoramic views labelling of this anhydrous carbonate and regional wines such as the Terol-
and Italian food to drool over. Yes, Ital- mineral as “dolomite”. However, the dego, Nosiola, Lagrein and the Mar-
ian. Welcome to the Italian Dolomites.  entire Dolomite Mountains are not made zemino. Stay for the night at the Rifugio
The rock formations of the Dolo- of dolomite. The Latemar Peak, and Lagazuoi with panoramic views in all
also Marmolada the highest peak (3,343
mites, both the colour and shapes, are directions. From here, explore the open-
metres), are limestone.  
unique and quite different from the rest air museum of the Great War, aka World
of the Alps. So strange is the combina- While the imposing rock formations War 1 (WW1), then ski, or hike, down
tion of volcanic and dolomitic rock are the main draw to the region, ad- the famous Armentarola slope. 

Action Report l Italy | 175


Action Report - Italy’s Dolomites

GETTING THERE at 17:00. A one-way ticket costs €10 while the many tunnels piercing the side of the
The Dolomites (or Dolomiti in Ital- a roundtrip ticket is €15. Free parking is sharp cliffs.
ian) are located in the northeast of Italy, available at the bottom station, where you
smack between the Austrian border to the will find a hotel, souvenir shop, and a small Hiking up the mountain
north and the Venetian plains to the south. chapel which you may want to visit before Views from the summit, somehow,
Spanning the northern Italian Veneto re- scaling the mountain.  feel a lot more deserved when you hike up
gion, and the autonomous region of Tren- all the way! While the hike up the moun-
Don’t forget that almost the entire up- tain is not that difficult, it will test your
tino Alto-Adige, the Dolomites are proudly
Italian!  Being part of the Southern per part of Mount Lagazuoi is an open-air stamina. An exciting but challenging hike
Limestone Alps which stretch across Italy, war museum, where thousands of soldiers up the mountain commences at the park-
Austria and Slovenia, the Italian Dolomites died. As the cable car ascends, look out for ing space of Saré, south of San Cassiano.
tower above the Puster Valley to the north,
and the Sugana Valley to the south.
Getting here is easy. Getting around
on your own two feet is the challenge. And
what an exciting challenge it is!
The closest international airport is
the Marco Polo Venice Airport, 160 km to
the south. Smaller airports are in Treviso,
Verona and Innsbruk (Austria). The route
from Venice is a pleasant 2.5-hour drive,
which goes through several scenic places
such as the “murals village” of Cibiana di
Cadore, and the tranquil scenic location of
the Rifugio Citta di Fiume. Milan, to the
southwest, is a 4-hour drive away 
 Your ideal starting point to the Dolo-
mites is Mount Lagazuoi. Rising to a height
of 2,835 m (9,301 ft), it is located about 18
km (11 mi) west of Cortina d’Ampezzo in
the Veneto Region. Lagazuoi, debatably, is
the highlight of the Dolomites. Lagazuoi is
home to one of the most fascinating net-
works of World War 1 tunnels, the Rifugio
Lagazuoi guesthouse with its 360 degrees
panoramic views, and a network of hik-
ing trails to reach the guesthouse at the top
of the mountain.
No time to enjoy the trekking? Ascend
Mount Lagazuoi by cable car, and in winter
descend by sliding down the mountain on
your skis or toboggan!

GETTING UP THE MOUNTAIN


There are two main options to get up the
mountain: a cable car or an exhilarating hike.

The Falzarego-Lagazuoi Cable Car


The easy and thrilling way up the
mountain is the Falzarego-Lagazuoi Cable
Car at the Falzarego Pass. From the top of
the Falzarego Pass at 2,117 m (6,946 ft), the
cable car will whisk you up to the sum-
mit of Mount Lagazuoi at 2,762 m (9,062
ft) in approximately three minutes. It runs
every 15 minutes from 09:00 to 16:40 up-
hill, while the last car to the bottom leaves

176 Globerovers · July 2018


Follow the meditative path of “Nikolaus the upper station of the cable car.  Best is not to descend via the path right
von der Flühe”, known for its tranquillity For a more leisurely experience, take below the cable car as this is not an easy
and complete immersion into nature. The way down. Rather go towards the saddle
the cable car up the mountain, and enjoy
path passes the chapel of Sass Dlacià, Rifu- of Lagazuoi, past Forcella Travenanzes,
a few hours walking along the summit
gio Capanna Alpina, and then Rifugio Sco- and follow path number 401-402 which
toni from where a small path leads to the ridge which offers beautiful views of the
beautiful mountain lake of Lagazuoi in surrounding mountains and valleys. After ends near the bottom station of the cable
which the peaks of the Dolomites are re- taking enough photos and eating a few car. There are several paths descending
flected. Keep going until you cross the Do- strudels, or a full meal at the refuge restau- from the summit. Ask around and choose
lomites ridgeway and eventually the Laga- rant, descend the mountain via one of the a difficulty level to match your fitness and
zuoi saddle to the Rifugio Lagazuoi and ski runs. mindset.

Action Report l Italy | 177


Action Report - Italy’s Dolomites

THE WAR TUNNELS


Other than the incredible rock forma-
tions, the second most unique feature of
the mountains is the war tunnels. 
These high mountains served as the
front lines in the war for land between
the Italian and the Austrian armies during
World War 1. Since the end of the Third
Italian War of Independence in 1861, the
border lines in this region have been dis-
puted by the Italians and the Austrians.
This dispute came to a boiling point in the
early 1900’s when the Austrians claimed the
strategic high positions of Mount Lagazuoi
and a few other parts of the Dolomites.
The Italians claimed these moun-
tains to be theirs and were willing to
fiercely fight to get them back. In a three-
year struggle, starting in 1915, they fought
to drive out the Austro-Hungarian army,
during which time tens of thousands of
soldiers lost their lives in battle, avalanch-
es, accidents, and bitterly cold winters. In
December 1916 more than 10 thousand
soldiers on both sides were killed by ava-
lanches, with 4,000 casualties on Decem-
ber 13th alone, known as White Friday.
The Austro-Hungarian army con-
structed fighting tunnels, often at high
altitudes in the hard carbonate rock and
even in glacial ice.
The Italians followed suit and dug miles
of tunnels into the mountain as part of
their plan to blow off the top of the moun-
tain (Piccolo Lagazuoi) and drive out the
Austrians. They were successful to greatly
damage the mountain, and the war ended
with the signing of the Armistice of Villa
Giusti. The fate of the region was eventu-
ally decided in 1919 at the negotiation
tables of Paris. The Italians were awarded
the Dolomites while the new border was
redrawn further to the northeast. 
The war is long over! The Italians are
guardians of the Dolomites while the Aus-
trians have more snowy peaks than they
can count. Now you can grab a flashlight,
wear your helmet and walk these tunnels
much like the soldiers did decades ago. 
During 2018 a wide range of events in RIFUGIO LAGAZUOI Its panoramic terrace offers an encompass-
the region will celebrate 100 years since the Once you get off the cable car at the ing view of the surrounding mountains
War ended. summit of Mount Lagazuoi, you have and deep valleys.
During your tunnel hikes you will arrived at the Lagazuoi Refuge (Rifugio Drop your backpack inside the refuge
come across remnants of the war such as Lagazuoi). Situated at an altitude of 2,752 and immediately go for a short hike
gun turrets and bunkers, rusting shell cas- m (9,029 ft), Rifugio Lagazuoi is one of the along the ridge of the summit. From here
ings, and of course the fortified trenches. highest mountain huts in the Dolomites. you have incredible views in all direc-

178 Globerovers · July 2018


tions. Make sure to walk to the famous particularly during meal times. Sleeping the refuge, you can ski down the famous
summit cross that was erected in memory place is limited, so if you want to over- Armentarola slope which is one of the
of the soldiers who were killed on this night which is highly recommended, you’d longest and most spectacular ski slopes in
mountain in World War I. better book long in advance. The refuge is the Dolomites. Lagazuoi and Cortina are
During the summer season, and at a great base for visiting the WW1 tunnels, one of the 12 ski areas that constitute the
the height of the skiing season, the refuge for hiking around the area, and for skiing Dolomiti Superski, a 1,200 km network of
can get very busy during the daytime, in the Cortina and Badia Valleys. From dreamlike-shaped slopes and state-of-the-

Action Report l Italy | 179


Action Report - Italy’s Dolomites

art lift facilities configured to create the hanging clouds and early morning fog over the 2018 season, twin rooms are €108
biggest ski resort in the world. the valleys are surreal.  to €111, triple rooms are €165, and qua-
After a full day of trekking, tunnel The winter season at Rifugio Laga- druple rooms €220. Bunk bed dormitories
crawling, skiing, or whatever action you zuoi normally starts from around 6th which vary from six to 14 people in a
endeavoured, recline with a cold beer December to the middle of April, while the room, cost €44.40 per person including a
or warm drink from the bar and watch summer season is from early June to early sumptuous breakfast. A hot shower is extra
the setting sun over the mountain peaks. October. Outside these two seasons, the at €3.50 per token.  Dorms were built in
The set meals, of typical local cuisine, refuge is closed. The refuge has a total of 1987 and bathroom facilities were com-
are sumptuous and served up three times 74 beds of which 18 are in private bed- pletely renovated in 2015. Great facilities
a day. Then, settle for some quality time in rooms and 56 in shared dormitories. Only indeed!
the charming Finnish sauna, the highest shared bathroom facilities with limited Once you have visited the Italian Do-
sauna in the Dolomites. Don’t miss the water supply are available. The refuge of- lomites, the Dolomites will always be on
views during sunrise. The blue-pinkish fers a ski-boot dryer, slippers, bed sheets, your mind. This I can promise you! So get
hues against the mountains and the low- towels, and a small wellness area. During packing and explore northern Italy. GR

180 Globerovers · July 2018


Action Report l Italy | 181
Wine Talk - Italy’s Dolomites Wineries

Piana Rotaliana
Wineyards of Trentino Province, northern Italy

182 Globerovers · July 2018


Wines
of the Dolomites
Words and photos by Elisabetta Tosi, Valpolicella, Italy

A wesome mountains, beautiful


alpine lakes (there are over 300
of them), stunning landscapes:
the Italian Trentino region is a jewel waiting
Wine Tastings:
Enoteca Provinciale del Trentino
Palazzo Roccabruna,
via SS.Trinità, 24
to be discovered!
Trento
Even if you are just coming for the
wines and the wineries, you certainly won’t Tel.+39.0461.887101
be disappointed. This wine growing area
of the Italian Dolomites has everything to Cantina di Toblino
make you happy. Very happy! Hosteria and wine shop: Via Longa, 1
Once you cross the valley of the Adige Sarche - Madruzzo (TN)
River from Verona to Trento, you will get Tel: +39.0461 564168
your first glimpses of an impressive canyon
where the river flows through a couple of called Campo Rotaliano (Rotaliano’s Field),
narrow loops: the so-called Chiusa (“closed” a vast plain situated north of Trento. It is
in the Italian language) of Ceraino, a tiny amongst the darkest red wines in the world,
village. After just a few kilometres, you will and in ancient legends was compared to
see the first vineyards! the blood of a dragon. It is a well-balanced,
From Veneto to Trentino, the vines clean and elegant wine. The nose detects Nosiola is a versatile, fresh and easy-to-
dominate the landscape, from the lower hints of red and black small berries with drink wine while still is in its youth. How-
valleys all the way up to the steepest slopes violet flowers, while the tongue detects a ever, if made with dried grapes, it changes
on the hills. Trentino boasts a centuries-old spicy and balsamic character. dramatically and becomes a precious, lavish,
and well-established enology and winemak- Totally different is the bright and gentle and surprisingly silky sweet wine. Produc-
ing tradition of the highest standard. The Nosiola, the lady: a white grape that produc- tion of this “Vino Santo” is quite limited.
average annual harvest is about 1 million es wine with the taste of wild hazelnuts. The Last, but not least, is the jolly Mar-
hectolitres of grapes, cultivated over an area name is derived from the Italian word for zemino, famously mentioned as “Versa il
in excess of 10,000 acres. This is a drop in hazelnut, nocciola, which is the dominant vino! Eccellente Marzemino!” in Mozart’s
the ocean compared to the land dedicated aroma found in Nosiola wines. The grapes “Don Giovanni” opera. It is a fresh and
to vineyards worldwide, but here the soil is are cultivated in areas where the brisk easy-to-drink red wine, gentle and friendly.
superb for grapes. afternoon breeze named “Ora del Garda” To the nose, this wine offers scents of plums,
The varieties cultivated are both local or “Garda’s Ora” (Ora from the Latin word violets, and wild berries; to the palate, it is
and international, but without a doubt “Aura” meaning “beneficial breath”), helps fruity, delicate and very pleasant. When you
the most loved ones by winemakers and to dry off the afternoon rains and enhances are in the Trentino region, try it paired with
wine lovers alike, are the original cultivars: the ripening of the grapes. a pizza. Trust me, you won’t regret it.
the regal Teroldego, the gentle Nosiola,
the friendly Marzemino. The “Prince”, the Elisabetta Tosi is an experienced Italian freelance wine journalist and wine blogger,
“Lady” and the “Jolly” in the deck of cards and new media consultant. From Valpolicella (close to Verona, in Veneto region)
of wine production in this region. where she lives, she usually writes about Italian wines and wineries for international
Teroldego is regarded as the prince of online and offline magazines, and is always ready to jump into new travel adventures.
Trentino’s red wines. It originated in the so- www.vinopigro.it | www.fermentidigitali.com | Twitter: @VinoPigro

Wine Talk l Italy | 183


More than 1,028 rhinos were poached in South Africa in 2017.
Many more elsewhere!
Across Africa and Asia we are witnessing a new poaching crisis that threatens
to derail the gains made in rhino conservation over the last thirty years. While
most people might think the demand for rhino horn is fuelled by China’s wide-
spread use of Traditional Chinese Medicine; the reality is much more complex.

Article written by Katherine Johnston, London, UK class, the horn is ground to a powder and
consumed as a “detoxifier.” Rumoured to cure
Katherine is Save the Rhino International’s Communi- anything from illnesses to hangovers; imbib-
cations Manager. She read Modern History and English ing the horn often takes place in a social
setting when sealing high-end business deals.
at Oxford, before completing an MA at London’s School The practice, akin to using a party drug, is
of Oriental and African Studies. She is a consultant to growing.
the Lynx UK Trust and Trustee of ResonanceFM.
Although the number of people buying

B
rhino horn is a tiny proportion of the popu-
y 2007 rhino populations, especial- caused by demand from countries in South lation, their impact on the species’ survival
ly in Africa, had seen steady growth East Asia, primarily China and Viet Nam. Al- is huge.
due to the efforts of conservation- though Traditional Chinese Medicine plays
ists on the ground and tougher law a part, it is more to do with the booming Since 2008, over 6,000 African white
enforcement. In 2008 however, poaching Vietnamese economy and rapid expansion of and black rhinos have been poached. In Asia,
began to rise – exponentially – and we are a wealthy business elite.” the most threatened species are the Sumatran
now at a tipping point where the number of and Javan rhinos; with fewer than a hundred
rhinos poached (plus natural mortalities) is In Viet Nam, rhino horn is seen as a of each species remaining. Many organisa-
outweighing the number born each year. luxury item. It is a status symbol to own and tions have warned that if the rate of killing
display but also to consume. Traditional be- continues unabated, rhinos could be heading
What is behind this rapid surge in liefs around “Chi” – or inner strength – have to extinction within the decade.
poaching? “The new poaching crisis,” SRI adapted as a new elite has emerged. Now,
Deputy Director Susie Offord tells us, “is amongst some parts of the country’s business The act of poaching itself is brutal.

SRI Deputy Director Susie Offord


is positive that we can turn back
the tide: “Our biggest challenge
in Viet Nam is raising awareness
so that customers see their part
in the wider picture.

Many people don’t associate


rhinos poached in Africa with
items sold in their country. Ultim-
ately, the only way we can put
an end to poaching is to stop
demand.

It will take time, but with the


backing of so many people in
Viet Nam, I think we can do it.”

184 Globerovers · July 2018


h i n o s
Hunted down, usually shot and left in a trau- Save the Rhino International (SRI) was tating impact of the trade and encourage

R
matised state, the rhino’s horn and much of founded in 1994. Focused on conserving vi- Vietnamese consumers to turn their back on

ve
its face is hacked off with an axe or machete. able populations of wild rhino, the UK-based the craze.

a
Calves are killed for their tiny horns or sim- charity raises funds and awareness to support

S
ply left to die. initiatives on the ground. Long-running In May 2016, SRI Ambassador, and
programmes include training rangers and ‘Arrow’ and ‘Lagaan’ actor Paul Blackthorne
For conservationists, ever-declining providing anti-poaching equipment; fund- landed in Viet Nam to launch a new cam-
numbers of rhinos pose huge challenges. ing education programmes for communities paign: Save the Rhino Vietnam. A joint
Healthy gene pools diminish, populations living near rhino habitat; and captive breed- initiative between SRI and Education for
become more fragmented and struggle to ing for the critically endangered Sumatran Nature-Vietnam, the campaign aims to put
mate naturally, and habitat loss brings rhinos rhinos. the rhino horn trade firmly on the national
and poachers into increasingly close contact. agenda. So far, the campaign has garnered
When consumers buy rhino horn, money SRI started working in Viet Nam in a huge amount of press attention. Predomi-
goes straight into the hands of transnational 2012 after the country was identified as a nantly aimed at young people, the campaign
criminal syndicates, many of whom are key market for rhino horn by TRAFFIC, an has seen Blackthorne speak at schools and
involved in narcotics, people trafficking and organisation that investigates international universities and meet influencers from the
money laundering too. And for every rhino wildlife crime. Since then, SRI has worked business and political spheres keen to raise
population lost, a community loses a source in Viet Nam with both TRAFFIC and a local awareness of Viet Nam’s role in the global
of tourism revenue and a vital part of the organisation called Education for Nature- trade.
eco-system. Vietnam, to raise awareness of the devas-
Blackthorne explains “Rhino horn can,
and will be, an unfashionable fad from the
past…This is a new trend. It’s something that
we can change before it’s too late.” A host of
Vietnamese superstars have also jumped on
board including the country’s top comedian
Xuan Bac, and one of the country’s “four
divas”; Lê Hồng Nhung.

There are signs of progress in Viet


Nam. Young people are engaging with the
campaign and the hashtag #savetherhinoviet-
nam is trending on social media. In July 2016
the Vietnamese government will produce
new penal codes, and the team at SRI hope
this means more prosecutions for traffickers

“The act of poaching and lengthy prison sentences rather than low
fines. The team behind the campaign point to

itself is brutal.”
previous successes in stemming the demand
for rhino horn in nearby Japan, South Korea
and Taiwan, where the trade is now practi-
cally non-existent.

Follow us:

savetherhinointernational

@savetherhino

Contribution l Save The Rhino | 185


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186 Globerovers · July 2018


187
Postcards
Hey Mom,
You must have seen on TV or
on Facebook about the new
eruptions and lava flowing at the
Kilauea Volcano on Hawaii’s
Big Island, USA. Well, I’m here
Mom. Sorry I did not warn you
I’m coming.
I walked right up to the flowing
lava. It is over 1,000 Celsius
and I got an instant tan on my
arms and face. I’m brown and
sexy!
I also took a helicopter ride over
the crater. Holy moly what an
amazing experience. Mom I got
to run. The lava is flowing slow
but faster than you may think.
Love, Lizzy

Merhaba Mom,
I’m travelling around Turkey
and arrived today at the
Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.
This former Greek Ortho-
dox Christian patriarchal
basilica was built over just
5 years and completed in
the year 537. Wow that is
1,481 years ago and it still
looks really good.
Love ya, Lizzy

Здравствуйте Mom,
Yes, I now speak
Ukrainian too! I am
listening to a man playing
the traditional torban
on the grounds of St.
Sophia’s Cathedral in
Kiev, Ukraine. This is
such sweet music and the
cathedral is incredible!
Love, Lizzy

188 Globerovers · July 2018


to Mommy

Xin chào Mom, Marhaban Mom,


I’m at the Masoleum of I took a flight on Yemenia Airlines to the centre of Yemen and
Ho Chi Minh in Hanoi, then a long drive to Shibam town in the Hadramawt Valley.
Vietnam. Time has been standing still in this 3rd Century mudbrick city.
Similar to John Lenin (no Lovies, Lizzy
maybe Vladimir Lenin),
China’s Mao Zedong,
and the North Korean
Grandad and Dad, inside
this tomb, past this fear-
less guard, is a dead man
who is maybe not really
dead. He is still looking at
people. A bit creepy so I
am leaving.
Love, Lizzy

Salom Mom,
I’m at the Ismail Samani
Mausoleum in the town
of Bukhara, Uzbekistan.
It was constructed in 943
BC. in honour of Ismail
Samani, a powerful ruler
during the Samanid dynasty
of Central Asia. Pretty
building I must say!
Love, Lizzy

Postcards to Mom | 189


More Postcards to Mommy

Tashi delek Mom,


I’m standing in front of the Potala Palace in
Marhaba Mom,
Lhasa, Tibet. This was the former residence of the
This is an old postcard Dalai Lama until he fled to India. Sad! Luv ya, Lizzy.
which I forgot to write.
I’m at the 3rd Century
Monumental Arch
in Palmyra, Syria. In
October 2015 some very
bad people blew this up
and totally destroyed it
because they just like to
destroy the world. Fortun-
ately, I took many photos
before they arrived. I better
go Mom. Lizzy.

Salom Mom,
I’m driving a Landrover
through Vrang village on
my way from Ishkashim to
Murgab along the Wakhan
Valley of Tajikistan.
Those snow covered
mountains are inside Af-
ganistan where I returned
from yesterday.
Lovies, Lizzy

190 Globerovers · July 2018


... by Lizzy

Hallo Mom, Kon’nichiwa Mom,


I’m on top of the world and it is bitterly cold. Was -35°C today. I am These guys are playing on their shimedaiko medium-sized
about 1,000 km from the North Pole. Yesss I am doing dog-sledding drums at the Chatan Festival, Okinawa Island, Japan.
on the Svalbard Islands of Norway. Here are about 3,000 polar What an amazing place, and the diving and snorkeling are
bears but I have not seen them yet. Oh... chat later Mom. Love you, Lizzy. awesome!! Love, Lizzy

Bonjour Mom,
This is my last postcard
until December. What a
lovely view from the Ville
Haute (“High City”) to the
Ville Basse (“Low City”)
and the Grund in the River
Alzette gorge, Luxembourg.
The town is quite interest-
ing with lots of old buildings
such as the beautiful Notre-
Dame Cathedral and the
Eglise St. Michel Church.
Mom, this is it for now!
Love you tons, Lizzy

Postcards to Mom | 191


SUPER
TRAVELLERS in the SPOTLIGHT
A Globerovers Q&A with adventure travellers living in Scotland.

Laurence & Jessica NORAH GR: Among those countries you have not yet visited, which ones
are at the top of your “must do” list?
Laurence and Jessica Norah are LN: I really want to visit Antarctica, and Jess really wants to visit Peru.
the British-American travel blog- I want to visit Antarctica for the landscapes, wildlife and nature, Jess is
ging couple behind photography & keen on Peru for the cultural and natural attractions.
adventure travel blog Finding the
Universe and luxury / couples travel GR: If you could spend the rest of your life somewhere other than
blog Independent Travel Cats. Their your current home country, which country would that be?
goal is to inform and inspire through LN: Again, this would likely be the USA for me and maybe France for
well-written content accompanied by Jess (who is from the USA)!
beautiful imagery. They are currently
based in beautiful Scotland. GR: Please tell us about the most incredible and memorable experi-
ence you have ever had while travelling?
All photos by Laurence & Jessica LN: We got married whilst travelling, so that was definitely a memor-
able experience! We got married on the Cunard Queen Mary 2 halfway
between my home country of the UK, and Jess’s home country of the
USA, and it was a really special occasion as we were married by the
Globerovers (GR): We talked with Laurence about his travels with Captain and had a wonderful day!
Jessica and started by asking how many countries they have visited.
Laurence Norah (LN): To be honest, I’m not totally sure. Probably GR: Based on your travel experiences, if you were to recommend the
around 50? We prefer to travel slowly and explore a country fully rather one most amazing destination for intrepid travellers, which place
than rack up countries. We also revisit countries a lot! would that be, and why?
LN: I would say probably Australia, because the country is so vast and
GR: What are your top 5 most preferred countries for leisure travel? there is so much wilderness to explore. I adventured around Australia
LN: The USA, New Zealand, the UK, France and Thailand. for a year in an off-road four-wheel drive, visiting some of the most
remote spots, and there are some incredible off-the-beaten-path loca-
GR: Which is your most preferred country for travel and why? tions you can visit.
LN: If we had to pick one, it would be the USA. It’s got so much variety
in terms of sights, with everything from big cities to fantastic national
parks. It’s easy and relatively affordable to travel there, and perfect for a
road trip.

GR: Where do you wish you were right now?


LN: We always like to be happy with where we are right now, which
happens to be in Scotland! If we were always wishing we were some-
where else, we’d probably figure out how to make that happen.

Route 66 California, USA.

GR: Which people by nationality or subgroup would you say have


been the most hospitable during your travels and why do you say so?
LN: I think it’s hard to narrow this down to a single group. We often
find the locals to be friendly and hospitable nearly everywhere we go!
But, for example, is that Jessica found the people in South Korea to be
very kind and hospitable and they often went out of their way to help
her when she visited several years ago. Every time she pulled out a
map, people were stopping and asking if they could help (even if they
didn’t speak English)!

192 Globerovers · July 2018


GR: How do you think travelling around the world for independ- LN: There was a Massaman Curry I had in a small guest house in Khao
ent travellers has changed over the past 20 years? Sok that I’ll always remember. It was so good I had it every night for
LN: I think it has definitely become easier. I travelled around China for three days!
three months in 2001, almost twenty years ago, just at the dawn of the
internet. So, whilst I could e-mail my parents back home, finding travel GR: And where was the worst food during your travels?
information online was pretty much impossible back then. It was all LN: I’m usually pretty accepting of food, but I have to admit I’ve had
physical books and word-of-mouth from other travellers. These days I some pretty terrible food travelling in the UK! It’s improved a lot over
think technology has made travelling a lot easier and more accessible. the years thankfully.

GR: What is the strangest or weirdest place you have ever spent a


night?
LN: When I was travelling around Australia, we camped out in the
middle of nowhere very often, usually hundreds of miles from anyone
else.

GR: Do you have any strange, weird, or even bizarre travel rituals
which you can share with us?
LN: I can’t think of anything too weird.

GR: Based on all your travel experiences, what is the best tip you can


offer to new travellers?
Laurence, the serious photographer.
LN: Don’t be afraid to be a tourist. I think a lot of us think there’s some
stigma attached to being a tourist, but by definition, if you’re travelling
GR: Let’s get a bit more personal. Do you have any “must take” in another country, you’re a tourist. Unless you’re going to settle down
items when you travel that you think most travellers don’t think of? and get a job, your experience in a foreign country will never be the
LN: We usually try to travel with a Leatherman (a multitool), and some same as it is for locals, so just embrace it.
duct tape. You just never know when you might need to fix something.
GR: What is the single best lesson you have learned about the world
GR: What is your favourite travel resource on the Internet? during your travels around the world?
LN: We usually use Booking.com or Airbnb for accommodation, and LN: People are pretty similar the world over, with similar dreams and
Kiwi or Priceline for flights. Beyond that, we normally just start with a goals for their lives.
Google search to find what we want!
GR: What is the main focus of your travels?
GR: Let’s talk about food. Which one country that you visited has LN: I would say photography for me, and Jess loves to learn about the
the best food in the world? history and culture of a place.
LN: I love the food in the Seychelles. Fresh fish, curry spices and coco-
nut make for an incredible cuisine, but I am biased since I spent several GR: And finally, where are you off to next?
years there as a child. LN: Tomorrow we are heading down to the Seychelles for two weeks.
GR: Where was the best meal you have ever had during your travels?

Getting married on the Cunard Queen Mary 2


halfway between the USA and the UK.
Follow Laurence & Jessica

BLOGS
findingtheuniverse.com
independenttravelcats.com
FACEBOOK
www.facebook.com/findingtheuniverse
www.facebook.com/independenttravelcats
TWITTER
twitter.com/lozula
twitter.com/travelcatsblog
INSTAGRAM
instagram.com/lozula
instagram.com/independent_travel_cats
PINTEREST
pinterest.com/lozula
pinterest.com/indietravelcats

193
TRAVELLERS in the SPOTLIGHT
Globerovers Q&A with an incredible traveller living in Thailand

Craig Thompson is easy, it’s relatively safe, and language isn’t a problem. I’m a nut for
Pattaya, Thailand beaches and Thailand has a bunch of them.

GR: Where do you wish you were right now and why?
CT: I started playing guitar again and picked up the mandolin. I’ve
gotten hooked on bluegrass. Very few people play it here in Thai-
Craig retired in 2002 and has been travelling for four to five
land. So, I wish I were back in the US at a festival and joining in on
months of every year since then.
the campground jams. Hopefully, that will happen in a year or two.

GR: Among those countries you have not yet visited, which ones
Globerovers (GR): How many countries have you been to?
are at the top of your “must do” list?
Craig Thompson (CT): I’ve been to 102 countries and will be at
CT: Top of my list is Southern Africa. I’ll be going there next year
around 120 by the end of next year.
and visiting around 10 countries. It’s going to be an epic trip. Cape
Town and its surrounding wineries along with Namibia, are my top
GR: What are your top 5 most preferred countries for leisure travel? two destinations.
CT: I’ve found something interesting and unique in every country
I’ve visited. But, here’s a shot at the top 5: GR: Please tell us about the most incredible and memorable
1. Turkmenistan – Ashgabat is THE most bizarre city I’ve ever experience you have ever had while travelling?
visited. You really have to see it to believe it. The “Gates of Hell” CT: I’ve had quite a few incredible and memorable experiences.
was a fantastic place to visit and One was climbing Kilimanjaro. My
spend the night. I camped out father wanted me to do this and
right on the side of the burning passed away just before my trip. I
crater. spent a week doing the climb and at
the top, I broke down and cried. It
2. Tajikistan – Travelling along the
was an incredibly hard trip, and very
Pamir Highway was probably
emotional as I did it in memory of
one of my most memorable trips.
my father.
Stunning scenery. An incredible
adventure. GR: Based on your travel experi-
3. Argentina – With a selection ences, if you were to recommend
of some of the best steaks and the one most amazing destination
wines in the world, I love it there! for intrepid travellers, which place
Plus, there are a lot of places for would that be, and why?
adventure. Southern Argentina is CT: I would have to say Eastern Eu-
fantastic, with glaciers, moun- rope. It’s cheap, transport is easy, and
tains and all sorts of activities. there’s plenty to see. We loved the re-
mote areas in Czech Republic, Serbia,
4. Ecuador – Visiting the Galapa-
Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania: wonderful places to visit that help
gos Islands and seeing what Darwin saw is wonderful. I took a
stretch your travel dollar.
7-day cruise around the islands.
5. Bangladesh – Outside Dhaka, the country is amazing. It’s like GR: What is the single best lesson you have learned about the
going back 50 years in time. The people are real. NO tourists! world during your travels around the world? 
CT: I think travelling is very educational. And it helps break down
GR: Which is your most preferred country for travel and why? the biases we all have. The #1 thing I’ve learned is that most people
CT: I’d have to say Thailand. It’s cheap, has good weather, transport just want to live a good life and take care of their family.

194 Globerovers · July 2018


TRAVELLERS in the SPOTLIGHT
Globerovers Q&A with an off-the-beaten-track traveller who loves Arctic Canada

Yrene Dee GR: Where do you wish you were right now and why?
YD: In the Canadian High Arctic. This is the most off-the-beaten-
Lumby, BC, Canada
track I can go in Canada. I’m fascinated by the Inuit history and
their survival and I want to gain more insight into their lives.

GR: Among those countries you have not yet visited, which ones
Swiss born, Yrene is an entrepreneur, wilderness nut and animal
are at the top of your “must do” list?
lover who prefers off-the-beaten-track places.
YD: Mongolia to experience their timeless way of life and ride a
horse across the land with no fences.
Globerovers (GR): How many countries have you been to?
Yrene Dee (YD): Honestly, I have never counted. I travelled for 10 GR: Please tell us about the most incredible and memorable
years when I left home at the age of just 20, and I learned to move experience you have ever had while travelling?
slowly and stay longer, which sometimes turned into a stay of a few YD: Hitchhiking solo around Australia, which would fill up a book.
years. Sick in a hospital in southern India would fill up another book; a
bus trip through Afghanistan before the Afghan war, a third book!
GR: What are your top 5 most preferred countries for leisure travel?
YD: GR: Based on your travel experiences, if you were to recommend
1. Australia – with its incredible outback and indigenous culture, the the one most amazing destination for intrepid travellers, which
endless white sandy beaches, place would that be, and why?
and the easy-going Aussie YD: You mean I can suggest only
lifestyle. one destination? A road trip from
2. New Zealand – because of the Dawson City, Yukon to Tuktoyak-
stunning diverse landscapes, for tuk, Northwest Territories, Canada,
being a hitchhikers‘ heaven and on the epic Dempster Highway. It’s
for its friendly people. wild, adventurous and will leave
3. Switzerland – the land of chee- you speechless. Please read my
se, chocolate and the sound of article on page 132.
cowbells, and old traditions that
warm my heart. The Swiss Alps GR: What is the single best les-
are super special to me. son you have learned about the
4. Canada – the second largest world during your travels around
country in the world, where I the world? 
immigrated and I’m still living YD: Travelling is the best educa-
here today. tion and an investment for life. It
5. Italy – for its ancient history. has shaped me into the person I am
Maybe I love Italy so much now. Living out of a backpack has taught me that we actually “need”
because it was the first country I ever visited. very little. People in poor countries are often the happiest and most
generous.
GR: Which is your most preferred country for travel and why?
YD: It’s mostly the country I’m in at the time. I don’t have a
Follow Yrene Dee
preferred country for travel. I don’t compare countries as each is Facebook: @backcountrycanada
Pinterest: @backcountrycana,
unique in its own way. For now, I prefer “wild land Canada” and it
Twitter: @backcountrycana,
is where I am living right now. backcountrycanadatravel.com

195
BOOK REVIEW
Your Australia Itinerary
by Michela Fantinel
Read about Michela at:
www.rockytravel.net.
Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, Google+
and Instagram: @rockytravel
facebook.com/Australia.Travel.Inspiration

Your Australia Itinerary


is available at
Amazon.com (paperback)
ITUNES Store (interactive)
and the PDF version at
www.rockytravel.net

who love to travel independently, see and do things that they will
Michela Fantinel is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of love and visit places at their own pace, through the eyes of an
Rocky Travel, an award-winning blog and leading travel insider.
planning site for the solo traveller to Australia and Italy.
She is a passionate solo traveller, who loves to share Q3. In what ways is your book different from your blog posts?
her adventures around the world as well as to help On the site my articles are very detailed about a specific place,
women setting off on their own to travel in a simpler and event or activity and you can find many inspirational stories too!
smarter way. The book is not meant to inspire you to visit Australia, but rather
to give you all practical and detailed information and tools to
choose and create your own itinerary. With four main itineraries
Q1. What is the book “Your Australia Itinerary” all about? and 36 customization options you can tweak them as you like.
It’s a practical guide book aimed at helping travellers identify
what they want to see and do in Australia and create a personalized Q4. Where will your passion for solo travel take you next?
itinerary. Being Australia, a massive country with huge distances, My next adventure is a work in progress! From July 2018 I’m
it can be overwhelming for first-timers. Most people only have 2-4 launching my “Solo Travel Tours” to Australia and Italy for those
weeks to travel and therefore they need to make hard decisions. The who love to combine a solo adventure with a small group. I know
book will illuminate and guide you through the entire process of that nothing beats the freedom of getting out and about on your
knowing, evaluating, balancing out time frames with activities as own, but to do so we need to fuel up our energy. My tours for the
well as choosing how to travel around the country in the most cost- solo traveller are not only about exploring those lesser-known and
effective way. hidden places, but also meant to elevate our spirit and boost our
confidence by learning from each others’ adventures!
Q2. Why did you write this book?
From the questions of my readers it was clear to me that choos-
ing places and creating the itinerary was crucial to them. Most
people who travel to Australia have no clue of what the country is
like and most times they make mistakes by underestimating the
distances and picking the wrong places. Poor travel planning before-
hand is often the cause of disappointment. l have been travelling on
my own for 14+ years and with 24 months on the road and over 100
thousands kilometres I think know Australia quite well!

Q3. Who is the book written for?


It is the right guide book for any first-timer to Australia. The
book best suits the female solo traveller but many couples and
families have used my book too. It is the best guide book for those

196 Globerovers · July 2018


BOOK REVIEW
Getting Offbeat in Thailand
by Chris Backe

Check out the books by Chris at:


www.oneweirdglobe.com/books
Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest,
and Instagram @oneweirdglobe

Getting Offbeat in Thailand


is available at
Amazon.com
barnesandnoble.com and
www.oneweirdglobe.com Some highlights include “the most psychedelic temple around”
in Wat Baan Rai, the Sanpatong Buffalo Market (“where you too can
buy a buffalo!”), and the Chokchai Museum (“Swarovski crystals
and scads of skulls”). While some places are well away from big cit-
Chris Backe (rhymes with ‘hockey’) is a travel blogger, ies and require a special visit to reach, other places are in Thailand’s
digital nomad, author of ‘Becoming a Digital Nomad’, bigger cities but are still lesser-known. Part of One Weird Globe’s
game designer, and all-round geek. He’s written dozens focus has been that the traveller need not travel to the end of the
of guidebooks and itineraries, and has been seen on Atlas world to find the bizarre, and places like the Museum of Counter-
feit Goods (a short walk from a Bangkok bus stop) or the Amulet
Obscura, io9, Fark, and Mental Floss. Chris is married
Market (across the street from Bangkok’s Grand Palace) are proof of
to an awesome Canadian woman and is currently slow
that.
travelling through Eastern Europe.
Where One Weird Globe’s itineraries offer a step-by-step hand-
holding guide from one place to the next, Offbeat Thailand does no
If your planned excursions in Thailand are to big cities and such thing. There are no pre-planned routes, no touristy trails to
popular tourist attractions, continue reading the Lonely Planet and follow. Your own trip will be unique, based on how many days you
your average travel blogs. Going off-the-beaten-path in a country have, which part(s) of the country you want to see, and whether you
like Thailand means a bit more travelling for a lot more rewarding feel comfortable driving a motorcycle / scooter. 
places, and Offbeat Thailand offers a great guide to do just that. As a guidebook to the country, it’s far from complete, but that’s
Offbeat Thailand focuses on over 100 bizarre, exotic, and unique by intention. By curat-
places spread out over the country. The first section serves as a gen- ing a careful selection
eral introduction to the country, a trademark of One Weird Globe of places to appeal to
guidebooks. The bulk of the book features destinations across Thai- a specific audience,
land in alphabetical order, a design choice made to make it easier for One Weird Globe
the casual reader to jump in. The back of the book offers a location guidebooks avoid the
index, subject index, and alphabetical index. Whether bought as a traditional scattershot
PDF or Kindle e-book, there’s always the ability to search the book approach and narrow
for your keyword of choice. the potential pool of
places from thousands
Each place offers a photo and a couple of paragraphs about what to about a hundred
to expect, along with the sort of information all guidebooks should worthy places actually
be including: the address of the place, the website (if one exists), visited by the writer.
admission cost, and so on. Offbeat Thailand goes one step further by By the end of your
assigning any of 10 colourful icons signifying anything from ‘kid- trip, you’ll have taken
friendly’ to ‘bring the camera’ to easy (or tough) to find. You can a journey of your own
quickly look at the icons and figure out at a glance which places may making to places few
or may not be for you. tourists ever reach. 

197
In a future issue...
Europe’s Lilliputian Countries
Europe’s smallest independent nations are most likely the least touristy destina-
tions in Europe. Nevertheless, they certainly have no shortage of excitement for
the intrepid traveller. We will visit the ten smallest European nations: Luxembourg,
Andorra, Malta, Liechtenstein, San Marino, Monaco, Montenegro, Kosovo, Cyprus
and the smallest of them all, The Vatican City. So come along as we explore the off-
the-beaten-track places in Europe’s smallest countries.

Argentina
Stretching almost 3,700 km from north to south, Argentina has red deserts in the
north and massive glaciers in the south. Let’s travel from the most southern town
of Ushuaia all the way to the Bolivia border in the very far north. Along the way
we drop in at the massive Perito Moreno Glacier, the wildlife at Valdés Peninsula,
we tango in Buenos Aires and then move north to the Iguazú Waterfalls, Mendoza
wine region, historic Córdoba, and the cactus town of Humahuaca near Bolivia.

Sabah, Borneo Island


Borneo Island, the third-largest island in the world, is partly Malaysian and partly
Indonesian with a tiny bit squeezed out in-between for the Sultanate of Brunei. It is
known for its people, mountains, beaches, and its wild jungle with animals such as
the Bornean orangutans, Sumatran tiger, Sumatran rhino, Borneo pygmy elephant,
proboscis monkey, sun bear, clouded leopard, and many more. We will spend time
with the orangutans and proboscis monkies and explore a few islands and beaches.

Colombia’s North Coast


Colombia’s north coast stretches from the Darian Gap in the west all the way to the
Venezuela border, a distance of over 1,700 km. Much of this coastline is blessed
with white palm-fringed beaches along the turquoise warm waters of the Caribbean
Sea. We start in the city of Cartagena, known in the colonial era as Cartagena de
Indias, and travel to the mud volcano of Volcan de Lodo El Totumo. After becom-
ing muddy, we travel to Tayrona National Park with several stops along the way.

Al-Mahwit, Yemen
Located 110 km west of Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, the small town of Al-Mahwit lies at
an elevation of 2,000 metres around a mountain fortress. Dating back to the Himy-
arite era, which flourished between 110 BC to 520 AD, the mountain town is well
preserved and has many traditional houses and mosques. In 2007 we met a 13-year
old boy in the town and exactly eleven years later we reestablished contact with him
living in Malaysia. We will talk about growing up in Al-Mahwit. A tough journey!

Okinawa, Japan
To the far south of Japan’s main island, just northeast of Taiwan, lie the tropical is-
lands of Okinawa. The incredible Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, some 90 km to the
northeast of Naha, the capital, is one of the star attractions. While the main island has
enough attractions to keep most travellers busy for a while, the smaller islands to the
west and southwest, and northeast should not be missed. We will explore the idyllic
Zamami Island which is a 50-minute fast ferry to the west of Naha’s main port.

Costa Rica
Costa Rica has no shortage of intrepid destinations. Around every corner is excite-
ment! Come along as we explore the Osa Peninsula, home to the Corcovado Nation-
al Park. We start in Golfito on the east side of Pavon Bay, cross by boat to the small
town of Puerto Jiménez from where we sit on the back of a mini-truck down a small
jungle road to Carate on the Pacific Coast. Here the fun starts as we trek 7 km on the
beach and through the jungle to our base at the secluded Sirena Ranger Station.

198 Globerovers · July 2018


Europe’s
e
In th e
t i s s u
nex

Lilliputian Countries

199
200 Globerovers · July 2018