From a fenced-window car, I see barbed wires. Everywhere. I also watch kids on the streets carrying machetes bigger than themselves. I have just landed in the deep mountainous interior of Papua New Guinea’s Southern Highlands – a place that has long set in the very edge of my imagination. On Thomas’car – our local guide – we head from Tari town to Tari’s countryside, in the center of the Huli country in the Hela Province. I’m pretty aware of PNG’s reputation for being especially dangerous, overrun with gangs of hoodlums and terrorized by violence. But I’m also mindful that Papua New Guinea is without a doubt among the most culturally intriguing frontiers left on the planet. I am traveling in a place that both frightens and excites utterly – because it feels like the real thing.
It’s almost harvest season in Munduk Mountain Valley. The sun is about to set, and birds approach the rice fields, despite chased away by farmers, who remain on constant alert. Here, in this pocket of North Bali, there is a sublime emptiness. The climate is surprisingly refreshing and the vibe, bucolic. I’m in Sanak, a small family-run retreat, where I find myself amidst tropical landscapes with scenic mountains. It has the essence of an older Indonesia and feels like the Bali of another time.
We rise up in a Cessna over the Wetlands of Australia’s largest National Park. My stomach lurches as I look down on an incredible variety of landscapes – coastal swamps, floodplains, lowland hills, escarpment, monsoon rain forest, and ancient plateau. Beneath me, crocodiles scuttle into the East Alligator River, and a fabulously diverse range of birds navigate over the plains. I look in every direction and see nothing on the horizon. From the sky, I have a glimpse of the immensity of Kakadu’s wilderness: it’s half the size of Switzerland – the whole Park is a protected area of nearly 20.000 Km2.Continue reading
Into the blue of a remote greek seaside, far away from Athens. I am in Koufonisia, an island hidden away between the larger Cycladic islands of Naxos and Amorgos. A place with no real roads and hardly any cars. Here I find more boats than residents; where locals live mainly from fishing.Continue reading
“Ladakhis have little to do with the rest of India,” whispers Tom. Our guide – a young local, and a skilled motorbiker – drives us across Leh. “We are more Tibetan than Indian,” he says, “We are in a Buddhist region, within a majority- Hindu country; For a thousand of years, our Kingdom was an independent monarchy.”Continue reading
Legendary traffic, brown haze covering the city, urban accretion for hundreds of square miles. For all this and more, Bangkok can be something of an acquired taste.Continue reading
I have consistently found in my travels that surfers get to the best beaches first, before mass- tourism develops. And often, one needs to travel far and say no to the convenience of a direct flight to reach the most interesting places. Siargao, a teardrop-shaped island, in the region of Mindanao, 800 kilometers southeast of Manila, Philippines, validates my theory.Continue reading
The great thing about a trip to India is that there are no rules on where to go first. From north to south lies a country so vibrant, vast and diverse – each corner of the subcontinent caters to different demands. Its cities are some of the most electrifying on earth and one, in particular, with its dynamic cultural scene, has helped to bring modern Indian art to the next level.
It’s a sunshiny morning in late April 2018 when we land in Tambolaka airport, after a 55-minute charter flight east from Bali. We are in Sumba. On a map of Indonesia, to its northwest, is Sumbawa, to its northeast, is Flores, to its east, is Timor, and to its south, across part of the Indian Ocean, is Australia.
For six days and six nights, I sit on a land cruiser and watch a never-ending highway in front of me. I observe the same vast and flat horizon for hours. The road, the sunshine, the red earth. It’s dry as hell. I feel the dust getting under my skin and the sun warming my bones. We drive across iconic highways and go deep into the prehistoric outback of Kimberley – a geological wonderland in North Western Australia.