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10 STALKING THE SERENGETI Lee Meng Lai takes a jeep through the lion lands of Tanzania on a four-day safari


PEANUTS FOR DRAGONS The island of Rinca in Indonesia is crawling with creatures, but Melanie Whitmarsh and Martin !QNNLƥDKCNMKXG@UDDXDRENQSGD Komodo dragon

18 SMALL ISLAND, RARE TREAT From toboggans to treks along the levadas channels, Caroline Walker and Nigel Wood discover hospitality and a bygone ambience on Madeira

32 A BRIDGE BETWEEN CULTURES 2@Q@2BGNMG@QCSƥMCRB@SQHBD A@SHJRS@LO craftsmen and the things men love instead of their wives along the Code river in Yogyakarta, Indonesia

38 THE KINDNESS OF A STRANGER On the back of an elephant in Chiang Mai, Thailand, Richmond Blando meets an enigmatic stranger

2 Venture | Feb/Mar 2013


COFFEE TRAILS AND TALES Residents Nga Hoang and Phan Tuan Khanh search Hanoi, Vietnam, for the most wildly imaginative versions of the classic B@ƤDHMDCQHMJ


58 CLIMBING THE BLUES One day isn’t enough for Richmond Blando who takes the explorer bus through the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, Australia




Sano Nggoang in Flores, Indonesia, is one of the deepest crater lakes in the world. There’s no accommodation, so local farmers invite Melanie Whitmarsh into their homes

THE ART IN SURAKARTA Indonesian explorers Murni Ridha and 5HQ@9NDKƥJ@QOQDRDMS@SQHOSXBGNE traditional art in Surakarta, Indonesia: batik, gamelan, and temple reliefs

76 FUTURE TECH These imaginative, high-tech gadgets make memories of snorkeling, diving, and wildlifewatching last forever


72 84

Café owner Nova Dien feels uneasy about crawdads in The Big Easy of New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. Luckily she also ƥMCRADDQ@MCADHFMDSR

PERSONAL JOURNEY Author Andrew Whitmarsh on Jakarta: 25 Excursions in and Around the Indonesian Capital

80 WILD ABOUT TRAVEL The best photos from our readers


Founder & CEO


Managing Editor


Art Director JUKE BACHTIAR Photographer DENNIE BENEDICT Contributors

GOOD TRAVEL WRITING FNNCSQ@UDKVQHSDQHRĆĽQRS@FNNCVQHSDQ  FNNCSQ@UDK@QSHBKDHRĆĽQRS@FNNCRSNQX (SG@R BG@Q@BSDQR@MCQHBGKXCDRBQHADCKNB@SHNMR (SG@RRBDMSR ĆŚ@UNQR @BSHNM 3GDVNQCR@QD crisp, the sentences clear, the paragraphs vivid. Good traveling writers capture dust, cracks, and slime because they observe. They capture rustles, crackles, and sighs because they listen. They notice mannerisms and ask a lot questions. Occasionally wrong questions. (QDBDMSKXLDS@FTMRKHMFHMFBGDLHRSQXSD@BGDQHMSGDBNVANXĆŚ@SK@MCRNED@RS Wyoming, USA. We’d been out shooting pumpkins and now sat in the kind of smalltown diner which serves slices of cherry pie for free. “How many guns do you own, Dick?â€? I asked, starting easy, prepping for a long interview. #HBJOTSGHRENQJCNVM Ĺ™-NVSG@SĹ—R@QTCDPTDRSHNM ĹšGDĆĽQDCA@BJ Ĺ™3G@SĹ—RKHJD asking a man how much money he’s got.â€? WILD ABOUT TRAVEL This year Venture has a new tagline – by travelers: for travelers. We want a good read, so we focus on good writing: good writing about travel experiences. And then there’s photography. Photographs are not only the gateway between the QD@CDQ@MCSGDĆĽQRSVNQCNE@M@QSHBKD ATSHMCHUHCT@KVNQJRNE@QSSGDLRDKUDR "@QNKHMD Walker’s photograph on the front cover invites us down a mosaicked lane, deeper into a charming little town, and then into the very pages of this February-March edition. And once inside this little magazine town, windows open onto thrilling scenes: a lioness in the Serengeti (p. 10), runaway toboggans in Madeira (p. 18), the Komodo dragons of Indonesia (p. 24), a batik carnival (p. 64), the blue hues of Jamison Valley (p. 58), and one of the deepest crater lakes in the world (p. 50). Every charming town G@R@BNƤDDRGNO ATSNTQRG@RNMDRDQUHMFBNƤDDNUDQBTRS@QCO  VHSGRHCD orders of cat rice (p. 32), and boiled mudbugs (p. 72). This is a town in which strangers show hospitality (p. 38). YOUR PHOTOGRAPHS (MSGHRHRRTD ENQSGHRĆĽQRSSHLD 5DMSTQDHMBKTCDR@RDKDBSHNMNEOGNSNFQ@OGRRDMSHMAX readers (p. 80). Submissions for this are always welcome and should be emailed with the subject line: Wild About Travel / Photos.




Send story ideas or feedback to

PT. YOGYA DINAMIKA MEDIA Duta Indah Square 3 No G 19 Teluk Gong Raya North Jakarta, Indonesia Tel: +62 21 5142 0137 Fax: +62 21 6667 8461

As the new managing editor of Venture, I wish you bon voyage through these pages, and warmly invite your comments and feedback. MELANIE WHITMARSH | Managing Editor



Venture travel magazine is now available for the iPad. Download the SCOOP App for your monthly issue. Venture | Feb/Mar 2013

PT. NUSA BINTANG LESTARI Intiland Tower, 3rd Floor Jl. Jend. Sudirman 32 )@J@QS@Ĺž(MCNMDRH@ Tel: +62 21 5790 1308 Fax: +62 21 5790 1312


6 Venture | Feb/Mar 2013

Founder and CEO of Venture travel magazine, RICHMOND BLANDO (“Climbing the Blues,� page 58) is an avid storyteller and traveler. After years working in TV and print media in the Philippines, he is now based in Indonesia pursuing a passion for publishing, travel, OGNSNFQ@OGX @MCSQ@UDKVQHSHMF ^

MARTIN BROOMFIELD has over 25 years experience as a graphic designer, photographer and multimedia developer. He has worked in the UK, Canada, Kenya, and Southeast Asia, and is now based in Tanzania. In Indonesia he went head-tohead with the Komodo for “Peanuts for Dragonsâ€? on page 24. ZZZPEURRPƲHOGFRP

NOVA DIEN is an Indonesian writer and photographer who enjoys experiencing local cuisines wherever she goes. Though adventurous, she draws the line at consuming crawdads (“New Orleans, More than Crawdads,â€? page 72). A day job supports her travel habit and she can often be found at her new, crawdad-free, B@E¤Ĺ”"NƤDDADDQH@MHM)@J@QS@

Born and raised in Hanoi, PHAN TUAN KHANHř"NƤDD3Q@HKR ŚO@FD 46) passionately documents the city through the camera lens. With an eye for detail, he wanders the alleys of old Hanoi capturing the energy of the city. He is inspired by the vibrancy of the city’s underbelly and the constant clash between old and new.

Avid trekker LEE MENG LAI also enjoys landscape photography. He’s been up Kilimanjaro, in the Himalayas, and on safari (“Stalking the Serengeti,� page 10). Though he’s traversed 25 countries, he considers he has a lot more ground to cover. His photography has appeared in the Lonely Planet Magazine Asia and his articles in the Malaysian press.

SARA SCHONHARDT has lived and worked in Indonesia for three years, covering issues ranging from religious BNMĆŚHBSSNAK@BJL@FHBSNSGDVNMCDQR of street food. She loves wandering back alleyways (“A Bridge Between Cultures,â€? page 32), meeting locals and learning answers to questions like, why a local snack is called cat rice.

Based on the south coast of England, CAROLINE WALKER is a freelance photographer and writer with a passion for travel and a love of sharing her experiences through words (“Small Island, Rare Treat,â€? page 18) and photos. She has written for both national and regional publications and is soon to ADK@TMBGHMFGDQĆĽQRSOGNSNFQ@OGX exhibition.

ESDQXD@QR@R@ĆĽFGSDQOHKNS NIGEL WOOD works for himself as a commercial designer and photographer. Although based in his native England, he has lived in California and Singapore and loves exploring new locations (“Small Islands, 1@QD3QD@S ĹšO@FD@MCĆĽMCHMFMDV subjects, whether just around the corner or across the globe.


In a swooping whoosh of feathers my hotdog soared up into the endless sky of the Tanzanian Serengeti, gripped in the beak of a raptor. “The black kite: a vicious bird,” observed Serengeti National Park guide Vincent. “Don’t leave your lunch unattended.”


Serengeti is derived from the Masai word for endless space.

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PAGE 10: Afternoon showers over the brown Serengeti grasslands

THIS PAGE: The impala, a polygamous African antelope

PAGE 12: Driving into the heart of the Serengeti National Park

SLEEP HAD BEEN DIFFICULT. Across the dark Lobo plains, wild animals howled and grunted against the background buzz of insects. By dawn we were already on the road. “An early start means we’ll miss the tourists and catch the animals as they wander out to graze,” chivvied Vincent. We drove into the grassy, sun-seared plains, slowing as we merged with the herds on the animal migration highway. Stopping near a waterhole, we watched over 200 zebras and wildebeests take turns drinking from a murky pool. At a MD@QAXRSQD@L @E@LHKXNEƥUDDKDOG@MSR chased their young up the embankment. They seemed agitated by the shrieks of monkeys swinging in the trees some


GREAT READS Venture recommends: Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen

distance away. Vincent killed the engine of the jeep. He had seen something. Following his line of sight, sun in our eyes, blue sky overhead, we could just make out the silhouettes of three lions elegantly weaving through the thick underbrush towards the watering hole. We grabbed our cameras and took position at the opened hatch of the vehicle. I could smell a kill coming and felt my pulse quicken. The light breeze shifted and the herds raised their heads in unison. Everything froze. They had scented the lions. Nothing moved. Then the lions dropped back and snuggled up under the shade of an acacia. They resumed their waiting

game: patience and stealth their calling cards. We drove on, our engine roar breaking the silence. INTO ENDLESS SPACE Still wired from an exhilarating six-day climb up Mount Kilimanjaro, my two trekking buddies and I had signed up for a four-day Serengeti safari. From Arusha we drove on dusty tracks through aloe groves and lush plantations of corn, A@M@M@R @MCBNƤDD  ESDQENTQGNTQR VD entered the Serengeti National Park and the landscape transformed dramatically. It was like parachuting into the badlands of Mars, the red planet. There we were - careening down the laterite

road, accelerating deep into the Serengeti bush: a tiny speck in 30,000 square kilometers of conservation wilderness. 6DO@RRDCRV@SGRNEƦ@S@QHCK@MC covered with short trim grass for miles NMDMC .M@MCNMTMSHKƥM@KKXBKTRSDQRNE acacia trees appeared in the scenery and SGDƥQRSRHFMRNEL@LL@KKHED 3GDGNS wind caressing my face lulled me into a sweet stupor... Suddenly I was jolted awake. Vincent was braking hard to avoid hitting a herd of gazelles crossing our path. Now wide awake, I began scanning the horizon. The Serengeti plains, dry and brown most of the year, receive rainfall during two periods: from March to May, and a shorter window from October to November. In June, at the onset of the dry season, the annual migration begins with hordes of wildebeests, zebras, and gazelles heading northwest to cross the border into Kenya seeking grazing pastures along the Mara River. This is when predation is at its highest.

Feb/Mar 2013 | Venture



ON THE BEATEN TRACK Serengeti National Park receives over 90,000 visitors a year. We visited in K@SD TFTRSSNV@SBGSGDƥQRSNESGD herds return south to the Tanzanian savannah, where sparse green patches of grass were appearing. “This is one of the oldest animal habitats on Earth,” said Vincent. “We have more than 200,000 zebras and over a million wildebeests.” He swatted at a bug. “And ƦHDR Ś5HMBDMS@CCDC NƤDQHMFTR@STAD of repellent. “We have plenty of those as well.” Big game seeking wasn’t easy. The dirt roads and muddy side tracks were bone-jarring. Face masks were necessary to keep the dust at bay. The air-conditioner in our jeep was never

on – was it too choked to work? And despite the scorching heat, we quickly learned not to over-hydrate: there were no toilet breaks on the trail. Vincent laid CNVMSGDQTKDRNMSGDƥQRSC@Xř-NANCX leaves the vehicle. It’s extremely dangerous out there. We don’t want anyone to be eaten.” EAST AFRICA’S GARDEN OF EDEN 6DRODMSNTQƥM@KMHFGSNMSGDQHLNE Ngorongoro Crater looking down into the vast basin. Formed over two million years ago and covering 260 square kilometers, this garden is the centerpiece of the greater Ngorongoro Conservation Area, a World Heritage Site. The crater is home to more than 20,000 animals – all sharing pasture with the cattle of the Masai.

In the morning we descended into the caldera. Thick blankets of cloud rolled over the eastern peaks, cascaded down the slopes and hung mid-air in the crater. .MSGDBQ@SDQƦNNQ VDRONSSDCDKDOG@MSR  ATƤ@KNDR V@QSGNFR YDAQ@R VHKCDADDRSR  gazelles, hyenas, hippopotamuses, and lions. Only the rhinoceroses and leopards remained elusive. S+@JD,@F@CH Ʀ@LHMFNDRODBJDC at an algae meal, reminding us it was time for lunch. Driving towards the Mandusi swamp, we stopped at the shores of a pretty blue lake nicknamed the Hippo Pool. Here, keeping an eagle eye out for that thieving black kite, we ate sandwiches and fruit while watching hippopotamuses bathe. Above, clouds raced across the endless plains.

THIS PAGE: TOP Passing through acacia forests at the national park gate BOTTOM Scouring the Ngorongoro Crater floor

PAGE 15: TOP Elephants on a morning walk near Seroner BOTTOM A lioness prowls the Lobo plains

SAFARI TIPS: Ş!HFF@LDRDDJHMFB@MS@JDUHRHSNQR a long way from their base stations, so take packed breakfasts or lunches with you in the jeep. Ş SMHFGSSDLODQ@STQDRB@ME@KK below ten degrees Celsius, so bring warm clothing. Ş(SRUDQXCTRSX /@BJB@LDQ@ cleaning blowers, brushes, and lens tissues and keep lens caps on when not shooting. We were often shooting on the move, so I rarely used my tripod, but my telephoto lens (at least 200mm) was indispensible.

ACCOMMODATION During our four-day trip, we stayed at the Seronera Wildlife Lodge, Lobo Wildlife Lodge, and Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge, all managed by Hotels & Lodges Tanzania Limited. Built atop boulder islands, the resorts gave panoramic views across the grasslands from their pool-side patios. Restaurants served Western dishes and chilled Tanzanian beers.

14 Venture | Feb/Mar 2013


PAGE 14: The sunset escaped us, but the magic of a tripod and some filters made a potential failure into a success.

THIS PAGE: TOP Sometimes they get lucky enough to get about 20-­ 30 of these so they can eat them for lunch. Nothing beats fresh sea food though. BOTTOM A mother and son combing the beach for shellfish.

“Nobody leaves the vehicle. It’s extremely dangerous out there. We don’t want anyone to be eaten.”

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facilities and have private bathrooms, refrigerators and access to an in-house video network that includes BBC, AXN, and HBO. There is 24-hour room service as well. Other guest facilities include laundry, currency exchange, a tour desk and travel agent, Kiddy Club, Billiard Room, Mandara Spa, Postal Service, Gift Shops, Dive center, Mini Market, Drug Store, Medical Services 24-hours, Bank (BNI 46) are available..

THE HOTEL set along the western beach front of Lombok the Senggigi Beach Hotel Resort commands spectacular sunset view of Mount Agung on the neighboring island of Bali. With fabulous array of facilities and water sport aplenty, our Hotel is beautifully equipped to make happy holiday a dream. Senggigi Beach Hotel Resort has 64 garden room, 40 sea view room, garden view bungalow 26, and 18 sea view bungalow and 2 deluxe bungalow. The garden rooms are located in village style “long houseâ€? with private balcony. The sea view bungalows and garden view bungalows are furnished with lush tropical color and textures, RNKHCSD@JVNNCĆŚNNQ@MCKNB@KQ@SS@M  and have a sunset view. The Deluxe bungalows is at the hotel’s prime

location near to swimming pool and restaurant with sea view. Senggigi Beach Hotel is established on 12 hectares of landscaped garden and park at the beautiful spot on Senggigi !D@BG .ƤDQRF@QCDMQNNLR RD@ UHDVQNNLR F@QCDMUHDV^ATMF@KNVR  18 sea view bungalow and 2 deluxe bungalows. All rooms are completed with a private bathroom, color television with cable channels, air conditioning, IDD telephone, mini bar, electronic safe, tea @MCBNƤDDL@JHMFE@BHKHSHDR@MCB@KKHM system for the bungalows. Accommodation at Senggigi Beach Hotel is in a thatched-roof luxury beach front bungalows and guest rooms located in several “longhousesâ€?. All Senggigi Beach Hotel guest rooms are air conditioned, in room electronic R@ED CDONRHS SD@BNƤDDHMBKTCHMF


+NLANJ^-3!Ĺ”(MCNMDRH@ Jl. Pantai Senggigi PO BOX 1001 Mataram 83010 Lombok, Indonesia Ph. 62 370 693210 ( Hunting ) Fax. 62 370 693200 BOOKING AND RESERVATION:


17 Feb/Mar 2013 | Venture



Sitting in wickerwork toboggans and steered by local carreiros -足 dapper in white shirts, white trousers, and straw boaters -足 we rumble and swish down the steep hillside streets towards Funchal, the capital of Madeira. Feb/Mar 2013 | Venture



THE ESPADA ISNMDTFKXƼRG (SG@R bulbous eyes, ferocious teeth, and the body of a long, black eel. And here it is on my plate in a quayside cafÊ in Camara de Lobos, Madeira, overlooking the sparkling SK@MSHB@MCSGDƼRGDQLDMLDMCHMFSGDHQ nets beneath the palm trees. Although Madeira only measures approximately 35 miles by 14 miles, it is the principle island in the Madeira archipelago, an autonomous Portuguese HRK@MCBG@HM@KHSSKDNUDQLHKDRNƤSGD coast of Morocco. Madeira receives over a million visitors a year. It’s attractions include whale and dolphin watching, aqueduct V@KJHMFSQ@HKR @ATMC@MSƌNQ@ RNLDNE the world’s best embroidery, Madeira wine, and sweet, moist honey cake.

Photograph above by Bob Wood.

GETTING AROUND Funchal is a 20-minute bus ride from the airport. Cars are available for hire on Madeira but parking isn’t always easy, especially in the main towns. An open-top bus tours the Funchal area, equipped with headphones and audio commentary, and there is an island-wide commuter bus service. Taxis can be hired for part- or all-day tours of the island.

PAGE 18: Taken across the Funchal marina, using a monopod

THIS PAGE: TOP A Madeiran palheiros BOTTOM A street band performs near the tourist information office

PAGE 21: TOP The cable car from Funchal to Monte BOTTOM Carreiros and their toboggans

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FUNCHAL HEIGHTS Located on the southern coast, Funchal, the capital of Madeira island, balances LNCDQMHSX@MC@ƨTDMBDVHSGSQ@CHSHNMR and historic charm. Its streets are paved with black and white mosaics and interspersed with upmarket outlets, pavement cafÊs, historic buildings, public parks, and gardens. Down in the bustling G@QANQ @KHMDNEJHNRJRNƤDQCDDORD@ ƼRGHMFSQHOR@MCVG@KD@MCCNKOGHM watching excursions. A highlight of Old Town is the Mercado dos Lavadores, just behind the marina. It’s more than a market in an art deco hall, it’s a social hub for islanders and tourists alike. Flower sellers wear traditional costumes of white blouses with red waistcoats and full skirts striped red, yellow, blue and green - as colorful as their displays of orchids and birds-ofparadise. Fruit sellers encourage us to taste honey-scented bananas, Brazilian cherries, and sugar cane. ,NQDOTMFDMSHRSGDƼRGL@QJDS noisy and bloody. Here the island’s daily catch is bought and sold. Cleaverwielding stall holders display giant STM@@MCAK@BJRB@AA@QCƼRGespada), and tourists line the stairs with lenses focused on the scene. In the market, with its shiny black skin, the deep water espada seems an unlikely delicacy, but its RNES LHKJX VGHSDƌDRGHRCDKHBHNTRVHSG salad or grilled with banana, just as the locals like it. There’s a bohemian feel to Old Town. Along cobbled Rua de Santa Maria doors have been transformed by local artists SNCDOHBSRSQDDSRBDMDR ATSSDQƌHDR@MC birds, portraits, and abstract designs in an array of bright, Mediterranean colors. Here in the evenings, some of the cluster of traditional restaurants put on shows of


fado, Portuguese café music. Everything in Funchal looks out over the sparkling sea, but to see the whole panorama, we take the cable car up to the sleepy hilltop village and botanical gardens of Monte. This is also a popular spot for pilgrims visiting the Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Monte, the church of Our Lady of the Mountain. From here all the orange tiled roofs and white walls of Funchal lie below and we get our ƥQRSUHDVRMNQSGSNV@QCRSGDLNTMS@HM ridge which runs through the center of the island, reaching 1,862 meters at its highest point, the Pico Ruivo. Inland, the terrain of Madeira is ever-changing. By turns it reminds me of the Scottish highlands, of an English woodland, or the wilds of the Welsh coast. From Monte we opt for the 10-minute toboggan ride down the hill towards Funchal. Sitting in an upholstered, wickerwork toboggan, we are steered and pushed down the paved, narrow streets by white clad carreiros (toboggan drivers). The basket slides on wooden runners, waxed by the carreiros at the start of the ride. It’s a winding road and the carreiros work hard at the corners, hauling the toboggan round to make the turn, passengers facing one way while sliding in another, the thick rubber soles of the carreiros gripping a road worn smooth by thousands of toboggans over the years. Great fun but unnerving at the intersections as we zoom across the busier streets. From Monte peak we could see the village of Camara de Lobos down by the sea which is where we are headed next but by bus not toboggan.

21 Feb/Mar 2013 | Venture


UP THE COAST Taking an open topped double decker QDCATR VD@QQHUDHMSGDOQDSSXƥRGHMF village of Camara de Lobos, a few kilometers west of Funchal. It’s a working ƥRGHMFUHKK@FD@MC@GTFDSNTQHRS @SSQ@BSHNM "NKNQETKƥRGHMFAN@SRANAHM SGDA@X@MCƥRGDQLDMAQHMFSGDHQB@SBGDR ashore. In the shade of the palm trees, CNFR@MCB@SRRMNNYDVGHKDƥRGDQLDM SDMCSNSGDHQMDSR 3GDCNFƥRGCQXHMFHM the sun on handmade racks before being taken to the market, give the village an air of authenticity and tradition. %NQQDRD@QBGOTQONRDRVDƥMC@B@E¤ on the quayside and order the island’s local, potent poncha. It’s distilled from sugar cane and tastes like rum. Mine, mixed with passion fruit juice, is sweet and tangy. Nigel opts for the classic lemon which is quite sour. While lazing in the sunshine with glasses of divine poncha, I vow to regularly research this Madeiran tipple. On the coast north of Funchal is the village of Santana, home to the island’s traditional palheiros - brightly painted triangular-shaped houses made of stone and topped with thatched roofs. Only a few original houses remain but the modern replicas are photogenic and double-up as souvenir shops.

WATER WALKS (MSGDƥESDDMSGBDMSTQX ,@CDHQ@MR began creating an elaborate system of irrigation channels (levadas) to carry the rainfall from the wetter north of the island to the drier south. The channels cover much of the island and the maintenance paths provide a remarkable network of walking routes. Some routes are easy giving spectacular views over the towns, villages, and sea; others are narrow with crumbling ledges and sheer drops and landslides. One slip could prove disastrous. Walking the levadas gives an insight into the tough farming life on this HRK@MCNECHƧBTKSSDQQ@HM 5HMDRFQNVNM impossibly steep, terraced slopes and are hand-gathered when the grapes are ripe. Young men in tee shirts and baseball hats who wouldn’t have looked out of place in the city, cut forage with huge sickles and load it into woven baskets which they carry up the hills on their backs. Elderly locals walk slowly along the well-trodden levadas with their shopping, just as they have done, and will do, for years. Madeira is an all-year destination. 3GD@HQHRƥKKDCVHSGSGDGD@CXRBDMS NEƦNVDQRHM OQHK@MC,@X@MC temperatures peak in August and

September. In November, for our visit, the weather was both wet and warm. The mist can roll in quickly and inland the weather can be unpredictable. On any given day there can be distinct CHƤDQDMBDRADSVDDMSGDVD@SGDQHMSGD north and the weather in the south, so if it’s wet in one region, change your plans @MCSQXDKRDVGDQD %@HKHMFSG@S ƥMC@B@E¤ and kick back with a poncha.

THIS PAGE: Working boats at Funchal

PAGE 23: Looking towards Funchal from the road to Pico do Arieiro, the third highest peak on the island

MADEIRAN PONCHA Mix yourself a poncha while you read Caroline and Nigel’s story. You’ll need honey, freshly squeezed lemon juice, and white rum. Dissolve the honey in the lemon juice, add the rum, and mix well. Start with two parts rum, two parts lemon juice, and one part honey. Adjust to taste and drink with ice.

BEHIND THE SCENES The driver of the yellow airport ATRƦ@RGDC@VDKBNLHMFRLHKD  Encouraged by this friendliness, Nigel, who had spent at least 15 minutes learning the language on SGDƦHFGSNUDQ K@TMBGDCHMSNGHRADRS Portuguese. “Kinteenha Sow Jow, por favor,” he said, asking for the Quintinha Sao Joao hotel. The driver frowned, desperately decoding the vowels and consonants, wondering whether we were even in the right part of the world. “Que?” he asked. I stepped in. “Keenteenya San Jow,” I said, ignoring the air of amusement amongst the other passengers. Bemused, the driver shrugged his incomprehension. Defeated, I held out the printed booking form for him to read. “Ah! Sim! Quintinha Sao Joao!,” he chuckled. Later we mastered a few key phrases, but even if our pronunciation V@RMŗSODQEDBS NTQDƤNQSRVDQDLTBG appreciated by the locals.

Funchal, the capital of Madeira island, balances modernity and affluence with traditions and historic charm.


Peanuts for



Suddenly one of the dragons is up and running, a swaying cowboy gait. A trapdoor in the elevated floor of the wooden kitchen hut has been opened and fish bones dropped through. “They like fish bones,” says park ranger Agus. “Fish bones are like peanuts to dragons.” Venture | Feb/Mar 2013


ARMED WITH A FORKED STICK, park ranger Agus takes us dragon hunting. I like that he calls them dragons, not Komodo dragons - it gives the island a fairy tale feel. “Baby dragons have to hide. Baby dragons live in trees,” he says. The island is Rinca in Eastern Indonesia, a few hours by boat from the dustily pretty port of Labuan Bajo on Flores. Rinca is one of four islands in the Komodo National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; the others are Padar, Gili Motong, and the eponymous Komodo. The Komodo dragon, Varanus komodoensis, is a monitor lizard which

can weigh over 160 kilograms and likes SND@SHSRNƤROQHMF !@AXCQ@FNMRG@UDSN hide… Many species live on Rinca - water ATƤ@KNDR L@B@PTDR CDDQ GNQRDR SGD orange-footed fowl - but we are blind to them. We only have eyes for dragons. Within minutes of beginning our twoGNTQSQDJ VDRONSNTQƥQRSENTQCQ@FNMR  They are lounging near the camp kitchen. It seems too easy, too domestic, and yet their size (up to three meters in length) and our proximity make the encounter thrilling. The dragons are round-nosed and languid in the September sun, lying

belly and chin to the ground. There is a ruddy hue to their grey, corn-like scales, and the skin around their black eyes is ƦDBJDCVHSGXDKKNV The wooden camp kitchen, and the accommodation around, is built on stilts. “The dragons like the smells here,” says Agus. I ask if the rangers feed the dragons. Agus shakes his head: “No,” he says. “Well, sometimes.” Suddenly one of the grey dragons is up and running with a bow-legged cowboy gait. A trapdoor has opened in SGDDKDU@SDCƦNNQNESGDJHSBGDMB@AHM and food dropped through. “They like

Feb/Mar 2013 | Venture


ƥRGANMDR Ś FTRDWOK@HMR V@SBGHMFSGD dragon eat. “Fish bones are like peanuts to dragons.”


INTO THE SAVANNAH For the really wild dragons we have to trek inland, through the quiet woodland and into the hot savannah. The trail is faint. We peer left, right, and up. The dragons are hard to spot: their coloring echoed in the rock, earth, and shadows. Brittle leaves crackle underfoot, brittle twigs snap. Walking bare-legged across an island inhabited by the largest venomous animal on the planet, it’s time to cut to the chase.

Venture | Feb/Mar 2013

“What should we do if one attacks?” FTRRG@JDRGHRENQJDCRS@Ƥ ř4RD the crook of your stick to catch it by the neck or armpit,” he says. I consider my defenses. I have a cheese sandwich, a camera, and some sunscreen. “Alternatively,” Agus suggests, “You could run zigzag, stand still, or climb a tree.” Dragons can run up to 18 kilometers an hour, but not far and only in straight lines. Stand still? “It’s the motion which excites the chase,” Agus explains. A DRAGON NEST How does a dragon like its eggs? Fowl and underground. In the woodland

we stop at a burrow with a half-meter wide entrance. It began as the nest of an orange-footed fowl, dug with their characteristically large feet. The mother fowl lays her eggs. The female Komodo dragon, using her pale forked tongue, detects the scent of the eggs, discovers the burrow, eats the eggs, and then lays her own 15-30 dragon eggs in the fowl’s nest. Baby dragons hatch between March and May and measure 30 centimeters when they crack through their shells. They quickly climb into the trees where they live for around four years to avoid being eaten by their own kind. Mature


PAGE 24: Komodo and Rinca lie east of the Wallace Line

THIS PAGE: Newly-­hatched dragons are vulnerable to birds of prey

PAGE 27: The Komodo dragon has a lifespan of around 30 years

In the event of a dragon attack, ranger Agus lists our options: run zigzag, climb a tree, or stand still. Stand still? “It’s the motion which excites the chase.”

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The dragon’s killer technique is to bite and release its quarry and then wait for the anticoagulant properties of its venom to send the prey into shock through blood loss.

dragons are too heavy to climb. THIS PAGE: A lionfish. Komodo National Park is popular with divers

PAGE 29: Liveaboard vessels offer divers multi-­day trips

,$1/ 3( (1+(-$2ĆŚHDREQNL,NMC@XSN2@STQC@XSN+@AT@M!@IN from Denpasar, Bali. Check out their website at

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CLASSIC STRATEGY We stop beside a creek. The trees are fewer here and at the base of one is a deer skull, spectral in the woodland shadow. A strange game is in play: a RK@BJ I@VDCV@SDQATƤ@KNHRRS@MCHMF chest deep in the creek chewing slowly. Lying amid the fallen leaves on the bank is a rock-still dragon. A second water ATƤ@KNRS@MCRLDSDQR@V@X GD@CKNV horns like wicked candelabra. Agus suspects that the dragon and SGDV@CHMFV@SDQATƤ@KN@QDHMITQDC @MC that the dragon is playing a waiting game before making a second assault. This is classic dragon strategy. Komodo dragons have an arsenal of sixty serrated teeth and a venom gland. The dragon’s killer technique is to bite and release its quarry and then wait for the anticoagulant properties of its venom to send the prey into shock through blood loss. “What happens if a person gets bitten?â€? “You’ve got 12 hours to get medicine before you’ll need the limb amputated,â€? says Agus. “People die from dragon bites and there is no medicine in the national park.â€? The nearest antibiotics are in Denpasar, Bali, several hours away. 2TCCDMKXSGDGNQMDCATƤ@KNNM the bank stomps a cloven hoof onto the ground and steps forward. “He’s angry,â€? whispers Agus. We take cover ADGHMC@SQDD /HBSTQDHSĆĽUDODNOKD hiding behind the same tree. “If this V@SDQATƤ@KNBNMEQNMSRSGDCQ@FNM HS will be very interesting.â€? Myriad violent consequences seem possible. And then probable. Behind us a third V@SDQATƤ@KNG@RDMSDQDCSGD@QDM@  blocking our exit. Startled, Agus throws a jagged rock at the beast. “It’s time to get out of here,â€? he says. From the higher savannah plains the view is panoramic: blue seas and scattered islands all the way to the horizon. The sun has baked the earth biscuit-brown and the highlighted grasses bottle-blond. The light is intense and enhances the island’s tough beauty. Along the trail we see a single pale vertebra and some shreds of skin textured like grilled corn: all that remains of a dragon. Agus picks up the knobble of spine. “He was injured and eaten six months ago by the others,â€? he says. One simple law is unemotionally upheld on this wild and AD@TSHETKHRK@MCRTQUHU@KNESGDĆĽSSDRS

Dining options on Rinca are underwhelming. Hungry dragon hunters are well-advised to bring a sandwich with them from the excellent Bajo Bakery in Labuan Bajo, on mainland Flores. Boats from Labuan Bajo depart frequently for Rinca and Komodo.



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CHINESE NEW YEAR END OF JANUARY, BEGINNING OF FEBRUARY / 1ST DAY OF THE FIRST MOON (SHRSGDLNRSHLONQS@MS@MCBNKNTQETK"GHMDRDEDRSHU@KBDKDAQ@SDCAXSGDL@INQHSXNESGDKNB@KONOTK@SHNM VGDQDRGNOR NƧBDR  factories close for this traditional holiday. During ten days there are a huge number of events celebrating the New Year. The long CQ@FNM@MCKHNMRC@MBDNMSGDRSQDDSR BQNVCRUHRHSSGDSDLOKDR K@MSDQMR ƦNVDQR@MCDMSDQS@HMLDMSBNLDR@KHUDHMSGDLNRS important squares of the city. It is also a tradition, when people visit and greet each other with two joined hands closed, saying "Kung 'DH%@S"GNHʗ@MCNƤDQHMFʗ+@H2HʗQDCONBJDSRBNMS@HMHMFLNMDX VGHBGHR@V@XSNVHRGFNNCKTBJ@MCOQNRODQHSXSGQNTFGNTSSGD year to friends and relatives. 15th day of the First Moon is the Lanterns Festival, being equally the Valentine's Days in the Chinese tradition. At night, the celebrations continue with colorful lanterns placed around. Small balls of glutinous rice is prepared as dessert, for homophonic reasons and symbolizes the "ribbon of friendship", "family reunion" or "good luck" for the Chinese.

PROCESSION OF THE PASSION OF OUR LORD, THE GOD JESUS FEBRUARY / MARCH A unique Macau religious celebration when an image of Christ carrying the Cross is taken in solemn procession from St. Augustine's Church to the Cathedral for an overnight vigil. It is then returned through the city via the stations of the Cross, accompanied by a magenta-robed escort and crowds of the faithful and curious.

FEAST OF TOU TEI MARCH Tou Tei is the Earth God and he is said to be everywhere. Celebrations are held at the Tou Tei Temples around the city.

EASTER MARCH / APRIL A very important festival especially among the Christian community. Many shops sell sweets related to this festival, as chocolates, Portuguese “folar” (egg cake), etc.



A city walk along a river through a colorful, crowded neighborhood. I think of my own neighborhood in Jakarta – it fits this description – and the culture of walking tours which is gaining traction. I imagine slummy charms and quirky tales. This is the type of tourism I’m in for.

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PAGE 32: Prambanan Temple is located around 15 kilometers from Yogyakarta

THIS PAGE: TOP Batik stamp craftsman Hadi Wiyono and granddaughter

PAGE 35: Local residents are welcoming and interested in passing travelers

BOTTOM The Buddhist temple Borobodur dates to the 8th and 9th centuries AD

5H@5H@NƤDQR@Q@MFDNESNTQR@MC courses to give visitors insight into the city and regional culture. Learn about local mysticism, traditional medicine or explore neighborhoods while doing community outreach. Each year Via Via trains up to 20 youths to work as freelance tour guides. They create tours like the Code River walk by hitting the streets, asking questions and going to libraries to research the area’s history. Via Via Jl. Prawirotaman 30 Yogyakarta, Indonesia Tel: +62 274 386557

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I’VE COME to Via Via, a peppy, eco-friendly B@E¤NƤDQHMFLNQDSG@M@CNYDMSNTQRHM and around Yogyakarta, a city in Central )@U@JMNVMENQHSRƥDQBDDLAQ@BDNE traditional culture and a creative spirit that continues to produce new, more contemporary artists. Tours cater to all tastes – some explore ancient temples or southern beaches. There is a tour around the city palace, one that introduces visitors to Javanese cuisine – a mix of jackfruit curry and glutinous rice cakes – and another that delves into the weird world of herbal medicine. KKNƤDQBDQS@HMHMSQHFTDR ATSSNC@X I’m after a close-up of the way people live in this laid-back city. As I savor the café’s daily special – chili eggplant – I read the various descriptions and decide the Kali Code City Walk is perfect. “See one of Jogja's vibrant and most populated neighborhoods,” the description reads, using Yogyakarta’s nickname. “Learn more about the way people live and work.” The tour starts at Via Via, wends its way through several small alleys until it meets the river and then continues alongside the waterway before doubling back towards the café. The highlight: a chance to tour a former slum area along the Code River (pronounced cho-deh). It typically takes four hours (though visitors can amend it as they please) and guides say it’s best done in the early evening, from 3 to 7 p.m., when the level of activity and neighborly interaction is at its peak. I book the tour at midday and arrive hours later with camera and notebook in hand. My guide, Vita Sari, bounds into the café just moments after, a bright smile on her face and a small pack on her back. “Let’s hope it doesn’t rain,” she chirps, glancing skyward. It is a dismal afternoon. The white sky has cast a pale over the city, but still women gather outside to sweep yards and bathe babies. Homes are typically narrow brick or concrete structures with chipped paint, rotting wood doors and sunken roofs. The walls are smeared in dirt and grime and many interiors have dusty, aging furniture, or none at all. Space is limited in these tight-packed settlements so the city government has helped construct public toilets and cooking is done on outside terraces. In the early evenings the sound of scrubbing and wringing, frying and boiling becomes a symphony. Vita talks as we walk, using a mix of English and Indonesian. People in

Yogyakarta are renown for their warmth and hospitality, but speaking their language, and even salting conversations with a few phrases in the local dialect, Javanese, carries a premium. Having Vita as my guide and BNLO@MHNM@KRNƦ@UNQRSGDDWODQHDMBD  She’s been running these tours for 13 years and is a Yogyakarta native. She seems to know everyone on the tour – a route she’s deeply familiar with – and they speak openly in her presence. After pointing out the bird cages that dangle neatly from the eves of homes – a symbol of prosperity – she stops to ask a resident how much he paid for his Kelly green canary. He smiles bashfully, familiar with Vita’s chiding, and notes that his neighbor has dropped thousands of dollars for his prized specimen. “We call them klangenang,” Vita jokes. “The things men love instead of their wives.” She carries a small purse to buy snacks for tour participants (today I’m the only one), and seems to revel in RGNVHMFSGDRHFGSR RNTMCR@MCƦ@UNQRNE the neighborhood. One of them is putu, a mixture of ƥMDKXFQNTMCBNBNMTS@MCRSHBJXQHBD placed in bamboo cylinders and steamed over a box of boiling water. We buy half @CNYDMEQNL@AHBXBKDUDMCNQ@MCNƤDQ them to residents we pass on our journey.

A few turns later and a craftsman, Togeman, appears in the window of his workshop. He sits folded like a lawn chair, the bones in his delicate hands visible through the skin as he meticulously molds copper into a stamp used to make prints on batik textiles. His bottle-bottom glasses have slipped down his nose and he acknowledges our arrival with a smile. COMMUNITY TRANSFORMATION “We’re the only ones in Jogja who make these stamps by hand,” says Togeman’s partner Hadi Wiyono. “Business was great before Suharto,” he continues, mentioning the former autocrat president of Indonesia (in power from 1967 to 1998) who supported the companies of his friends and family at the expense of small local enterprises like Hadi’s. “I had 20 people working for LDSNƥKKNQCDQR Ś Now Hadi and Togeman get orders mostly from schools or specialty batik shops that want customized stamps. Both men are in their early 80s. Their hands and feet are gnarled. Hadi walks with a limp. Neither of them has an apprentice to carry on their tradition, and Hadi worries the craft could some day disappear. Their workshop holds a wooden table laden with copper scraps, pliers and

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THIS PAGE Wax stamped onto fabric

PAGE 37: TOP LEFT Batik stamp craftsman Togeman TOP RIGHT The application of wax using a batik stamp BOTTOM A copper batik stamp

Yogyakarta is a special administrative region, the only one in Indonesia headed by a monarchy. It is by turns a royal city, a center of art and culture – both modern and traditional – and a hub for many universities. Its vibrant art scene is what often draws visitors, along with two UNESCO recognized temples, Borobudur and Prambanan, but its humble residents and their willingness to open their doors and their lives to the eyes of guests is what endears many a passing traveler.


KTJD V@QLLTFRNELHKJXSD@@MCBNƤDD  Finished stamps hang from the walls @MCRGDDSRNERSDMBHKRƥKKCTRSXANNJRNM the room’s lone bookcase. In the back a semi-outdoor room with blackened brick walls is used for sanding stamps and melting copper. Vita and I talk at length with Hadi about his craft. He mentions with pride that when business was at its peak GDTRDCSGDOQNƥSRSNATXSGDƥQRS Honda car in the neighborhood. Then Vita checks her watch and indicates we need to move along. There is much more to see. Hadi’s workshop is one of several home industries here along the Code. Together they comprise Keparakan Kidul, a city village that has transformed from a place known for crime and degradation to a vibrant family community knit together by hard work and understanding. Like the Code River, it carries tales of hardship and revitalization. The land along the river has served as a sanctuary for squatters and migrants from East Java. Trash still litters the banks and the fronts of homes are crowded with plastic dishware, brooms and buckets. But the walkway is swept and rows of potted plants add color and neatness to what might otherwise seem a hot, crowded city dwelling. As Vita and I continue on our way she shows me the community’s security system, a hollowed cylinder of wood with a mallet for beating out Morselike codes. There is a signal for an D@QSGPT@JDNQƦNNC NMDENQ@CD@SGHMSGD neighborhood, and one to indicate safety.

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She also points out the method for paying the local security patrol, a system known as jimpitan. Traditionally people put rice in small vessels that hung from doorposts. Now it’s a small envelope of money that goes to the men who volunteer for the patrol. Any excess is used to host neighborhood parties, says Vita. EVERYONE KNOWS EVERYONE After an hour of ambling we take shelter under a grimy tent pitched along the river. A built-up wall holds back the slowmoving water. This is an angkringan, literally, a place to sit comfortably. Pieces of scrap metal make up a table and a bare light bulb dangles over trays of fried snacks and sweet drinks. The signature here is nasi kucing, a tiny parcel of rice with a cucumber and hefty dollop of chili paste. “It’s just a small amount of rice, not a lot,” says Sugang, the proprietor, when I ask about its name, cat rice. She sits shyly at the end of a rickety bench, while her customer, a Mohawked youth who works for a container company and calls himself Leo van Hoten, plucks at the snacks. “I come here because the food is great, and it’s cheap,” he says, slurping up broth from a bowl of instant noodles RVHLLHMFVHSGƦN@SHMFLD@SA@KKR Nasi kucing, for instance, only costs Rp1,000 (about 10 US cents). We move on after our break, stopping to watch leather sandal-production by Haryanto, a bespectacled GandhiKNNJHMFƥFTQD

His home buzzes with neighbors who’ve come to enjoy the evening cool as dusk starts to fall. Nur Hasana, a satay vendor, sits nearby on the stoop of a security post and fans chicken frying over a small charcoal grill. “What does it taste like?” I ask, pointing to a pot of viscous, brown sauce. “It’s sweet,” says Nur. “Made with peanuts, brown sugar and garlic.” “It’s delicious,” says Harmi Yono, a resident who smack his lips as he breathes in the aroma of the chicken. Nur lifts the satay from the grill. She spoons peanut sauce over the tiny BGTMJRNERJDVDQDCLD@S@MCNƤDQRHS to Harmi. When he reaches out to take it, she pulls back, teasing him this way RDUDQ@KSHLDRADENQDƥM@KKXG@MCHMFNUDQ the satay. We’ve made our way through a maze of small streets and continue along a riverside path lit by soft yellow light from people’s homes. It’s easy to see, even as the alleys narrow and the dusk light grows dim, but Vita suggests we take a shortcut and ride a rickshaw back to the café. I’m headed there to meet a friend and enjoy the scene. The café draws a mixed crowd of tourists and Indonesian artists and intellectuals, couched as it is in an area popular for its budget accommodation and nearby galleries. We’ve taken our time with the walk, but Vita says that’s the point: it’s about interacting with people and sharing in the culture. To me the tour is a bridge between tourists and locals, and an entry point to a deeper understanding of the way of life in Yogyakarta.




One good thing about traveling alone is the freedom it brings. You wait for no one. You need not ask what someone wants for dinner. You do as you please. That being said, the need for companionship has rooted itself deep within the fiber of my being, so I end up making small talk with anyone who will listen and then waiting for that awkward look from them when they discover I am traveling alone.

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a Stranger

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A FEW YEARS AGO, alone, I traveled to Chiang Mai, Thailand. It had been raining a lot that week, but I took my chances and went on an elephant trek - which O@HCNƤVDKKADB@TRDHSV@RAD@TSHETK that morning. I went to the Maetang Elephant Park in Maetaman Village, which is run by a conservation organization. Organizations like these survive on corporate donations, tourist money, and volunteers who take B@QDNESGDRDL@FMHƥBDMSBQD@STQDR  Here I had my up-close and personal encounter with these gentle behemoths. Very popular with tourists, the park NƤDQR@MDKDOG@MSHSHMDQ@QXDKDOG@MS bath times, elephant shows, an elephant jungle safari, and also a bamboo raft river ride. Like most elephant shows, the entertaining elephants demonstrated their ability to paint semi-cohesive pictures, play football and basketball, and do simple arithmetic. But the highlight of the day for me was not the elephants, though it did occur while riding one. Due to all the earlier rain, the

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bamboo river crossing ride had been cancelled. Instead we were given longer time on the elephant trek – riding three or four kilometers through the jungle. It was at the beginning of this trip that I encountered Mr. Lee. Lee was a 60-something-year-old, and I use the word old rather loosely because he was anything but. He was Chinese-Singaporean, but described himself as an OCBC which means Orang Cina, bukan Cina in Malay (from China, but not Chinese) - which made me laugh. “Is your wife with you?” he asked. When I told him I was traveling alone, he asked why. I wanted to reply that I was traveling primarily for work, but the words that came out were: “I am separated and in the middle of a divorce.” I don’t know what it is about elderly people that makes me want to tell them the deepest recesses of my soul. As surprised as I was at my response, his response was even more so: “That’s good, lah. Do it while you’re still young.” Then he gave out a loud laugh. Smiling, I commented, “You are the

ƥQRSDKCDQKXODQRNM(G@UDLDSVGNCHC not ask why.” To which Lee said, “Well, when you are my age, it’s better to just enjoy the life you have been given. (EXNTŗQDMNSG@OOX XNTMDDCSNƥMC something that makes you happy. Right?” “Why are you alone?” I asked. “I made a promise to myself to travel to China before I die. It’s part of my bucket list. And I wanted to do it only by public transportation. I have been traveling through Malaysia and Thailand for two weeks already. Then I will take the train to Cambodia and maybe visit Laos as well before I get to China. “I’m traveling alone because my wife and kids think this trip is a crazy idea at my age. But I know it is only the ‘Singapore’ talking.” “The ‘Singapore’ talking?” I queried. “Yes, if you live in Singapore your whole life, you somehow lose your interest in living a life of adventure. Singaporeans spend most of their lives working hard and then spend the money they have made on hospital bills

PAGE 40: TOP LEFT Panda bear in Chiang Mai zoo TOP RIGHT A Lisu girl living in a refugee camp

THIS PAGE: TOP Visitors participate in Buddhist prayer rituals inside Wat Chiang Man BOTTOM Wat Rong Khun, Chiang Rai


PAGE 38 Wat Chiang Man is considered the oldest temple in Chiang Mai

VENTUREFEATURE No matter how many travel books I read, words I soak HMSN NQFTHCDRNMSNTQHRSRONSR@MCNƤ SGD AD@SDMO@SG secrets I study, nothing compares to actually traveling. The feelings of uncertainty and anticipation which traveling sets into play can be rather exhilarating. I will never tire of it; traveling is a natural high. THIS PAGE: TOP The aquarium at Chiang Mai zoo BOTTOM Flight of the Gibbon zipline adventure

PAGE 43: Jungle trips at the Maetang Elephant Park

because they worked too hard. It’s a vicious circle, hah! “When I told them my idea of going overland to China, my son said he BNTKCMŗSS@JDSHLDNƤVNQJ @MCLXVHED worried about all the possibilities of getting sick on the road. So, as I said, it was the ‘Singapore’ in them talking.” While listening to his every word, I also wondered whether Lee was either drunk or insane, or absolutely right about everything. Lee was a retired army sergeant. He had been married for 40 years and had two sons and grandchildren. I asked him how his marriage had lasted so long. “The army,” he replied succinctly. Either his work kept him away from his family making him long for them, or the army was his haven whenever things got bad at home. I chose to believe the former. After the elephant trek, we shared a taxi ride back to the city. During the drive Lee noticed a brochure in the taxi OQNLNSHMF@ƥQHMFQ@MFD 'HRDXDRKHSTO like he was opening a Christmas present. He told the driver to take him to the range, then looked at me as if he had just remembered he was not alone. He made the obligatory invitation and I accepted. Though Mr. Lee was a senior citizen, he did not show it when he went into the shooting range. He asked the clerk for a QHƦD@MC@ B@KHADQFTM (ENTMCLXRDKE @RJHMFENQ@QHƦD@RVDKK 6DRGNS@SSHM cans, toy soldiers, and paper targets. In between rounds Lee yelled, “I WAS IN THE ARMY FOR MORE THAN TWENTY YEARS AND ALL THE SHOTS I EVER FIRED WERE IN A SHOOTING RANGE!” .TQC@XDMCDCVHSGBNƤDD@SSGD Riverside Restaurant in Chiang Mai and we parted ways. He said he was going to stay for one more day to try the Flight of the Gibbon zipline canopy adventure. After all I had seen of him that day, I was not surprised. As we shook hands I said, “You, Sir, have made this trip more memorable than anything I had hoped for.” Smiling, he replied, “You should travel more: it’s good for your soul.” That was my only encounter with Mr. +DD (G@UD@GNODSG@SSGHR@QSHBKDƥMCR him, and that through it, I get another chance to thank him. Mr. Lee, you have not changed my life with your philosophy or enlightened me with your words, but you do remind me of a scripture that I hold close to my heart: Don't forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it. - Hebrews 13:2

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s le

s l i a a nd r T T e a e f




m a Vietn



I vividly remember him: sitting outside the house on wintry afternoons, shivering in a woolly gilet, socked feet inside open-­toed sandals, with a steaming cup of coffee and a Vinataba cigarette clenched between his black teeth. Grandpa sat watching the world go by until his lips turned blue. He lingered in those moments as if nothing mattered but a smoking hot coffee. COFFEE IN HANOI is wildly imaginative. I’m embarking on a BNƤDDSQ@HK@QNTMCSGDBHSXRDDJHMFMNSNMKXSGDADRSU@QH@SHNMR  but the tales of the people behind them. COFFEE WITH YOGURT 1TLNQG@RHSSGDQDŗRSGHRNKCBNƤDDRGNONM8DM/GTRSQDDS RDQUHMFS@RSXXNFTQSBNƤDD .MBDBTQHNRHSXFDSRSGDADSSDQNELD I discover Café Duy Tri. A sign hanging above the shop’s small frontage dates the café back to 1936. The entrance is narrow and leads to a smoky room clustered with wobbly tables and low stools. Upstairs is a low-ceilinged room furnished with upturned beer crates. A picture of a sword and an old-fashioned tennis racquet hang on the wall. Café Duy Tri is run by 71-year-old Pham Duy Tri. He learned the trade early: helping his mother run her café as a sevenyear-old boy after school. She had nine children and with paltry earnings from her husband’s martial arts school, the burden of feeding the family fell on her shoulders. The café has a history. It had been a bourgeoisie social club

PAGE 46: Coffee with custard -­ a modern twist

THIS PAGE: Served cold on yogurt

until Tri’s father became involved in the 1945 uprising against SGD%QDMBG@MCSGDE@LHKXVDQDENQBDCSNBKNRDHS@MCƦDDSN Viet Bac in the Thanh Hoa province. Only after France withdrew from Vietnam in 1954 did the family return to Hanoi and resume the café. When his mother retired, Tri took over the café business. ř,XE@LHKXV@RRSHKKRSQTFFKHMFƥM@MBH@KKXA@BJSGDM ATSSGD country was on the road to recovery.” It’s time to see if the rumors are true. Tri tells me that BNƤDDVHSGXNFTQSca phe sua chua) is the house specialty. It HRRDQUDCHM@S@KKFK@RR 3GDXNFTQSHRBQD@LX@MCSNOODCNƤ VHSG@RGNSNEEN@LDCBNƤDD@QSETKKXCDBNQ@SDCVHSGSGDRG@OD NE@ƦNVDQ (CHOLXRONNMHMSNHS LXS@RSDATCRRDCTBDCAX SGDBGNBNK@SXAHSSDQMDRRNESGDBNƤDDLDKSHMFVHSGSGDRVDDS tartness of the yogurt. Tri uses Arabica beans from the northern highlands, and Robusta and Mocha beans from the central highlands. He OQDEDQRSGD%QDMBGOQNBDRRHMFLDSGNC@MCGHRBNƤDDHRSGD better for that extra bit of butter and chicory.

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Coffee with egg? You raise your eyebrows? But actually it’s a sensational match. 48 Venture | Feb/Mar 2013

EGG COFFEE "NƤDDVGHOODCVHSG@Q@VDFF@MCLHKJQDLHMCRLDNELX K@SD&Q@MCO@ 3NGHL@C@XVHSGNTSBNƤDDV@RKHJD@SDKDUHRHNM without sound. I vividly remember him: sitting outside the house, shivering in a woolly gilet, a beret on his head, with @RSD@LHMFBTONEBNƤDD@MC@5HM@S@A@BHF@QDSSDBKDMBGDC between his black teeth. Grandpa sat watching the world go by until his lips almost turned blue. He lingered in those moments @RHEMNSGHMFL@SSDQDCATS@RLNJX GNSBNƤDD We lived a block from Café Giang and woke to the smell of QN@RSHMFBNƤDDAD@MR 6HSGNTSSGHRLNQMHMF@QNL@ &Q@MCO@ would never have got up so early. He always asked me to buy GHL@AK@BJBNƤDD@MCHMQDSTQM(FNSRNLDONBJDSLNMDX@MC @MDFFBNƤDDca phe trung). Every morning we sat quietly side AXRHCDRHOOHMFNTQBNƤDDR "NƤDDVHSGDFF8NTQ@HRDXNTQ eyebrows? But actually it’s a sensational match. Café Giang has a story. At the age of ten, Nguyen Van Giang RDSNƤEQNL'@3@XSN'@MNHHMRD@QBGNE@KHUDKHGNNC 'DK@MCDC @INA@R@M@OOQDMSHBDA@QSDMCDQ@SSGD2NƥSDK,DSQNONKD @MCSGDQDGDGNMDCGHRBNƤDD L@JHMFRJHKKR 'DADB@LDNMD of his generation’s leading baristas in Hanoi. Working in a %QDMBGGNSDKHMSQNCTBDCGHLSN6DRSDQMBNƤDD "@OOTBBHMNHM particular inspired him to concoct a Vietnamese interpretation AXAKDMCHMFBNƤDDVHSGLHKJ BGDDRD @MCVGHOODCDFFXNKJR  which later became his signature drink. Nguyen Van Giang opened Café Giang in 1946. But during the subsidized economic period (1975-1986), the RS@SDHLONRDC@A@MNMSQ@CHMFRS@OKDENNC@MCBNƤDD  &H@MFŗRE@LHKXKHUDCNMLD@KBNTONMR "NƤDDADB@LD@Q@QHSX  RNLDSGHMFNMKX@BBDRRHAKDSN6DRSDQMDLA@RRXRS@Ƥ@MC Vietnamese public servants. Giang died in 1988, leaving his legacy to his children. In the 90s the hole-in-the-wall Café Giang was a Hanoi institution, a time capsule from a bygone era. It was frequented by highAQNVLDM KNMF G@HQDC@QSHRSROTƧMFNMBHF@QDSSDR @MCADQDS


wearing pensioners speaking French. With no music, no fancy décor, and no RTBGSGHMF@R6H %H HSV@RSGDBNƤDDSG@S did the talking. These good old days ended with the sale of the property. The house changed hands. The café vanished. There was a hole in my heart. MCSGDMSNC@X NMSGHRBNƤDDSQ@HK through Hanoi, I come across a new Café Giang on Nguyen Huu Huan street, run by Giang’s youngest son, Tri Hoa - or Uncle Hoa as I used to call him. “Little girl!” he exclaims when I enter. We shake hands like old neighbors. He brings me a cup of ca phe trung. Some people like to stir it, but I prefer to use the spoon to scoop up the dollop of cream that tops the drink before sipping SGDBNƤDDADKNV (SS@RSDRDUDQXAHS@R good as it did a decade ago. The sweet creaminess of the whipped egg lifts me up until my tongue detects that trace of AHSSDQMDRREQNLSGDBNƤDDVGHBGOTSRLX feet back on the ground. Genius. COFFEE WITH SOYBEAN CUSTARD To me, the homespun peasant dessert tao pho conjures up an image of an old man pedaling along the streets of Hanoi on a rickety bicycle, wooden barrel strapped to the backseat, chanting, “Ai pho oi.” If someone waved, he would stop and use @Ʀ@SRGDKKSNK@CKDSGHMRSQHORNELHKJX white soybean custard into a bowl. Then

he would drizzle it with sugar syrup fragrant with jasmine. Tasty, nourishing, cheap: what more could you ask for? Walking down Quang Trung street during the homebound rush hour, I’m amazed to see swarms of youngsters sitting on low plastic stools slurping miniature bowls of ca phe tao phoBNƤDD with soybean custard). There’s a queue of motorbikes with people perched on their seats while waiting for their turn. Others NQCDQSGDBTRS@QCXBNƤDDSNFN 3GDNKC  humble tao pho has been given a modern SVHRSVHSGSGD@CCHSHNMNEBNƤDD Nghia, the owner of café Jelly Bean and self-confessed tao pho lover, helped pioneer the revival of this BK@RRHBCHRGKNMFADENQD@ƦNNCF@SDNE tao pho shops popped up all over the city. “I remembered my grandmother’s homemade tao pho and the way people used to eat boundless bowls of it from street vendors. Then I noticed a resurgence in traditional comfort foods. So I thought, Why not bring tao pho back with a modern twist?” I know my tao pho, but today I’m here for this modern version. The silky white RNXAD@MBTRS@QCƦN@SRHM@OTCCKDNE UDKUDSXBNƤDD %QNLSGDƥQRSS@RSDHSŗR BKD@QSG@SSGHRCQHMJHRFNHMFSNƦN@SLX boat. The custard melting in my mouth is reassuringly familiar, but the new @CCHSHNMNEBNƤDDHMSDMRHƥDRSGDƦ@UNQNE the dish raising it to new heights.

CAFÉ DUY TRI 43 Yen Phu, Tay Ho +84 4 3829 1386 CAFÉ GIANG 39 Nguyen Huu Huan, Hoan Kiem +84 4 6294 0495 JELLY BEAN 28 Quang Trung, Hoan Kiem +84 4 6675 2820

,XBNƤDDSQ@HKDMCRVGDMC@QJMDRR descends. Mission accomplished, I drive GNLD@LHCSGDAKTQNESQ@ƧB@MCMDNM signs, safe in the knowledge that I will MDUDQG@UDSQNTAKDƥMCHMF@FNNCOK@BD SNG@UDDWNSHBBNƤDDHM'@MNH !TSVHSG @ETKKC@XŗRVNQSGNEBNƤDDHMCTKFDMBD  there’s no chance I will sleep tonight. Sleep must wait.

PAGE 48: TOP A chess game at Café Giang

THIS PAGE: Owner Pham Duy Tri

INSET Coffee with whipped egg, similar to eggnog

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50 Venture | Feb/Mar 2013


“It’s my waterfall. Mine.” With a mouth like a murder scene, the old lady smiles, hand out for toll money. She’s a betel chewer. Through crimson lips she shows burgundy gums and teeth of coffee and cream. The water cascades behind her into a clear, rock-­ringed pool. Her waterfall, the Cunca Rami waterfall, is on the trail to Sano Nggoang – the largest lake in Flores, Indonesia, and among the deepest crater lakes in the world.


A Home by the Lake Flores, Indonesia 51 Feb/Mar 2013 | Venture

MARIA MIA and her husband Sebastian Sambung live in a duck egg blue cottage with a tin roof and sky blue window frames. The cottage is tucked into a fruit tree garden. On the roof is a single solar panel, a skylight, and a tricolor kitten. “We get few tourists,” says Maria, as we sign the visitors book. “You are the ƥQRSSN@QQHUDVHSGNTS@FTHCDNQHMSDQOQDSDQ Ś There is no formal accommodation in the lakeshore hamlet NE-TM@MFRN,@QH@@MC2DA@RSH@MNƤDQSGDHQGNTRD@R@ homestay to tourists. “There are 37 houses in the village,” says Maria. “Twenty-seven,” counters her grandson. “A lotNEODNOKDKHUDGDQD ŚRGD@ƧQLR (BNTMSGNTRDR@KNMFSGDFQ@RRXK@MDRDS@LNMFBNƤDD  cocoa, cashew, and candlenut trees. But across the green lake the water laps at the gardens of more secluded lakeside residences. Lake Sano Nggoang in West Manggerai, Flores, is surrounded by 5,000 hectares of rolling hill forests. The forests are home to the Flores Giant Rat and legends of a winged snake-monster called Kaka Nggokok which croaks and screams at night. If you approach one, “you are a dead man,” writes naturalist Father Erwin Schmutz, a former mentor of Sebastian’s. It’s been a long day and is almost dusk when we arrive in Nunang. We had left Labuan Bajo by ojek (motorbike taxi) this morning, found a guide in a village called Roe, climbed up and down Mt Mbeliling (1,258 meters) and then trekked across to the crater lake. “You’ll need a hot wash then,” someone notes. Snug in a thicket by the lake are the hot springs. Hot water gushes from bamboo pipes and bubbles up though silky mud. We hesitate with soap bars in hand but our three village companions, all men, don’t leave the spring and we bathe selfBNMRBHNTRKX VQ@OODCHMR@QNMFR TMCDQSGDHQBHF@QDSSD OTƧMF observation. !@BJ@SSGDGNLDRS@X NTQADCQNNLHRƥKKDCHM@KKCHQDBSHNMR by a four-poster bed. In the garden is a shed with a cement squat toilet, a trough of wintry water, and a ladle for washing. /HFRRMTƨDHMSGDQD@Q 3GDA@SGQNNLCNNQE@RSDMRVHSGSVHMD around a nail and falls short by a foot. Through this gap clucking chickens peck in and out.

The forests are home to the Flores Giant Rat and legends of a winged snake-­monster called Kaka Nggokok which croaks and screams at night. 52 Venture | Feb/Mar 2013

THE DANISH AMBASSADOR’S PLAN Beside the village path is a smart tourist information gazebo, donated by the Danish Ambassador in 2010. An illustrated map lists local attractions: panorama points, horse-riding, homestays, hot springs, bird watching, a lake path. It sounds like a plan. A track, ochre in the morning sunshine, skirts the lake. We pass the local church, wooden, with a round stained-glass OHBSTQDVHMCNV 2L@KKQHBDƥDKCR@QDBTSHMSNSGDVNNCK@MC and high up a coconut tree a child lops down fruit with a machete. Two dogs chase tails and bark in the excitement of the plummeting harvest. Handwritten signs nailed to tree trunks remind people to throw their litter in bins. The lakeside trail is clean and quiet, just bird chatter and leaf rustle. Then suddenly a Grand Prix! Pursued by pants and squeals, a wooden wheel bounces down the stony track at full throttle. Propelling the wheel is a bare-footed boy chased by a stampede of children. The wheeler U-turns in an arc of triumph and halts ahead. Dust stirs at his soles; the headlamps of his face full beam. ř,NSNQ SNTQHRSʖŚGDSNNSR ř8NTQSTQMʖŚ'DNƤDQRTRSGDRSHBJ@MC the children spin and cheer. It’s basically a surveyor’s wheel: a length of green bamboo cleft in two at the bottom to support a wooden axel which spins through the heart of a hand-hewn wheel. “Motor! Turis!”


PAGE 50: A handmade toy ‘car’

PAGE 52: TOP A church in the neighboring, deserted, hamlet of Tado INSET Striking window work in the Nunang church

THIS PAGE: TOP The main street in Nunang BOTTOM LEFT Guardian of the Cunca Rami waterfall BOTTOM RIGHT Sebastian and Maria with their daughter

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PANORAMA POINT “Let’s go to Savannah,” suggests sixtyyear-old Sebastian that evening, referring to a viewpoint along the forested crater QHLGHFG@ANUDTRŔRODBHƥB@KKXSGD&NKN Dewa lookout point. “We’ll leave at 5 tomorrow morning.” It’s a steep, simple 30-minute ascent through the woodland. Sebastian carries @AHQCHCDMSHƥB@SHNMRGDDS@MCO@TRDRSN listen to the dawn chorus. Amid the trees are huge locally-revered boulders and at our heels trots Blackie, a hunting dog. “He’s my travel buddy,” says Sebastian. I peer through the forest: where is the Kaka Nggokok? From the peak, through the trees, we have a full view of the three square kilometer lake, and even over to the wooded tip of Mt Mbeliling and the Flores Sea beyond. Whistling in the trees is a white Asian Flycatcher with two elongated tail feathers like wedding RSQD@LDQR 6DRHOGNSRVDDSAK@BJBNƤDD from a liter Fanta bottle and slurp Maria’s kolak: a gloopy, chewy soup of boiled sweet potatoes, coconut, and palm sugar.

54 Venture | Feb/Mar 2013

PONY CLUB Despite the clouds gathering in the afternoon, Yoseph, the village head, arrives at the duck egg blue homestay with two horses. He ties them to 2DA@RSH@MŗRF@QCDMEDMBD !KTƧMF bravado while looking for anywhere to hide, I wonder how one mounts a horse without stirrups or saddle. I think of Cormac McCarthy and all the pretty (wild) horses. I hope our horses are called Peg Leg and Waddle. “What are the horses’ names?” “Rocket and Bintang (Star).” “Do you have a step ladder?” Yoseph crouches beside Rocket and pats his leg. Gripping the mane, I step on Yoseph’s thigh and swing up onto Rocket. Andrew, my much taller companion, BNMƥCDMSADB@TRDGDŗREQNL6XNLHMF  USA, over-swings and sails right over Bintang, landing in a bundle of long, thin limbs on the other side. The villagers roll their eyes. The sky darkens. We trot around the lake. There are JHMFƥRGDQR V@QAKDQR SD@KR @MCO@QQNSR 

and more hidden cottages. We look for the Flores Hawk-eagle and Wallace’s Scops Owl. The lake begins to dimple. ř1@HMʖŚB@KKR8NRDOG ř3GDƥQRSNESGD year!” The rain accelerates from drizzle to downpour in three seconds. Yoseph sprints for the village with Rocket and Bintang galloping behind. Suddenly I am Cormac McCarthy! Like outlaws we lash NTQRSDDCRSNSGDEDMBDNESGDƥQRSGNTRD we reach and shelter uninvited on the roofed wooden porch. Rocket tears at SGDƦNVDQADC LTMBGHMFCDRSQTBSHUDKX  !HMS@MFRBTƤRSGDK@VM@MCQD@QR high onto his hindquarters. “Naughty, naughty!” chuckles Yoseph. “He wants to play.” A DRAGON FOR LUNCH We shelter in Maria Mia and Sebastian’s house. A single dim light bulb hanging low from a long wire illuminates the green plastic dining table. Sebastian shows us a publication called Mencari Masa Depan (Searching for a Future) published by Birdlife International, the


World Wildlife Fund, and the Indonesian Forestry Department in 2000. “That’s me,” he says, pointing to a black and white photo of a young man carrying a newly found species of bamboo. “And that’s Maria Mia,” he adds pointing to a photo with the caption A local woman with her baby. At twentyfour Maria was radiant and ravishing. Later the baby died. The publication describes local ƦNQ@@MCE@TM@@MCQTKDR@ANTS eating Komodo dragons. Due to their resemblance to crocodiles, which have ROHQHST@K@MC@MBDRSQ@KRHFMHƥB@MBDENQ the people of Flores, eating Komodos is forbidden. Unless the dragon has @SS@BJDC@MCD@SDMXNTQATƤ@KN HMVGHBG case, the dragon is lunch.

PAGE 54: Lake Sano Nggoang from the Golo Dewa lookout point

THIS PAGE: TOP Young Maria Mia BOTTOM Maria Mia and Sebastian’s cottage, Nunang

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Climbing the

Beaches may have glorious sunrises and sunsets, says Richmond Blando, but they will never have the unending array of colors that play on the Three Sisters in New South Wales, Australia, over the course of a single day.

59 Feb/Mar 2013 | Venture

VENTUREFEATURE GOOD TIME TO GO The annual Sculpture at Scenic World exhibition will be held from April 24 to May 19, 2013, displaying local and HMSDQM@SHNM@K@QSVNQJR@KNMFSGD)@LHRNM5@KKDXƦNNQ


SWIMMING IN ice-cold water is not something Asians like me are accustomed to. So after a few days of winter in Sydney, we cut short our trip to Bondi and Manly beaches and took the train to the Blue Mountains, in the outskirts of Sydney, New South Wales. Getting there was not as straightforward as I had thought. Reassuringly though, we ran into some Aussies who seemed to be at a loss as well. Having missed the 8 a.m. train to Katoomba, we checked out a sandwich place that had caught my attention earlier. It was time for a bit of breakfast and the BTQDSN@MXBNKCRODKK@BTONEGNSBNƤDD '@UHMFOTQBG@RDC

Venture | Feb/Mar 2013

The Blue Mountains Explorer !TROQNUHCDR@GNO NM GNO NƤ service via all the main attractions in the Blue Mountains area. Key sites include the Three Sisters and Scenic World as well as waterfalls, bushwalking spots, and restaurants.

our food and drinks, we ate them on the next train - which was MNS@KKNVDC ATSVDNMKXR@VSGDRHFM@ESDQVDG@CƥMHRGDC As much as I would have loved to stay awake during the train ride, there really was not much to see. The pockets of scenery and grand views only lasted a second or so, and so the heavy eyelids won the battle. The next thing I knew we had arrived in Katoomba. The moment I stepped out of the train, the chilly wind RK@OODCLDHMSGDE@BD@MCLXAQD@SGSTQMDCSNOTƤRNELHRS  2S@Ƥ@SSGDSNTQHRLNƧBDQDBNLLDMCDCVDGNO@AN@QCSGD red double decker Blue Mountains Explorer Bus - for A$36


per person. Ouch, but what the heck, everything costs more in the land of Oz. At just over 120 kilometers from the city, the Blue Mountains is a common getaway for Sydney residents. This World Heritage-listed mountainous region is a welcome change for those needing a break from urban life. Our bus driver, Steve, was a charming ƥESX RNLDSGHMFVGNV@RPTHBJSNFQDDS everyone on the bus in their native language: much to the delight of the Japanese, German, and Indonesian passengers. He gave us the typical ‘onyour-left-you’ll-see-so-and-so’ type of tour with jokes here and there. Curiosity compelled me to ask why the mountains were called Blue. “Because when you look at them,” Steve answered in a thick Aussie accent; “You can see a blue haze hanging over them.

It’s because of all the eucalyptus oil released into the air.” “Sorry, mate,” I said. “I can’t see it. How long have you been doing this job?” Steve smiled: “I’ve had grandchildren in the duration of my job.” We decided to stop at Scenic World to see an unusual rock formation called the Three Sisters, a name which was still perplexing me. It turns out that there are two legends yielding the same result. To cut the story short, the village shaman of the Katoomba tribe turned three sisters Meehni, Wimlah, and Gunnedoo - into stone in order to protect them from the violence following their attempted kidnap by three ardent suitors whom tribal law forbade the girls from marrying. Another less-romantic legend says that the father (the shaman) wanted

to protect his girls from a mythical Aboriginal monster called a Bunyip, but that he lost his magic bone (his wand) in a battle and so the three sisters remain unturned to this day.

PAGE 58: The Greater Blue Mountains is Australia’s 14th World Heritage Area

THIS PAGE: The Three Sisters stand between 906 and 922 meters tall

PAGE 60: Bushwalking tracks range from 1 to 42 kilometers in length

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2BDMHB6NQKCNƤDQRCHƤDQDMSV@XR of experiencing the Blue Mountains. All attractions are named ‘scenic’ as if to constantly remind visitors that this is HMCDDCL@FMHƥBDMSRBDMDQX 3GD2BDMHB Skyway takes non-acrophobic visitors over a rainforest canopy in a ginormous cable car (cable bus) with a glass bottom. At 270 meters, it’s the highest cable car in Australia. The Scenic Railway has the steepest incline I have ever experienced. It was missing the Indiana Jones theme song, but someone who had had his morning beer was more than willing to supply it. The Scenic Walkway takes visitors on a 2.4 kilometer elevated walk

through an ancient rainforest. After Scenic World we went hiking near the viewing area of the Three Sisters. Each of these three chimneys of rock stands over 900 meters high. The temperature was about 15 degrees centigrade, which was just perfect: I didn’t feel the sunburn till later. But after SGDƥQRSGNTQ(CHCADFHMSNRDDSGDAKTD haze that Steve had mentioned. I stood hypnotized by the beauty. We must have hiked for about three hours that afternoon without even noticing the time. ,@XADHSHRSGDDƤNQSNEBKHLAHMF and hiking that makes me appreciate mountains more than shores and

3GD!KTD,NTMS@HMRG@UD@KNSSNNƤDQ@MC(V@RCHR@OONHMSDC that we didn’t spend more time there. If I could do it all again, I would plan to spend at least one and a half hours at every attraction and would travel by car so that I could wander around freely without worrying about missing the train home.

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AD@BGDR 3G@S@ESDQSGDGTƧMF@MC OTƧMF SGDRNQDLTRBKDR@MCSGD constant wondering if I am headed in the right direction or not, my journey is rewarded with incredible scenery and the chance to stop and take in the natural beauty of the world which I too often take for granted. I never really traveled when I was younger: think of a bad or good excuse and I probably gave it. People tell me that if I want to take the road less traveled, I should not bother with popular tourist sites like the Blue Mountains. But I tell them: if I haven’t been there yet, it is the road less traveled for me.

The Scenic Railway is currently closed for repairs (nothing to do with us eating sandwiches on the train) and will re-open in autumn 2013.


PAGE 62: Panoramic views from the Skyway and Cableway at Scenic World

THIS PAGE: TOP The Blue Mountains is home to 91 species of eucalyptus tree BOTTOM It’s a two-­hour train ride from Sydney to Katoomba

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THE ART in Surakarta -

Standing the Test of Time

“If the hot metal touches you, your skin will melt,” cautions Supoyo. Despite the fiery heat inside the dark workshop, the Indonesian craftsman’s words send chills down my spine.


VENTUREFEATURE ONE WOMAN HAS pale horns. Another has ornate wings. All around us is a kaleidoscope of color, form, and fabric. We’re in the Central Javanese city of Surakarta (also called Solo) in Indonesia and there is great spectacle today. (SŗRSGDƥESG@MMT@K2NKN!@SHJ"@QMHU@K @E@RGHNM extravaganza inspired by the Jember Fashion Carnaval (sic) tradition which began in 2003. Batik is a compulsory element and the costumed men, women, and children strut through the city roads each year. 6D@QDCDƥMHSDKXGDQDENQSGDRGNV ATSVD@QD@KRNHM Surakarta to explore aspects of art through the ages: the RDWT@KRBTKOSTQHMFNESDLOKD@QSEQNLSGDƥESDDMSGBDMSTQX  the struggles of gamelan music craft, and the evolution of modern batik. SOLO BATIK CARNIVAL The 2012 theme is metamorphosis. Lavishly dressed participants parade through the Sriwedari stadium according SNBNRSTLDBNKNQƥQRSSGDAK@BJ@MCVGHSDR SGDMSGDOQHL@QX colors, through to the tertiary tints. Spectators in the tribune abandon their seats and crowd closer to the show. Dating back to the Majapahit Kingdom in the thirteenth century, Surakarta batik is one of the oldest batiks in Java. It is distinguished from other Indonesian batiks by its consistency in patterns and limited color palette – in particular the use of sogan, a dark yellow. Surakarta batik might appear monotonous, but its beauty lies in its detailed motifs which are based on ancient philosophies, symbols, and prayers. It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for: the spectators are allowed to mingle amongst the beautifully-costumed

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PAGE 66: TOP Dazzling handmade costumes


PAGE 64: A traditional gong-­ crafting workshop

BOTTOM At the Solo Batik Carnival

THIS PAGE: The gong is the most iconic of the gamelan instruments

participants and take photographs. There are frills and wings and elaborate costumes decorated with colored lights. No one is mediocre. I’m drawn to the monochrome costumes and to one lady swaying gracefully to the music amid the colorful surroundings. She is dressed in black and white and wears an intricate, multiple-horned headpiece. “Is your costume heavy?” I start. “It’s not actually,” she replies, still dancing gently. She points out the intricacies of her costume. Decorated cones hang upside down from the front of her skirt. Her chest is embellished with QTƨDR /QHMSDCA@SHJLNSHER@CNQMGDQ spanned wings. “I designed the costume and made it with my mother,” she says. “It cost me one million rupiah (US$100) to make, less than in previous years.” The Solo Batik Carnival committee has been encouraging participants to use secondhand batik to counter any criticism that the carnival is wantonly expensive. There’s considerable groundwork prior to the carnival. A 14-week VNQJRGNONMBNRSTLDBQD@SHNMHRNƤDQDC to participants, and once completed, costume designs must be submitted to the organizing committee so carnival lineups can be choreographed. Everyone is dressed for success. Much time and energy is put into the costumes in the hope that they will be chosen for other events. In 2012 costumes from the Solo Batik Carnival represented

Indonesia at the Pasadena Flower Festival in California, USA. From traditional yellow batik to extravagant fashion: not only is Surakarta maintaining its traditional textiles, it HRƥMCHMFMDVV@XRNEDWOKNQHMF@MC presenting them. Can the same be said for traditional music? GAMELAN SMITHY In the suburbs of Surakarta is the village of Wirun, home of Supoyo, a sturdy, dark-skinned gamelan craftsman in his sixties. Javanese gamelan fuses music with the ancient art of forging in the creation of percussion instruments. A gamelan set includes bar-shaped and bowl-shaped instruments, but the most famous of all is the gong. In contrast to our modern mechanized era, these soothing-sounding instruments are still handmade. “If the hot metal touches you, your skin will melt,” says Supoyo. “There’s no bleeding.” His words send chills down my spine. It’s a tricky and hazardous art. Supoyo tells us that the dangers of gamelan craftsmanship can’t be found in any books. It’s an art passed down through the generations. The secret of gamelan crafting is in the hands. These workers burn, bang, and breathe gong making. “It’s all about the quantity and combination of materials. You can’t be cheap,” explains Supoyo proudly, scraping the surface of a half-made gong to test the tuning. “Our

gongs are really thick. They stand the test of time.” Calculations are scribbled on the cement plastered walls of the workshop to assure the correct balance of metals. Behind the tattered doors of Supoyo’s workshop, ten craftsmen blaze and mold the gongs into shape. Some men are A@QDENNS RNLDVD@QVNQMƦHO ƦNOR  but all are dressed in thin clothing to prevent them overheating and to help them move freely. It is extremely hot and dusty inside. Red sparks from the glowing metal scatter up to the ceiling, accentuating the dust and darkness. On average, Supoyo and his men produce one gong and several smaller gamelan instruments a day. The gongs measure around 70 centimeters in diameter and weigh around 20 kilograms. The gongs are the most iconic of the gamelan instruments and Supoyo’s clientele include buyers from Malaysia and Japan. Today’s gongs may last, but will the tradition of handmade gamelan stand the test of time? Traditional music is fading from the everyday lives of Indonesians, replaced with synthesized sounds. Gamelan craftsmanship lies in the hands of a few aging artisans in one-room workshops and the younger generation shows little interested in picking up the mallet. In need of light we leave the dark workshop and head back in time: to the fertility temples of Karanganyar.

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SET IN STONE Located on the eastern fringes of Surakarta are the Candi Sukuh and Candi Cetho temples of fertility. Candi Sukuh, the male temple, has a trapezoid shape similar to the Mayan temples of Central America. It comprises a single structure built of dark rock surrounded by statues and reliefs, many displaying male and female genitals. Candi Cetho, seven kilometers from Sukuh, is the larger, female temple with vast open areas. We pay our Rp 10,000 (US$1) entrance fees and go inside. The reliefs at both temples have been dated back SNSGDƥESDDMSGBDMSTQX ATSSGDXCHƤDQ from those at other Javanese temples. Though the temples show Hindu symbols, they are in uncommon forms: in Cetho and Sukuh, Ganesha is shown standing, not sitting; while other gods are shown squatting. Both temples are active and incense burns at the alters. Worshippers visit Cetho to request fertility and healthy children. However, activities around Sukuh are spicier, with rumors of couples having sexual intercourse at the temple. As an Indonesian, it was interesting to see such vulgar displays considering we’re still such a conservative society and sexual matters are mostly taboo. Could it be that the ancestors of Surakarta people were experts in the art of making love? Surakarta is a brewing pot of old arts and new creations. Events like the Solo Batik Carnival put art back in our calendars, forcing us to admire and re-appreciate traditions. And it’s this process of ongoing appreciation that keeps traditions alive.

Venture | Feb/Mar 2013


PAGE 68: TOP Visitors explore Candi Sukuh BOTTOM A detail at Candi Sukuh

THIS PAGE: Erotic sculptures at Candi Cetho



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THIS PAGE: TOP Boiled crawdads at the Gumbo Pot restaurant MIDDLE Gumbo, a Louisiana stew BOTTOM CafĂŠ Du Monde has been serving coffee since 1862

Feb/Mar 2013 | Venture


PAGE 72: Wall art in Decatur street

IT’S AUGUST in New Orleans. School’s out, the sky is blue, and hip hop pounds from car radios. Tetty and I are on Decatur Street drinking in the summer scene and pints of locally brewed Abitha. I’m ready to explore the home of trumpet legend Louis Armstrong, but Tetty wants to eat cockroaches. Crawdads, cockroaches to my eyes, are a New Orleans specialty. New Orleans is nicknamed ‘The Big Easy.’ There’s some mystery behind the origins of this name but Russian taxi driver Raulph reckons it’s because of the city’s rich jazz and blues heritage. Still today musicians perform on the streets, in parks, and at the city’s many, lively watering holes. It’s to one of these that music lover Tetty and I are headed. In New Orleans, BQ@VĆĽRGCHRGDR@QD@ATMC@MS  KSGNTFG these tiny lobster-like creatures have been consumed for centuries by American Indians, commercial sale of BQ@VĆĽRGHM+NTHRH@M@NMKXADF@MHMSGD late 1800s. 3GDQD@QDNUDQRODBHDRNEBQ@VĆĽRG in Louisiana, but only two are dished up ENQCHMDQRSGDQDCRV@LOBQ@VĆĽRG@MC SGDVGHSDQHUDQBQ@VĆĽRG "Q@VĆĽRGB@MAD boiled or barbecued, or served in salads and omelettes. Usually in soups and stews only the tail meat is served. Seated at the Gumbo Pot restaurant on Decatur Street, Tetty orders half a CNYDMANHKDCBQ@VĆĽRG 5@QHNTRKXB@KKDC BQ@VĆĽRG BQ@XĆĽRG X@AAHDR NQLTCATFR  it is useful to know how to eat a crawdad. Tetty demonstrates by pinching the crawdad at the tail joint, her thumb on NMDRHCDNESGDRGDKK@MCGDQHMCDWĆĽMFDQ NMSGDNSGDQ 2GDSVHRSR@MCODDKRNƤ the shell, eats the body, then sucks what RGDB@KKRĹ–SGDITHBX FNNCRSTƤŗNTSNESGD head. I swallow my horror. “Just like otak in a Padang restaurant,â€? Tetty coos, referring to an (MCNMDRH@MCHRGNEĆĽRGO@RSDLHWDC with sago and coconut milk. As a diner who prefers not to play with her food, I ordered a sweet, creamy cheddar soup with pre-peeled crawdads. Crawdads are not the city’s only specialty. Cajun Gumbo is a traditional New Orleans shrimp soup mixed with peppers, onions, celery, rice and FrenchCarribbean spices. ESDQKTMBGHSĹ—RSHLDENQBNƤDD 6D walk to the must-visit CafĂŠ Du Monde on Decatur Street which is famous for its lattes and hot donut beignets (square donuts dusted with confectioner’s RTF@Q +NB@SDCITRSNƤSGD,HRRHRRHOOH River, CafĂŠ Du Monde has been serving




New Orleans is nicknamed ‘The Big Easy.’ There’s some mystery behind the origins of this name but Russian taxi driver Raulph reckons it’s because of the city’s rich jazz and blues heritage. Venture | Feb/Mar 2013


PAGE 74: Painted by local schoolchildren and House of Blues Foundation Room members

THIS PAGE Local boys Fats Domino, Jumbo Hirt, and Pete Fountain at the Musial Legends Park on Bourbon street

their signature concoctions since 1862 – and I think they’ve had queues there ever since. Energized, we are ready to explore the French quarter. Designed by French engineer Adrien de Pauger in the early eighteenth century, it is the city’s oldest neighborhood. The public hub is Jackson Square, named after local hero Major General Andrew Jackson who helped defeat the British in the Battle of New .QKD@MRHM 'HRƥFTQDHRB@OSTQDCNM a statue of a rearing horse in the center of the square. The square is now a lively venue for musicians, artists, fortune tellers, jugglers, painters, and dancers. Many of the city’s luxury hotels are located along Bourbon Street in the French quarter, including The Royal Sonesta Hotel. This corner-located hotel has distinctive iron balconies wrapping its façade from which, during the annual Mardi Gras, topless women can be seen waving to the crowds below. Mardi Gras costumes, masks, and accessories are sold in many of the small shops along Bourbon Street. Bourbon Street is a tourist favorite and can feel over-crowded, so Tetty and I veer towards the quieter Frenchman Street in the Marigny neighborhood in search of a chilled beer. Frenchman Street is lined with bars and clubs and we catch cool, live jazz and blues before slowing right down in D.B.A. New Orleans in front of the longest beer listing in town.

NEW ORLEANS, 2013 EIGHT GREAT REASONS TO VISIT THE CITY THIS YEAR: February 3 The New Orleans’ American football team The Saints are hosting the 2013 Superbowl at the MercedesBenz Superdome on February 3, 2013, the biggest U.S. sporting event of the year. February 12 Mardi Gras April 11-14 French Quarter Festival April 26-May 5 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival May 21-25 New Orleans Wine & Food Experience July 4-7 Essence Music Festival July 14 New Orleans Running with the Bulls August 2-5 Satchmo Summer Jazz Festival

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Future Tech Light, portable, and powerful, today’s gadgets make ideal companions for leisure and business travelers. Selected by Chandragupta Amritkar.

An  underwater   digital  photography   mask Across the globe travelers enthusiastically share photos of their adventures on social networks. Responding to this trend, Liquid Image has developed a range of dive and snorkel masks with inbuilt water-resistant cameras. One model – the Scuba Series HD 720P – is a dive mask with an integrated High #DƼMHSHNM/CHFHS@K video camera and 5 megapixel stills camera. The camera operates to a depth of 40 meters and can be used while snorkeling, scuba diving, ROD@QƼRGHMF @MCEQDD CHUHMF The Scuba Series HD 720P is operated by leverstyle buttons along the upper right hand corner of the mask. An LED light inside the mask shows the diver which mode – video or stills - is selected, and crosshairs within the tempered glass help photographers align their shots.

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Sony  s  Digital   Video  Binoculars !@BJHM 2NMXK@TMBGDCSGDVNQKCŗRƼQRSCHFHS@KAHMNBTK@QRVHSG'#UHCDN recording capability. The Sony DEV-5 and DEV-3 are still worth twitching over: enabling wildlife spotters to re-enjoy those safari moments back home on HD television. With variable zoom, electronic autofocus, and optical SteadyShot, the birder, for example, can scan the Scottish skies before zooming seamlessly in on a circling osprey with the focus remaining sharp all the way (unlike old-school binoculars). Though manual focus is also available as an override. What’s the power? At L@FMHƼB@SHNMRDSSHMFRNUDQW SGD digital zoom of the DEV-5 increases SNS@KL@FMHƼB@SHNMEQNL WSNW  while the DEV-3 has a maximum L@FMHƼB@SHNMNEW "NMUDQRDKX SGD AHMNBTK@QRB@M@KRNENBTRNM@MCƼKL subjects located only one centimeter away. Video footage can also be captured in 3D.

Powerful  Bags Here’s an electrifying idea: bags which recharge mobile phones, music players, and many tablets: the Powerbag collection. The collection comprises several styles of briefcase, backpack, and messenger bag – of which all can charge up to four separate devices simultaneously. Bags come kitted with AC wall adapters, on-board battery systems, and Micro-USB, Mini-USB, and Apple product connectors. Full product information is given on

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Dalian The girl in the market, Dalian, China Photographed by Sumi Seissinger

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Photographs from venturesome readers

Mui Ne ‘Young Spirit in Old Age’ captured in a stream in Mui Ne, Vietnam Photographed by Nando Tampubolon

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A floating karamba in Maninjau, West Sumatra, Indonesia Photographed by Galuh Tunggadewi

Wild about travel too? Send your favorite travel photos to

Lake Maninjau Pangandaran

Grooming time in the Pangandaran National Park, Java, Indonesia Photographed by Putri Fitria ZZZSXWUL틀WULDZRUGSUHVVFRP

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An Ambonese weaver at a loom in eastern Indonesia Photographed by Chrisdwinandi Nandi Wild about travel too? Send your favorite travel photos to

83 Feb/Mar 2013 | Venture


Big Jakarta Adventure Could your next big adventure be in Jakarta?


People say Jakarta is ‘un-walkable’. Why DUH\RXGLƱHUHQW" I never believed the city was un-walkable and I set out to prove the naysayers VQNMF  MCHSV@RMŗSSG@SCHƧBTKS ,X SNTQRJDDOODNOKDNƤSGDL@HMQN@CR and lead them into the smaller, quieter lanes of the city, to parks and areas with natural interest, and to pedestrianfriendly sites. What makes a great walking tour? A satisfying tour should combine a number of elements. It should explore an interesting area; it should include history and culture and architecture; there should be food along the way and elements of nature. Finally, most importantly, it should allow for chance encounters with local people. These elements can’t always be incorporated into every tour, but the more elements, the better the experience. :KDWVXUSULVHVGLG\RXƲQGLQ\RXU research? I learned that the biggest highlight of the city was its residents. Jakarta is not beautiful and can be tough to live in, but it is a vibrant home to a pulsating population of incredible survivors, entrepreneurs, craftsmen, workers, housewives and handymen. You’ll never ƥMCRTBG@MHMBQDCHAKX@QQ@XNERTBG industrious, kind and welcoming folks.


LATE LAST YEAR local resident Andrew Whitmarsh’s guidebook Jakarta 25 Excursions in and Around the Indonesian Capital hit the shops aiming to convince the city’s residents to hit the streets. The 224-page book lists over 500 activities and includes sections on the city’s sports clubs, culture, history, etiquette, language, and transport, but its focus is on guiding people carefully through 25 walking tours. Andrew’s love for the city is immediately obvious in his prose but even greater is the enthusiasm with which he encourages, cajoles, and dares QD@CDQRSNFDSNƤSGDL@HMQN@CR@MC discover a Jakarta full of interest, beauty, and people. Venture sat down to have a chat with him.

Venture | Feb/Mar 2013

Why write a guidebook? No Jakarta administration has ever taken tourism seriously. This makes the city challenging to navigate and its attractions hard to unearth. And while much has been written on the history of Jakarta, little has been done to encourage people to actually explore neighborhoods. Someone had to do it. I decided that someone would be me. Who is the book for? The 10 million people living in Jakarta! 6GDM(ƥQRSRS@QSDCQDRD@QBGHMF (VQNSD it for myself. I wanted to know where to go and what to do in the city. As the information I gathered grew, I began writing with my friends and colleagues in mind, and then ultimately the public.

What were some of the challenges behind the book? Jakarta is so sprawling that it was hard to know where to even start looking for potential routes, especially routes which would incorporate interesting elements along the way and be suitable ENQBGHKCQDM @CTKSR SGDDKCDQKX SGDƥS and the less adventurous. I would look at the map, get on my bike, pedal for miles and hope serendipity kicked in. Thirdly, I could only research and write at the weekends as I had a full-time job (which is why it took six years to produce!). And ƥM@KKX OGNSNFQ@OGHB@KKX VDV@MSDCSN portray this gritty city in an inviting but realistic way. $Q\ƲQDOZRUGV" Do it! Buy the book and actually use it. Go exploring: you’ll see sides of Jakarta, you never could have imagined existed.

Venture Travel Magazine February 2013 (Back Issue)  

Welcome to the February-March issue of Venture! On the wild side we have dragons, lions, and raptors, and on the really wild side we have co...