Scratching the Surface- Papua, Indonesia

Papua, Irian Jaya, the Indonesian part of New Guinea. No matter what you call it, the western half of the world’s second largest island is not an easy place to wrap your mind around. Before we came, many Indonesians and even some seasoned travelers that we met along the way coughed surprise at our plans. “Papua, that should be interesting,” they seemed to say with their eyes. There are probably two good reasons for this, one is a lack of information and the other is the enigmatic nature of Papua- a place that is growing and pushing out in places …

To Veg or not to Veg

Before we started this big trip, I put a lot of thought into eating vegetarian while traveling. While some countries allowed for easy access to vegetarian cuisine (India), others created a mental stomach ache (Kazakhstan). While technically it is possible to eat pure vegetarian food anywhere, it might result in a diet of plain rice or bread in some places. For me, that wasn’t the most attractive option either, since the nutritional value of a rice-only diet isn’t exactly ideal (I also don’t believe in constantly taking vitamin supplements on the road, as some travel books and online resources suggest). …

East of Wallace’s Line

Indonesia is incredibly wide and diverse. From the eastern islands of Sumatra and Java, to the vast forests of Kalimantan and on to “K”-shaped Sulawesi, Halmahera and eventually to Papua, the last frontier. These last few weeks we ventured east of Wallace’s famous line, demarcating the transition zone between Asian and Australasian flora and fauna. Alfred Russel Wallace was a trapper and an explorer. His famous book “The Malay Archipelago” made his reputation. Though Wallace likely came to conclusions about origin of species through natural selection first, he always gave the credit to his contemporary and friend Charles Darwin. Traveling …

Rookies. Absolute Rookies.

After 6 months on the road, you would think we have graduated from being travel rookies. We’ve seen many places, booked many flights, caught many trains, buses, ferries, negotiated and haggled everything from taxis to food costs. We’ve slept in tents, yurts, hostels, B&Bs, lodges, hotels, and monasteries. We’ve gone from 3000m altitude to sea level, temperatures from 0 to 40 degrees with and without 100% humidity, in rainy season, dry season, shoulder season, summer and fall. We’ve managed to travel in countries at impossible times – elections and strikes in Nepal, rainy season in Malaysia, Christmas in the Philippines, …