Selected writings from my travels around the world.
April 2018, for World Nomads.
"Those without a fetish for overlanding genuinely think I'm mad. “Why don't you fly?” they ask. “Isn’t it dangerous?” they insist, citing Indonesia’s woeful road safety record. After that first day on the road, I felt they had a point. And I’ll admit, it was a slow courtship, the buses and mine..."
Luang Namtha, Laos.
"I politely wrangled my bike back from its latest drunken occupant and trodded off out of town. The children kept up as long as they could, chasing me as a mass out of town until my bike, the object of their obsession, carried me quickly into the distance, over the wooden bridge and back towards modernity."
Hat Yai, Thailand.
"Thailand’s deep-south is rife with instability. But the cities of Hat Yai & Songhkla City seem a world away from the troubles just down the road."
"As the sun set that first evening, I watched from the sandy beach. A villager, about 100 meters from shore, paddled past in a traditional catamaran, his silhouette gliding across the horizon. The tranquility was only interrupted by an invitation: an English speaking man and his teenage sons were headed to a neighbouring village’s nakamal for a kava ceremony, and suggested I come along."
Central Flores, Indonesia.
"We were greeted at the summit by perfect blue skies and views I've never really experienced. I could see what felt like all of Flores: other volcanoes dotted the horizon, the clouds below our feet scattered shadows across the vast, dark-green jungles below. The tranquil oceans were a deep blue; Flores’ endless beaches visible in every direction."
"The second story of Pulogebang, where the ticket sellers are, is a bizarre place. Dozens of companies hold offices the size of phone booths, all squished together in a random, nearly incomprehensible assortment. The room is dimly lit, warm and humid, and filthy. It feels like the worst business conference you’ve ever been to - complete with shady businessmen flogging off shoddy products."
"The melancholy brought about by our pending distance, compounded by the sheer awfulness of a filthy, clogged Kuta - was a hard pill to swallow. I saw Emily off at Denpasar airport, and trudged solemnly in the rain and flooded streets alone back to my barren and empty $8/night hotel."
"Crossing an entire nation by foot, I reasoned, would be a worthy penance to pay for that indiscretion - a self-flaggetory act of contrition to make amends for my sin of flying."
Dili, Timor Leste & Kupang, Indonesia.
"Quickly, I was whisked into a back room and face to face with Indonesian authorities, who bluntly told me I simply couldn’t enter Indonesia. I was facing at least one night in Batugade, a tiny border village in the middle of nowhere."