Posts in Batch 7
35 - Future World… sort of (Surabaya, Java, Indonesia)

I hate malls. I hate shopping. But this was like wandering the halls of Future World. I spent over three hours exploring tomorrow, awestruck by the contrast. Just outside the mall were humble rural reminders, three-wheeled bicycle taxis engulfed by modern chaos. Part of me considered getting back on the ferry to Maumere and returning to the past. II think. Or not? Is. Isn’t. Dunno. Ever been to Chicken, Alaska? Me neither. Imagine a direct flight from there to MOA (Mall of America) in Minnesota. ’ve mentioned the “In Between” in earlier posts and will probably continue to do so ad nauseam. Lots and lots of thinky time on a three-day ferry…from Maumere. Point “A” to Point “B”.

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36 - Mt. Bromo (East Java, Indonesia)

You know the rules by now. The sunrise is a fucking must. Is it worth seeing? Sure, but you won’t be alone on Mt. Penanjakan (sunrise viewpoint). The early morning light gives the photos a prehistoric feel, but it’s a teensy bit different in person. If not for hundreds of tourists and twenty-four radio antennas (I counted), you could pretend you’ve traveled back a couple million years. Good luck trying. After sunrise, it’s giddy up. The hordes remount their four-wheel-drive chariots and dash across the massive ancient crater to Mt. Bromo itself for a rim job. Dismount and it’s a short climb to the volcano’s edge.

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37 - Scenes From Bondowoso (East Java, Indonesia)

I have many ideas, some of which are actually good. This day was a “good” one. I hailed a becak (pronounced beh-CHALK), a three-wheeled cycle rickshaw, and somehow conveyed my wish to cruise aimlessly around Bondowoso’s center. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride. That was the idea. It worked out spectacularly well. Bondo holds little tourist interest on its own. It’s more of a means to an Ijen end, a stopover on the way to somewhere else. As such, most of the population have little contact with tourists. A mutant white dude trolling the streets for shits and giggles is a rarity to say the least. People loved it, enjoying my photofest as much as, if not more than, I did. I traded smile for smile and giggle for giggle…mostly. 

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38 - Sub Specie Aeternitatis (Ijen Plateau, East Java, Indonesia)

The view from the caldera’s edge was spectacular. Sulfur vents billowing fumes beside a turquoise lake as wind wisped smoke above the water, skimming the surface. It was not time to linger. Not then. Not there. Miners were busy carrying sulfur from the hill bottom near the water and tourists were trickling up. I hastened toward the crater’s western border and left everyone behind. I reckoned the farther I went along the rim, the less likely anyone would follow. I was right.

There was a chill from the wind lapping at my face, but this only invigorated me and was little match for the warming sun rays bombarding the scene.

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39 - Galungan’s Island (Pura Samuan Tiga, Bali, Indonesia)

And then I had one of those days, one of those days that starts in one place and ends somewhere else entirely. Go with the flow. Cloud of obliviousness. That was me in “Ubud” mode. Relax and take it easy. Questions required effort. I knew I was meeting Agus. I knew I was going to his home in Bedulu. And I knew there was a ceremony he wanted me to see. As I mentioned before, Bali’s 210-day Saka calendar is jam-packed with ritual celebration. I didn’t realize I’d be witnessing the day of Galungan ceremonies commemorating the triumph of Dharma over Adharma (good versus evil) when the spirits come home on a ten-day furlough and descendants are required to lay out

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40 - Tickle My Kuta (Kuta, Bali, Indonesia)

The streets were infused with a post-apocalyptic grimness underscored by a power outage. Packs of stray dogs helped cement the visual. They had a sinister air about them, eyeing me like an oversized chew toy. If that wasn’t unsettling enough, a young Indonesian male emerged from a dark inlet and offered to do “whatever I want” if I stayed with him. I declined. If you’re looking for the Bali from the brochure, ya sure as shit ain’t gonna see it in Kuta at 5:30 am. Weird. 

The theme continued. While taking photos on the beach, a well-fed transvestite—wait…Transvestite? Cross-dresser? Transgender? Transsexual? (Please insert least offensive, most politically correct designation for a man dressed as a woman here.)

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