Phuket, Thailand – Firewalkers, facial piercings, fireworks and acrobats. How could one know that being a vegetarian could be so exciting? At least the Chinese-Thais in Phuket make it so during their annual Vegetarian Festival in the ninth month of their calendar year. This year of the dragon provided no disappointments in the festival either. The fest takes place the second to third week in October with the dates in this Roman Calendar year being 10th-23rd. Arriving in Phuket for the last five days and six nights provided insight into the ritual, photo ops to drool over, memories to last a lifetime and the desire to come back for more.
I really didn’t know what all the fuss was about. I mean yeah I like cars. Ok, I really like cars…and bikes…I’m a guy. But what was so big about a compact box shaped four door that twelve men (and some of their families) drove from around the Malay peninsula to share a weekend?
Singapore – Lewis Hamilton (McLaren-Mercedes) lead the 24 car field in the qualifying Saturday at the Marina Bay Street Circuit to claim pole position in Sunday night’s 2012 SingTel Singapore Grand Prix. Hamilton’s lap of 1:46.362 in the third stage of qualifying bested Venezuelan Pastor Maldanado’s (Williams-Renault) time of 1:46.804 by near a 1/2 second and German Sebastian Vettel’s (Red Bull-Renault) time of 1:46.905 whom finished third. Jenson Button (McLaren-Mercedes) rounded out the second line with strong mark of 1:46.939.
Current Formula One World Championship points leader Spain’s Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) placed fifth with a time of 1:47.216. Alonso’s Ferrari couldn’t seem to keep the pace with McLaren-Mercedes team who have been running hot as late taking it’s fourth straight pole and sixth of the season (this is Hamilton’s fifth pole).
Singapore – That time of year again for Formula One’s only entirely night race on it’s calendar. Welcome back to The Lion City ladies and gentlemen, and to the Marina Bay Street Circuit which has hosted the SingTel Singapore Grand Prix since 2008. The past four races have proven to be quite the spectacle with 2010 edition showcasing four drivers within ten points of each other in the F1 Drivers’ Championship. German Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull-Renault) won that race which ended up propelling him to the top of the board for that said championship by season’s end. This 2012 addition finds a different scenario entering the race with Spaniard Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) leading the field by a 37 point margin. (Remember that a win gives a driver 25 points while top ten finishers all receive a lesser amount based on final position.)
The islands of Nusa Tenggara stretch out due east from Java like beads on a string: Bali, Lombok, Sumbawa, Flores, Alor. The names exotic and evocative. My progress through to the tip of Sumbawa was relatively quick and, for the first time in quite a while, I was no longer the only white person in the bus. All were heading from Bali, via the Gilis (a cluster of islands off Lombok that have become a party favourite), to the port of Labuanbajo on the tip of Flores, from where there are many tours to the islands of Komodo national park. The trans-Sumbawa buses connect to daily ferries linking Sape to ‘Bajo. But to the south, lies an island that many people bypass. Sumba’s attractions are not as obvious as those of Java, Bali or Sulawesi. For Indonesians c is best known for its horses. Not because they are particularly special, but because Sumba, with its drier climate and semi-savannah landscape, is the only place in the archipelago that is suited to them. For us foreigners who have seen horses before and think they are rather humdrum. Instead, thanks to being a generally poor island with few useful resources, the Sumbanese were pretty much left to their own devices throughout the colonial period, an attitude that didn’t really change much with Indonesia’s independence 65 years ago, so tribal traditions are stronger here than almost anywhere else in the archipelago.