Which Bali Do You Want?

“Have you been to Bali yet?” is the question that I’ve been asked by almost every single Indonesian I’ve met in the 3 months I’ve been here. Although Indonesia is a vast country comprising over 17,000 islands, 300 ethnic groups and 742 different languages, I am white and ergo I must be going to Bali. If any foreigner has heard about Indonesia it is invariably about Bali. For many Australians it is their equivalent to the Spanish Costas for sun-starved northern Europeans, and their way of holidaying there is not at all dissimilar. Yes, I was planning to go to Bali I would reply, but also Sulawesi, Ambon, Flores, Sumatra and Java. There is more to Indonesia than just one island. Bali’s overwhelming presence on the tourist trail through Indonesia made me resent it even before I had set foot on it. I was sure I wouldn’t like it and wasn’t planning on staying long.

Rain on…Manila

MANILA – 2 week long rains led to the worst floods the capital city of the Philippines has seen in 50 years and the unfortunate deaths of nine people. Only in the past three days have the flood waters really opened up leading to school and major business closing including the Philippine Stock Exchange.

Although all of the major metropolitan Manila suffered from the rain none as much as those in Quenzo City where landslides lead to the deaths of nine family members in a shanty house. The rubble has leveled most of the make-shift housing and left hundreds to thousands more homeless to some current estimates.

Born To Die

Some say that the most important event in the (pre-)history of mankind was the discovery of fire and how to control it. I would say that equally important, if not more so, was the day Man came to understand his own mortality and it scared the bejeezus out of Him. The former gave him tools, but the latter gave him purpose. Ever since then Man has been trying everything in his power to escape his fate. The most obvious manifestation of this is religion. In its myriad guises, and its various messages about ethics, lessons on how to properly sacrifice animals, what clothes to wear, and whether you can marry your first cousin the one constant seems to be a reassuring narrative of some sort of life after death, whether it be reincarnation, a hall for warriors full of wenches serving mead, or some abstract heaven. Follow us, the religions say, and we will ensure that the curse of mortality doesn’t befall you. Even Buddhism, which is seen by many to be a philosophy rather than a religion, has incorporates the idea of reincarnation.

 

20 years after fallout Mt. Pinatubo resurrects from Ashes

June 15, 1991 marked the day of the second largest terrestrial eruption of the 20th century. The location: Mt. Pinatubo, Luzon, Philippines. Amongst the Cabusilan Mountains stands Pinatubo 1,485 m (4,872 ft) above sea-level, but before this grand act of nature it stood nearly 300 meters more at 1,745 m (5,725 ft). Pinatubo’s violence devastated the surround area shooting volcanic debris and ash some 500 m into the atmosphere. Nearly 1000 natives lost their lives sadly because of the fallout, however nearly 60,000 Aeta people were saved because of proper seismic readings, predictions and evacuation to surrounding areas including Manila.

A Celebration of Harvest: Pahiyas Festival Lukban, PH

Lukban, Philippines – Dry season has come to the main Philippine island of the Luzon and with it celebrations in thanksgiving for harvest, family and life. In particular, the town of Lukban hosts “Pahiyas” or the citywide San Isidro harvest festival. Located 26 Km northwest of Lucena City or 160 Km southeast of Manila, Lukban’s nearest attraction is Mt. Banahaw (2,158m). However the town is bustles as a hub for livestock trade and local production of native handcrafts. These products are sold locally as well as exported worldwide. But really Lukban’s breadbasket is harvest time with the bountiful crops grown from rainy season into the dry. Pahiyas rejoices this plenty.

Manila rally hopes to spark protests world round

Manila, Philippines — Tentions between the Phillipines and China are escalating as hundreds of Philippino protestors took to the street again on Friday noontime in front the Chinese Embassey in the Makita area of Manila. Officals of both countries are stuggling for control over Scarborough Shoal and Huangyan Island in the center of the South China Sea (West Phillipian Sea). The dispute began over a month ago as both nations have ships station in a show of sovereignty.

The Opinionated Traveler: San Francisco, Day #6

I wanted to bookend my trip, primarily for the travelers out there. While San Francisco is not a very distant destination for us, it’s still a world away for those trapped by their regular lives in LALA land and the gold we’ve found is worth sharing for others who may venture down these steep, endlessly winding streets in Northern California (or “Nor Cal”, as many a t-shirt and hoodie annoyingly announce).

No trip to San Francisco is complete without a trip to Berkeley and no trip to Berkeley is complete without a trip to Dark Carnival Books (and now comic shop as well, two doors down!).

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