Kyoto’s Pavilions of Beauty

At midday in Kyoto James and I were enjoying a quirky Japanese TV show – a miscellany of over-excited hosts, cartoonish animation, and video game-ish sound – sitting cross-legged on the comfortable tatami mat inside our hotel room. At the same time on our laptops […]

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Kyoto: A Prologue

In the final weeks toward the first ever use of an atomic bomb in warfare, a list of Japanese cities was compiled by the US military and scientists as potential targets to bring down the Asian superpower. Each city was carefully selected based on the […]

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Sydney’s Symphony

One Thursday night during rush hour in Jakarta, the city’s notorious traffic became an even bigger nightmare as construction sites all over the metropolis forced all sorts of vehicles to crawl even more slowly than a snail would. The city’s streets were practically one big […]

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The Custodian of Champa’s Treasures

For centuries, the mountainous region of modern-day central Vietnam was a natural border separating the land of the Cham people in the south from that of Dai Viet to the north. With towering peaks that soar from the country’s interior all the way to the […]

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Da Nang and the Friendly Dragon

A Vietnamese restaurant located in a once-lively mall in a gentrified neighborhood of Jakarta has for years become my choice whenever I crave food from the Southeast Asian country. It was where my parents tried their first pho several years ago (which my father, unsurprisingly, […]

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Australia, Building A New Nation

On July 4, 1776 in Philadelphia, thirteen colonies in North America declared independence from the United Kingdom, 169 years after the first colony was established. During British rule, not only did these colonies receive an influx of merchants from across the Atlantic, but also convicts, […]

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Kurashiki: A Glimpse of Pre-War Japan

Anyone who has explored big cities in Japan might notice the endless rows of incongruous concrete buildings dominating their skylines. Despite the elegance and restrained beauty the Japanese are famous for, I wondered why they built those ugly boxes of uninspiring edifices. Japan’s ambition to […]

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Architectural Gems of Old Cirebon

Six giant golden shrimps shine brightly under the sun, perched above the half-moon portico of the fine white building. The Indonesian flag flies proudly over a well-manicured garden filled with all sorts of tropical plants. On top of the structure, an emblem also depicting a […]

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Going Southeast to Reach the West

One of the perks of living in Asia is having all those beautiful, magnificent and intriguing cultures right at my doorstep. From the gilded stupa of Shwedagon in Myanmar and the gold-leafed dome of Brunei’s Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque to Kinkakuji, the golden pavilion […]

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Ngempon, Twelve Centuries Later

1,200 years ago in the heart of Java, Buddhism and Hinduism grew as the dominant religions of the people, signified by the construction of a multitude of temples in the island’s mountainous regions as well as the vast plains overlooked by mighty volcanoes. Around the […]

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