2013, The Journey Continues

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Asia, Europe
Twin White Tigers Welcome Visitors to Cirebon's Keraton Kasepuhan (Palace of the House of Elders)

Cirebon, the First Trip in 2013

2013 has been a year of intense travel, both for leisure and business. Since January almost every month I left Jakarta to travel, from a short drive to Bogor – a city to the south of Jakarta – to a 14-hour flight to Istanbul. As for What an Amazing World! itself, stories from various places kept the blog not only alive but also thriving to a level I never thought possible when I first started it almost four years ago.

As for the number of new countries I visited, 2013 saw the addition of three more countries to the list: Turkey, Taiwan and Timor-Leste. Istanbul proved to be hard not to love, especially for an enthusiast of ancient sites like me. From the millennia-old walls of Hagia Sophia to the classical Ottoman marvel of the Blue Mosque to the lavish halls of Dolmabahçe Palace, Istanbul is a city I would love to revisit one day in the future.

Taiwan offered a different experience from Istanbul. The troubled history and current political status of the country made the trip different in a way as it is recognized as a sovereign state only by less than two dozens countries in the world. However the highlight of the trip was the 3-night trip to Orchid Island – a small island off the southeast coast of Taiwan – where the aboriginal Tao people live. Culturally oppressed for decades by Taiwanese mainlanders, Tao people are now able to carry on their unique culture and language and pass them to the next generation.

Only a few days ago I returned from Timor-Leste (formerly known as East Timor), a former Portuguese colony for about four centuries then annexed by Indonesia for almost 24 years shortly after it declared independence. The new nation has witnessed its early years of nationhood filled with hope and, unfortunately, violence. A trip from its sleepy capital, Dili, to its second city of Baucau and the nearby town of Venilale brought a deeper understanding of daily life for ordinary East Timorese, and what hopeful aspirations the country has in hand.

Sultanahmet Camii (the Blue Mosque)

Istanbul, Turkey

Rough and Rugged

Orchid Island, Taiwan

Baucau, Timor-Leste

Baucau, Timor-Leste

As for domestic trips, in the past 12 months I have not only visited new places around Indonesia, but I have made further explorations in more familiar areas. Some of the greatest trips in the country this year were done in two neighboring islands of the lesser Sunda island chain: Bali and Lombok. From a gruelling but amazing trek up Mount Rinjani – Indonesia’s second highest volcano, to a moment of bliss at Lombok’s incredible unspoilt southern beaches, to the recent unforgettable trip to Bali’s rich cultural and natural landscapes.

“If Bali and Lombok were one island, with Bali’s culture and Lombok’s beaches, it would be perfect,” James says.

Again, a special thank you goes to James – who has become my perennial travel partner – for suggesting amazing places like Orchid Island and Mount Rinjani. Also to Daily Meaning which was my workplace for the last 1.5 years until my last day in the company a few weeks ago prior to the trip to Bali and Timor-Leste.

More adventures will surely come in 2014 even though no plan is fixed yet. Thank you for always following What an Amazing World! and I wish you good health and happier moments in the upcoming year.

Happy New Year and see you in January!

Full Moon over the Mountain

Mount Rinjani, Lombok, Indonesia

Taman Ujung, Bali, Indonesia

Taman Ujung, Bali, Indonesia

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Based in Jakarta, always curious about the world, always fascinated by ancient temples, easily pleased by food.

50 thoughts on “2013, The Journey Continues”

  1. Bama, as with last year’s review, I really love the infographic – and even more so with your personal sketches! I have to thank you for putting up (and going through) with my crazy ideas… 12 months ago I would have laughed if someone told us we were going to climb Rinjani! Happy New Year to you too, travel buddy. 🙂

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    • Thanks James, and many thanks for the crazy ideas! I would have never thought of going to Rinjani if you didn’t propose the idea at the first place. But it turned out to be one of the best experiences I’ve had in my life so far. Happy New Year and we’ll see where the wind takes us next! 🙂

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    • Thanks Firsta! Amen to your wish! 🙂 I only explored Istanbul the last time I went. If you have more time you should also visit other places deep in the Anatolian plateau.
      Best wishes to you too!

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  2. I always love reading your adventure through your blog post!

    Looking forward for your next journey in 2014!

    PS: I always didn’t get a chance to visit Taman Ujung, perhaps I should visit it next time! It looks lovely in the photo! 😉

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    • Thank you for having been following my adventures, Timothy! Taman Ujung was one of my new favorite places in Bali. Try to come early in the morning and you might have the entire palace for yourself! Best wishes for you in 2014!

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  3. Man, I wish I could travel this much! I had the opportunity to travel more when I was younger (parent’s money haha). I look back, though, and it’s so sad that I really didn’t photograph much.

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    • The opposite thing happened to me. My dad was not really keen on traveling and he always took me to bookstores every holiday. But I guess that’s one of the main reasons why I travel now: to see what I only saw on book pages. 🙂 But you’ll never know what life brings you. Maybe sooner than later you’ll find yourself exploring the world!

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    • Thanks! Do yourself a favor prior to climbing Rinjani by having proper exercise. I learned it the hard way. 🙂

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      • Yeah i know, i think it’s really hard to climb mount Rinjani, i don’t have experience anyway. The scenery sooooo beautiful..

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      • The beauty is beyond words. The hike was very hard but I don’t regret any single drop of sweat.

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  4. Selamat Tahun Baru and thanks for sharing your travels this year…..its always great to get someone else’s take on places. Love the photo of rinjani in this post : )

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    • Selamat Tahun Baru juga! I also feel the same way towards other blogs. I guess we all love to share and read what others share, don’t we? 🙂 Thanks for your kind words!

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    • Thanks Lee! December was a slow month for me in terms of blogging, but from my recent trip to Bali (my 5th time to the island) and East Timor (1st time ever) I have plenty of stories to write in the upcoming weeks. I know the latter is one of few countries in Asia that you’ve never been to yet. 🙂

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  5. Pingback: Best of the Blog 2013: Your Top 10 Faves | GALLIVANCE

  6. Bama, once again you’ve had an incredible travel year. You really provide the smart, compassionate insight to destinations and cultures that all travelers crave. We love your year-end retrospective and highlighted it in our Best of the Blog 2012 post. Thanks for a fabulous year. Happy New Year – can’t wait to see where 2014 takes you! ~Terri & James

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    • Thank you so much Terri & James! Such an honor for me to be included in your latest post to wrap up this year. 2013 has been both a wonderful and challenging year for me. But I’m glad it ends well and I’m ready to welcome 2014. Best wishes for both of you in the upcoming year! Hope you travel more and stay healthy throughout the year!

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  7. Que impresionante vivir tantas historias y espero tener oportunidad al menos de imaginar con su narrativa y esas fotos la singularidad e impactantes aspectos de nuestras ciudades alrededor de un planeta que nos pertenece y a personas como Usted mas que a nadie!!

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    • Perdona, no hablo español. But thank you so much for your kind words. Travel blogging is a way for us to inspire each other to explore this planet which hopefully brings more awareness to safeguard what this planet has.

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  8. Wonderful to find your blog via James and Terri at Gallivance. I look forward to following your adventures. Isn’t Turkey an amazing spot?!

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    • Hi Sue. Thanks for dropping by my blog! Yes Turkey is indeed amazing. I’ve only been to Istanbul but one day I want to come back there to visit more historical sites and natural wonders.

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