2014, A Year of Islands

65 comments
Asia
Colorful Explosions

Chinese New Year Fireworks, Hong Kong

Tempus fugit, where has the time gone? It feels to me that my second trip to Hong Kong was just a month ago. But the truth is it was back in late January, the first of a series of trips this year. Quitting my old job in December 2014 and not starting a new one until March this year only meant one thing: time to hit the road again.

James’ mother was very kind to invite me to spend two weeks in Hong Kong just in the time for the Chinese New Year celebration. From the impressive fireworks show at Victoria Harbor, to excursions to Hong Kong’s secluded white sand beaches and great hiking trails, to a remote heritage trail near the border with China dotted with beautiful ancestral halls, to villages scattered along the Outlying Islands, it was truly a two-week trip well spent. Having a local to take me around also meant a broader exposure to local culinary delights. Siu ap (roast duck), har gau (shrimp dumpling) and pineapple bun were just what my body needed in the middle of Hong Kong’s crisp and cool winter days – even colder than Sochi when the 2014 Winter Olympics were held.

Contrary to my previous job which provided me a lot of opportunities to travel frequently both for business and leisure, now my business trips are much subdued with only two trips until the end of this year. Each has its own pros and cons, however, and for my current job the pros outweigh the cons by far.

Nevertheless I still managed to sneak in two trips with my perennial travel buddy, James, to Flores in Indonesia and some smaller islands nearby in June and to James’ birthplace, Singapore, in September.

Flores blew our minds away. Its rugged mountainous terrain where active volcanoes bring fertility to the island is home to a multitude of cultures. The Catholic-majority island is where, according to our driver at that time, more than 60 dialects are spoken among only around 2 million inhabitants and where ancient animist traditions blend with religions brought by European traders, creating a cultural landscape that is both peculiar and intriguing. Three-colored volcanic lakes, spider web rice fields, volcanoes with near-perfect pointed cones, world-class snorkeling sites and islands filled with the world’s largest lizards were the reasons why it was so hard for us to leave this corner of Indonesia.

Tiwu Nuwa Muri Ko'o Fai and Tiwu Ata Polo

Kelimutu, Flores, Indonesia

Spider Web Rice Fields at Cancar

Spider Web Rice Fields, Flores, Indonesia

Finishing What's Left

Komodo Dragon, Komodo, Indonesia

We made a brief stay in Bali afterwards for a little rejuvenation and to pay some of the places we loved on the island a second visit. However the timing was not ideal as it was the peak season when the island saw its annual surge of tourist numbers flocking to its most well-known sites. Fortunately we decided to go all the way to the north where tourists were almost non-existent and the temples were by and large deserted.

In September I couldn’t resist James’ offer to explore Singapore and see how much the city had changed since my first trip four years earlier. I took the opportunity to delve deeper into the city’s history, colonial heritage and cultural fusion created by the Peranakans. Singapore’s success in preserving grand colonial edifices while at the same time rapidly building ultra-modern structures not only is very impressive but also sets a standard for other Southeast Asian cities in conserving their colonial heritage. And when it comes to food, the Peranakans have successfully created a wide array of dishes mixing Chinese, Malay and Indian influences, making Singapore a hot spot for gastronomic adventurers.

Towards the end of the year it becomes apparent how 2014 has been a year of islands for me with Hong Kong, Flores, Bali and Singapore on the list. Great travel experiences often come from low expectations, exactly how I felt when I saw Hong Kong’s unspoiled stretches of powdery beaches framed by pristine hills and tall peaks. Also when I entered the unexpectedly stunning Cloud Forest at Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay, a state-of-the-art recreation of a montane forest with refreshing waterfalls and highland blooms all under a futuristic, glass dome. But sometimes great expectation leads up to great satisfaction as what Flores provided us.

Again, I would love to thank you all dear readers who have been following my journey and leaving such kind and encouraging comments on 43 posts that I have published throughout the year. 2015 will be quite a different year in terms of my travels, and I’m both excited and nervous for it. More details will be revealed in the upcoming months.

Happy New Year, safe travels, stay healthy and may 2015 bring more happiness to you and your loved ones!

Pura Taman Ayun, Bali, Indonesia

Pura Taman Ayun, Bali, Indonesia

Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

Infographics - Master (edited) - 2014

 

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

65 thoughts on “2014, A Year of Islands”

    • Mihran (or should I say Mino?), thank you for your kind words. It is my third year writing a review to conclude all posts I have written in a year. Wishing you more joy and abundance in the upcoming year!

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    • Hi Alison. Likewise, wishing you and Don an even greater year ahead! Oh and I’m still looking forward to reading your post(s) on Samoa. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. What a year it has been! Bama, let me just say how fantastic it has been to travel with you to Flores, Bali and Singapore. I’m so glad you stayed two whole weeks when you came to Hong Kong in January – that gave me plenty of time to show you a wide range of places around the territory. 🙂

    Happy New Year to you too, and see you again in a few weeks’ time!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I didn’t travel as often as I did last year, but this year each trip was very special. So far nothing beats Flores though. James, you have no idea how much I miss siu ap — I’ve never had duck so tender, fragrant, and succulent before. You and your mother really made sure I ate well, didn’t you? 🙂 Thank you so much for that!

      Selamat Tahun Baru dan sampai jumpa di awal Januari!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Perjalanan yang menyenangkan, Bama… Semoga suatu hari di tahun depan kita bisa ketemuan ya hehehe… Happy New Year 2015 and happy holiday 🙂

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    • Hi Halim. 2014 banyak perjalanan yang gak terlupakan buat saya. Salah satunya snorkeling di sekitar Pink Beach dan Pulau Kanawa, juga melihat pari manta untuk pertama kalinya secara langsung. Tahun depan saya memang merencanakan untuk mampir Solo kok. Tunggu tanggal mainnya ya, dan mudah-mudahan kamu pas lagi gak kelayapan di salah satu sudut terpencil Indonesia Lim. 🙂 Happy New Year too dan selamat liburan juga!

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      • Wahh beruntung banget bisa lihat pari manta 🙂
        Hahaha siap menunggu kedatanganmu di Solo, kubatalin trip ngelayapnya jika dirimu mau datang kemari deh 😀 😀

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  3. Reading your excellent descriptions and admiring the photos of all your travel adventures have taught me so much about your part of the world. I don’t know if I’ll ever have the opportunity to visit there myself, but I will continue to enjoy learning from your travels! Have a great New Year, and keep traveling!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Never say never, Marilyn. You might not come to Southeast Asia tomorrow or next week, but life is full of surprises. 🙂
      Have a wonderful New Year too, and keep traveling wherever the winds take you!

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    • Pakistan is not that far away from Southeast Asia. So chances are you will see your wish come true sometime in the future. 🙂

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      • Yeah,its not far from here! But main problem is that I am female and thus have no resources and permission to travel!

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      • Does that mean you always need a male guardian every time you travel? Nevertheless, just never let your dreams fade away! 🙂

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      • Yeah! Dreams r precious so I will be working hard to get admission in Med uni and be a Doc! So then i wont have to ask for a permission to travel and One day i will fulfill my dream of world tour!!!

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  4. It was great following you on your trips in 2014! Looking forward to stories and pictures in the coming year. Flores is surely a very interesting destination where I can imagine it differs so much from the well-known destination of Bali. Happy New Year and all the best from the Netherlands!

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    • Thank you, Emiel. I am, too, looking forward to more adventures from van den Boomens in 2015! 🙂 Any plan to come back to this side of the planet? If so, I highly recommend Flores for you and your family. I spent about a week there, but I missed the easternmost part of the island. So if you do go to Flores, spend at least 10 days to get a full picture of what the island has to offer. Gelukkig Nieuwjaar uit Indonesië! (hopefully that’s the right way to say it in Dutch)

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  5. My goodness! Your travels are amazing. I’ve not been to any of these locations (sadly, nowhere in Asia) but I’m adding them to my bucket list and look forward to dreaming about them! Sounds like you’ve had a wonderful and exciting year. I’m glad I came across your blog. Best wishes for a wonderful 2015!

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    • Hi Athena. I really appreciate your kind comment. Thank you! Southeast Asia might seem so far from where you live now, but there are direct flights connecting the two parts of the world. So what you have to do is make a plan, book your flights, and go. 🙂 Wishing you all the best in 2015!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Tempus fugit ~ I like this term, thanks!
    You had a great 2014, and thanks for taking us along. Flores is perhaps my favorite destination that you ventured to in ’14, and the photo of Kelimutu, Flores, Indonesia is amazing. Simply stunning in natural beauty.

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    • Hi Randall. It was my pleasure, and thanks for following my travels and stories. Visiting Kelimutu was something I dreamed of doing as a kid, so when I finally went there it truly was a dream came true for me. I can imagine you taking spectacular shots in Flores!

      Liked by 1 person

    • And thank you for reading! My first trip in 2015 will be in the second week of January, so not that long from now. 🙂

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    • Thank you, Sue. You had some really great adventures yourself in 2014. I was particularly inspired by your trips to Italy and Spain, and I’ll be really happy to do even half of what you’ve done. Wishing you an even greater year ahead!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. What an amazing year it has been for you Bama! Such a variety of fascinating destinations! I so love the graphic at the end. Here’s wishing you loads more adventures in the coming year! Along with good health and much happiness of course! 🙂

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    • This year has really been amazing! But I’m really looking forward to hitting the road again in 2015 — and meeting up with you! I will email you the details soon. Thank you so much, Madhu. Wishing you good health, happiness, and more amazing travels in the coming year too!

      Like

    • Hi Pamela. It’s normal to feel anxious about changes we make in life. But as long as it’s towards a life you know you’ll enjoy more, a life which brings you better health, and a life you’ll regret less — to say the least — you shouldn’t worry that much. Thank you and wishing you a great year ahead!

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  8. I also had a year of islands since I spent two months in your island nation and went to Hong Kong as well. Thank you for all your informative and interesting blog posts about Indonesia. They were extremely helpful in planning for our trip. Komodo and Flores were our favorite places in Indonesia. I can’t wait to go back someday again.

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    • Hi Jeff. James told me that you had some memorable experiences in Sulawesi as well, especially in Tana Toraja. That’s a part of my country I have yet to visit! So maybe for Toraja it will be the other way around — Your posts will be helpful for me in planning for my trip, hopefully not that long in the future. The next time you come to Indonesia and you happen to be in Jakarta just let me know. I remember when you were in the city I barely had time to show you around. Better luck next time. 🙂

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    • Haha, not that I planned to be one. 🙂
      Thanks, Fab. It has become an annual tradition now for me to create such ‘infographic’. Glad you enjoyed this one.

      Happy New Year too! Wishing you an even more wonderful year ahead!

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      • I was in November, so it seems we weren’t there at the same time 😉 It was great to see there christmas light and music show! It looked just wonderful! I have photos of course, so soon I will show them on my blog 🙂

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  9. This is really amazing! You have a beautiful blog. I hope I can travel like you one day 🙂 It’s my biggest dream!!
    Please follow my adventurous in Morocco 🙂

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