Melbourne’s Alluring Warmth

“What if we prefer Sydney?” James raised a question out of his slight worry that both of us would actually like Australia’s biggest city better than Melbourne, its perennial rival. A lot of people have remarked on how wonderful the latter is, and numerous indices […]

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Singhasari: Rise and Fall

In the second half of the 13th century, a vast empire ruled by nomadic people from the steppes of what is now Mongolia stretched from the western shores of the Pacific Ocean all the way to the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Victory after victory […]

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Candi Badut: A Remnant of Kanjuruhan

In the eighth century, several centuries after Hinduism arrived in Java, the fertile island where towering volcanoes took lives but replenished the soil saw the beginning of temple construction in earnest. The central part of Java in particular witnessed the proliferation of Hindu and Buddhist […]

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Enduring Icons of Sydney

Rivalries among kingdoms, empires and modern-day republics have profoundly shaped humanity in many ways. In the process of outdoing each other – through the economy, military, or culture – monumental edifices were often erected to symbolize a country’s prominence on the world stage. Not only […]

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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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