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A DAY AT THE RACES

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The rough narrow racetrack through the rice fields was lined with thousands of people; illegal betting was rife, dozens of makeshift food stalls were selling Fanta and nasi jingo, and I had just escaped being trampled to death by a pair of magnificently decorated bull buffaloes



Awestruck in Kalimantan

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I remember standing in the school playground when I was 10 years old watching a solar eclipse with my classmates under the supervision of our teacher. The world didn’t go as dark as I had hoped but that’s because it was only a partial eclipse. Today, for the first time ever, I watched one in totality as the moon crossed directly between the Earth and the Sun in the clear blue sky of Balikpapan, in East Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo.



A MAGICAL WISHING LAKE

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Lying off the northern coast of Sumbawa, Indonesia, is an ancient strato-volcano island called Satonda. This entire, small, circular island– just two kilometres in diameter – is the top of an emerging volcano, rising 1000 metres from ocean floor with just 300 metres exposed above sea level. In the centre, occupying the crater of the old volcano, is a mysterious salt-water lake that takes up about half of the island’s surface.



View from the bed

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Over the last few years I’ve been inspired to take some photos of the views from some of the beds I’ve slept in, both in Bali and on my travels.



All Things Bali

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Check out my Bali top tips:



GRAND PINISI BOAT LAUNCH

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Four weeks ago, we cruised into the boatbuilding village of Sangeang Wera in northeast Sumbawa and saw this almost-completed pinisi cargo boat on the beach. The boatbuilders told us the launch would take place on 17th May, so we decided to come back to watch the event.



THE HERONS OF PETULU

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Every day in the late afternoon, a remarkable, natural phenomenon occurs in the tiny Balinese village of Petulu (five kilometres north of Ubud), as thousands of white herons fly in to roost for the night.



The Nutmeg Islands

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When I was a little girl, my mother used to make this old-fashioned yogurt-like pudding called junket. She would liberally sprinkle the top with ground nutmeg, claiming it was a good remedy for an upset stomach. My mother also used nutmeg whenever she baked apple-pie or potato gratin, and she’d sometimes add it to soups, stews, sauces, and drinks including eggnog. I remember her telling me it was her favourite spice because of its extraordinary history, assuring me, “It was once more valuable than gold,” and “it was believed to have been a cure for the bubonic plague.” She told me that it came from some obscure tropical islands on the other side of the world…



The Bali Starling

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It was well worth getting up at 5am and taking a sunrise boat ride to see these beautiful Bali Starlings (a critically endangered species, endemic to Bali) flying free in West Bali National Park.



LIGHTSHOW IN KL

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I recently relished this awesome view from the laser-lit Sky Bar at Traders Hotel in Kuala Lumpur,



Historical, Colourful, Wonderful Malacca

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After a trip to Bali, my good chum Fiona was flying home via Kuala Lumpur and suggested I join her for a four-day stopover. Well, if you ask me to recommend a must-see place for a first-time visitor to Malaysia, it has to be Malacca, which is just a couple of hours by bus from KL. Once a flourishing centre of trade along the great spice route, this fascinating city – now listed as a UNESCO world heritage site – first won my heart about three years ago, and was such a joy to revisit.



OGOH OGOH

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Nyepi is Bali’s mysterious and magical ‘Day of Silence’. The night before, however, which is known as Pengrupukan, is anything but silent.



 
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