Bali Life, Eco Bali, Uncategorized

Bio Rock: Saving the reefs


Published in Insight Magazine, Bali

The Indonesian archipelago is home to the richest assortment of coral species in the world, but its reefs are vanishing as global warming, pollution and unsustainable fishing and tourism practices take their toll.

Indonesia’s appalling conservation record is well documented and it would be easy to write yet another article about imminent disaster; but I am sick of all the doom and gloom, because with destruction comes regeneration.  While politicians  and environmental agencies gather in endless global summits and engage in pointless debates about how to fix things,  often the most effective change is happening at a grassroots level, and I knew that somewhere in Bali someone would be doing something to save the reefs.

I find my story in the north of the island, in a humble village that sits in the shadows of the mountains. Just meters off  Pemuteran’s  black sandy shore lies the  Karang Lestari (Everlasting Reef) Project, one of the largest and most ambitious coral restoration projects in the world. A reef that had badly damaged is once again thriving due to a unique technology called Bio-Rock, which uses electric currents to stimulate the growth of coral.

All coral photographs courtesy of Rani E. Morrow-Wuigk

 

I have no idea what to expect, but this is unbelievable, a kind of futuristic underwater fantasy world. Fifty large steel structures span over 1000 feet and take the form of a caterpillar, a whale, an igloo, a dome, a tent, and a  flower,  all covered in a profusion of brightly coloured coral. Hundreds of tiny blue fish hover above the dome, bat fish flitter amidst the flowers. I see starfish, lionfish, a school of snapper and cheeky little Nemos everywhere. Soft pastel corals sway in the current and purple tipped table corals sprawl across the metal bars. The reef surrounding the structures is also thriving, everywhere I look I see life and vibrant colour. Natural power is the plan for future structures (which includes a Goddess rising from a lotus.) Reef Seen Aquatics Dive Center have already set  things in motion,  sponsoring two structures, a bio wreck and a giant turtle that are powered by solar panels. Continue reading “Bio Rock: Saving the reefs”

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A walk on the wildside

I drive up to Ubud early in the morning, dark ominous clouds hang over the hills creating a moody backdrop. I hope the rain will hold off for the next few hours as I have signed up for a herbal walk, and trudging through rice fields in torrential rain isn’t quite what I have in mind. Continue reading “A walk on the wildside”

Global adventures, Uncategorized

A different side of Singapore

Singapore, a gleaming metropolis of soaring skyscrapers, manicured gardens, and people in suits; where shopping malls are supersize, electronics are truly king, and chewing gum is illegal. I have passed through the city many times, but never considered it as more than a brief stop on my way somewhere else. Now I have a three-day visa run and am determined to get a glimpse into life beyond the shiny facade. I catch a bumboat to Pulau Ubin, a small island that is home to one of the last remaining kampoengs (traditional villages in Singapore).

Continue reading “A different side of Singapore”

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Living with Dying

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Wedding Day

A version of this story was published on SBS Life

Determined to remember their life outside of cancer, a young family hit the road for an epic six-week, 10,000 km trip across Australia, chasing dreams, building memories and finding solace in the wide open spaces of the outback.

“Cancer is just a word. It doesn’t have to be our reality. This is a love story about living cancer, not surrendering. It’s about making every moment count,” says Sarah Widodo, whose husband, Catur Widodo, has Pseudomyxoma Peritonei – a rare and terminal cancer of the appendix. They have two children, ten-year old Jala and four-year old Kyan. “We wanted to create happy memories for our two boys and to gift Catur some adventure in his life,” Sarah tells SBS. “We had always been gypsy nomads before cancer made us stagnant, stuck inside a system, reliant on medical help. A road trip helped us remember who we are. Cancer is just a small piece of the story.” Continue reading “Living with Dying”

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Living with the Dead

My Days as a Deadhead, published in Farang Untamed Travel 2005

 

Jerry Garcia, singer, songwriter and founding force of the Grateful Dead was a larger- than-life character, hailed by many of his fans as a Messiah-like figure. When he died in 1995, 20,000 people gathered in San Francisco for a candle-light vigil. Shortly after, the band announced their split and to many it seemed like the end of an era. But time has proved otherwise Continue reading “Living with the Dead”

Bali Life, Eco Bali, Travels in Indonesia, Uncategorized

Into the wild: Sumatra

drinking milk

The jungle rises steeply in front of us and we cross the river balanced precariously on a dug out canoe. The wall of dense green foliage looks impenetrable but a narrow, muddy trail has been carved out and the ranger leads us to a small clearing and a feeding platform. We only have to wait a couple of minutes before an orangutan comes swinging gracefully through the trees. It’s a female, and her scrawny baby clings on tightly as she stuffs bunches of bananas into her mouth and scoffs handfuls of milk from the rangers bucket. Continue reading “Into the wild: Sumatra”

Travels in Indonesia, Uncategorized

Labuanbajo, Flores

Published in Bali Advertiser

Dawn is breaking over Labuanbajo, as we settle into the small outrigger which will take us to Rinca island, home of the legendary Komodo dragon. The early morning silence is shattered when the boat captain fires up the outboard motor, it’s a noisy beast  and conversation becomes impossible, but it doesn’t matter as the scenery unfolding before me  is so spectacular that I am rendered speechless. The boat cuts across the deep inky  blue water and weaves through  the jagged volcanic islands that make up Komodo National Park. It is dry season and the islands are parched and barren, some are little more than big piles of black lava rock. Others have strips of dazzling white sand and a smattering of palm trees, while the bigger islands have villages of stilt houses. Continue reading “Labuanbajo, Flores”

Bali Life, Eco Bali, Restaurant reviews, Bali, Travels in Indonesia, Uncategorized, Yoga/Bali Spirit

The magic of raw chocolate

Chocolate truffles at Alchemy, photograph courtesy Suki Zoe

A few years ago my  friends had a ‘decadent dessert party’ and we all took along a dessert of our choice, not surprisingly there was a lot of chocolate – including my own triple chocolate cheesecake. What had started as a very chilled affair suddenly turned into a mad crazy night of dancing, Continue reading “The magic of raw chocolate”

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The enchantment of the Yasawas

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I was nervous and jittery as we began our descent into Nadi, it felt like I was going to meet a lover, my heart was beating fast and when we finally landed it took all my self control not to push past all the people in the aisle. At last I was down the stairs and on the tarmac taking big deep breaths of Fiji…. warm damp air tinged with just a hint of sugar cane.

I was determined to stay detached, after all I had only come back for a few weeks to look after my friends resort www.navutustarsfiji.com and to finish research on my book about my former life here.   I mean, what could happen in three and a half weeks…..?   The only thing is I have gone and fallen in love all over again…. Continue reading “The enchantment of the Yasawas”

Global adventures, Uncategorized

Back to Fiji

Life is funny, one minute you are striding down a certain path, and the next, tragedy strikes  like a metaphorical avalanche and the path is swept away from under you. But all the cliches are true…. out of the darkness comes the light…..as one door closes another opens…… And so it was that a disaster on the harsh rocky island of Gran Canaria  in Spain seven years ago would change my life in ways I never could have imagined.

Fate, and the trade winds blew me to Fiji where I landed a job on a remote island in the Yasawas.  Here I worked with a local, tradition-bound community domineered by a powerful autocratic chief, and answered  to a wealthy and eccentric American billionaire (owner of the island where Blue Lagoon was filmed). It was a crazy time typified by cyclones, a  coup, and suffocating heat, of sabotage and skullduggery….where cheeky spirits roamed by land and sea, and tales of cannibalistic forebears were shared over many a bowl of kava.   But what i remember most is the laughter, the singing, the awe inspiring beauty and the big beautiful smiles of the Fijians who welcomed  me to their island home. Continue reading “Back to Fiji”