Some writing projects
I've worked as a travel writer, sub-editor and reporter, covering everything from daily news, reviews, sports and travel for international media.
A few excerpts from writing projects below...
There's no distinction between daily life and the divine on Siberut Island, the largest island in the Mentawais, where our beach bubble has been burst by the sharp end of the machete the half-naked tribesman is swinging next to me. He hacks down a sago palm tree, fishes out a massive worm, squeezes it dead and stuffs it into his mouth. His name is Kapik Sibajak, and he is a Sikerei medicine man of the indigenous Mentawai Tribe, and our host for the next few days.
The Sikerei are a special class of male forest shamans and healers. They practice animism, wear hibiscus flowers, ink themselves with magic tattoos and sharpen their teeth. They have resisted evangelism, modernisation and government attempts to get them to both resettle and abandon their non-sanctioned beliefs. They have endured and, thanks in part to a trickle of tourism, now are largely left alone to live how they please in the jungle
- From Seafaring Souls for Travel + Leisure, March 2017
Full article here
A New Wave Of Education After The Tsunami
The soft pitter-patter of footsteps across a dusty Phuket playing field is followed by a cacophony of giggles as a group of students - the girls dressed in blue and white and the boys kitted out in khaki - skip to their English class at Kalim School.
Some of the children are holding hands; others kick a frazzled football. Many of the girls are wearing hijabs, others are bare-headed. About half are Muslims, the rest are Buddhist, with a smattering of Christians, but they are united in that they were all victims of the tsunami that destroyed their school and devastated their gentle lives five years ago, on Boxing Day, 2004.
- From A New Wave Of Education After The Tsunami, Bangkok Post 2010
Full article here
The Man Who Sleeps In A Volcano
Let’s say that every day you walk to work carrying two men on your back. On the way you hike up a mountain prone to landslides and toxic wildfires.
You pass tourists who take photos of your torment. When you arrive at the office your boss hands you US$10 for your efforts. He says go back and bring me two more men tomorrow. You agree because if you don’t your family will starve. Beaten and weary that night you sleep at the office. God sleeps there, too, in the next room over. In the middle of the night the office explodes in a toxic inferno. You survive knowing god was angry that night. This is Monday. Tuesday will hopefully be better.
Almost anywhere in the world, this job would be labelled insane. But for sulfur miner Arifin, who works and sleeps in the highly active volcano Kawah Ijen, it’s simply part of the job.
As I watch the miners work for the last time, I imagine their song being carried on a toxic breeze out of the crater and into the ears of the tourists hiking the volcano, travelling across this volcanic archipelago nation to Jakarta, Singapore and Hong Kong, where it catches the attention of shoppers standing with baskets of shampoo, skin-cream and sugar laced with sulfur. Their song should strike a chord that luxury is a burden carried on the shoulders of some very strong, honourable men.
- From The Man Who Sleeps In A Volcano, Coconuts Media 2016
Full article here
Rain lashes down. Lightning crackles and thunder grumbles. Johnny stands barefoot and motionless. Raindrops form tears under his eyes. He takes a long, relieving, pee, that froths in the volcanic black sand. In the distance, about half a kilometre away, milky smoke pours from Mount Bromo into the night sky.
Lightning strikes once more illuminating the Sea of Sand plateau. Thunder growls louder this time. Johnny doesn’t move. Even though he’s trained to head for home after dusk makes way for darkness. He remains at his master’s side.
He neighs and shakes off the rain. He whips his tail behind him and stamps his hoofs. It sounds like the volcano is erupting. Any minute out of the darkness huge balls of hot rock and ash will surely rain down from one of Indonesia’s most active volcanoes.
Johnny doesn’t move. He doesn’t make a sound. Just a stare from those big black eyes. He's listening to the volcano god. And he says no danger this time. Johnny the volcano horse knows when to stand his ground.