Hi.

Welcome to my blog. I document my adventures in travel, style, and food. Hope you have a nice stay!

Might and Magic - Suitcase

Might and Magic - Suitcase

A first person feature in Suitcase magazine’s landmark 25 anniversary issue about a two-week sailing trip to the Banda Islands, through some of the most remote corners of Indonesia. Get a sense of it from the excerpts below. Photography by Billy Bolton

‘With the right wind you’ll smell the Banda Islands before you see them. Also known as the Spice Islands, this archipelago of ten volcanic eruptions in the remote backwaters of the East Indies is so small that modern-day cartographers often overlook it. Yet in the 17th century, Portugal, Britain and Holland fought over them bitterly, for their mineral-rich soil nurtures a fragrant secret. They were the only place in the world where nutmegs grew, a spice once worth more than gold because of its exotic, romantic flavour and the fact that it was rumoured to cure the plague. In those days money quite literally grew on trees for those prepared to overcome shipwrecks, warring tribes and tropical diseases to claim the spice. ‘

‘The soft, peachy glow of sunrise filtering through the porthole wakes us gently. We’ve dropped anchor in the natural harbour of Kalabahi on Alors Island, a moon of water so enclosed it’s as calm as a lake. The silvery gleam of flying fish catches my eye and I look down. Local fishermen in wooden canoes are silently circling the boat, their faces shadows beneath wide-brimmed hats. A thin spire of smoke emerges from the dense forest that cloaks the hillside. It feels as if anything could happen.’

‘Looking around I see a wily chief in a feathered headdress pulling on a Marlboro Red. When one of the women reaches into the folds of her ikat (a handwoven cloth that’s unique to the region), pulls out a phone and asks for a selfie, the uneasy conflict between past and present is evident.’

‘When we finally reach the Banda Islands it seems as if we did in fact sail into another galaxy. A winding entrance between slopes cloaked in virgin jungle leads to an inland bay between Neira and the Api volcano, which occasionally belches evil-smelling smoke. Memories of the islands’ pivotal role in history are everywhere. A Dutch fort looms above the jumble of colourful cottages that make up Neira town, while the waterfront is lined with once-grand colonial mansions, many with broken chandeliers and period furniture still languishing in their dusty rooms.’

‘On a wooden sailing boat somewhere between the swells of the Banda Sea and fragrant shores of the Spice Islands, it seems that I have found something even more precious than nutmeg: the peace that comes from surrendering to the might and magic of the ocean.’

Destination guides - International Traveller online

Destination guides - International Traveller online

Before they fade away - Food and Travel

Before they fade away - Food and Travel