Uncharted Backpacker

Category - Southeast Asia

A Journey into Bajau Laut, The Sea Gypsies of Borneo

Sabah, Malaysia, Borneo

Ever since I saw the BBC Human Planet documentary on the Bajau Laut I have been fascinated with these “people of the sea”. It is said that many of the Bajau can hold their breathe for upwards of five minutes, plunging into the depths with only a pair of wooden hand made goggles. Trying to find information on visiting the Bajau proved difficult but here I am speeding along in a small wooden boat, flying past remote islands and impossibly blue waters with my Bajau guide who I met only moments ago at the Semporna docks. Suddenly in the distance the rickety frames of wooden structures emerge like a mirage over the vast ocean horizon. Finally, I have made it to the home of the Bajau Laut!  Read More

Traveling the Non-Touristy Side of Bali

Bali, Indonesia

The tiny island of Bali hosts stunning lush tropical landscapes riddled with rice terraces and active volcanoes. It’s also home to an ancient Hindu culture that has left its mark here with intricate and ornate temples that reflect the islands intense beauty. Unfortunately for us travelers this is no secret and tourists have been flocking here for years. For the savvy traveler there is plenty of opportunity to find the parts unknown. After visiting Bali frequently for the past ten years I have developed a guide to help you find the authentic Bali you have been dreaming of. See why Bali is one of my favourite Islands! Read More

Gunung Bromo and Kawah Ijen Travel Guide – Java, Indonesia

Gunung Bromo, Kawah Ijen, Java

In the far eastern regions of Java lie two extraordinary sites. The first is the massive volcano named Gunung Bromo. The second is the sulphuric crater lake of Ijen. These are two of the most impressive sites in Java, not to mention the whole of Indonesia. Sounds amazing, right? Well like most amazing places it comes with a catch. Bromo and Ijen and very remote places, making accessing here quite difficult and tedious. Transport from Yogyakarta can take up to twelve hours to Bromo and eight or nine from Bali to Ijen. The weather is also a major factor here, as clouds often cover up Bromo and heavy rains make Ijen hazardous. Apart from all these factors, witnessing sunrise at Bromo and the miners of Ijen will be an experience you are unlikely to ever forget.

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The Baliem Valley, West Papua

Baliem Valley, West Papua

As the fog clears, steep, jungle-clad mountains loom in the distance. Clouds descend into the valley as they are pierced by the rising sun, painting a picture of solitude and serenity. Up until now, I had believed places of such remote and indescribable beauty only existed in fairy tales. As I crawl out from my smoky hut in the early hours of the morning, it takes an enormous effort to convince myself that this place is even real. This is the Baliem Valley in West Papua’s remote hidden interior, a place where true adventure can still be had. A place where travelers earn their stripes and become explorers; leaving all that they thought they knew behind them. Papua will change you; come prepared. Read More