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Book review: Ring of Fire: An Indonesian Odyssey

Posted by somtam2000 on 31/1/2016 at 20:11 admin

Looking for some inspiration to get off the map in Indonesia? Lawrence Blair will fill your bucket list with incredible places to go.

Ring of Fire: An Indonesian Odyssey is a rollicking, old-fashioned adventure tale that hops, skips and jumps through remote and fascinating parts of the Indonesian archipelago. Originally published in 1988, and based on an Emmy award-winning documentary series of the same name, Lawrence Blair tells the story of various trips he and his brother Lorne made intermittently over some 20 years earlier.

A journey through the fabled Spice Islands, a lengthy stint with the Asmat tribe of Papua, meeting Komodo dragons well before the eponymous island was set up to welcome tourists, and encounters with the intricate Torajan culture of Sulawesi — for starters — are covered.

This is not a dry academic read; you won’t want to put down these entertaining stories. As Lawrence writes in a 2010 edition introduction: “… my brother and I started out as profoundly naive romantics, who were amazingly fortunate to come back alive, not once, but on numerous occasions”.

Sadly, Lorne eventually died in Bali after falling into an open gutter in Legian. Lawrence continues to lead travellers around the country and though Indonesia is very much a largely different place today, as he writes: “’s heartening to know that vast tracts of the nation still remain wonderfully wild and mysterious”. This book will inspire you to go see some of them.

Have you read Ring of Fire? What did you think? Let us know below.

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#1 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,789
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Posted by thomaswpa on 2/2/2016 at 02:36

Yes, I have the book. And the BBC (or NPR) tv series was great. Very inspiring. I may never have gotten past Bali if I had not seen it

#2 thomaswpa has been a member since 21/5/2010. Posts: 2

Posted by julep60 on 2/2/2016 at 15:41

This book and documentary on PBS are what led me to book my first trip to Indonesia and SEA way back in 1990. Imagine my excitement to recognize the author in a bookstore in Venice Beach, CA a week before my trip. I think I made his day by telling him that he and his brother's mystical portrayal of Indonesia is what inspired me to go there. That trip led to a ongoing love affair with SEA and I go back every chance I get. I'm so thankful that I was able to travel around Indonesia in the days before internet and to know what Ubud was like back when Monkey Forest was just a dirt road. To me, it was a kind of paradise but the people who lived there all said, "you should have seen it 20 years ago…"

#3 julep60 has been a member since 19/12/2009. Posts: 2

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