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: “...it’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.
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