people and cultures – inspiring journeys
sharing meaningful discoveries in Asia

Eastern Indonesia

Islands East of Bali to Papua
For Toraja on Sulawesi:   CLICK HERE

Eastern Indonesia: Spices to Birds of Paradise

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The Maluku and Banda islands were home to the gold of the earth- nutmeg and cloves were among the spices sought after by European traders. The tiny islands of Banda just south of Ambon were so important in trade to the Dutch East India Company, that one little island called Pulau Run was given to the Dutch by the British in 1667 in exchange for former New Amsterdam which was to become New York. (yes, Manhattan Island!)

2017 celebrates the 350th anniversary of the Breda Treaty and the exchange for Manhattan.
See this story from BBC:

Early Indonesian traders included the Bugis people who still the sail the seas in traditional wooden phinisi boats. The phinisi above is a photo of the beloved MSY Perintis which was built for passenger cruising with seven cabins. We have so many fond memories of exploring these islands as far as West Papua (formerly  Irian Jaya).

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Entering the natural harbor of Banda Neira is like passing back into time with a dramatic backdrop of Gunung Api volcano, the old Dutch forts and walks up into the magical nutmeg plantations. And the Banda sea has some of the best marine life in the world for divers and snorkelers.

Wishing to visit Banda today?
Here is a link with helpful information on how to get there:

and beyond to Raja Ampat off West Papua:


Signature Papua:
For help exploring around West Papua of Indonesia, contact Oswald Huma at:


During the 1990s, Indonesian Odysseys were brought alive by the film called The Ring of Fire documenting the 10-year explorations of British brothers Lorne and Lawrence Blair. Part 1 of Ring of Fire, Spice Island Saga, traces the Bugis trade routes from Sulawesi to Papua in search of the famous Birds of Paradise.

More on the Book or Four Part Series on DVD:

Below are some images of our arrival into Asmat, Indonesian Papua with the MSY Perintis back in 2000.

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These were amazing trips and eventually perhaps I will get around to scanning some  more old photos and slides.


A highlight of our past trips with expedition ships Society Explorer and the World Discoverer was traveling with dear friend, Tobias Schneebaum who spent years living with the Asmat.

Tobias shared his experiences in his book, Where The Spirits Dwell:

The Lesser Sunda Islands (Nusa Tenggara):


The chain of islands to the east of Bali are formed where two great tectonic plates collide. Divided by deep oceanic trenches, movement of flora and fauna was limited. Just across the Lombok strait east of Bali, you enter a drier volcanic area where Komodo dragons roam and where lontar palm and corn are more subsistence crops than rice.

Between Bali and Lombok is an imaginary line known as The Wallace Line documented by British naturalist, Alfred Russel Wallace during this eight-year research from 1854-1862 in his book The Malay Archipelago. Wallace collected and cataloged a vast number of plant and animal species that inhabited this unique geographical area. His book includes numerous observations on the people, their languages and ways of living:

In this vast archipelago, each island can feel like an independent universe.
Traditions in weaving textiles play an important role in community life and an excellent place to start learning more is at Threads of Life – an organization working with several weaving communities throughout Indonesia:

Children at Lamalera, Lembata Island Dancers on Savu
Children at Lamalera, Lembata Island             Dancers on Savu

Remote Beach on Flores Villagers on Sumba Island
Remote Beach on Flores                                       Villagers on Sumba Island

Bena Village on Flores Traditional dancers, Watublapi, Flores
Bena Village on Flores                                           Traditional dancers, Watublapi, Flores

Travel to the Eastern Indonesia is now easier with more flights operating to remote areas however it is important to remain flexible as schedules can change often at short notice.

Some links below which may be helpful:

Flores: Overland visiting traditional communities and the sacred volcanic lakes of Kelimutu, here is a website with helpful information:

Komodo National Park’s gateway is West Flores with frequent flights from Bali to Labuanbajo on:
Click for:  Batik Air and Wings

Seek out dragons and discover the beautiful underwater world. Several new resorts and guesthouses can now be found around Labuanbajo.

But the best way to explore the islands around Komodo is by live-aboard and be sure to include a visit to beautiful Rinca Island.

Grand Komodo Tours is a long-time established company operating a fleet of boats exploring Komodo.
More on:

For phinisi exploring around Indonesia, check out the beautiful

Seatrek Sailing Adventures:

EcoLodges near Labuanbajo, Kelimutu as well as Tanjung Puting, Borneo and Way Kambas on Sumatra:

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Komodo Dragon and islands of Raja Ampat off Sorong, Papua.

For Raja Ampat: Lots of good information on:

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