Posts by jeffgreenwald

Cat Ba Island, Vietnam: Part I

CAT BA ISLAND, VIETNAM — What’s an endangered monkey worth? If it’s a Golden-Maned Langur — found only on Cat Ba Island, off the coast of North Vietnam, a few hours’ drive from Hanoi — the answer is, about a hundred bucks. The Cat Ba langur is one of the world’s most endangered primate (second […]

Sulawesi, Indonesia

TIWOHO, INDONESIA — One thing that strikes me about science, and the way we frame our discoveries, is that we’re no better than our metaphors. We observe a process of nature, and explain how it works by comparing to our own technology. For some of those processes, we have pretty good metaphors: the “holographic” theory […]


TIRTA GANGGA, BALI — Bali is all about water. Ponds alive with lotuses and frogs; streams pitching from the ambrosial urns of stone goddesses; waterfalls down stone walls covered with butterflies and fronds. It’s the rainy season here; fat drops fall from the palm trees overhanging the road, and off the thatched eaves above temple […]

Bunaken, Indonesia

BUNAKEN NATIONAL PARK, INDONESIA — In the 1950s, Alfred Hitchcock made a thriller called Rope, starring Jimmy Stewart. The title was a double entendre; not only was a rope involved in the crime, but Hitchcock made it appear that the whole film was shot in a single, unspliced, 80-minute take. In the bath-warm waters of […]

Northern Sulawesi

MANADO, INDONESIA — Without a tsunami or volcanic eruption in progress, there’s very little drama on your average island. Sulawesi has its share of woes — ethnic conflict between the northern Christians and the central and southern Muslims has been a flashpoint for years — but in this tiny region around Sulawesi’s northern tip, tensions […]

Endgame: The Castaway Returns

COLOMBO – Today is the 3rd of March, 2005; the sound of traffic, the megaphone-amplified voices of lottery hawkers, and the hotel room’s air conditioning provide a familiar background to my last morning in Colombo. Across Galle Face Road lies the sea, but the white noise of the waves never seems to reach my room. […]

A Brief Coda: Where I Am, and What I’m Doing

COLOMBO – I know, there’s been a long silence. Some people have even written to me, wondering if I was still alive; I hope my lack of response didn’t convince them of the worst. “Absence of evidence,” as the SETI researchers are fond of saying, “is not evidence of absence.” Between February 3rd and 18th, […]

Epilogue: Wave After Wave

“Everything is bullshit but the open hand…” – Bruce Cockburn, Strange Waters Haven’t written much since Dwayne took off, exactly a week ago. The first few days are spent in Colombo, trying to make something happen; and then, as things will, they do. I depart Colombo at 6 a.m. Saturday morning after a fitful night’s […]

Beyond the Full Moon

COLOMBO, SRI LANKA — It’s 6 a.m. on January 24th. The streets are pitch black. Dwayne and I — in the care of a remarkably fluent and urbane driver named Dilan (“Like Bob… or Matt”) — hit the road early, hoping to avoid Colombo’s hellish traffic. We’re heading 75 miles east, to Sri Lanka’s 16th […]