Overview: The War in Burma, a Shan Perspective

General information about Burma The war in Burma has been going on since before the end of the second world war. The Burmese independence army sided with the Japanese, fighting against the British and tribal forces who were defending the colony from invasion After the war, Burma was given independence. Under British rule, Burma was […]


TAVEUNI, FIJI – We’re on our way back from Rainbow Reef, heading for a dive site called Orgasmic, when we see the buoy. There are three of us in the boat: me, and two Fijians. Jone (“Johnny”) is the lively, perpetually grinning divemaster at Susie’s Plantation — a rustic and welcoming resort down the west […]

Vanua Levu

VANUA LEVU, FIJI — In 1643, the year after he “discovered” New Zealand and Tasmania, navigator Abel Tasman threaded his ship between the treacherous reefs surrounding this volcanic island. Tasman’s report on the passage was so daunting that his fellow navigators would avoid the area for another 150 years. Four and a half centuries later, […]

Cat Ba Island, Vietnam: Valley of the Langurs

CAT BA ISLAND, VIETNAM — “There are no guarantees,” says Rosie, “that you will see even one langur the whole time you are on Cat Ba Island.” Sure, I nod. I understand. I get it — but I don’t get it. True, it was a full four months before project director Rosie Stenke saw her […]

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 […]