2015: A Spice Odyssey
Several years ago I had a vision.
I was standing on a powder-soft beach with the waves gently lapping against my feet. A wooden pier stretched out into the calm, crystalline waters. In the distance a schooner had its sails furled, and the vessel cut a graceful figure against a ridge cloaked in tropical rainforest.
The vision came in a moment of prayer, at a desperate time when I was re-evaluating my path in life. I had just failed my final semester after scraping by through four years of architecture school. It was a major blow – becoming an architect was a childhood dream I had pursued since the age of five. But my days at university proved that I had neither the motivation nor talent to compete with my gifted peers.
When I told a close family friend about the vision I had seen, I was stunned by her prophetic words.
“That ship needs a captain.” She spoke slowly and deliberately, in gentle tones of Cantonese. “It is waiting for you to swim out there and guide it into the great unknown. You must understand that it’s okay to leave your parents on the shore; you don’t need to take them with you. Just promise you’ll come back to visit. This is your journey.”
I could never have dreamed of the things I would do in the years since. After going back to claim my hard-won architecture degree, my life has changed dramatically – with milestones such as starting this travel blog, learning two new languages (Spanish and Indonesian), meeting my best friend on the road, climbing a 3,700-metre volcano, and even directing a documentary short.
Looking back on it now, the schooner of my vision closely resembled the fabled pinisi of Indonesia. I even have a wooden model above my bed, purchased at a handicrafts store inside Jakarta’s main airport, to remind me of that vision and a country I love more dearly than my own.
Today I am proud to announce a trip that Bama and I have been planning for the past two and a half years. From July to December, we will be crisscrossing Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, India and Nepal. Five of those six countries lie on the historic Spice Route, a conduit of maritime trade that has fascinated me to no end. I plan to write a book from this journey, detailing encounters with the people we meet, and how the legacy of the Spice Route continues to impact the present day and the future.
The pinisi schooner needs a captain, and as we prepare to raise anchor and unfurl the sails, I invite you on board to follow our journey here and on Bama’s blog at What an Amazing World! Thank you for reading, liking and commenting for the past five years – your continued support has been instrumental in keeping this blog alive and well. ◊