[two pro travel journalists turn amateur bloggers]
[words and photograph © Mark Eveleigh]
There are few places in the world – however remote – that cannot be explored if you have reliable, knowledgeable local contacts. Whether you’re planning a short holiday in Bali or a serious expedition around some of the 17,000 islands in the Indonesian archipelago there are really only two things you really need to guarantee a safe, hassle-free and enjoyable trip: an email address and a telephone number.
I’m beginning to think that there is not a spot of Indonesian soil that Evi Arbay-Iwan doesn’t either know intimately or where she doesn’t have excellent local contacts. Evi is the travel mastermind behind Indonesia Trip Advisors and her incredible organizational skills, local knowledge and efficiency (often in last-minute situations) have saved several of my expeditions and assignments in at least half a dozen of her country’s islands. Several years ago I crashed a week on Evi’s sofa while she organized an entire phalanx of moped-mounted friends to shuttle me around Jakarta in pursuit of the material I needed for a story, and just last month she flawlessly organized a seemingly impossible assignment that saw me dashing through five islands in a week. If you’re planning a trip to Indonesia, Evi can make it happen.
Justin Wirama is Bali’s young Mr Fix-It and there is nobody who has a finger on the pulse of the island like he does. Working out of his father’s tiny travel agents office (Agung Tourist Services, Poppies 1, Kuta), it seems that there is nothing that Justin can’t arrange: in the last two months I have rented cars from him, booked flights, arranged visa extensions, ordered business cards, booked hotels and taxis… He is one of those people that Bali specializes in who sets out on the assumption that a problem can be fixed and then simply dedicates himself to the finer details of how to do it.
For an (almost) exhaustive list of travel gear, take a look here – but if you are going to be passing through Indonesia you can travel light because there’s nothing that can’t be sorted if you have this email address and this telephone number.