The Bali bombings, 15 years on


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15 years on from the Bali bombings and what have we learned and how have things changed?

That’s the question posed by Judith Jacob, whose Twitter account here proceeds to answer in 15 tweets that I happen to agree with.


The current unpredictability of Indonesian politics


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I am aware that sometimes the scope of sources I draw upon is limited, so here is a piece from The Economist on the current unpredictabilty of Indonesian politics.

I don’t consider the analysis particularly deep or insightful, but if you are interested it is a conveniently short read.

The best Indonesian volcano pictures


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In respecting copyright I will not post the pictures here, but if you are interested you can view them here and here.

The first picture, to paraphrase the caption, captures the Tengger volcanic complex, part of a national park in east Java that lies within a 45,000 year old large caldera. The volcanic cones making up the Tengger complex are at the centre, with smoke coming from Mount Bromo and distant Mount Semeru also apparent. Picture credit for the image goes to EC Tong/Imagelibrary India Pvt.

The second picture, with credit to Firdia Lisnawati from AP, features Mount Agung (also in Java) and captures the emotion and dynamism of life in Indonesia beautifully. How I wish I had those photographic skills.

Indonesia’s volcanoes II


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Earlier today I mentioned to a friend that I would like to talk about Indonesia’s volcanoes again (see the previous post here). Sometimes I start those conversations to prompt my thinking about the theme of a forthcoming post.

Anyway, by coincidence I see that I was beaten to publication by one of my teachers, the irreplacably brilliant Anthony Reid. For those who know of his academic reputation there is no shame attached to trailing in his wake, as most of us do when it comes to understanding and explaining Southeast Asia.

The link, available here, takes you to what I would argue is one of the best posts ever on New Mandala website.

Sigh. Time for me to think of a new angle on one of the greatest stories of the natural world.

Historical Maps of Southeast Asia


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If I had to limit the content of this blog to just one topic, I would be hard pressed to choose between Indonesia’s volcanoes and historical maps of Southeast Asia. I have written previously about Indonesia’s volcanoes here (and elsewhere from memory), so I thought I would take a moment to share my interest in just one set of the fascinating maps that are out there.

I have always believed that when I had made it professionally and was casually wealthy (the day is still quite a way ahead of me!) I would buy the book I have wanted since I first encountered it in my University Library.

Needless to say most Universities have more money than me, and given there are plenty of functioning motor cars available at a cheaper price than I have seen the book quoted online, I will simply continue to dream of buying it.

The book is the Comprehensive Atlas of the Dutch United East India Company. Volume VII: East Asia, Burma to Japan & Supplement. Volume VII is the last of the series, with the others being;

Volume 1 – Atlas Isaak de Graaf (Atlas Amsterdam)

Volume 2 – Java en Madoera (Java and Madura)

Volume 3 – Indische Archipel en Oceanië (Malay Archipelago and Oceania)

Volume 4 – Ceylon

Volume 5 – Afrika (Africa)

Volume 6 – Voor-Indië, Perzië, Arabisch Schiereiland (India, Persia, Arabian Penninsula)

(Volume 7 – Oost-Azië, Birma tot Japan (East Asia, Burma to Japan & supplement))

For reference purposes see the link here.

Of course I would love Volume II & III and ideally the whole set, but the complete set is getting into the price range that would rival the cost of some houses I have lived in. Such is life.

A pictorial depiction of the cover of Volume VII is here, with the Table of Contents here.

For those interested in the superlative atlas of Indonesian History I point you to the link here, while for those readers simply wanting to browse the maps by appearance there are commercial options such as the one here and free (to view) maps such as the set here.

Some really interesting background reading on the story of these maps is available here.

I hope you find some of the links as compelling as I do.

Disclaimer – I have no connection with or potential benefit from any of the commercial sites to which I link to here, nor do I make any recommendations on purchasing. Links are provided solely for informative reasons. 

The Batle for Marawi – update


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Events in the southern Philippines are easily overshadowed by the nuclear fuelled great power games currently taking place in north Asia, but for residents on the ground in and around Marawi City the threat of imminent death isn’t in the future.

Following on from my earlier post here, as a historical snapshot there are great pieces of photojournalism here and here to take you inside the unfolding horrors, featuring some powerful photos acccompanied by some high quality text.

For those readers not following events closely there is a report summarising the conflict here, with other articles for balance here and here and the Lowy Institute’s take on the symptoms and solutions here.

Jakarta, the city where nobody wants to walk


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That is the title of the really interesting article in the New York Times here.

I doubt however that the trait is unique to Jakarta. I haven’t been to too many cities in Southeast Asia, but among the ones I have visited in Bangkok walking significant distances is really only undertaken by the poor out of necessity and as a rare event to be commented on in Singapore.

Kuala Lumpur’s achievement in having one of the highest rates of car ownership in the world tells its own story.

What is ASEAN?


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Thanks to the nice work, including some neat graphics, by Keith Breene, an answer can be found here.

While by no means the most sophisticated or nuanced summary, it is a good primer for those readers at the very start of their understanding.

For those readers who have moved beyond the basics and seek a deeper understanding I suggest you review and reflect on the Reuters picture of the ASEAN national leaders holding hands in the story header.

A whole universe of understanding opens up when considering the body language, alignment and personal distancing containined in that picture!