A travelogue about Morten Brask and Siri Aronsen’s dramatic and beautiful seven-month long journal into the remote Indonesian islands far away from the downtrodden paths of mass tourism. The two authors travelled during the damaging rainy season, when the landscape explodes into green, but roads and bridges are washed away. They visit the king of the forgotten Banda Islands, get a little too close for comfort to the Commodo Island dragons, are mugged by robbers in Yogiakarta and travel to the headhunters in Seram´s darkest rain forest.
Brask’s glass-clear prose brings people and events leaping to life
“This volume combines the directness of a travel book with a touch of new-journalism quests such as Peter Matthiessen’s The SnowLeopard or Bruce Chatwin’s The Songlines. Contemporary, lively, and spiked with humor, Rainy Season Journey will appeal to an unusually broad audience—from the generalpublic (including teens) to readers of a more intellectual stripe. It is specific enough to guide other travelers, insightful enough toprovide ample food for thought. The authors, alternating by chapter, come across as unpretentious, intellectually curious, andeminently likable. Their dual perspective adds texture to an already riveting narrative; Brask’s glass-clear prose brings people andevents leaping to life, while Aronsen’s more complex counterpoint explores relationships.Deftly drawn characters lend an unforgettable reality to place names most readers will have known only from disjointed news stories.The sooner this book comes out in English, the better.”
Susanna Nied, the award winning translator of Inger Christensens “Sommerfugledalen”.
Read Susanna Nied’s review below.
Sympathetic and authentic
”Described in a sympathetic, genuine and authentic way. Appeals to both young persons planning to travel in Indonesia and to easy chair travellers. Reference from a purchasing consultant for Danish libraries.
6 golden owls
”The two authors have written a lovely personal and genuine book that shows a different side to Indonesia…intertwined in the many marvellous chapters …6 golden owls out of six. An account I shall not forget anytime soon and then it is beautifully told.” Jubii
This outstanding travel journal opens wide windows into little-known places and cultures. It follows the six-month Indonesian odyssey of its authors, freshly emerged from graduate school with a passion to get as far as possible from academic life. They set off in late 1996 for Java, Lombok, the Moluccas, and Komodo. Everyone advises against Indonesia in the rainy season, but this is the couple’s sole chance to make the trip. Their goal is not only to discover a remote corner of the world, but also to rediscover themselves.
Of course, they get more than they bargain for. They do indeed find some of the last places on earth where no one has heard of Coca-Cola. They also find their own limits—and narrowly escape death in the process.
A brief foreword, with a map of the trip, pulls the reader in at once:
During our time in Indonesia, the conflicts so much in the news today had not yet erupted. We had no inkling that the country was about to explode into civil war. We may have sensed that peoples of the various islands seemed dissatisfied with the government, but it was wholly impossible to imagine that shortly after we returned home, a bonfire of hatred would ignite, starting with student riots in Jakarta, spreading through armed uprisings in the various provinces, to end, perhaps, in Indonesia’s complete dissolution.
So the reader will search in vain through the chapters of this book for political analyses or warnings of the bloodbaths to come. However, we have added an afterword attempting to explain the political situation and to trace events leading up to it.
This book, though, is about an Indonesia not yet gripped by these tragedies. It is about a journey to some of the most beautiful, least known, and strangest islands in the world. A journey that began early one winter morning, as a plane took off from Copenhagen’s Kastrup airport and flew over a snow-white Europe.
Morten and Siri travel light, carrying only a backpack apiece and bunking in pensions. They land on Java but stay just long enough for their lost backpacks to catch up. In Jakarta, they navigate urban throngs, pollution, and monsoon floods. Outside Yogyakarta, Siri touches the past in the obscure royal ruins of Ratu Boko before pickpockets jolt her back to the present, emptying her money belt.
The couple leaves Java for the small islands of Banda and Seram in the Moluccas. Morten dubs the Bandas “the islands of long ago.” He and Siri bask in an idyll of sun and palms, white sand and pale blue sea, and minimal Western influence. Yet the rainy season lies in ambush, the weather dissolving within minutes to drenching rain and whipping winds. Other disquieting notes intrude: poisonous sea life inhabits the stunning reefs, and a shark menaces Morten on a solo swim. Parts of the islands lack even primitive plumbing, so that swaths of human excrement foul the white sands. The history of the Bandas bristles with exploitation and deceit, and the so-called “king” of the islands, who invites Siri and Morten to dinner, shows an unethical and power-hungry side that chills them.
Disaster soon strikes. On a sunny outing, a gale from nowhere overwhelms a small boat carrying Morten, Siri, and five others. They bail frantically in the storm until the engine dies, and they are literally saying their goodbyes when a twist of fate saves them. (A companion boat goes down with all on board.) A few weeks later, as they island-hop on an ostensibly safer boat, a second gale hits. Mountainous seas crack the hull, and their group survives only after a desperate struggle. In the months to come, Morten and Siri suffer recurring nightmares and a lingering terror so great that they cannot even eat in a surfside restaurant.
Reluctant to cut their adventure short, they arrange for a tribal prince to guide them inland, into the rain forests of Seram. In a village whose inhabitants have only recently (and not entirely) given up headhunting, the chief’s wife welcomes them to her home, which rises on stilts above the forest floor. Here, as everywhere else in Indonesia, Morten and Siri find people unfailingly hospitable. The terrain, however, is less so. The rain turns trails to channels of knee-deep mud, so that the little party must bushwhack (sans machete, thanks to their royal but inept guide) through steamy, malarial jungle. On their return trek they run out of water and food, and Morten battles a raging fever. Near collapse, they stumble at length onto a dirt road, to be rescued by a logging company jeep crew straight out of Keystone Kops films.
This third close call leaves Morten seriously ill. He has lost over 30 pounds since their trip began; now he and Siri settle on the drowsy island of Gili Air, off the coast of Lombok, to recuperate. They strike up a friendship with Butu, a Balinese Hindu chef who asks about Christmas and laughs in astonishment to hear of bringing a tree into the house and singing before it. They also meet Butu’s best friend Iz, a Muslim street vendor struggling in Indonesia’s faltering economy and victimized by corrupt government officials. Morten and Siri’s parting gift to Iz is 20,000 Indonesian rupiahs, about the price of two beers back in Denmark. It buys Iz and his wife a primus stove for cooking.
Morten can’t leave without seeing Komodo dragons, Indonesia’s rapacious, ten-foot-long monitor lizards. As rain pours down on the island of Komodo and the predatory reptiles materialize, Morten remembers himself at age seven, horrified and fascinated by two stuffed Komodo dragons in a Copenhagen museum. He resolved to see them some day in real life; now he realizes that he has come full circle.
Back in rain-soaked, traffic-choked Jakarta, Siri and Morten seek the luxury of a hotel room with a private bath before flying home. They find themselves instead in one more seedy pension, this one owned by a member of Indonesia’s Chinese minority. Here Indonesia offers a final surprise. On the top floor, their host has created a glassed-in roof garden—a spacious haven of exotic plants and singing birds—whose panoramic view makes even the teeming city look beautiful. With quiet aplomb, he serves tea.
Rejse i regntid
Rejse i regntid er beretningen om Morten Brasks og Siri Aronsens rejse til de fjerne Indonesiske øer langt fra masseturismens nedtrådte stier. Vi rejser i den hærgende regntid, hvor landskabet eksploderer i grønt, men hvor veje og broer skylles væk. Vi besøger kongen af de glemte Bandaøer, kommer lidt for tæt på komodos varaner, overfaldes af røvere i Yogiakarta og rejser ind til hovedjægerne i Serams mørkeste regnskov.
Også udkommet som lydbog.
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Medlevende og autentisk
”…beskrevet medlevende, ægte og autentisk. Både for unge, der plan-lægger at rejse i Indonesien og for lænestolsrejsende.” De danske bibliotekers lektørudtalelse
6 gyldne ugler
“De to forfattere har begået en dejlig, personlig og ægte bog, der viser en anden side af Indonesien … flettet sammen i de mange eventyrlige kapitler … 6 gyldne ugler ud af 6. En beretning, jeg meget sent vil glemme, og tilmed smukt berettet.” Jubii
Som en roman af opslugende noveller
“Det er som at læse en roman af opslugende noveller…Jeg anbefaler varmt denne bog.” Jyske Vestkysten
Fremragende“Den er skrevet så fremragende, at mennesker, regnskov, byer og vanvittige bølger står lyslevende frem på læserens nethinde.” Chili
Læste med dunkende hjerte
“Morten Brask’s beskrivelse af deres kamp mod havet og af, at livet passerer revy, er en af de bedste historier i bogen. Og selvom man som læser ved, at båden vil nå sikkert i land, er det alligevel med dunkende hjerte, jeg læste siderne.” Oestrogen