Entra does Bambu Indah

Browse a lovely layout in Entra magazine at — they said it best — the incomparable Bambu Indah.

Dian, Nelly and I spent four long days and nights shooting new suites at Bambu Indah, the eco-luxe retreat fashioned by Green School founders Cynthia and John Hardy. The property is a fantasyland of antique Javanese houses, surrounding a black bamboo Minangkabau palace, all perched over the verdant Sayan River gorge. Every house is unique — at each one it took us some time to discover the hidden windows and portals through which we could beam strobes. And while some are plenty spacious, others were clearly built for hobbits. Wedging into a corner with camera, legs and lights left me feeling like Alice, having eaten the wrong bit of cake.

Shooting during the full moon, it was hard to get any rest! By the time we’d finish dinner, a clean blue light would start beaming off the horned thatch roof at the Minang house. I had no choice but to stay up half the night, set the camera on long exposure, and paint the bamboo by Maglite…

This was our first shoot putting some homegrown LEDs to work, and boy, was I glad we did. Dian and I scrounged some 10- and 20-watt (i.e., honking!) LEDs from a lighting shop in Denpasar, and rigged them up via inverters and motorbike batteries. How fun it was to go “unplugged” with a lot of light in a little package, cool enough to hold in hand and gel any which way! And with the native temperature darn close to daylight, it was easy for us to bring out the blue and green patinas in some of the old Java houses. These would have been lost under incandescents.

Down below is a good example, lifted from a “bonus” slideshow at Entra. Yes, there’s a bonus slideshow! The added content at this e-mag is great! Extra photos and video content.. even the ads are cool, linked to take-it-or-leave-it digital brochures.

There’s several more spreads and slides to this story. Go see for yourself at entramagazine.com. It’s a candy store read, with drop-dead gorgeous layouts. I’m tickled to play a part in that, from a property that — they said it best — is “redefining home”.

Shooting the Shrimp House was also the first time I called up room service to order whale ribs! Just a few of the odd treasures strewn about the Bambu Indah estate… Propped against the left wall in the final shot, the big old bones played nice with a wooden paddle and traditional fish trap that accent the room.

And here it is — your exclusive behind-the-scenes look at fish-wrangling. Dian loves all things fish, and was happy to bait them with food and flashlights ’til well past midnight.

By the time we wrapped, it was well past my sweetie’s bedtime.

For more of the inside scoop on Entra magazine — people profiles and a sneak peak at what’s ahead — check the DesigninTell blog at VandM (Vintage and Modern) Design.

Then get yourself to the source at entramagazine.com.

And to a recharge at Bambu Indah.


Timor-Leste, Unplugged

Let’s face it — East Timor has gotten a lot of bad press. Five centuries of colonial rule and 24 years of bloody occupation didn’t help. In my mind’s eye, Timor was all rocky scrub and rubble. How wrong I was…

A few weeks ago, I joined my partner Joe Yaggi and Jungle Run Productions on a circuit around the coasts and highlands of western East Timor. Joe shot footage for Tour de Timor 2010 — a mountain-biking-cum-nation-building initiative launched by President José Ramos-Horta. I helped out, and shot a few stills.

All in all, I was smitten. We made our way over two high passes — 1500 and 1800 meters, one at the base of Timor’s highest peak, Mount Ramelau, topping out at 2963 meters. The rolling, green highlands looked like something out of New Zealand, just add Austronesian architecture.

And the people… Most have a story to tell, and are grateful they’re here to tell it. There was Ferdinand Xavier, the last guerilla commandante from Ainaro, who fought alongside Xanana Gusmao. There was Gaspar Leki, who joined the Indonesian army to oppose Timor’s independence, but was welcomed home when his side lost. And there was Sister Elsa, who speaks of unspeakable massacres, and moves on: “Of course, I have to be peaceful, I have to be joyful, so that I can bring this peace, this joyful in my heart to other people.”

No one practices peace so vigorously as those who had to earn it.

Frijoles Carboneros (Burned Beans)

A Balinese holiday recipe to accompany the film “Sita Sings the Blues”


  • 1 copy Sita Sings the Blues (below)
  • 1 non-stick sauce pan (possibly 2)
  • 1 slosh olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 avalanche ground cumin
  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 1 restaurant nearby, just in case


1. Cue up Sita Sings the Blues:

2. Note play time (1:21:32). This calls for a burrito, which starts with ‘b’, which stands for beans!

3. In non-stick pan, heat chopped garlic in olive oil until fragrant.

4. Dump in cumin. If you live in the tropics you may need to bang the bottle until it all — Whoops!

5. Heat and stir cumin-garlic paste until toasty fragrant.

6. Dump in beans. What beans?? This $3.50 can is mostly water!

Sita Sings the Blues movie poster7. Reduce beans (lowest heat recommended) while getting a head start on Sita Sings the Blues. We don’t have all day here!

8. Marvel at how filmmaker Nina Paley got my cat, Monster, to star in this movie. She’s a natural! No doubt about it, that’s Monster on the bedside table at 00:06:16 —

9. Oh shit!! The beans!!!

10. Remove beans from heat. Duck to avoid smoke.

11. Note that this was your last can of beans. And it did cost $3.50. Actually more like $4 on account of the devaluing dollar…

12. Recall that the restaurant nearby is closed, due to yet another Balinese commemoration of a great cosmic battle, a la Sita Sings the Blues.

13. Remove beans from pan. If you’ve been following directions, by now they should delaminate as a black, frisbee-like mass.

14. Flake off the blackest beans. Appease Monster by putting these in her bowl. (You will need to remove them later.)

15. Return beans to pan. Add water. While crunching up and reconstituting, consider the etymology of “refried beans”.

16. Reduce beans. Again, lowest heat recommended.

17. Do not, I repeat do not, hit play on Sita Sings the Blues!

18. Taste beans. Are they, , the best beans you’ve ever tasted in your life??

19. Take a picture. I ate my beans too fast and have no evidence for this so-called “photoblog”.

20. It is now safe to resume ‘play’ on Sita Sings the Blues. And to send the filmmaker some love.

Seriously, this film is hilarious, beautiful and highly distracting. And the music rocks.

Like any art depicting deities, it’s taking heat (figurately). My take from Bali is that Nina Paley hit religious anachronism on the head. While most Hindus here would confess some confusion around their pantheon, they’d never let that get in the way of a good story.

And nevermind those Indian accents. The narrators of this tale are Indonesian shadow puppets. Cue photo!

Wayang Kulit shadow puppet play

A Javanese dalang (ventriloquist puppeteer) pits an evil ogre against the noble hero Ardjuna (my namesake?). The contest was one of many trials in an all-night performance for refugees of an erupting volcano. Hours of antics, inspired by local, modern-day farce, climaxed at 4 am -- when Ardjuna received the divine power needed to return the Earth to order. This puppet show drew more viewers than the Soccer World Cup semi-finals televised next door. My bet is that local folk would mightily approve of 'Sita Sings the Blues'.

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Frijoles Carboneros (Burned Beans), © Djuna Ivereigh is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License. Excerpts may be reproduced with credit for DjunaPix Indonesia Photography linked to href=”http://blog.djunapix.com/2010/05/islands/bali/sita-sings-the-blues/.

Sriwijaya for Sale

Pagaruyung Prasasti

Early Indonesian history is limited to cryptic stone inscriptions and outside sources. Only archaeology can fill in the gaps.

What if you held an auction and no one showed up? Thankfully that’s what happened when the Indonesian government tried to auction off cultural heritage dating from the golden age of Indonesia’s Sriwijaya empire.

Maritime experts believe that the shipwreck discovered off the coast of Cirebon, Java in 2004 harks from 10th century Sumatra. And that the story it tells is not the common tale of outsiders coming in, but of an Indonesian kingdom in its prime, dominating a trade network from Arabia to China.

Precious little evidence about the classic Sriwijaya period, recounted in the histories of foreign powers and in widely scattered stone inscriptions, indicates that the Sriwijaya kingdom was not only wealthy beyond compare, but that it was Asia’s hub of cross-cultural learning from the 7th to 10th centuries. The Chinese monk I-Ching, who studied at Sriwijaya for some ten years, described the scene in the late 7th century: “There are more than a thousand Buddhist priests whose minds are bent on study and good works; thier rules and ceremonies are identical with those of India.”

Early in the 20th century, Indonesia’s founding fathers leveraged Sriwijaya in their call for a “National Awakening”. But current government policy turns Sriwijaya into a business proposition. Whereas land-based archaeological sites are studied and conserved by a dedicated research institution under the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, marine sites fall under the Ministry of Fisheries and Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, who contracts private marine salvage operations in exchange for a 50% take on proceeds. So goes the great maritime history of Tanah Air (“Land of Water”).

Last I heard — back in 2005, the Cirebon wreck got especially messy when local police confiscated the salvaged goods mid-operation. Fragile remains of the ship itself — the only example of its kind — were yanked from preservation tanks and locked away in shipping containers. For at least a year. I doubt they fared well…

Anyway, despite outcries from international authorities and the Sultanate of Cirebon, it’s looking likely that this shipload of sunken treasures will soon be scattered to the winds. I’m thinking of a photo project — a final Sriwijaya family portrait, of sorts. Any takers??


Cirebon Palace plans to build museum to house artifacts | The Jakarta Post, 01 May 2010

For Sale: Ancient Treasures Dug From Indonesia’s Seas | reproduced from The Jakarta Globe, 03 May 2010, on the salvage company’s website [photos]

UNESCO chief concerned by auction of ancient artifacts | The Jakarta Post, 05 May 2010

Little Interest in Indonesian Treasure | The Jakarta Globe, 06 May 2010 [photo]

Artifacts auction closed sans bidders | The Jakarta Post, 06 May 2010

Indonesia to Ease Auction Rules to Lure Treasure Bidders | The Jakarta Globe, 09 May 2010 [photo]

Creative Commons License
Sriwijaya for Sale, © Djuna Ivereigh is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License. Excerpts may be reproduced with credit for DjunaPix Indonesia Photography linked to href=”http://blog.djunapix.com/2010/05/islands/sriwijaya-for-sale/.