It is the middle of the night
on the rim of one of the highest volcanoes in the world. A lone figure
attempts to retrieve a baseball cap lying precariously close to the
crater’s edge; loose stones begin their rapid descent into the lake
4,000 feet below. The wind cuts through his clothes; he is exhausted; he
looks up and smiles.
Indonesia is in political and
economic turmoil; a beautiful country of rainforest, beaches and
volcanoes, laid waste by corruption; a country steeped in history but
still coming to terms with its present. It is against this background
that the author decides to go on a journey.
Motivated by a childhood wish
to see a volcano and oblivious to the warnings of civil unrest, he
travels across Java, Bali and Lombok encountering the physical beauty of
ancient temples, verdant islands and massive volcanoes, along with the
kindness, hostility, interest and indifference of the local population.
Often treading the fine line
between self-confidence and arrogance, the author puts himself into a
variety of situations which sometimes only luck enables him to overcome.
As the journey takes on its own
personality we are unsure as to who is in control and, as with most
journeys, it continues long after he has arrived home.
Evocative, informative and
amusing, Playing with Fire is packed full of fascinating
insights into the minutiae of travelling and the culture and geography
of Indonesia; a country which is a backpacker’s dream in a time of
And it is a story for anyone
who has ever dreamt of doing something different.
/ Bali / Lombok
The book is available at