Travel Philosophy

Who Can Pass These Without At Least Trying To Take A Look?

Tower Viewer Pay Binoculars Travel Story

To me, they’ve always looked like a face, a friendly face beckoning you to come over. And really, whether you’re a five year old or a grandma, who can get near one of these without putting your hands on the cold metal and pressing your face to the eye holes to take a look?

What am I talking about? I’m talking about tower viewers of course. Yes, tower viewers, which is apparently what pay binoculars are called. I’ve never met anybody who called them by their official name, it was always just “Hey look, binoculars!” whenever someone spotted one while walking by.

Monas National Monument Indonesia Travel StoryIn many ways I can connect the dots of all my major travels with an experience with a tower viewer. Whether it was fighting ocean winds in Homer, Alaska to get to one or fighting vertigo in the Sears Tower as a kid to check out the cityscape.

Or during that one incredible “vacation” to Jakarta, Indonesia when I took that claustrophobic (and let me just say quite questionable) elevator to the top of Jakarta’s most famous monument, Monas, the monument of the golden flame. When we got to the top my father, who I hadn’t seen in twenty years, immediately gave me a handful of coins so that I could look out at Jakarta through a tower viewer.

And that was no mistake. The world as seen through a tower viewer is just more interesting, and as I put the coin in at the top of Monas I was immediately able to transform this almost overwhelming mass of buildings and movement that surrounded me in the city of an astounding 9.6 million people. I zoomed in and saw people, cars, the details of buildings, open windows even, and the landscape came alive for me in detail wherever I wanted to swoop in for a look.

I was able to see a side of Jakarta that would be impossible to see any other way. And all this happened for the price of a single coin.

December 23, 2015

Seaweed Farming: Boring Or Interesting?

Picture of a woman in Bali, Indonesia harvesting seaweed in the water.Seaweed farmers. It’s maybe not the most …engaging… of travel story ideas, at least on the surface.

One of the great things about travel though is that it allows you to drop in on people doing interesting things that you would have never known about otherwise.

Like seaweed farming, who knew right?

These pictures here are of seaweed farming being done by people who live in Bali, Indonesia.

To get the seaweed to grow the seaweed farmers spear bamboo poles into the water and stretch ropes between them, on which the seaweed develops.

When the time to harvest the seaweed comes around it’s just a matter of disentangling the vines from the ropes and getting it to the shore. A wet job to be sure, but at least the view is beautiful.

The method used by the Bali farmers is a variant of the ones developed by the first seaweed farmers a long time ago.

Picture of a boat floating in the waters of Bali, Indonesia with mountains and seaweed farms in the background.Seaweed farming first started in Japan in the area of Tokyo Bay, where farmers would throw bamboo branches into shallow, muddy water and there spores of seaweed would build up.

A few weeks later the farmers would come back and pick the bamboo branches up and move them to a river. There the nutrients from the river would encourage the seaweed to grow.

In Bali some tourists enjoy witnessing the seaweed farming and will often interact with the farmers that they come across on the beach, considering the farmers an interesting part of the local scene.

But apparently other tourists don’t feel as positively about it. In some areas seaweed farmers face a lot of pressure from the tourism business to quit their farming and free up the beaches for solely tourism use.

As for me, I think it would be interesting to see this in action as coming across such unusual things is part of what makes travel such a fun hobby for me. What do you think though, would you want to see seaweed farming if you were visiting Bali or would it be too boring for you?

July 1, 2013