There are many different reasons people travel: some travel to connect – with new friends and old; others to witness new landscapes and cultures; some seek to rest or recover; others to challenge themselves.
And then there are those who believe, as someone once wrote, “We travel because we need to, because distance and difference are the secret tonic of creativity. When we get home, home is still the same. But something in our mind has been changed, and that changes everything.”
TravelManagers’ personal travel manager Lisa Leary falls into this last category, finding inspiration for her range of cool comfortable beachwear in the colours of Indonesia.
“My first visit to Bali was in 1980, when it was a very different place to the Bali of today. But when I returned briefly in 2008, I was happy to find that the vibrant colours and peaceful culture that had first attracted me still remained, and I fell in love with the island all over again.
In April this year I returned to Indonesia once more, visiting Bali before continuing on to Java, where the Sangiran Museum gave me a lesson in Indonesian history, and Surakarta (also known as Solo), where Batik cloth originates. It was so exciting to hear about their history in cloth, and I learned so much thanks to our knowledgeable local tour guide, Corey.
My next visit to Indonesia took me to the island of Borneo; more specifically the Indonesian part of Borneo that is known as Kalimantan, where I was thrilled to see proboscis monkeys in the wild. Sun bears and an orangutan orphanage were other highlights of this trip.
From here we travelled to the Derawan Archipelago, which lies a short flight and a fast boat trip away. One of the most striking features of this little-known part of the world are the guesthouses, which stand tall on stilts above the turquoise waters of the Celebes Sea.
We visited a nearby turtle hatchery, swam in canyons and snorkelled in a freshwater lake populated with ethereal, non-stinging jellyfish: this is where I truly fell in love with Indonesia.
I returned to Indonesia again in May 2016, visiting Raja Ampat, an archipelago that sits just off the northwest tip of West Papua. Along with other divers and fellow personal travel managers, I took on steep climbs to view the amazing limestone islands and enjoyed my first two dives in the warm, shark-free waters. The four different schools of colourful fish that I encountered on my ascent are something I will never forget, along with the striking combination of colours of the corals and the ocean itself.
My final destination was Ubud, perhaps best known as the Balinese centre of traditional design, art and culture. We visited a silver-making factory, a coffee plantation and a local village where we witnessed the creation of ceremonial items and batik.
It was such a privilege to spend time with the Indonesian people, learning about their traditional methods and drawing inspiration from their creations. In Ubud I used a candle pot to create my first piece of batik, while in Alor in Timor (our next destination), we joined the local villagers in dancing their traditional “lego lego”. In Alor we were also taken to a local business to see the weaving of cloth dyed with squid ink. The owner had taken her cloth to Paris and was considered a fine artist in the world of fabric design.
My travels to Indonesia taught me how to create cloth from natural materials, and the incredibly vivid colours of this beautiful and varied destination, with its vivid colour combinations of coral, sea life, ocean and jungle have inspired me to design and create my own materials.
If you are seeking inspiration for your next creative endeavour, Lisa is happy to help you plan a unique holiday to any of these destinations. You can find out more about her and contact her here.