About Portrait Indonesia

In late 2011, epidemiologist, writer and adventurer Elizabeth Pisani granted herself a sabbatical from the day job and set off to rediscover Indonesia, a country she has wandered, loved and been baffled by for decades. She was on the road and the high seas for a year, covering dozens of islands in 27 provinces. This site records photos and musings from that journey and beyond.

The journey will form the backbone of a book (and a multimedia BookPlus), to be published by Granta in the UK and WW Norton in the US, which will also include reflections on her earlier incarnations in Indonesia. The first of these was as a foreign correspondent for Reuters in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Ten years later she was back in the very different guise of epidemiologist, helping the Ministry of Health better understand Indonesia’s HIV epidemic. That work contributed to her first book, The Wisdom of Whores, published in 2008.

The new book, with the provisional title “Indonesia Etc: Taking Tea with the Dead and Other Adventures”, will deal less with sex and drugs, and more with the other enchanting and sometimes maddening foibles of Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous nation. We hope it will give you a taste of this beautiful, chaotic and unfathomable land.

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Elizabeth Pisani – Indonesian Journeys