About
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. See more about the project


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Hair today, gone tomorrow

Elizabeth Pisani Indonesian Press Card 1989

There’s only so much of one’s time one can spend thinking about other people’s sex lives. I feel as though I’ve been doing it for a very long time — there’s more than you want to know about it over at The Wisdom. Now for something completely different.

For the next year or so, I’ll be rediscovering an old passion: Indonesia. I brushed against it 30 years ago, and fell properly in love in the late 1980s, when I worked here as a correspondent for Reuters news agency.

After a couple of years the Suharto regime and I had something of a tiff (it was a bit like squabbling with the in-laws) and I left in a huff. But I was seduced back again a decade later, this time to work for the government. More adoration, more frustration, more tiffs and huffs. In 2005 I left again.

Now I’m back, older and probably no wiser. I’ve been in Jakarta and Bali for a few days, doing the things one does before setting out on an epic journey. Trying to teach myself to use a camera, for example:

Startled self-portrait: learning to use a new camera

Then deciding that even my less startled, oh-that’s-what-happens-when-I-press-the-shutter-button moments, I’d probably be better off with less hair. So a visit to the incomparable Wim Soeitoe, who, in the 23 years he’s cut my hair, has never been allowed to take it all off before:

It works well with a crash helmet, if nothing else. Tomorrow, we hit the road.