4 January, 2016

I was recently a lucky guest on board The Katharina on Seatrek’s ‘2015 Ubud Writers and Readers Festival’ (UWRF) cruise. The UWRF cruise is an annual event, which started in 2014, for which a writer (or two) attending the festival is invited to join and contribute with some literary input, storytelling and thought-provoking conversation.

For this cruise, Tony Wheeler – co-founder of Lonely Planet, and Janet De Neefe – Founder and Director of Ubud Writers and Readers Festival (UWRF), restaurateur, and owner of Casa Luna Cooking School, were the celebrities. Janet and her team handled all of the catering on board, bringing with them 50 kilos of local ingredients, with Janet hosting morning cookery presentations and serving up wonderful Balinese buffet lunches and dinners, including freshly caught fish, Balinese desserts and her famous Casa Luna cakes. Most of the meals were created from recipes featured in her book, ‘Bali. The Food of my Island Home.’

Meanwhile, I also felt very privileged to spend time with trailblazer, Tony Wheeler, especially as Lonely Planet has long been my guidebook of choice. Tony Wheeler and his wife, Maureen, sold the Lonely Planet company in 2007, but that hasn’t stopped them from travelling and it certainly hasn’t stopped Tony from writing books about his adventures. He maintains that his greatest pleasure from writing books is talking about them, and every evening, we gathered on the deck of The Katharina and listened enthralled as he regaled us with his exciting travel stories and amusing anecdotes. All of this was set against the backdrop of Komodo’s turquoise waters, volcanoes and rugged island landscapes. Interestingly, it was Tony Wheeler’s first visit to Komodo in 41 years!