Sailing the East Indonesian seas conjures the spirit of swashbuckling adventure, historical significance and fragrant yet forgotten islands. While you’re awaiting restlessly for your much anticipated Aqua Blu trip, here are our recommendations for books, fact and fiction, and films you can familiarize yourself with in order to immerse completely with our exotic destinations of Komodo, the Spice Islands and Raja Ampat.
Perfect for easy afternoon reading
The Rainbow Troop | Andrea Hirata
Published in Indonesia in 2005, The Rainbow Troops, Andrea Hirata’s closely autobiographical debut novel, sold more than five million copies, shattering records. Since then, it has captivated audiences around the globe with its powerful and intimate coming-of-age retelling of ten youths who make their home on the Indonesian island of Belitong. Ikal and his friends—a group nicknamed the Rainbow Troops—face threats from every angle: skeptical government officials, greedy corporations hardly distinguishable from the colonialism they’ve replaced, deepening poverty and crumbling infrastructure, and their own low self-confidence. This is classic storytelling, bursting with charm and verve.
The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century | Kirk Wallace Johnson
In 2009, a 20-year old American flutist Edwin Rist pulled off one of the most bizarre robberies in recent decades when he smashed a window at the Museum of Natural History in Tring, near London. A current read of our CEO Francesco Galli Zugaro, this novel by Kirk Wallace Johnson, a former U.S.A.I.D employee in Iraq, recounts the odd crime and its even more curious aftermath in which List ransacked the preserves skins of 299 tropical birds, including specimens collected by the legendary naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace in the mid-19th century. What unfolds is a complex tale of greed, deception, and ornithological sabotage.
Perfect for history buffs
The Malay Archipelago: The Land of the Orang-Utan and the Bird of Paradise | Alfred Russel Wallace
Written by the British naturalist and fellow evolution theorist Alfred Russel Wallace, this book chronicles the sheer breadth of his scientific exploration, during the eight-year period 1854 to 1862, of the southern portion of the Malay Archipelago including Malaysia, Singapore, the islands of Indonesia, then known as the Dutch East Indies, and the island of New Guinea. It was published in two volumes in 1869 and went through ten editions in the nineteenth century; it has been reprinted many times since as well as translated into at least eight languages. Wallace gives a detailed account of each island he visited: its physical and human geography, its volcanoes, and the variety of animals and plants that he found and collected while also recording his experiences, the difficulties of travel, and the help he received from the different people that he met. The preface notes that Wallace travelled over 14,000 miles and collected 125,660 natural history specimens, mostly of insects, as well as thousands of mollusk, birds, mammals and reptiles. Wallace’s drawings and sketches have been recreated on Aqua Blu’s stunning ceramic flatware for you to admire.
Spice Islands | Ian Burnet
Historian, geologist and author Ian Burnet follows the Silk Road across Central Asia and the Spice Route over the Indian Ocean to describe how the spice trade came to be dominated by Middle Eastern and Venetian merchants, later driving the maritime exploration of the world known as ‘The Age of Discovery’. Recounting the intense rivalry between the Sultans of Ternate and Tidore and their relationship with the Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch and English, who at different times occupied the Spice Islands, the heart of the book lies in the elusive clove and nutmeg spices and the history of their trade over a period of more than 2000 years. At once adventurous and humorous, much of the story is told through the lives of historical characters, such as Sir Francis Drake, Jan Pieterszoon Coen, Pierre Poivre and others who are lesser known but equally important. Meet Ian in person and let him regale you with his own 30-year experience of living in and researching the region during our Spice Islands Hosted Departure here.
Perfect for the adventurer
Guardians of Raja Ampat | Shawn Heinrichs and John Weller
Produced in conjunction with Conservation International by Emmy Award-winning cinematographer, investigative conservation journalist and 2011 Oris Sea Hero of the Year Shawn Heinrichs, and critically-acclaimed photographer, author and filmmaker Jhon Dweller, the film is a visually spectacular telling of the stories of the island community members and organizations who are the true guardians of Raja Ampat. We work with the Manta Trust, an important organization that aims to conserve the beauty of the majestic Manta Rays through research, education and collaboration. Watch the film here.
Ring of Fire: An Indonesian Odyssey | Lawrence Blair
This Emmy Award-winning BBC and PBS five-part series, along with its accompanying book Ring of Fire, turned what the world knew of Indonesia on its head when it was aired in 1988. It documents the ten-year voyage of two filmmakers, brothers Lorne and Lawrence Blair, through the world’s largest and least known archipelago — the exotic, mysterious islands of Indonesia famed for its chain of active volcanos that arc down and around into the Pacific to form the “Ring of Fire.” Follow the Blair Brothers as they sail with pirates aboard their black-sailed schooners in search of the Bird of Paradise, struggle through rapids and deep jungles searching for elusive nomadic tribes, witness veiled forms of human sacrifice and find themselves drawn into ten years of danger and discovery in a magical land where ancient myths still flourish. Aqua Blu screens several episodes of the documentary in the afternoons while the vessel is at sea, while Dr. Lawrence Blair makes a hosted departure exciting as our resident expert and adventurer.
Aqua Blu travels to Komodo, Spice Islands and Raja Ampat on 7- and 12-night itineraries. Find out more here.