Singapore Writer’s Festival 2015 – The Fluid Identities of Southeast Asia, 7 Nov, 4 – 5 pm

SWFI am delighted to update that I shall be featured at this year’s Singapore Writer’s Festival, which launched on Friday, 30th October 2015.

Join me and journalist, Elizabeth Pisani (author of the book, Indonesia, Etc – Exploring the Impossible Nation) at a panel on “The Fluid Identities of Southeast Asia” on Saturday, 7th November, 4 – 5 p.m. at The Arts House, Blue Kumon Room, Singapore.

We will be discussing this intriguing question of Southeast Asian identity, including the lingering impact of colonialism today, the historic links between the region’s major (port) cities, and how a heritage of trade and travel has created multi-cultural and mestizo (Peranakan) communities in cities like Batavia (Jakarta) and Singapore.

To get you tickets:

Tales of Asia II – Batavia (Jakarta), 25 Oct, Sunday, 2 – 3 pm, Toa Payoh Public Libary

The Amsterdam Gate, Old Batavia.

The Amsterdam Gate, Old Batavia.

Part II of Tales of Asia features the canal city of Batavia, capital of the former Dutch East Indies, and better known today as the Indonesian capital of Jakarta.

Join me as we journey back in time to explore a Jakarta that you’ve never seen before. Together we will…

  • Trace the history and origins of the Dutch East India Company – the Vereenigde Oost-indische Compagnie, or V.O.C.
  • Explore the former walled city of Batavia and Batavia castle, and uncover how the Dutch built Batavia to resemble Amsterdam, complete with canals and bridges.
  • Visit major landmarks of Old Batavia and hunt down what remains of these landmarks in today’s Jakarta
  • Take a leisurely tour through Weltevreden – Batavia’s leafy suburbs and learn more about the mixed (“mestizo”) Indies architecture
  • Come face to face with the Indische – the Dutch-Eurasian peoples that lived in Batavia, spoke Malay and wore saroeng kebaya.

…amongst other things.

Tales of Asia I – Malacca & Manila (Highlights)

Dear armchair time-travellers, here’s a clip featuring highlights from my talk at the Woodlands Regional Library, Singapore on 18 October 2015.  A link to entire talk to follow soon.  In the meantime, enjoy…

A link to the full talk is here:

[The Romance of the Grand Tour – 100 Years of Travel in Southeast Asia is available now at all major bookstores in Singapore, Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and London. Find it also at, and