A short entry this month as I’m traveling now and am far away from my stack of unread magazines.
I’m in Labuan Bajo, by the way. Wikipedia describes it as a “fishing town located at the western end of the large island of Flores in the Nusa Tenggara region of east Indonesia.” It is often used by visitors as a gateway to Komodo National Park.
Here is a National Geographic article about the Komodo Dragon. ETS loves to include content about animals on the test, so that’s a perfect bit of academic reading practice!
I’m in a small hotel in a more rural part of the town. The atmosphere here is peaceful and quiet. Well, mostly quiet. A few months ago kids in Indonesia discovered the old “clackers” toy so every ten minutes the silence is broken by the toy’s signature clack-clack-clack-clack. It’s the weirdest thing. Why clackers? Why now?
I read a few things this month, though.
First up, I read Colin Thubron’s “To a Mountain in Tibet.” Part travelogue, part history lesson, it describes the author’s visit to Mt. Kailas in the early 2000s. Thubron is my favorite travel writer (as regular readers of this column already know) and this is one of his strongest and most personal works. You can get it on Amazon.
I have visited Tibet a few times. The last was around 2012, I think. I remember how a police car was waiting for my partner and myself when we arrived at one town with a recent history of protests. Someone, probably the driver, had called ahead to let local officials know that some outsiders were coming. The Chinese state is impressive, to say the least.
I also read the July 2021 issue of Scientific American. A few things caught my attention:
This short article about new ways to grow coral cells might be a bit boring, but I’ve been snorkeling on this trip. It’s relevant!
The month’s cover story about human evolution and why we are more dependent on water that other species is perfect! On trips to tropical destinations like Indonesia I’m dehydrated pretty much all the time, so reading about why I have this problem is perfectly relevant. The article is actually quite interesting, and I can imagine ETS creating a reading passage about a similar topic some day.
The issue also contains a long story about how we might solve the climate change crisis by pulling carbon from the air and sequestering it deep underground. The article is a bit technical… but so is the TOEFL reading section.
So there you go. Four articles and a book. I think I’ll leave it at that. I’ll check in again next month with more notes from the road, and a few more articles.