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+ Tony Chi

Unlike the designs of his restaurants—from New York to Sydney—Tony Chi tells PAUL EHRLICH why he likes to keep his getaways as minimalist as possible

Published on Oct 28, 2010

Labuan Bajo is famed for its diving

Above: Labuan Bajo is famed for its diving.

Left: The Atacama Desert in Chile.

From the dry Atacama desert in Chile to the tropical Indonesian archipelago, the journey rather than the destination is the epitome of my dreamscape.

While traveling from Bali to Lombok for a golden sunset, I spent one ride on a fishing boat across the clear sea watching the algae sway below me. I can still picture the kerosene lanterns just at the moment they began to illuminate the sky when the sunset turns the sea into gold. I can taste the squid I caught, standing at the end of the boat, and the fresh sashimi I ate, turning a day’s catch into the evening’s meal. This is the place to be—fresh food, a nice bottle of wine and intimate conversations with good friends into the night.

During the day, the waterfalls of Moyo Island and the creatures of Komodo always pull me towards land. I can never leave without spending some time with the Komodo dragons. And there is a little village just west of Flores I always return to—Labuan Bajo. For scuba divers, this is one of the best places to dive. I, however, simply enjoy floating in the water. After a few hours in the ocean, a barbecue is an ideal end to the day.

Although Indonesia and the Atacama Desert differ in many aspect, my love for the islands takes root for the same reasons that I find myself regularly thinking of the desert. There is a strong and innate bond between the dry desert of the Atacama and the calm waters that embrace the islands of Indonesia. It is this bond that I experience every time I journey through this paradise—an indescribable companionship with nature.


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