A group from Wyoming approached us, declared themselves Aman junkies and asked to be flown to Java and Bali. Having experienced firsthand the luxurious Aman properties throughout Asia – as well as the painful withdrawal of departure – we had no choice but to comply. Working through our clients' carefully considered brief, we reviewed their polite list of demands:
If we could also arrange encounters with American expats who'd made Indonesia their home, that would be a welcome bonus. And oh yes, nannies for the kids, please. In other words, our guests gave us a wish list that was right up our alley, or at least our Balinese footpath. We linked a trilogy of acclaimed Aman resorts, threw in an exceptional COMO hotel for good measure, and went on to create the trip of a lifetime.
First stop was Amajiwo on Java, where we explored the magnificent ninth-century Buddhist site of Borobudur at sunrise, then viewed it again at sunset from the hotel terrace. Rather than working with a local guide, we invited a Cambridge-educated journalist named Budi (meaning "the wise one") to help us better understand Indonesia's complex history and fascinating religious cohabitation. Budi was also a keen biker and walker: he happily joined the group for treks up volcanic mountains and shared the thrills of rafting down Class II to IV white-water. And along the way he introduced us to friends, family and complete strangers, helping our travellers to the genuine insights they were hoping for.
We next flew to Bali, where the deities became Hindu but people's smiles were as welcoming as ever. Setting out from the elegant Amankila resort, the group discovered fascinating places such as Ubud, Tembok and Manggis. And they enjoyed every kind of cultural moment, from temple feasts to devotions in family homes, from artisans' markets to whale spotting off the north coast (or diving among shipwrecks below the waves).
The group's final destination was the island of Moyo, where our secluded hideaway Amanwana, accessible only by floatplane, is nestled in a cove by the Flores Sea. Here spectacular diving combined with decadent beach time to create the perfect ending to a story dreamed up by junkies.