Nikoi Island’s unreal paradise
The Indonesian island of Nikoi is the “kind of tropical fantasy that burned-out managers keep a photograph of,” said Gisela Williams in The New York Times. This private isle sits only about 50 miles from the bustling metropolis of Singapore yet feels “worlds away.” Covered with palm trees and soft white sand, and surrounded by turquoise water as far as the eye can see, Nikoi is part of the Riau Archipelago in the South China Sea. The “only sign of human habitation” here is a collection of “bohemian-chic” beach villas constructed by two American expatriates who founded the island’s only resort. Constructed from “glossy local timber and twisted driftwood,” and topped with grass roofs, these bungalows “offer the basics, but it’s all you’ll need.” On Nikoi, there’s little to do other than lounge by a pool hidden among granite boulders or enjoy a meal of freshly caught fish at one of the two open-air restaurants.
Mt. Sinai at sunrise
Egypt’s “fabled peak,” Mt. Sinai, is an important site for Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike, said Charmaine Noronha in the Associated Press. I decided to retrace Moses’ footsteps and witness a sunrise from the 7,500-foot summit where he received the Ten Commandments. “Divine intervention seemed unlikely,” though, as I stood “chilled to the bone” at the mountain’s base at 2 a.m. “Only the faint light from a spattering of stars and a sliver of moon” illuminated the rocky terrain. I put my faith in our guide, a “yellow-toothed” Egyptian man. He led us “through the darkness, up the winding trail, over granite crags and slippery rocks.” Around 5 a.m., the sky began to turn from black to “shades of gray,” and I realized we were only about 750 steps from the top. I prayed I’d feel the warmth of the sun again soon, and “my prayers were answered slowly as a dusty orange light filtered through the sky,” unveiling the peaks all around us.