Recommended

Afghanistan (2006)

Third Book, Titik Nol (Point Zero) is Coming

Faraway. Why everybody is obsessed by that word? Marco Polo traveled faraway from Venice to the Mongolian Empire. The explorers adventured through dangerous seven seas. The climbers put their life on the line just for a few moments conquering majestic peaks. He was also overwhelmed by the “faraway”. The Traveler decided to get involved in globetrotting journey. He sneaked to the forbidden land in Himalaya, staying in mysterious Kashmir, and became witness of warzones and massacres. Started by a dream, flowing like a series of dreams, this is a journey of a traveler searching for a meaning. Until to the point that he had traveled very, very far, he was forced to return home, kneel down besides his mother’s bed. And from the story of the very mother who has never traveled anywhere, little by little he revealed the meanings of journey that he was missing. Paperback, 568 pages Published February 2013 by Gramedia Pustaka Utama ISBN: 9789792292718 edition language: Indonesian For the details of this book, please visit : http://agustinuswibowo.com/TitikNol ——————————————————————————————————————————————– My third book, Titik Nol, is being released in Indonesia. This book is so special for me. It [...]

February 7, 2013 // 0 Comments

Media Indonesia (2011): Menelusuri Jalur Para Penakluk

Saya melintasi Khyber Pass tiga kali. Dua kali pertama pada 2002, dari Pakistan menuju Afghanistan, dan berselang tiga minggu sesudahnya, dari Afghanistan kembali ke Pakistan. Hanya setahun setelah rezim Taliban runtuh, Khyber Pass masih menyiratkan nuansa misterius dari negeri yang terus-menerus dilanda perang berkepanjangan.

October 4, 2011 // 0 Comments

A Blanket of Dust—New Edition

My first book, A Blanket of Dust (Selimut Debu) is going to be republished with new cover and new photos, to be launched by Gramedia Pustaka Utama this coming 29 September 2011. [Agustinus] tak ingin hanya menjadi penonton isi dunia. Ia mau terlibat sepenuhnya dalam perjalanan itu. Ia tak sekadar melihat pemandangan, berpindah dari satu tempat ke tempat lain, tetapi juga mengenal budaya dan berinteraksi dengan masyarakat setempat. –Kompas– Afghanistan. Nama negeri itu sudah bersinonim dengan perang tanpa henti, kemiskinan, maut, bom bunuh diri, kehancuran, perempuan tanpa wajah, dan ratapan pilu. Nama yang sudah begitu tidak asing, namun tetap menyimpan misteri yang mencekam. Pada setiap langkah di negeri ini, debu menyeruak ke rongga mulut, kerongkongan, lubang hidung, kelopak mata. Bulir-bulir debu yang hampa tanpa makna, tetapi menjadi saksi pertumpahan darah bangsa-bangsa, selama ribuan tahun. Aura petualangan berembus, dari gurun gersang, gunung salju, padang hijau, lembah kelam, langit biru, danau ajaib, hingga ke sungai yang menggelegak hebat. Semangat terpancar dari tatap mata lelaki berjenggot lebat dalam balutan serban, derap kaki kuda yang mengentak, gemercik teh, tawa riang para bocah, impian para pengungsi, peninggalan peradaban, hingga letupan bedil Kalashnikov. Agustinus Wibowo menapaki berbagai penjuru negeri perang ini sendirian, untuk menyibak misteri prosesi [...]

September 17, 2011 // 4 Comments

National Geographic Traveler Indonesia: Kilau Warna dalam Selimut Debu

Perang puluhan tahun tak mengoyak kemolekan alam apalagi impian, tradisi, dan kehormatan pemegang peradaban kuno ini.

Kata apa yang paling sering dihubungkan dengan nama Afghanistan? Perang? Kemiskinan? Taliban? Teror? Bagi kebanyakan orang, Afghanistan membawa kesan kelabu dan melankolis. Tetapi di negeri yang tak kunjung usai dihajar perang puluhan tahun ini ternyata juga ada impian, tradisi kuno, kebanggaan, dan peradaban.

July 27, 2011 // 3 Comments

Garis Batas – Perjalanan di Negeri-Negeri Asia Tengah (Borderlines)

My second published travel writing book, on journey to Central Asian countries (The “Stans”). Indonesian language. Borderlines – Journey to the Central Asian States Everyday, Afghan villagers stare to “a foreign country” which is just a river away. They look at passing cars, without even once experiencing sitting inside the vehicles. They look at Russian-style villas, while they live in dark mud and stone houses. They look at girls in tight jeans, while their own women are illiterate and have no freedom to travel. The country across the river seems magnificent—a magnificent fantasy. The same fantasy brings Agustinus Wibowo travel to the mysterious Central Asian states. Tajikistan. Kyrgyzstan. Kazakhstan. Uzbekistan. Turkmenistan. The “Stan brothers”. This journey will not only bring you step on snowy mountains, walk accross borderless steppes, adsorbing the greatness of traditions and the glowing Silk Road civilization, or having nostalgy with Soviet Union communism symbols, but also finding out the mystery of fate of human beings who are always being separated in the boxes of borderlines. Paperback, 528 pages Published April 14th 2011 by Gramedia Pustaka Utama ISBN13 9789792268843 primary language Indonesian original title Garis Batas: Perjalanan di Negeri-Negeri Asia Tengah url http://www.gramedia.com/buku-detail/84515/Garis-Batas ————– Garis Batas: Perjalanan [...]

April 25, 2011 // 4 Comments

Reader’s Digest Indonesia (2010): Menyingkap Selimut Debu Afghanistan

N U K I L A N READER’S DIGEST INDONESIA DESEMBER 2010 Menyingkap Selimut Debu Afghanistan Perjalanan menelusuri raga negeri yang biasa dihadirkan lewat gambaran reruntuhan bangunan, korban ranjau, atau anak jalanan mengemis di jalan umum, akan membuka mata Anda kepada prosesi kehidupan di tanah magis itu. Oleh Agustinus Wibowo “Selimut Debu” oleh Agustinus Wibowo; diterbitkan PT Gramedia Pustaka Utama, 2010 Khaak adalah Afghanistan. Dalam bahasa Dari dan Pashto – dua bahasa resmi Afghanistan, khaak berarti debu. Tak ada yang bisa lari dari khaak. Kerudung pria Afghan tidak menghalangi khaak. Khaak terbang menembus kisi-kisi burqa yang membungkus kaum perempuan. Bulir-bulir debu mengalir bersama angin, menyelinap melalui setiap rongga udara, langsung menembus ke sanubari. Debu memang menyelimuti seluruh penjuru Afghanistan, dari utara hingga selatan, dari timur hingga barat, menjadi makanan sepanjang hari, mengalir bersama embusan napas. Namun khaak juga bisa berarti tanah kelahiran, tumpah darah, segenap hidup dan mati. Saya melewati portal garis batas Pakistan. Sekitar 20 meter di depan saya, tampak gapura Afghanistan. Saya berdiri terseok-seok, bersama khaak dan setumpuk mimpi. Jubah qamiz dan celana kombor shalwar bekas yang saya pakai sudah lusuh. Khaak sudah memenuhi ronga mulut, kerongkongan dan paru-paru. Ada bimbang dalam hati, ketika melangkah perlahan di antara [...]

November 26, 2010 // 8 Comments

Shir Khan Bandar – Last Day in Afghanistan

Let’s cross the Amu River and see the real world of Tajikistan And it’s time for me to say good bye to the Afghan land. Every Thursday during the Ramazan, the Muslim’s fasting month, the Indonesian embassy in Kabul hold ‘buka puasa bersama’ probram, or breaking the fast together. This was always a good opportunity for the Indonesian community in Kabul to gather and have chit chat about life in Afghanistan. I met some UN workers like Aini, Nita (going to Sudan), and Mr Saptono, who had worked in Papua as well for 8 years. I also met a ‘newcomer’ volunteer architect, Widhya, whose boss, Rowry Stewart, traversed the Central Route of Afghanistan on foot in winter 2001 and wrote a book. I also couldn’t forget the nice moments with Mr Ambassador, all of the diplomats, and staff in the embassy, and of course, the excellent food. It was a very beautiful memory with all you guys in Kabul. It was a coincidence that Tolo TV was broadcasting a program, ‘itfar in other countries’, and yesterday they broadcasted about breaking fast in Indonesia. I didn’t watch by myself but Chayos and Mr Hamdani said the program was ugly. “Why did [...]

October 6, 2006 // 2 Comments

Kabul – Life of Afghan Police

Two Afghan police (or soldiers) guarding the ex-palace in Kabul My experience yesterday, being beaten by police, is actually nothing new in life in Afghanistan, and especially for journalists. Rights of journalists, as any other civilians, are not yet observed by the police, the guardian of the people, in Afghanistan. Najeebullah, a Pajhwok journalist, was kicked on his chest by a police when he made the coverage about the bomb happening last Saturday. Violence like this is not news anymore. “Why dont you write about the police atittude,” I asked him. They have written so many times, but the police never care, nor change their behaviour. “They are uneducated. They have low salary,” said Wais, telling me the reason for the bad behavior of Afghan police and soldiers. Inspired by this, I would like to learn more about the life of Afghan police. I traveled to Darulaman Palace, at the western part of Kabul. This is a palace built by Amanullah King and now resembled a building after earthquake. The building, and the whole area, suffered a lot from the wars since Mujaheddin time. I met two young police guys there, Manzur, a 20 year old Tajik and Noor Ahmad, [...]

October 3, 2006 // 3 Comments

Kabul, My Black Day

The police who slapped me, checked my camera, and slapped me again I cannot reckon any day worse than today. In the morning, there was another bomb blast in Kabul, in Mikroyan area. The suicide bomber was a young man in Western dress, who planted the bombs on his body, and blasted himself. There were 6 casualties. Two days before there was another bomb blast in front of the ministry of interior, which killed 16 people and wounded 50 others. Now is the Muslim’s holy month of Ramazan. But why are there bombings now? The extremists urge their followers to do the suicide bombings; for them it is jihad, as being a martyr in the holy month guarantees their place in heaven. Secondly, the winter is coming soon, and in winter terrorist actions would be more difficult to conduct. The extremists were in a hurry to complete their mission. The situation in Afghanistan is getting worse. Security is tightening up. But I still cannot accept the justification of what happened to me today. 4:30 p.m. I went out of my office to buy some postcards. My office is located near to the Ministry of Interior, where the blast happened two [...]

October 2, 2006 // 9 Comments

Kabul: Tajik Visa SCAM

The US$ 250 Tajik visa The ex-Soviet countries are notorious for difficult paperwork and expensive bureaucracy. The Central Asian republics are just example of this draconian governments. From my previous experience in Central Asia, the visa fee for Uzbekistan was 75$, Kyrgyzstan 55$, and 5 day transit visa for Kazakhstan was 35$. For Indonesian passport holders, the matter was complicated with ‘Letter of Invitation’. This is a procedure where someone should be our sponsor during our stay in the countries. The Letter of Invitation (LOI), or in Russian: priglashenie, or in embassies’ term: calling visa, then should be sent by the sponsoring organization to be then authorized by the ministries of foreign affairs of the appropriate countries. The process can take weeks. Fast service from Internet cost me 30$ per LOI. I am aware of these complexities of obtaining Central Asian visas. I have contacted my embassy in Tashkent who told me that they could arrange the ‘calling visa’, or LOI, or whatever its name, free of charge. And with the invitation from embassy, it’s almost 100% guaranteed that the invitation will be approved by the concerning countries. I sent an email to the ambassador of Indonesia in Tashkent as [...]

October 1, 2006 // 2 Comments

Kabul – Bom Blast !!!

One of the suspected terrorists, wearing military uniform, is caught by the police. This incident happened one day after the one in front of the Ministry of Interior A suicide roadside bomb just happened today in Kabul, in front of Ministry of Interior, on 8 a.m., rush hour when the people go the offices. The ministry is only about 50 m from my office, Pajhwok Afghan News. I didnt witness the incident by myself, as I was 15 minutes late. When I came to the office on foot, I was checked thoroughly 3 times by the policemen and then they took me to my office to assure me not going to the incident spot. When I arrived at the office, almost nobody at the newsroom. They couldnt come as the road was blocked. There was only 1 reporter from Pajhwok there and the officials refused anymore people to go for coverage (including photographer). According to what I have heard from the witnesses, the bomber planted the bomb on the body, waiting on the roadside in front of the ministry’s gate. Then at 8:00 the bus which carried the staff of the ministry arrived in front of the gate, dropped the [...]

September 30, 2006 // 2 Comments

Kabul – The First Day of Ramazan

Fantastic breakfast: big bread and bean soup Yesterday people were not sure yet whether the fasting month of Ramazan would start today or the day after. “We are waiting for the announcement,” said Abdullah, a driver from Bamiyan. But today, it was clear that the Ramazan started officially. It is one day earlier than in Indonesia, as Afghanistan was following the trend in the Middle East. For travellers, fasting is not obligatory. Kebab restaurants still prepared their meat and actually you still can eat anything as usual, just not in open way. The restaurant owner made the kebab indoor so that the smell would not invite people who were fasting. The Hazaras are Shiite. Abdullah said that for Shiite it was OK not to fast when travelling, but the Sunni Afghans were very strict about religion and still maintained fasting even when travelling long distance. As Ramazan started, suddenly the number of travellers dropped dramatically. Usually it was easy to collect passengers to go to Kabul from the bazaar of Bamiyan. But today I had to wait up till two hours until the car filled up. It was a 10 hour journey to Kabul, and when the car reached Maidan [...]

September 23, 2006 // 0 Comments

Band-e-Amir – A Pilgrimage

The cliff near the magical lake of Band-e-Haibat, one of the crystal blue Band-e-Amir lakes. “Bacha bazi, Khuda razi,” – a Hazara restaurant boy. Band-e-Amir is always a highlight of any visits to Afghanistan. The crystal blue lakes are simply miracle among the barren hills. The locals also believe it as a miracle. Legend says that Hazrat Ali, or Caliph Ali bin Abi Thalib, came to Bamiyan, killed a dragon and created the 6 lakes of Band-e-Amir with his magical power. Considering that the Hazara people are Shiite, the Imam Ali (or Hazrat Ali) was always the reason of all miracles. I argued with a man from Chekhcheran, that it was doubted that Hazrat Ali even had come to Bamiyan. Hazrat Ali died after some years being the fouth Caliph in Iraq, and he spent most of his time in the Middle East. The Chekhcheran man said that according to a travel writing of a Chinese adventurer (possibly a Buddhist monk) visiting Bamiyan 2000 years ago, the dragon of Bamiyan was still alive. The dragon is now believed to turn to be a hill with mineral spring, the Darya Ajdahar. You need a high degree of imagination to see that [...]

September 21, 2006 // 0 Comments

Yakawlang – Harvest Day

A Hazara farmer from Yakawlang is proud of his harvest products, including a giant melon. “Harvest this year is not so good” – Qabir, Yakawlang FAO training officer First, let’s see some facts about Afghanistan. About 75% of the total area is mountainous, leaving only small part of the country cultivated. From the lowland art, a big percentage located in wasteland in the southern desert. In the mountainous areas, water and weather are always big problems. Thus, the 25 million population needs wheat and rice to be consumed everyday. In this war torn agricultural country, food problem is among the biggest problems to be solved. Ghor province is among the least developed provinces in Afghanistan. Water is so limited and terrain is difficult. Agriculture can not develop much here. Shahtu Pass, 3350 m, one of the mightiest high passes in mountainous Afghanistan, separates Panjao from Bamiyan. A Hazara man directing his son to pose in front of the camera on the top of Shahtu Pass, Yakawlang, Bamiyan. Shahtu is among the incredible mountain passes in Afghanistan, 70 percent of which area are mountainous. A Hazara farmer from Dahne Karqol gets water from a communal well in the village. The Hazarajat, [...]

September 20, 2006 // 0 Comments

Lal o Sar Jangal – Coach Day

They promised to take me along with their trucks Cheragh was his nickname, literally means ‘lamp’. I don’t really know why he was called like that. He was a fat Hazara truck driver whom I talked with yesterday. He was agree to give me a lift up till Panjao, in Bamiyan province. Cheragh had interesting history. He spent 2 weeks in an island near Jakarta, of which he ever didn’t know the name. North of Jakarta, there are hundreds of small islands which are called as ‘thousand islands’. He, together with other 400 Afghans, was in a ship to Australia from Malaysia, their adventure for getting a better life, a dream from their warring country, 6 years ago. “The Indonesian government didn’t give us permission. Australia also didn’t give us permission,” They failed to get refugee visas even from Indonesia, and the archipelago government just allowed them to stay in an isolated island for two months. The government provided them food anyway, and the Indonesians they saw were only army who sent the food to the island. Thus Cheragh had not much other impression of Indonesia but its good weather and abundant water. Cheragh was a truck driver, who got [...]

September 18, 2006 // 0 Comments

Chekhcheran – The Capital of Ghor Province

A boy from Chekhcheran selling bushes for fire. “We are the center of Afghanistan. But why we are so poor?” – a villager from Chekhcheran The capital of Ghor province was a famous arena in Afghan history pages. It was mentioned many times by Babur, the great Moghul emperor. It was also expecting to prosper much further in 1970’s when there was a plan to build road through the Central Route of Afghanistan, thus connecting the Europe as far as to New Delhi. But Chekhcheran today was an isolated town, far from both Herat and Kabul, suffering Taliban attacks in few years back, and now was desperate for further development. The road in the whole province was unpaved, and it was not lit by electricity at all. The whole province had to rely on private generators to produce local electricity to watch TV (no radio signal in the whole province), light the rooms, listen to Indian songs, and run businesses. At night, it was a complete dark. “We are the center of Afghanistan,” said a local man, “but why we are so poor? Why our life is so difficult?” Chekhcheran, geographically, located exactly at the center of Afghanistan. The man [...]

September 17, 2006 // 0 Comments

Chekhcheran – The Journey to Chekhcheran

Other passenger hitchhiking together with me “This is not the place for humans. This is place for animals” – a driver from Chekhcheran The one-eyed hotel owner of Garmao was a very good man. Not only he conducted body search (taloshi) for the passengers sleeping in his restaurant to find my lost harddisk, he also helped me to get a truck lift from Garmao to the provincial capital of Chekhcheran. There were only two trucks passing the lonely village that day, after I had been waiting for more than 24 hours. The owner, a slim, bearded man, was reluctant to take me. He quoted 400 Af price which was very expensive, as he said, he was afraid that Taliban would specially targeted foreigners. It was only an excuse. The hotel owner, with his big voice, insisted him to take me. He was very authoritative, even the truck owner was afraid of him. Traveling by truck was far more interesting, comfortable, and cheap way of traversing the mountainous area of Afghanistan. It was slow. It broke often. The average speed was less than 7 km/hour. And it had comfortable seat. It was comfortable if you didn’t get the open air seat [...]

September 16, 2006 // 0 Comments

Garmao – The Minaret of Jam

The legendary Minaret of Jam “What was illegal has to be legal now, but what is legal is still illegal.” – Mohammad Yousuf Nassir Ahmad, a driver from Heart, owned a Mazda truck. His Mazda served as a public transport to the villages along the Central Route of Afghanistan, especially for those in Heart and Ghor provinces. From Garmao, some traders from the Jam village hired his car to transport their trading goods, and Nassir offered me a ride to the historical minaret of Jam. We departed from Garmao at 5:30 in the morning, delayed an hour from the initial planned time. Garmao, literally means ‘hot water’, seemed got its name in mistake, as the morning was extremely freezing. The truck had been loaded by goods of the traders, from rice, wheat, until strawberry jam and carbonated drinks Zam Zam from Iran. We, the hitch-hikers, sat on the open truck on the trading goods. The wind was very strong, and chilled. The rugged hills of Ghour province. Transport in this province is difficult and its isolation prevents this province, which has played an important role in Afghan history, from further development. Jam is located 10 km away from Garmao. There [...]

September 14, 2006 // 0 Comments

Garmao – The Journey to Jam

Travellers (musafirs) sleeping on the floor of restaurant along the central route of Afghanistan. The restaurants also serve as hotel for passengers. Along the isolated Central Route, the most common way of travelling is by hitchhiking a truck, like these. “Peida misha (it will be found)” – a passenger from Herat Same quote as a previous post from Iran, same story to be happened (again). After waiting for two days for transport heading east from Chisht, at last I found these two trucks. They were repairing the broken trucks when I came there out of the Chisht bazaar together with Abdurrahman, a boy from the village. Kalendar, one of the truck drivers, agreed to take me. But I had to wait 2 more hours until they finished repairing the broken truck. The night before, I had talked with another truck driver in the Iqbal restaurant to take me to Kamenj. The driver quoted astronomical price of 500 Af for the ride (normal price was 100 Af by truck). I bargained it down until 150 Af. He agreed and told me to be prepared at 8 a.m. But this was a Persian taarof culture, refusing but avoiding saying ‘no’. The truck [...]

September 13, 2006 // 0 Comments

Chisht-o-Sharif – The Journey through the Central Route

With s0 many locals with Mongoloid face, no wonder they also think I am part of them “Where in Afghanistan Indonesia is?” – a passenger from Obey My today had nothing to do with the remembrance of the September 11 accident. So was the life in this part of Afghanistan. Everything was just the same as it was in any other days. I started my journey to Kabul through the Central Route of Afghanistan, passing through the mountainous areas from Herat, Ghor, and Bamiyan provinces. I had heard that the bus to Obey, the first stop of the Central Route, departed from Darb-e-Khosh near the Friday Mosque. When I was there, there was no car at all. There was another old villager with big sack like that of Santa Claus, as confused as I was. After asking around, we found that we were waiting at the wrong place. The old man told me that we should take a rickshaw to the bus terminal. There was a mini bus going to Obey, 2 and half hours away from Herat. The ticket was 90 Af. The old man was still thinking I was a Hazara from Ghor province, as I told him [...]

September 11, 2006 // 0 Comments

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