Nepal (2005)

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 : ——————————————————————————————————————————————– My third book, Titik Nol, is being released in Indonesia. This book is so special for me. It [...]

February 7, 2013 // 0 Comments

Kathmandu – World Tourism Day

September 27, 2005 Thamel Guesthouse 80 NRs World Toursim Day? Never heard before. But today, on every single corner of Thamel, you can see brochures and banners to welcome “all distinctive guests” on the world tourism day. I read on the newspaper that today there would be special performances, like pop rock bands, japanese dances, …. hmmm….. :question: So, the real festival started after dark. The road is full of people selling food (remember “pasar malam” (night market) of Indonesian small towns). It seems that almost every single shop in Thamel want to participate in this Tourism Day. Restaurants offer “open air tables” where guests can have dinner on the main street (reminded me to Kaoshan Road of Bangkok). And even hotels, supermarkets, and internet cafes turnt to be an instant restaurant. I wonder myself whether what supposed to be “world tourism day” is “thamel food day”. At the evening, the rock band starts. Everybody came down to the main road of Thamel, everybody dance together. And Thamel Chowk has turned to be a huge open air discotheque! (plus the open air restaurants selling all kinds of Newari snack). It’s indeed a climax of all kind of entertainments in Thamel. [...]

September 27, 2005 // 0 Comments

Kathmandu – Dua Puluh Menit di Sebuah Sudut Kathmandu

September 25, 2005 Thamel Guesthouse 80 NRs Ting.. tang… ting… tang…, kedua bilah gunting besi beradu cepat, berdentang-denting bergantian di sisi kiri dan kanan telingaku. Sebuah irama yang sudah sekian lama tak lagi aku dengar, setelah pisau cukur elektrik merajai pasar salon kecantikan. Dimulai dari rasa gerah yang teramat sangat, menyengat ubun-ubun kepalaku yang ditumbuhi oleh rambut-rambut yang semakin hari semakin lebat, aku melangkahkan kakiku mencari tukang pangkas rambut. Cukup tersembunyi di balik lorong-lorong sempit tak jauh dari Thamel, Kathmandu, sebuah salon mungil dengan hanya dua bangku terjajar rapi, dua pemangkas rambut, dan dua orang yang “terpangkas rambutnya”. Ruangan mungil itu dilengkapi dengan dua buah washtafel, nampaknya kepala pengunjung akan dijorokkan (bahasa Jawa: didelungupkan)ke washtafel itu untuk dibasahi sebelum pisau-pisau cukur menunaikan tugasnya di kepala mereka. Tak nampak satu pun peralatan elektronik di sini, semuanya serba mekanis. Oh, tak lupa juga bunyi bilah-bilah gunting yang beradu seru. Ketika tiba giliranku mendapatkan pelayanan, rambutku terlebih dahulu mendapatkan “siraman” segar dari air yang mengocor deras dari keran mungil itu. Tak lama kemudian, bilah-bilah gunting cukur yang panjang itu mulai lagi beradu sengit menunaikan tugas mereka, yang denting-dentingnya mengingatkanku pada masa kecilku, dua puluh tahun yang lalu, ketika ayah menjorokkan kepalaku ke depan [...]

September 25, 2005 // 6 Comments

Kathmandu – National Geographic Traveller

September 24, 2005 Thamel Guest House, 80 NRs Received a good news today, that my article of Afghanistan and Pakistan is confirmed to be published on the 11th edition of National Geographic Traveller (Beijing). The total number of pages for my article is 12, quite much for a writer-beginner like me. The article will be in Chinese, a translation from the Indonesian version (downloadable in this website also). The translation was made by two of my friends who studying Indonesian language in Peking University, and I really admire their Indonesian proficiency. Today I spent the whole morning for giving captions for the photos used by the magazine. Too bad, I am not in China at this moment, so I even wont get the chance to see the magazine by [...]

September 24, 2005 // 3 Comments

Kathmandu – Loss Report

Ruang kerja kantor polisi Hanuman Dhoka. (AGUSTINUS WIBOWO) September 23, 2005 Thamel Guesthouse 80 NRs This story is still related with my pickpocketed wallet a week before. And after today, I completely give up the hope of getting back my wallet. Remember last week how I was ‘ping-pong’ed by the police officers when we tried to report the loss right after the accident. And I didn’t have any photos with me (required for report, and all of my passport photos were in the wallet). Not big deal, the second day I submitted a passport photo and passport photocopy. The officer of foreign section was not there, so I passed the stuff to another officer, who promised to make the report the second day. After visiting Gorkha (September 20), I came again to the office, supposed to have the report prepared. But, oho, I was just too optimistic. Nothing was done, and even they lost my loss report So I had to make another report, starting again everything from the beginning. The fat lady was busy of typing another stuff with the prehistoric typewriter, and asked me to wait for 5 minutes (and you know what 5 minutes mean in South [...]

September 23, 2005 // 0 Comments

Kathmandu – Indonesian Model

September 21, 2005 Thamel Guest House, 80 NRs After so many lazy days in Kathmandu, I decided to move on. Today I applied Indian visa in the Indian embassy. The embassy opens at 9:30 but I started queueing at 8:30 (got the 5th position). The embassy is famous for the low efficiency and strict working hours. It closes at 12:00 precisely, no matter how many people still waiting in line. For most of Asians, they only issue 3 month visa here if you have never been to India before. Multiple visa is possible, depends on your nationality. The total visa fee is 3350 NRs. For Chinese passport holders (and sometimes including Hong Kong passports) they only issue 1 month visa. Better not to have Pakistan visa in your passport if you wish to bargain for longer visa. During my waiting there, suddenly I saw a black man holding an Indonesian passport, applying for Indian transit visa. I was so curious, as this man seems completely not an Indonesian. And then a girl popped-up, quite Indonesian Chinese face. And the man told the visa officer that the girl was his wife. Brought by my curiousity, I talked with the girl, which [...]

September 21, 2005 // 0 Comments

Gorkha – A Temple on the Cliff

September 19, 2005 A hotel in Pokhara-Kathmandu highway junction, 50 NRs There is also Durbar square in Gorkha, but this Durbar is quite different from its Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhaktapur counterparts. The temple-palace is located on the top of a mountain, probably about 1-2 hours of hiking, and is militarily sensitive area. Photography is strictly prohibited, and they are really serious about this. You can see many armed guards around the temple area, and you have to leave your camera on the gate. There is no entrance ticket, but everyone has to write down passport detail in the guestbook of the temple. From the temple, you can see spectacular panorama of the area, dozens of hills queueing, and some small villages dotting the green thick forests. There are several different ethnic groups living in Gorkha, and they are quite distinctive from the Newaris in Kathmandu. Many of Gorkha hill people wear sarong, and guess what, the sarongs are imported from Indonesia (95% of sarong in textile shops are from Yogyakarta, the rest are Singapore and Malaysia). The price is also not so bad, around 300 NRs each, comparable to what you would pay to obtain one in Java. We tried [...]

September 19, 2005 // 1 Comment

Gorkha – Catching a Wedding

September 18, 2005 Gorkha Bisauni Hotel 50 NRs/bed Met a Malaysian traveller some days ago, a journalist of a quite reknowned Malaysian media. Since this is the first in last two months for me to be able to speak Malay/Indonesian language, I felt so happy to chat with her about the politics, cultural issues, etc of our region. She told me that some days before she met a Nepali guy who has ever worked in Malaysia (there are sooo many Nepalis with working experience in Malaysia), and this Nepali guy, Deepak, invited her to attend a wedding ceremony of one of his friends in Gorkha. I was so interested in attending the ceremony (wedding ceremony is not everyday, right?) so I joined them. Deepak speaks a little bit of Malay, with very bossy accent (guess that he learnt his Malay from his Chinese boss in Johor). He insisted us to depart at 6 o’clock in the morning as he wanted to take the earliest bus to Gorkha, 150 km or so from Kathmandu. And he also insisted us to take the “best” car, which cost 200 NRs per person. The journey was gruelling as he even didnt let us to [...]

September 18, 2005 // 0 Comments

Kathmandu – Living Goddess

September 17, 200 Thamel Guesthouse 90 NRs Today is the peak of the celebration of Indra Jatra Festival, the biggest event in Kathmandu throughout the year. Before talking about this festival, let’s see the unique habit of Nepali Hindus to have a living goddess. This living goddess is called as Kumari Devi, a young pre-puberty girl chosen through a set of difficult tests. This girl then become the living goddess, staying in a palace, Kumari Bahal, just south the Hanoman Dhoka Royal Palace. The girl is then worshipped as a god by the people, and she possesses many spiritual powers. Non Hindus are not allowed to even step in into the Kumari Bahal. Taking pictures of her is strictly prohibited. The girl, once she arrived to her first day of puberty, is not a goddess anymore, and another Kumari Devi should be chosen again. It is said that it’s not good to marry an ex-Kumari, as the husband will be in misfortune. But some says that the Kumari is used to be spoilt during her young ages, and when she grows to be a woman, it will be difficult for the men to fulfill her wish. Well, it’s just a [...]

September 17, 2005 // 1 Comment

Kathmandu – Pickpocket

September 16, 2005 Thamel Guesthouse 90 NRs Today is a day before the Indra Jatra festival, and there were quite some performances in the Durbar Square, Kathmandu. Everybody and virtually with each of his dog flourishing the square to watch the big festivities. I will try to write about the festival itself in other post, but now just want to share my unfortunate. I was so occupied with taking pictures of the dances, that I completely forgot I put my wallet in my back bag. And yes, after the dances finished, I checked my bag, and it was open. There were my harddisk, my wallet, and my cameras inside. Intuitively I have removed my camera and put it somewhere else, but I just put the wallet and harddisk in a very easy to open part of the bag. The thief was little bit “good man” that he only stole the wallet, and left away my harddisk, with all of my photos I took during the trip stored inside. What I lost 5000 NRs (about 75 US$), 200,000 Indonesian Rupiah, some Afghanis and Pakistani Rupees, and the most made me sad: my student cards from ITS Surabaya and Tsinghua. Really bad [...]

September 16, 2005 // 3 Comments

Kathmandu – Democrazy?

September 16, 2005 Thamel Guesthouse 90 Nrs These last two weeks, Kathmandu is always shocked by the demonstrations to demand more democracy in this country. It was started by banner marches in New Road, and since last few days it has brought huge problems to the traffic. The junction of Rani Pokhari was completely stucked, the road was closed, as the demonstrators threw stones from top of buildings. Most of them are university students, but probably they are lack of knowledge of how to demonstrate properly. They yelled “Democracy, democracy!!!!”, but when a Chinese tourist with quite “open” T-shirt, the yells changed to be “Hi, sexy girl…, sexy girl….”. While their goal may probably right, but their way of demonstrating is absolutely doesnt get symphaty from the people. The inconvenience caused, especially the total traffic jam and the stones threw to any vehicles arouse anger from the traffic users. Probably need to send some Indonesian activists here, [...]

September 16, 2005 // 0 Comments

Kathmandu – Freak Street

September 15, 2005 Thamel Guesthouse 80 NRs In a friend’s guide book of Nepal it is written that Thursday is the open house day of the royal palace. Some of the Chinese tourists are enthousiastic to wait for the hours (early afternoon). I was thinking of doing shopping day today, with a Chinese girl who is leaving tomorrow, but the sudden meeting with a Malaysian traveller today changed all of my plan. The Malaysian, an ex-journalist, is travelling overland from her country, up to Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Yunnan, Tibet, Nepal, and going to India, Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan. Quite similar route as what I am taking now, and probably we will still meet again somewhere in the middle-east. Lamli, the Malaysian, speaks very good Malay, quite a contrast with most Malaysian Chinese I met before. So today indeed is a “village talk” day for us, as I speak Indonesian and she perfectly understands my fast speech. She stays in Freak Street, used to be the backpacker haven in Kathmandu before replaced by Thamel. Freak Street is located next to the Durbar Square, and due to its strategic location, it was flourished by backpackers in his hey-day. Now, although there [...]

September 15, 2005 // 0 Comments

Kathmandu – What was Lost, What was Returned

September 13, 2005 Thamel Guesthouse 90 NRs I spent the whole evening yesterday in an Internet cafe to edit and upload my Nepal photos. Spent around 3 hours, and was really tired after that. After paying I immediately ran into my guesthouse. After doing my daily exercise (100 push-ups), I read some books about the Sub-continent, and prepared to go to bed. Suddenly I realized I needed to recharge the batteries of my camera. But then, I couldnt find my camera. Just not in any single corner of my room. There is only one possibility: I left the 1000$ camera in the internet cafe, and it happened 2 hours before. I ran into the street, almost hit by some cars in the busy alleys of Thamel. When I arrived in the Internet cafe, I immediately went to the computer I used some hours before. But my camera was not there already….. …. “Looking for your bag, Sir?”, the owner asked me from behind. I almost cried to hear that… And yes, my camera was with him. I’m lucky that this happened in Kathmandu, and indeed it’s not an expensive lesson for my careless. Just imagine if this happened in Jakarta [...]

September 13, 2005 // 3 Comments

Kathmandu – Missing Indonesia?

September 12, 2005 Thamel Guesthouse 90 NRs Yesterday the sadhu of Nyatapola told me that today there would be a festival (Kak Jatra) in the Durbar Square of Kathmandu. So I rushed my morning visit to the Changu Narayan Temple (4 km north of Bhaktapur, the oldest temple in the whole country), and came back to Kathmandu as early as possible. When I arrived in the Durbar I saw that there was not any even a single celebration, just a horde of western tourists. So I didnt bother to sneak in (not intended to pay the steep 250 NRs entrance fee either). In Changu Narayan meet a Nepali who is going to work in Malaysia. I learnt that it was terribly difficult for Nepalis to get the visa, for working visa he paid around 2000 US$ for the agency, and even for tourist visa it is around 500 US$. He said it was his karma to be born as a Nepali. And for Indonesians, when you are in Nepal and missing Indonesia (as there is almost no Indonesians here to chat about the latest gossip of Artika Sari Devi), at least there is something to cure: – You will be [...]

September 12, 2005 // 1 Comment

Baktapur – Timeless

Kota tua Bhaktapur (AGUSTINUS WIBOWO) September 10, 2005 Golden Gate Guesthouse 100 NRs (amazingly cheap despite of the strategic location next to Durbar Square, and cheap hotels in Bhaktapur are quite difficult to find) At last, I left Kathmandu, for the first time in last two weeks. I started very early from my hotel, around 4:30 a.m., then took a bus from Ratna Park (12 Rs) to get to Bhaktapur. Why so early? The entrance ticket for Bhaktapur is 10 US$ for foreigners, quite expensive for my pocket. And going early in the morning means that even the ticket booths are not operating yet, and there is an opportunity to get by without paying. A ticket is valid for a week, and actually I posses a ticket already (borrowed from a friend in the guesthouse ). But anyway, nobody checked me when I arrived. Bhaktapur is UNESCO world heritage site, the whole city is. Compared to other towns I have ever visited, which are in UNESCO list, like Luang Phrabang in Laos and Khiva in Uzbekistan, Bhaktapur has a very different atmosphere. If in Luang Phrabang tourism has brought very radical change to the whole city life, and in Khiva [...]

September 10, 2005 // 0 Comments

Kathmandu – Women’s Festival

September 6, 2005 Thamel Guesthouse 100 NRs Today is Women’s Festival (Teej Festival) celebrated whole over Nepal. The center of celebration is the Shiva Temple of Pasupatinath in Kathmandu. I decided to go there early at 6 am, with a Chinese friend whom I met in Tibetan border. We got lost somewhere, then we decided to take taxi instead (70 Rs with a little bit bargaining in Hindi). To enter the temple complex area, foreigners have to pay ticket, 250 NRs. We were stopped by the ticket officer, forcing us to pay without any discount. Little bit too expensive for our pockets. We said we wanted to consider again whether to enter or not. But after some few minutes when we decided to pay, there was nobody in the ticket booth, so we entered without paying ticket (again). And apparently there is no other ticket checking inside, and it’s actually easy to enter without ticket as the area is surrounded by local neighbourhood. The festival actually started far early in the morning, 3 am, when the women already went in queue to the main temple to pray. Almost all of them wear very beautiful red coloured sari, makes the queue [...]

September 6, 2005 // 2 Comments

Kathmandu – Just Another Day in Thamel

September 5, 2005 Thamel Guesthouse 100 NRs Met a Malaysian girl whom I travelled with for a while in Mongolia, back 3 years ago. Quite surprised to see how she changed. And very good recommendation of cheap and nice Nepali dishes in Thamel area. Won’t write it here, otherwise my diary will be a guidebook of how to spend lazy days in Thamel. The weather is not so good today, planned to go to Swayambunath. Woke at 5:30, was ready to go at 6, but after seeing the clouds, decided just to linger around. Except some pictures of the homeless children sleeping on street, I didnt make any splendid news today. Met a local Nepali guy in the evening, and had really nice chat with him. And yes, today is another lazy day in Thamel. (sigh) Country Guessing Game It’s a very common game for the touts, guides, shopkeepers to guess the nationality of the tourists in this area. “Japanese?”, “Korean?”, and “Chinese?” are the top guessings for me. Then, “Thailand”, “Singapore”, “Malaysia”, “Filipino”… Uuuurgh, when there is someone who can guess me right? I am INDONESIAN!!! And even when I told them I was from Indonesia, the second day [...]

September 5, 2005 // 2 Comments

Patan – The City of Beauty

Lapangan Durbar di Patan (AGUSTINUS WIBOWO) September 4, 2005 Thamel Guesthouse 100 NRs A new day is started in the family very very early in the morning. I slept on the bed in a room which is multi-functioned as kitchen and dining room also. Nice sleep, though, and it was really a struggle to make myself awaken. Even today is Sunday, all people in this family is busy. I was told that for Nepalis, Sunday is also working day. So everyone was busy of preparing, the father is going to the office; the daughter is dressing school uniform; and the mother, not only preparing to go to her office, but also has to prepare breakfast for the whole family. While for me, I was busy of lingering around the fully packed temple complex of Patan’s Durbar Square. The Durbar square in Patan is very loose, surrounded by crowded neighbourhood and markets. Even the ticket officers will not bother to stop visitors to pay for ticket (or it is because I look like Nepali???) Anyway, when I was there I didnt see anyone in the ticket office. The temples in Patan are very beautifully crafted, but of course, the highlight is [...]

September 4, 2005 // 0 Comments

Kathmandu – Drunk

September 3, 2005 Thamel Guest House 100 NRs Having told that now all of Durbar Squares and almost all of big temples in Kathmandu Valley require foreign tourists to pay for tickets to enter (and not cheap), I really consider whether visit or not visit with my very limited budget now. And someone told me that the best time to visit was early in the morning when the Hindu people starts the offering to the Gods (like in Bali). The Durbar Square of Kathmandu is not walled. I was inside the square already, without realizing that i was there. I was looking for the ticket office, but nobody did ask for it. The squares are surrounded by hundreds of alleys from the neighbourhoods, so it’s actually fairly easy to enter by avoiding the ticket check, with or without your conscience. A friend of mine from a media in Indonesia introduced me to a Nepali reporter working in Radio Nepal. Today I met him, and he invited me to his house in Patan. Live in Kathmandu is not always easy, the low salary (about 128 dollars) and high house rent (33.3% of the salary) is a burden for this family. He [...]

September 3, 2005 // 3 Comments

Kathmandu – Philately Day

September 2, 2005 Thamel Guesthouse 100 NRs Everybody gets very lazy in Nepal, especially if he has just finished the hard trip in Tibet. I met the two Israelis who I met in Shergar (Everest, Tibet) and were going to Nepali border. It was really surprising to hear their story, that on that day when I decided to go to Everest, there was not even a single vehicle able to take them to Old Tingri. So they decided to go backtrack to Shigatse, and then rent a jeep (600 yuan per person) to go to border. I feel very very lucky to be able to take a truck and even without a single cent. These two Israelis were also got very lazy in Kathmandu, and they need days before deciding to take a short trek somewhere in northern Nepal. And as for me, even up till now, I have no idea what to do and where to go in Nepal. Just want to go to India ASAP to have the camera repaired, but still dun want to skip the attractions of Nepal. A new day is started here, when you hear Hindus music from the street orchestra played by the [...]

September 2, 2005 // 0 Comments

1 2