Buzi 2 September 2014: Not As Paradise As It Seems

Being in such isolated place like Tais, I was totally at the mercy of my host. I could go nowhere without approval from Sisi the Tais woman who brought me here. I had been staying in Tais for more than a week. I wanted to see more places. I wanted to go to Mari, the neighboring village four hours away by walking where Sisi used to live. But she did not allow me, saying that people there would kill me. I wanted our group to depart earlier to Daru, so we could stop in Buzi or Sigabadaru, border villages face to face with Australian islands of Boigu and Saibai. Sisi also did not allow me, saying that the villages were full of raskol (rascals). “But Sisi, how can be raskol there? These are just little villages, everybody knows everybody,” protested me. “No, no. You markai are just foreigner, you never understand,” said Sisi, “These people are jealous people. They will kill you.” Tais, she said, was different from other villages nearby. Tais is so small, the people have abundant food, the church is strong; there is no drinking habit among the people, the village is always peaceful. But I was [...]

May 12, 2015 // 2 Comments

Tais 30 August 2014: A Nation in Waiting

Nobody would deny, Tais is a very blessed land. See how green the vast pasture surrounding the village—even though your economist mind may ask why such a potential fertile land is just wasted and overgrown by wild grass as tall as your chest. See how bountiful their garden products are, their huge yams and blue yams and cassavas and sweet potatos, their super-sweet bananas and super-hot chili and super-fresh coconuts and super-big oranges. When the men go hunting to nearby jungles, they almost never come home empty handed. The people of Tais never ran out of food, as their land provide much more than enough for its 80 families spread in the 1 kilometer breadth of their village. Despite of this, you would see the children were very unhealthy; they have skinny bodies of bones but with big bellies. I asked Sisi—my host in this village—why. She just laughed, and said that it was children loved to eat too much. But I thought it was due to their monotony of diet, most of which was carbohydrate. Their food, if not boiled yam or boiled potato or boiled cassava, then it must be roast yam, roast potato, or roast cassava. Sometimes [...]

May 8, 2015 // 1 Comment

#1Pic1Day: Antre Air | Line for Water (Mongolia, 2009)

Line for Water (Mongolia, 2009) The dwellers of the village of Tsengel in westernmost corner of Mongolia are queuing for water from a communal pipe in the middle of the village. This is a daily routine in most rural areas of Mongolia, due to unavailability of water system. Tsengel is last village in western Mongolia, neighboring with China and not far away from Kazakhstan, inhabited by predominantly Muslim Kazakh minority ethnic group. A big number of Kazakhs from Western Mongolia have migrated to Kazakhstan. Antre Air (Mongolia, 2009) Para penduduk dusun Tsengel di ujung paling barat Mongolia sedang mengantre air dari pipa komunal di tengah dusun. Ini adalah aktivitas harian di daerah pinggiran Mongolia, yang masih belum memiliki sistem pipa air. Tsengel adalah dusun paling ujung di Mongolia, berbatasan dengan China dan paling dekat dari Kazakhstan, dihuni oleh minoritas Kazakh yang beragama Islam. Sejumlah besar penduduk Kazakh di Mongolia Barat telah bermigrasi ke Kazakhstan. [...]

February 13, 2014 // 2 Comments

#1Pic1Day: Warna-warni Gurun | Colors of the Desert (Pakistan, 2006)

Colors of the Desert (Pakistan, 2006) Desert inhabitants in South Asia are known for their sophisticated costumes, full of ornaments and colors. The women in Thar Desert of Pakistan, especially the Hindu ones, still wear colorful costumes, with dozens of bangles all over their body, and are totally at ease with cameras. Warna-warni Gurun (Pakistan, 2006) Bangsa-bangsa gurun di Asia Selatan punya keunikan pakaian yang sangat rumit, penuh dekorasi, berwarna. Kaum perempuan di gurun Thar, Pakistan, khususnya umat Hindu, masih memakai pakaian yang berwarna-warni, gelang di sekujur tubuh yang berlusin-lusin, dan sama sekali tidak antipati terhadap kamera.   [...]

January 24, 2014 // 0 Comments

#1Pic1Day: Menyibak Harapan | A New Hope (Pakistan, 2006)

A New Hope (Pakistan, 2006) Survival is still the biggest question in the middle of Thar Desert, Pakistan. Aside from serious problems in water and healthcare, economic situation is also not quite optimistic. Some humanitarian projects have arrived here to introduce to the locals their own tradition they have already lost: carpet making. This is a new source to generate income for the desert dwellers. Menyibak Harapan (Pakistan, 2006) Di tengah gurun kering Thar, Pakistan, bertahan hidup adalah pertanyaan terbesar bagi penduduk. Selain masalah air dan kesehatan yang sangat serius, keadaan ekonomi juga sangat parah. Beberapa organisasi kemanusiaan datang dengan mengajarkan penduduk mempertahankan tradisi mereka untuk membuat permadani, sehingga mereka punya tambahan pemasukan untuk keluarga. [...]

January 23, 2014 // 1 Comment

#1Pic1Day: Dusun Kering | Dry Village (Pakistan, 2006)

Dry Village (Pakistan, 2006) Some areas in interior of Thar Desert, Pakistan, had not got rain for four years consecutively. Some villages were even deserted by its inhabitants, as they were looking for a new place with more water. These deserted villages turn to ghost villages. Dusun Kering (Pakistan, 2006) Beberapa daerah di pedalaman gurun Thar, Pakistan, sama sekali tidak mendapat hujan dalam empat tahun berturut-turut. Beberapa dusun bahkan ditinggalkan begitu saja oleh penduduknya, untuk mencari tempat yang masih ada airnya. Dusun-dusun yang ditinggalkan kemudian menjadi desa mati.   [...]

January 22, 2014 // 3 Comments

#1Pic1Day: Empat Tahun Tanpa Hujan | Four Years with No Rain (Pakistan, 2006)

Four Years with No Rain (Pakistan, 2006) Water and rain are very scarce in Thar desert, Pakistan. Some areas even had not got rain for consecutive four years. The inhabitants have to walk very far just to get water. Water is very precious here; some people even keep their water with gridlock and bury it under the sand. Empat Tahun Tanpa Hujan (Pakistan, 2006) Hujan sangat langka di gurun Thar, Pakistan. Di beberapa lokasi bahkan hujan sama sekali tidak turun dalam empat tahun. Penduduk harus berjalan jauh hanya untuk mendapatkan setetes air, sehingga air teramat berharga di sini. Beberapa warga bahkan menggunakan kunci gembok untuk mengamankan air yang [...]

January 21, 2014 // 5 Comments

#1Pic1Day: Pulang | Going Home (Pakistan, 2006)

Going Home (Pakistan, 2006) Thar is one of the driest deserts with the highest population density in the world. Thar stretches from Pakistan to India. The inhabitants have to walk for kilometers on boiling sand just to gather water. The desert dwellers usually travel to the nearby town of Umerkot in interior Sindh Province for shopping or selling their animals. The public transport departs from the desert villages in early morning, and return back from the town at afternoon. That’s the time for the desert dwellers to go back to the dry desert they call home. Pulang (Pakistan, 2006) Gurun Thar adalah salah satu gurun paling kering namun paling padat penduduknya di dunia. Gurun ini melintang dari Pakistan hingga India, dihuni oleh bangsa gurun yang harus mencari air hingga berkilo-kilometer. Penduduk Thar biasanya bepergian ke Umerkot, kota terdekat di pedalaman Provinsi Sindh, untuk berbelanja. Angkutan umum biasanya berangkat dari kampung-kampung gurun pada pagi buta, dan kembali lagi dari kota ke tengah gurun di sore menjelang petang, karena itulah waktunya bagi warga gurun untuk pulang ke tengah padang gersang yang menjadi rumah [...]

January 20, 2014 // 5 Comments

#1Pic1Day: Dua Tahun Sebelum dan Sesudah | Two Years Before, Two Years After (Sust, Pakistan, 2006)

Two Years Before, Two Years After  (Sust, Pakistan, 2006) Two years before, I met these five girls of Sust, near the Chinese border. Two years after, again I met four of them and brought them the old photo. Can you see which girl is missing? Dua Tahun Sebelum dan Sesudah  (Sust, Pakistan, 2006) Dua tahun sebelumnya, saya berjumpa dengan lima gadis Sust di dekat perbatasan Pakistan dengan China. Dua tahun sesudahnya, saya berjumpa lagi dengan empat dari mereka dan membawakan mereka selembar foto lama. Bisakah Anda melihat, gadis mana yang hilang?                 [...]

November 6, 2013 // 11 Comments

#1Pic1Day: Gadis-Gadis Pakistan Utara | Sisters (Sust, Pakistan, 2006)

Sisters (Sust, Pakistan, 2006) In most part of Pakistan, photographing women (including girls) have to be done cautiously, as this might be regarded as violation to their culture and religion. But in some villages in Northern Pakistan inhabited by the followers of moderate Ismaili sect of Islam, the attitude is much more laidback. Women and children might be happily showing in front of your camera if you ask politely. Gadis-Gadis Pakistan Utara  (Sust, Pakistan, 2006) Di mayoritas tempat di Pakistan, memotret perempuan (termasuk anak-anak) harus dilakukan dengan sangat berhati-hati, karena bisa dipandang sebagai pelanggaran terhadap tradisi dan agama mereka. Tetapi di beberapa desa di Pakistan Utara yang dihuni umat Ismaili yang moderat, aturan ini jauh lebih longgar. Para perempuan dan anak-anak bisa bergaya ceria di depan kamera asalkan Anda minta izin dengan sopan.                 [...]

November 5, 2013 // 3 Comments

#1Pic1Day: Penasaran | Curiosity (Chapursan, Pakistan, 2006)

Curiosity (Chapursan, Pakistan, 2006) The Chapursan valley in Northern Pakistan experience extreme winter every year. Due to its location, some villages in the area don’t receive any sunshine for two and half months consecutively. Despite of the cold environment, warm welcome is guaranteed, as the Wakhi Tajik people inhabiting the area always highlight their tradition of hospitality. Penasaran (Chapursan, Pakistan, 2006) Lembah Chapursan di Pakistan Utara mengalami musim dingin yang ekstrem setiap tahunnya. Karena lokasinya, beberapa desa di lembah ini bahkan tidak menerima sinar matahari sama sekali selama dua setengah bulan berturut-turut. Terlepas dari udaranya yang dingin, dijamin Anda akan mendapat sambutan hangat di sini, karena orang-orang Wakhi Tajik yang menghuni tempat ini selalu menekankan tradisi keramahtamahan yang mereka banggakan.               [...]

November 4, 2013 // 0 Comments

#1Pic1Day: Tidak Ada Burung Terbang | No Birds Fly (Little Pamir, Afghanistan, 2008)

No Birds Fly (Little Pamir, Afghanistan, 2008) Pamir, roof of the world, is a flat stony land in extreme elevation, surrounded by snow-capped mountains. Described by Marco Polo as, “The region is so lofty and cold, that you cannot even see any birds flying”. With snow may come at any time of the year, Pamir is extremely cold even in the middle of summer. Tidak Ada Burung Terbang (Pamir Kecil, Afghanistan, 2008) Pamir, dijuluki juga sebagai Atap Dunia, adalah tanah datar berbatu dan luas di ketinggian ekstrem, dikelilingi pegunungan bertudung salju. Marco Polo mendeskripsikan Pamir sebagai: “daerah yang sangat mulia dan dingin, engkau bahkan tidak bisa melihat satu pun burung yang terbang.” Dengan salju yang bisa datang kapan saja sepanjang tahun, Pamir teramat dingin bahkan di puncak musim [...]

October 10, 2013 // 1 Comment

#1Pic1Day: Perempuan dan Perhiasannya | Glamorous (Little Pamir, Afghanistan, 2008)

  Glamorous (Little Pamir, Afghanistan, 2008) The Kyrgyz women plays important role in preserving Kyrgyz cultures by making traditional dresses and accessories. As there is no shops in Pamir, business have to be done in primitive barter system, so the women has responsibility to make clothes for the families. The materials are brought by traders from lower lands of Afghanistan. Perempuan dan Perhiasannya (Pamir Kecil, Afghanistan, 2008) Perempuan Kirgiz Afghan berperan penting dalam mempertahankan kebudayaan Kirgiz dengan membuat pakaian dan perhiasan tradisional. Di Pamir tidak ada toko sama sekali, dan perdagangan masih dilakukan dengan sistem barter yang masih primitif, sehingga para perempuan punya tanggung jawab untuk membuat pakaian bagi anggota keluarga mereka. Bahan-bahan pakaian ini dibawa ke pegunungan ini oleh para pedagang dari daerah Afghanistan yang lebih [...]

October 9, 2013 // 4 Comments

#1Pic1Day: Perjalanan Mematikan | Perilous Journey (Little Pamir, Afghanistan, 2008)

   Perilous Journey (Little Pamir, Afghanistan, 2008) Pamir was supposed to be winter settlement of the Kyrgyz herdsmen, before the international borderline dividing Afghanistan with British India and Soviet Union was fixed. Once the border was enforced, the Kyrgyz were locked in Pamir for all seasons through the year. The road to Little Pamir, used to pass through some easier paths in today’s Tajikistan, now is 5-day journey on horseback through the perilous steep paths next to high cliffs. Perjalanan Mematikan (Pamir Kecil, Afghanistan, 2008) Pamir seharusnya adalah lokasi permukiman musim dingin dari masyarakat gembala Kirgiz, sebelum ditetapkannya perbatasan internasional yang memisahkan Afghanistan dari British India dan Uni Soviet. Setelah perbatasan diberlakukan, para nomaden Kirgiz terkunci di Pamir untuk keempat musim sepanjang tahun. Jalan menuju Pamir Kecil, dulunya adalah lintasan yang jauh lebih mudah di wilayah yang sekarang Tajikistan, tetapi kini berupa perjalanan mematikan lima hari berkuda melintasi jalan setapak yang curam di pinggir [...]

October 8, 2013 // 5 Comments

#1Pic1Day: Danau Agung | The Great Lake (Little Pamir, Afghanistan, 2008)

The Great Lake (Little Pamir, Afghanistan, 2008) Lake Chaqmaqtin, the second biggest lake in Afghan Pamir after Zor Kol or Lake Victoria, is the water source of Murghab River. The lake is 9 kilometer and 2 kilometer in size. The lake water provides life to several nomadic Kirghiz settlements nearby. The north bank of the water body is the winter settlements while the south bank is for summer period. Behind the snow-capped mountains at the north side is Tajikistan’s Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast region. Danau Agung (Pamir Kecil, Afghanistan, 2008) Danau Chaqmaqtin, danau terbesar kedua di Pamir Afghan setelah Danau Victoria (Zor Kol), adalah sumber air utama bagi Sungai Murghab yang mengaliri Pamir di sisi Afghanistan maupun Tajikistan. Danau ini panjangnya 9 kilometer dan lebarnya 2 kilometer. Air danau menghidupi sejumlah permukiman nomaden Kirgiz di sekitarnya. Sisi utara danau adalah daerah permukiman di musim dingin, sedangkan sisi selatan danau adalah untuk musim panas. Di belakang pegunungan bertudung salju di sebelah utara danau itu adalah wilayah Tajikistan. [...]

October 7, 2013 // 0 Comments

#1Pic1Day: Menggapai Harapan | Grabbing Hopes (GBAO, Tajikistan, 2006)

Grabbing Hopes (GBAO, Tajikistan, 2006) School children from an elementary school in Langar are happily exercising in the school garden. Despite the isolation and economic backwardness of the GBAO province, education is always on top priority of local governments. The literacy rate is almost 100% and little primary schools are available in main villages. Menggapai Harapan (GBAO, Tajikistan, 2006) Murid-murid sekolah dari sebuah SD di Langar, GBAO, Tajjikistan, sedang bermain di halaman sekolah. Walaupun provinsi GBAO terisolasi total dan tertinggal secara ekonomi, pendidikan selalu menjadi prioritas pemerintah daerah. Tingkat melek huruf hampir mencapai 100 persen, dan bangunan sekolah dasar tersedia di desa-desa yang terjauh sekali [...]

September 27, 2013 // 1 Comment

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 ————– Garis Batas: Perjalanan [...]

April 25, 2011 // 4 Comments

Bam – The Flattened Civilization

From what is left, you still can be amazed by the grandeur of an advanced ancient civilization 27 December 2003, the small town of Bam – located in southeastern Iran, about 300 kilometers from Kerman – was shocked by 6.8 Richter-scale earthquake. More than 40,000 were killed. Asides of the human casualty, Iran has another thing to grieve, as one of its civilization jewels was nothing but flattened. The ancient mud city of Bam used to be one of the strongest tourism magnets in Iran. People claimed it has 3,000 years of history, at least from the Sassanian period. Thousands of interesting old mud houses, sprawl under a giant mud citadel, giving exotic fairytale impression. I adore the old pictures of Bam, which are still hanged everywhere to remind how majestic the place used to be. But, the view of Arg-e-Bam (the ancient citadel surrounded by the mud city) today makes me weeping. The place is in severe desolation. The citadel which was appraised by Marco Polo and other ancient travelers now turned to be rubble. The old town become sad crumbling remains and debris. Workers are everywhere, hoping to restore the old town to its ancient glory, but not [...]

June 14, 2008 // 0 Comments

Shakhimardan – An Uzbek Island Surrounded by Kyrgyz Mountains

Shakhimardan, an Uzbek “island” surrounded by Kyrgyzstan As artificial as any other thing in Central Asia was the border lines between the countries. The nations created by the Soviet rulers now had to be provided their homeland. Stalin might say, land populated by most Uzbek should be Uzbekistan, those inhabited by mostly Mongoloid Kyrgyz then became Kazakhstan (the Kazakh was called as Kyrgyz) and Kyrgyzstan (of which people was called as Black Kyrgyz). But the matter was not simple in the Ferghana Valley. Ferghana Valley was always a boiling pot in Central Asia. The people were renowned as deeply religious Muslim, if not fundamentalist. It was more than necessary for the Russian to divide this huge mass with the highest population density all over Central Asia. Then, besides the division of ethnics (who were Uzbek, who were Kyrgyz, and who were Tajik), there was a clever intrigue by dividing the border lands to divide the people. Then, the identity in Ferghana Valley was not single ‘Islam’ anymore, but new artificial entities of Kyrgyz, Uzbek, and Tajik. But this was not something special if it was just borderlines. Borderlines created by Stalin were so complicated, zigzagging, and nobody understood the reason. [...]

April 7, 2007 // 1 Comment

Tashkent – Flying Home

The Uzbek Airways flight HY553 flight of Uzbek Airways left Tashkent airport at 11:30 exact heading to Kuala Lumpur. I was among the few passengers on that plane. Kuala Lumpur, compared to New Delhi, Lahore, and Bangkok, is a dry destination from this country in the central of Central Asia. This morning there were several flights to Asia, and all were full of passengers, but less than 20 people boarding from Tashkent to Kuala Lumpur. This morning started very messy. It seemed I was not prepared yet to leave Central Asia this sudden. The notorious Uzbekistan immigration officer was not that bad though. My embassy has prepared me with magic letter so that if they tried to find trouble I still have a way out. During my two month stay in the country, I had never registered myself to the OVIR office (Passport and Immigration office), thus my stay was illegal. Luckily the immigration officer was too happy to speak Tajik language with me, chatting about the luck of living in a Muslim country like Indonesia (?) and forgot checking my registration dockets. I was lucky. I think he was also lucky, not every day he met Indonesian speaking Tajik [...]

February 7, 2007 // 6 Comments

1 2