#BoycottBali: Siapa Membutuhkan Siapa?

Saat menentukan destinasi liburan, ada beberapa hal yang biasanya kita pertimbangkan: kemudahan visa, atraksi di destinasi, biaya, keamanan. Tetapi warga Australia diminta untuk mempertimbangkan hal lain: ada tidaknya hukuman mati di destinasi yang dituju. Itu tergambar dari gerakan boikot dari media sosial Australia dan sempat menjadi trending topic beberapa hari lalu: #BoycottBali. Gerakan ini berkenaan dengan rencana Indonesia menjalankan eksekusi mati terhadap dua gembong narkoba warga Australia, Andrew Chan dan Myuran Sukumaran, yang ditangkap di Bali pada 17 April 2005. Mereka berdua adalah pemimpin dari kelompok beranggotakan sembilan orang Australia, dikenal sebagai “Bali Nine”, yang berupaya menyelundupkan 8,3 kilogram heroin senilai A$ 4 juta dari Indonesia ke Australia. Death Row Diaries of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran (source: Di saat-saat terakhir ini, pemerintah Australia gigih meminta pengampunan kepada presiden Indonesia. Tetapi presiden Indonesia yang baru terpilih, Joko Widodo, juga gigih untuk tidak memberikan grasi terhadap kasus narkoba. Jokowi—demikian dia biasa dikenal—beralasan bahwa Indonesia dalam keadaan “darurat narkoba”, dan mengutip data mencengangkan: 4,5 juta orang Indonesia harus direhabilitasi karena narkoba dan 40-50 orang Indonesia mati setiap hari karena narkoba. Sebagian publik Australia menuding Indonesia yang melaksanakan hukuman mati sebagai negara barbar biadab. Sementara Andrew dan Myu dipandang sebagai [...]

February 21, 2015 // 49 Comments

Appearance in Ubud Writers and Readers Festival 2011 Agustinus Wibowo is an Indonesian travel writer, travelled overland from Beijing to Central Asia and Middle East. He traveled extensively and settled in Afghanistan as journalist for three years. His works include Selimut Debu (A Blanket of Dust) and Garis Batas (Borderlines). Festival Appearances Time travel Saturday, 8 October 2011 10:45 Left Bank Lounge What is the future of travel writing and how do travellers utilise the genre? Has it all been said and done? Brian Thacker, Fiona Caulfield, Trinity, Agustinus Wibowo Chair: Peta Mathias Ticketed A blanket of dust… Saturday, 8 October 2011 13:45 Left Bank Lounge Standing at the cutting edge of Indonesian literature, this modern day wanderer has travelled to the ends of the earth, living in Afghanistan for three years. Wander with him in this intimate session. Agustinus Wibowo with Jamie James Worlds, in words: making language work Saturday, 8 October 2011 16:00 Neka Museum How language can transport us on colourful journeys to exotic lands, Agustinus Wibowo, DBC Pierre, Ida Ahdiah, Trevor Shearston Chair: Rosemary Saye Boundary riders Sunday, 9 October 2011 09:15 Left Bank Lounge Boundaries can be both geographical and intellectual. Crossing borders real and imaginary, exploring new ground, writing new territory. [...]

September 23, 2011 // 0 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 ————– Garis Batas: Perjalanan [...]

April 25, 2011 // 4 Comments

Mashhad – The Empty Border

The dusty border Two years ago, when I came to Iran for the first time through the Islam Qala border, I was astonished by the scene of hundreds of wild Afghan men fighting to pass the border line, to quit their homeland and reach hope in rich Iran. But now, it’s not anymore the scene. The Afghan-Iranian border in Islam Qala is quite empty. Iran has tightened up the visa approval for Afghans. Land crossing is no more permitted for ordinary Afghans. The Iranian visa from Kabul is mostly stamped “For Air Travel Only”, putting them to obtain roundtrip ticket only with Iranian airlines. In some cases, visa applicants need to spend at least 1000 dollars just to get the entry visa. Indeed, one’s passport determines his or her fate. I arrived in Afghan immigration hall after 100 meter walk. People are sitting idly to wait for the officers come back from their lunch break. There are three officers behind the table. One is examining the passports, one is stamping, and the last one is noting down t he data before distributing the passports. All Afghans have to pay 10.000 Rial or 40 Afghani to the man who stamped the [...]

June 9, 2009 // 1 Comment

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

Tehran – Flying West

March 1, 2007 The Iran Air midnight flight from Kuala Lumpur to Tehran was surprisingly crowded. The Iranian passengers came with loads of their luggage – seemed to be enormous number of shopping goods during their holiday in Malaysia – queued in font of the check-in counters in Kuala Lumpur’s new, modern international airport. Iranians were always as what I have knew before, curious and friendly as usual. It was not hard for me to start conversations with other passengers. First there was a woman who just finished her shopping holiday. Then there was another man who had to open his carry-in luggage (as the police saw him bringing too many powders in his suitcase but it seemed that the man was too obsessed in buying milk powder, instant coffee, instant juice, and all other powder drinks – strange things to buy from a country as far away as Malaysia). While waiting in the crowded, messy lounge (somehow didn’t match the modernity of KL International Airport), I chatted with Omid, a 30 year-old-man who had been working for more than 7 years in Malaysia but spoke only a few Malays sentences. We chatted in English and Farsi. “This plane is [...]

March 1, 2007 // 1 Comment

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: 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

Herat – Back to Afghanistan Again

From Mashhad … After being 3 weeks in Iran, virtually doing nothing, now I am back into my life, traveling around, in Afghanistan again. I started quite early from a neighbourhood near the Holy Shrine of Imam Reza in Mashhad. When I was asking for direction for taking the bus, I was helped by a man from Tehran who was doing business in Jakarta and Bandung. He praised Jakarta to be a modern city and Bandung to be interesting traditional town (?). I took the direct bus from Mashhad to Herat. It was 60,000 Real. I was warned by my friend not to take the international bus, despite of the cheap price, due to the massive check from the Iranian officials toward the Afghans. It was the case coming to Iran from Afghanistan, as Iran worried about smuggling of drugs from their cute neighbor. I thought it should not be the case for the opposite way, as Afghanistan usually doesnt worry of anything coming to their country, and as today was Friday, there should be not many people lingering around the border. It was indeed a straightforward process. The luxurious Volvo AC bus only had 10 passengers, all Afghans but [...]

September 8, 2006 // 4 Comments

Tehran – Indonesian National Day

The border to Iran The Afghan-Iran border is a busy but very strict border, both on Afghan and Iranian side. The border is about 120 km away from Herat, can be reached by bus, Falancoach, or Volvo. I was in rush to go to Iran right after getting the Iranian visa, and I took the luxurious Volvo to go to Islam Qala, the border. The Afghans had to queue very long outside the immigration office. There were hundreds of people crossing the border, but they still had to pass many checks before being able to go to the ‘outside world’. I also queued. The people grumbled about how hot the weather was. Suddenly a soldier grabbed me from the queue, and put me directly to the gate. “Khareji! (foreigner!)” he said to his colleagues. In fact foreigners didnt need to queue together with the Afghan nationals outside the immigration hall. They were queuing for a slip for luggage search. I was not given the slip and was asked to go directly to the passport stamp window. “Get to line! Get to line!” screamed the Afghan border crossers when I went directly to the gate to get my passport stamped. They [...]

August 17, 2006 // 2 Comments

Qala Panjah – The Afghan Values

The question is how to unite all of them. “What are the values to be a nation?” Arnault Sera It was a long dusty journey in the dusty unpaved main road connecting the Badakhshan province to Takhar. With most roads in the country unpaved and full of dust, Afghanistan simply might be the dustiest country in the world. Traveling here is not easy either. Passengers are usually packed, pressed in carries like Falancoach, can load up to 18 passengers (many times overloaded up till 20 people) in the narrow seats of the car. Those who can afford more might choose TownAce, comfortably at 7 passengers in the car. If the road track is not too difficult, Corolla and shared taxi might be the most comfortable way of traveling. Traveling is always costly in Afghanistan. Even the cheapest Falancoach may only carry you traveling from Faizabad to Ishkashim for 550 Af (11 $) for the 160 km distance, while the same amount in Pakistan might take you 1000 km away. In anyway, traveling in countryside of Afghanistan requires high stamina, luck, bunch of money, endurances. I was not made for this kind of trip, as most of the way, I force [...]

August 6, 2006 // 0 Comments

Kabul – The Long Way to Afghanistan

Let’s go to Afghanistan! The border between Pakistan and Afghanistan is described by the Durand Line which devided the land of Pashtuns, the Pashtunistan, to two different countries. The Pashtuns in the Pakistan side, according to the agreement of the government and the tribal leaders, were given special autonomy to preserve their tribal culture until nowadays. The tribals have their own law, and Pakistani law barely has any effect on them. These tribal areas in the NWFP border province had been given agencies status, and are under control of Politcal Agent. The agencies of NWFP province are notorious of being troublesome. Waziristan is always on the top of ‘the place you likely want to visit’ among Pakistanis, and completely closed to foreigners. Not only once I read news about mission of Pakistani armies there in Waziristan, about terrorists (probably included mis-hit civilians) being killed, and about propaganda against foreigners who were accused by the government of being problems in this area. The ‘foreigners’ is a very wide term, ranging from Afghanis, Tunisians, Americans, or maybe Indonesians, Chinese, Japanese… As usual, I didn’t get the answers of all of my questions from the newspapers I was reading that day. And Waziristan [...]

June 9, 2006 // 0 Comments

Peshawar – Village Experience

June 6, 2006 Walled houses of the Pashtuns. Behind the concrete walls, nobody knows what is hidden there. Ziarat Gul (not real name) is a young boy of 19 years old taking computer education in Peshawar whom I met two months ago incidentally in an Internet Cafe in University Town area. I was in Internet Cafe, and he sat next to me. He kept staring at me and asking me questions this and that, that I couldnt even concentrate of using the connection. Then my Malaysian female friend came to the Cafe. The boy’s attention turned to the girl, and he kept asking me questions about my Malaysian friend. I didnt answer so much as I was annoyed. Later I found that he was desperate about girls with Chinese appearance. But at least he didnt show any intention of interested at me sexually, so I accepted his invitation to visit his village and gave him my mobile number. The chance to go to his village just came yesterday, two months after the invitation. I met him again in the same place, and he agreed to take me home. As computer student, and as I am an engineer of computer science, [...]

June 6, 2006 // 3 Comments

Umerkot – A Hindu Family in Umerkot

May 20, 2006 Parkash enjoying morning tea I know Om Parkash from my Malaysian friend, Lam Li. They met for the first time in World Social Forum in Karachi. Om told Lam to come to Umerkot, as it’s a special place in Pakistan, where most of the population are Hindus instead of Muslims and has desert culture. Lam Li couldnt go to Umerkot due to her visa problem, so I ‘replaced’ her instead. When I came to Umerkot, it was around 12 pm on May 8, 2006. I was completely exhausted. When I arrived in Parkash’s office, he was not there. He is working in Sami Samaj Sujag Sangat, a local NGO, and he was out to the ‘field’ so I waited him. I was completely exhausted, that I suspect my hepatitis A came back again. When at last Parkash came I was sleeping on the desk of the director’s room, with my saliva everywhere on the desk. I felt embarassed. He took me immediately to his house. His house is big, there are 52 people living there. The interior resembles a hotel with many rooms in rows surrounding a square ground. Family full of laughters Later I found that [...]

May 20, 2006 // 0 Comments

Lahore – I See India Again

April 25, 2006 Across the border Yes, this is a trip to the Indian border for the famous ridiculous border ceremony of the two enemous brothers: India and Pakistan. Few months ago I attended the ceremony from the Indian side, hardly saw anything due to the huge crowds. Seeing from the different sides of the border is always interesting. It’s just a thin line on the map, some inches of line de jure, but it made the two completely different sides on right and left side. Travelling to the border from Lahore, was passing through dusty areas of uninhabited lands. The area was completely empty since the Partition, and just recently when the relation between India and Pakistan getting better, people started to inhabit the dusty land between Lahore and the border. Equally the same case for Amritsar (Indian city next to the border), but less dusty. It was hot, and dusty. The sweat mixed with the dust to form special ingredients on my wrong-seasoned garment of clothes. The border is exactly between the two cities: Lahore and Amritsar, splitted the distance of 60 kms into two 30 kilometer distances. I was on the public bus (12 Rs ticket for [...]

April 25, 2006 // 0 Comments

Karimabad – Travelling Again

Journey is about meeting and farewell. Now comes the time to say goodbye to Hunza. January 24, 2006 His name is Hassan Shah, a father of 4 sons and 1 daughter. Today, two of his sons are going to leave him to Manshera, which is around 18 hours away bus journey from Karimabad. Hussain Shah, one of the sons, is bringing his elder brother, Salman Shah, for medical check up. His brother has got a sudden mental attack 2 years ago, and regular check up is needed, as now Salman’s hairs are getting lesser and lesser. This might be a very, very common farewell of a short separate between father and sons. But when this happen to Karimabad, in a family which rarely separated each other, this can be very dramatic. Hussain has never been further than Rawalpindi, not to mention how he dreamed to go abroad. But as Northern Areas citizen, passport for them is not easy to get. Only China is the country that people from this area can go, easily, with border pass. Passport for Northern Areas could be 100 times more difficult than those for other Pakistanis. That’s why leaving house is a big deal here, [...]

January 24, 2006 // 2 Comments

Karimabad – Indian Connection

Indian influence is obvious here India is just a bordering country, but the history of hostility between India and Pakistan makes the relation between the two countries interesting. As we all probably know, the language of both countries, Urdu and Hindi, are 90% similar. Urdu has more Persian and Arabic originated words, and Hindi from Sanskrit. But both languages are mutually intelligble. Though, the scripts are different. The influence of India is very huge in Pakistan, this is unquestioned. Everybody can sing the gigle of Aashiq Banaya, the new popular Bollywood movie, even though that this new film may not reach the villages of Pakistan. “Mujh se Saati Karogi? (Will you Marry Me?)”, Salman Khan’s newest movie, is a famous sentence anywhere here in Pakistan. And it became a laughter when we use this sentence to tease the others. The people in Karimabad, far away from anywhere, stuck their satellite dish to Indian channels. And guess what, a very plain TV drama, Vuh Ranehwali Mehlon Ki (She is Native of Palace)- A story of a beautiful girl from rich family loving a handsome boy from a poor family, is so sticky that all people in my hotel can be stucked [...]

January 9, 2006 // 3 Comments

Lahore – Welcome to Pakistan

Regale Internet Inn 150 Rs/dorm Indian border guard across the Pakistan borderline. Being sick for so many days has given me the chance to read lots of books recently. Just read Salman Rushdie’s “Shame” about the ridiculous stories of Pakistan history, from uprising and downing of its political leaders, from the ridiculous political manouvers, and also the stories about the founding of the “Land of Pure” and it failures. The other good book I got is VS Naipaul’s “Among the Believers”. This book is about Islam in Iran, Pakistan, Malaysia, and Indonesia. I have read the Indonesian part, and felt that the critics was quite well-said, even some parts I dont quite agree. The Pakistan part is quite interesting, how these Indian Muslims created this “Land of Pure” and how they tried to be the most purified Muslim on earth. But the struggle is full of failures, and Pakistan was a country of experiments. And today, I successfully crossed to Pakistan. The crossing was straightforward on both sides, except the Indian officers said that I should have crossed the border a day earlier as my visa expired today. But they let me pass anyway. There was no luggage check on [...]

December 13, 2005 // 0 Comments