Almaty – Borat’s Land

Night is coming in Almaty “All people writing about Kazakhstan are telling bullshit!” – Nurslan Kazakhstan was surprisingly much more expensive compared to it was in my short visit in 2004. That time I stayed in Kazhol Hotel and it cost 26$/night. For my student pocket it was enormous amount. But staying in cold, dirty, dark room of Kazkontrakt was indeed uncomfortable and I decided to go back to Kazhol. Kazhol now turned to be a very neat and smart hotel, after renovation. The tiles on the floor were glittering, as it was emphasizing the golden age Kazakhstan enjoying at this moment. The price also skyrocketed. The cheapest room now costs 69$. It was much beyond my budget. I was told by some travelers that the cheapest option in Almaty was dormitory of the bus terminal (10$). But imagining staying in ‘dormitory’, especially in a bus terminal, the idea itself reminded me to many bad experiences of mine in Tajikistan. I preferred to invest just a little bit more, for my safety and comfort. But the problem is that ‘a little bit more’ was much more powerful than I thought to blow out my pocket. I walked to a big [...]

December 3, 2006 // 0 Comments

Herat – The Journey to Herat

Traveling in Afghanistan is painful. I felt almost died when arrived here. “You got malaria” – a man from Maimana As everywhere in Afghanistan, long distance journey from Maimana starts as early as 4. I was completely exhausted after the long bus journey from Mazhar the day before, and it was a terrifying night in Massoud’s guest room that I couldn’t rest properly. I was not ready at all to do this 2-day-journey to Heart, but Massoud, probably disappointed of not being able to get me, rushed me out of his house as early as 3:30. I walked like a drunk. The only vehicle going to Herat was only Falancoach type, a minibus where passengers are stuffed like tinned sardine and there is no way to stretch the body for relaxing. I know the journey would be very painful. The cars to Herat depart from Darvaza-e-Herat (Herat Gate) quite out of the town. They were ready at 4 but the cars got full at 5. When I arrived I immediately chose a window seat and sleep, after paying the fare of 1000 Af (20$) – quite uncommon as in Afghansitan usually fare is paid after the ride. Later to my [...]

August 15, 2006 // 0 Comments

Maimana – Bacchabazi

Friendly Maimana men “Playboy is good” – Massoud The public vehicle going to Maimana from Mazhar e Sharif departed as early as 4 a.m. Traveling in Afghanistan is painful. Road lights don’t exist at all so that traveling should be only done during the daylight. Road to Maimana starts to deteriotae at Shibargan, when the road turned into Dasht-i-Laili desert. I took a Town Ace, 500 Af, which is 100 Af more expensive than the crowded Falancoach. But the extra money was really worth for the comfort. The Town Ace only takes 8 passengers while Falancoach 18, and the road in the desert is not a nice roller coaster trip in a jammed minibus. The distance between Maimana and Mazhar e Sharif is merely 341 km, but it took 10 hours to reach. When arriving in Maimana, the driver tried to extort money from me. I gave 1000 Afs then he said, “sahih shod, everything is allright.” Instead of giving me 500 Af bill, he gave me much filthy smaller money, and when I counted, it was only 400 Af. I got angry, asked my money back. He gave me the right change. Then it was turn of him getting [...]

August 13, 2006 // 1 Comment

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

Peshawar – Sexual Innuendo (Again???)

June 6, 2006 Man-to-man body contact is very normal here I was looking for a cheap transport to go to Khyber Pass, as foreigners are not allowed to take the public transports. So a friend of mine introduced me to a travel guide. The travel guide was very friendly, visiting me to my hotel almost every night and yesterday took me to his office. It was night. He said, “Dont worry, you are my friend, I will give you cheap price…” bla bla bla. It didnt matter for me. He liked to touch my shoulder which is for me OK, but in his office he tried to rub my ear, then I thought I should keep the distance. When he took me back to my hotel with a taxi, he even gave me a chain of flower. Not until 3 minutes, I was already in the hotel, climbing the stairs to my room. Two guys, one fat one slim, both in shalwar qameez, both moustached, started to stare me and kept following me. They wanted to chat with me but they didnt speak Urdu well, only Pashto. From what I understood, they wanted me to go to their room. I [...]

June 6, 2006 // 3 Comments

Lahore – Heera Mandi

April 26, 2006 It’s just next to this holy mosque “Larki marki dekaun?,” asked a man, when I passed the famous red light area of Heera Mandi on my way to the biggest mosque of Mughal dinasty, the Badshahi Mosque. What he meant was whether to show me the girls. Without me asking, he said that the price was 300 Rs only, very cheap. “Mujhe dilcaspi nahin!” (I am not interested) I said after quite a while he kept following me and trying to “sell” his comodity. “Accha!” he left me alone. The red light district of Heera Mandi, had been the place of dancing women, transexuals, and prostitutes since the era of Mughal kings. And in modern Lahore, the area is still notorious for the similar things. I was interested to learn more about this area and the life behind, but it was too risky to do research here. Heera Mandi itself looks quite normal during the day, old bazaars with small alleys, women in purdah, males wandering along the ways (some are pimps). I was in Badshahi Mosque, just few meters of walking distance. Actually it was bizzare to consider the location of this great mosque just next [...]

April 26, 2006 // 2 Comments

Khewra – The Salt Mines

April 21, 2006 The salt mine of Khewra Salt mines? For Indonesians, the concept of salt mines may be difficult to accept, as in our country the salt is produced through the drainage of sea water. But in Pakistan, it does exist the world’s second biggest salt mine on earth (the first one is in Poland). Yes, the salt is produced from the caves in the salt hills in the heart of Punjab. That was the reason led me to Chakwal, the northern gate to the salt range, not far from Rawalpindi. The town itself is not inspiring. Not far from Chakwal, there is ancient Hindu pilgrimage in Katas. Katas can be reached by public buses from Chakwal to Choa Shaden Shah (the name of this town is also interesting, as Choa in Urdu does mean ‘rat’), 25 km to southeast, continued by an easy five kilometre ride to Katas. Katas, once a very important Hindu pilgrimage, now is quite desarted after the partition of India-Pakistan, as almost no Hindus left in this area. The legend said that the holy pool in Katas was formed by one of the two teardrops of Shiva Mahadev. The other teardrop had formed the [...]

April 21, 2006 // 2 Comments

Muzaffarabad – Day of Accidents

Having lunch in a ‘hotel’ and got invited March 19, 2006 The day was started by a missed call, missed call from God. It was a small aftershock early in the morning. I was in the middle of my dream, and suddenly felt that my matras was rocked. It was exactly the same feeling as when I stayed in a cheap hotel in India, and got a room next to the main road, and the whole room would be rocked by the passing trucks or buses. The aftershock, a real earthquake, brought me back to India in my dream. And just realized I was in a tent in Pakistan side of Kashmir when I got up. After a hot and sunny day yesterday, today it changed drastically to be cloudy and raining. Many of the plans today were altered, and instead of going to another village, I returned back to Muzaffarabad today. I met the boy who was so desperate to kiss me before, and he gave greetings, and said to me, “A beautiful… piece of meat”, and laughed. Hmm…quite a command of English vocabulary. I didn’t find this special anymore, as the day before three other different guys successfully [...]

March 19, 2006 // 0 Comments

Rawalpindi – Another Night in Rawalpindi

In fact, Rawalpindi is usually a friendly city February 16, 2006 After the 6 hour gruelling bus journey from Lahore, I arrived in Pindi. Today met an expat, from Switzerland, have been in Pakistan for years and speaks brilliant Urdu. We were discussing about what we feels in Pakistan, as foreigners. And somehow we shared many similar opinions. Pakistan for me, in my first visit, was a perfect country with honest people everywhere (despite the sexual harassments) but after I speak Urdu and involved more in the conversation with the locals, I found more and more contradiction and hypocrycy. When we were walking together on Muree Road to go home, he asked me whether I had an experience of someone driving car and stop to offer me free ride. I said except those Pathan truck drivers in Northern Areas, I didnt have this kind of experience. I am a boy anyway, I never expected a rich old man will stop his car to offer me free ride and another thing. But just one minute after we talked about this, suddenly a very luxurious car following us, maybe seeing me with a bag. The car moved slowly, and slowly, and the [...]

February 16, 2006 // 3 Comments

Karimabad – Porn Night

January 13, 2006 Porn night in Pakistan? Yes, the idea was started due to the sudden heavy snow here in Karimabad. Some young guys in my restaurant decided to rent a porn VCD and played in the middle of the night. It’s just a usual thing in Indonesia to watch porn movie together, (read: nonton bokep rame-rame), but it’s become a very special thing here, in a traditional village in mountainous area of Pakistan. That is why I was interested to observe what going to happen. Due to obvious reasons, all names included here are not the real names. Umer, brought his favorite VCD which he got from Aliabad, after more than 100 minutes of journey go and back. He was so excited what we were going to watch tonight. “A guy with two girls, big cock, one girl sucking one girl kissing…” and you could see a slight of horny feeling from his eyes. Yeah, we couldnt wait for the exciting tonight. Everything was prepared, a secret room, a plan to move the TV and VCD player from the restaurant, a plan to make the old man, the owner, going to sleep earlier, a plan to knock my door [...]

January 13, 2006 // 3 Comments