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【中国国家地理】塔吉克斯坦:群山与国界的夹缝之中

My article in Chinese National Geography, edition October 2015. This is a special edition focusing on China’s grand project: One Belt One Road, a.k.a. the “New Silk Road”, with some focus articles from the Silk Road countries, especially in Central Asia. In this edition, I have contributed two articles: Tajikistan and Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor. 塔 吉克斯坦被称作中亚的高山之国,它近一半的国土位于帕米尔高原。其实塔吉克族并非是自古生活在山地的民族,面对如今的国家版图状况,不少塔吉克人心中有难 言的苦衷。来自印度尼西亚的作者奥古斯汀是一名“中亚通”,他对塔吉克斯坦的考察和采访,能够加深我们对这个国家的认识。   撰文Agustinus Wibowo[印尼] 摄影刘辉 等 翻译王飞宇   令塔吉克人自豪的两座古城,如今却位于乌兹别克斯坦的境内 [read more]

October 20, 2015 // 0 Comments

From Zero to Frankfurt: The Translating Process of Ground Zero

The journey began when a mother is lying on a hospital bed, dying. The son who has been years living overseas finally returns. Realizing not much time left, the son sits beside her, reads his diary about faraway lands he saw. About their ancestral land of China, about the Himalayas, about the Pakistani desert and the warzone of Afghanistan. Along with his stories, the mother starts to recount her stories that have been buried for long. About her childhood, her love, her awaiting, her struggle, her God, her life and death. Two journeys set in two dimensions of time and place intertwine, and eventually converge. In the final days, the mother and son share a journey of life together. This is the story of my travel-narrative memoir, Titik Nol: Makna Sebuah Perjalanan (lit. Point Zero: The Essence of a Journey), published in Indonesian language by Gramedia Pustaka Utama in 2013. It received quite warm welcome from Indonesian readers. Some months after the launching, Gramedia asked whether [read more]

October 12, 2015 // 0 Comments

Indonesia is the Country Focus of Singapore Writers Festival 2015

https://www.singaporewritersfestival.com/nacswf/nacswf/Country-Focus.html Country Focus 17,000 Islands Dreaming A literary focus on Indonesia   Curated by The Arts House, with the programming support of Goenawan Mohamad The Indonesian archipelago spans the Equator and South-east Asian region, an eighth of the world’s circumference. A nation of 17,000-odd islands that began its journey as a modern state 70 years ago, Indonesia carries millennia of historical weight, contradictions and resolution. What are Indonesia’s aspirations for the world? How do 252 million Indonesians think and dream? Can we see continuities from ancient Srivijaya and Majapahit at work in the up-to-the-minute literature of contemporary Indonesia? If Singapore knew Indonesian literature better, would it change the way we see ourselves and our region? We turn our focus to Indonesia this year by exploring her long traditions of the word in the same ways Indonesians celebrate it – recited to the [read more]

October 10, 2015 // 0 Comments

Daru September 6, 2014: Jesus is a Black Man

Papua is the center of the world, the God’s sacred and chosen nation. The day will come, when the black people no longer be the slaves, and the whites in turn will be the slaves of the blacks. That’s how Dogen Molang sees the future of the earth, based on the ancient story he believes. He is now conducting a secret yet important research. That is, to prove that Jesus was a black Papuan man. Mr. Molang is an enthusiastic man in his forties, a respected English teacher in the Daru High School—the only high school on the tiny island of Daru, the former capital of the isolated Western Province of Papua New Guinea. The first time I met him, he came with thick photocopy thesis of an Australian researcher about the border area of Papua New Guinea. In one chapter of his thesis, Kevin Murphy the researcher described the folktales of different tribes in the area on how the universe was created. The stories captivated Molang very much, and made him jump to the conclusion: that Jesus were [read more]

September 18, 2015 // 0 Comments

Grand Overland Voyage

Exactly ten years ago, I started my four-year overland journey. I started from Beijing with $2000, dreaming to reach South Africa. From an illegal visitor to Tibet until a journalist in the war ridden Afghanistan, this journey has changed my whole life. Today, I’m back to Beijing, my point zero. But journey is a point of no return; I’m not the same person anymore and my point zero is not the same either. That’s indeed a journey of life. 正好十年前的今天,我开始了我漫长的陆路旅行。当时的我拥有2000美元,梦想着从北京出发一直达到南 非。偷渡入西藏到在阿富汗当战地记者,每一步都决定了我的今天。如今我回到北京,回到我的零点,但我相信旅行改变了人生,我已经是不一样的人了,那个零点 [read more]

July 31, 2015 // 0 Comments

[Outdoor Exploration户外探险]:旅行就是回家

Interview with a Chinese Magazine, “Outdoor Exploration” (户外探险) on traveling and travel philosophy. 旅行就是回家 Agustinus Wibowo 印 尼华人,旅行作家,2002年开始背包旅行,曾三次进入阿富汗,在那里生活了将近三年,并曾深入阿富汗最人迹罕至的瓦罕走廊地带,寻找电视新闻以外的阿富 汗;也曾游历中亚五国所有的边境地区。每次的旅行,他都选择最艰苦的方式,搭车、住最廉价的旅馆。在旅行中,他全部的兴趣都在人的身上,已经出版两本旅行 文学畅销书《A Blanket of Dust: Dreams and Pride from the War-torn Afghanistan》《Borderlands: A Journey to Central Asia》《Ground Zero: When the Journey Takes You Home》,最近还将余华的小说《活着》首次翻译成印尼文版本。   只有在旅行中才没有身份 我 [read more]

July 27, 2015 // 0 Comments

【中国文化译研网】:我愿搭起一座桥梁——对话印度尼西亚作家、翻译家翁鸿鸣

http://www.cctss.org/portal.php?mod=view&aid=801 Interview during 2015 Sino-Foreign Audiovisual Translation and Dubbing Cooperation Symposium, in correlation with Shanghai International Film Festival 2015. 【影视】我愿搭起一座桥梁——对话印度尼西亚作家、翻译家翁鸿鸣 2015-07-22 14:45| Original author: 徐奕欣|Location: 中国文化译研网 Description: 有这样一位印尼华侨,他第一次将中国的文学作品直接翻译成印尼语,引入印度尼西亚;他又用自己的生花妙笔,写下他在寻根之旅的种种感悟,直接展示了一个印 尼华侨关于故乡和他乡的思考。他是翁鸿鸣(Agustinus Wibowo),印度尼西亚裔华人,双语作家,自由翻译者,同时也是将余华作品翻译引入印度尼西亚的第一人。 东南亚地区集中了大量的华人, [read more]

July 22, 2015 // 0 Comments

[旅行家Traveler] :瓦罕走廊天堂何处

  旅行家2015年4月期 阿富汗的风筝 说其遥远,其实并不准确。地图上,阿富汗甚至有一角领土与中国比邻,那一条狭长的通道就是本期专题的主打目的地——瓦罕走廊。     瓦罕走廊天堂何处 策划 | 本刊编辑部 执行 | 邓丽颖 程婉 特约撰稿人 | Agustinus Wibowo 翻译 | 黄文静 肖若琳   十 多年前,我第一次去阿富汗旅行,在这个战争的伤疤无处不在的国度,一位旅行者告诉我,在阿富汗有一处“隐藏的天堂”。那是我第一次听到瓦罕走廊的名字。翻 看地图,它像是海底深处一条狭长的裂隙,北抵塔吉克斯坦,南至巴基斯坦,东临中国。这是世界上最偏远国家之中的最偏远的地方之一。然而,在几世纪前,瓦罕 走廊却是连通中国和西域各国,那条繁华的丝绸之路的一部分。 [read more]

July 2, 2015 // 0 Comments

Marukara 4 September 2014: A Dangerous Adventure with Indonesian Illegal Traders (2)

We were traveling in the southern coast of Papua New Guinea with a group of illegal buyers from Indonesia. As the buyers were fearing the assault from local criminals or being caught by PNG police patrol, we decided to stay overnight in the wilderness. The most sensible place for tonight was Marukara, an empty small island across the village of Mabudauan. But unfortunately, when we arrived in the darkness of night, we found that the island was anything but empty. There were many boats parked on the shore. Men were shouting at us. We recognized that they were shouting in Kiwai language, which nobody in our group understood. Sisi shout back in English, “We are not enemy, we are from Tais. Are you guys from Mabudauan? In the past, our ancestors also caught fish in this area. Our ancestors also worked together with your ancestors.” The men shouted back. “Yes! We are from Mabudauan. Welcome!” Suddenly from the island came out a dozen of young men, directing our boats to avoid the [read more]

June 10, 2015 // 0 Comments

Indonesia: The Dollar Worshipers

I am Indonesian. I had to go abroad urgently. Thinking myself a nationalist, I automatically logged into the website of the national carrier—my pride—Garuda Indonesia. I did the e-booking for the international flight ticket. I was surprised that all prices were quoted in US Dollars, instead of in my own currency, Rupiah. I was confused, but I had to pay anyway. I got more confused that none of my national bank debit cards was accepted for the payment. Garuda only wanted Credit Card with the international logo of Visa or Mastercard. I was heartbroken. Our country’s national airline refused our own money and denied our own national banks. Alas. My Credit Card was over limit. I rushed to a private tour agent. I was relieved because they said they could help. But they quoted a price much more expensive than the one I saw earlier on the website. And yes, it was also in US dollars. I asked whether I could pay in rupiah, or use my debit cards. No, they said. Better bring us crispy US [read more]

June 5, 2015 // 0 Comments

Marukara 3 September 2014: A Dangerous Adventure with Indonesian Illegal Traders

The coastal region in the southern Papua New Guinea near the Indonesian border is notorious for the illegal cross-border trading activity. Indonesian traders often cross the sea border from Merauke in the west and venture to Papua New Guinean villages to do their unlawful business. This is a very dangerous journey, due to attacks from the pirates and possibility being caught by joint PNG—Australian border patrol. I could sense the over-cautious attitude in Herman—a Marind trader from Merauke, whom I saw one boat of three passengers floating on the sea near the Buzi village. Marind is a Papuan native tribe inhabiting Merauke, a big city and its surrounding regions at the Indonesian side of the border. Thus, as a dark-skinned and curly-haired Melanesian, Herman did not look any different from the PNG villagers in this area. It was Sisi who disclosed Herman’s Indonesian identity to me. Herman’s boat was heading from west to east, making a short stop in Buzi as he was to meet [read more]

May 19, 2015 // 0 Comments

行李︱Agustinus:在阿富汗的3年里……

 2015-05-15 行李 他是堪比奈保尔的著名作家,曾以最艰苦的方式在阿富汗生活3年,深入人迹罕至的瓦罕走廊,并游历中亚5国所有边界地区,现正采访印尼数百个岛屿的神秘故事。 (Augustin Wibowo在帕米尔高原) 行李&Augustin Wibowo 行李:你最近刚参加完伦敦书展? Augustin :是,印尼是今年法兰克福书展的主题国,所以印尼出版界推荐了很多本国作家到世界各地参加书展。伦敦书展是世界第二大书展,我是作为印尼游记文学的作家代表去伦敦演讲,介绍印尼游记文学的情况。 行李:在国外,游记文学已经单独作为一个门类了吗? Augustin :在 英国是这样。英国在游记文学方面是全世界最发达的,已经有几百年历史,英国人很早就开始到世界各地游历,游记文学在英国已经变成一个门类,这个是他们文化 [read more]

May 17, 2015 // 0 Comments

Happy Mother’s Day

The world celebrates Mother’s Day today. Talking about mother, there is a picture that I hardly can erase from my memory. It’s a photo of an orphaned Iraqi girl who missed her mother so much, and drew an image of her mother on the ground. She then felt comfortable with the mother’s image, and fell asleep inside her. What a heartbreaking image. This picture made me so sad, imagining what kind of life with eternal longing for a mother’s love. (photo source: internet) This picture reminded me to a Chinese song my mother used to sing by whispering to my ears: Mom is the best in the world; the child with a mom is always be cherished; drop into mom’s arms, the happiness can be enjoyed forever. Mom is the best in the world; the child without a mom is like a grass; leave mom’s arms, where to find the happiness? You know how lucky you are, who have access to internet to read this post. You live in a peaceful country without the suffering of wars and disasters, you know what [read more]

May 10, 2015 // 0 Comments

中国网:呈现|“寻家”之路 道阻且长(No.103)

印尼人?中国人?从18岁起,奥古斯丁开始只身踏上“寻家”之路,当行走成为挑战自我的模式,他的足迹开始踏及吉尔吉克斯坦,巴基斯坦,土库曼斯坦,伊朗,遍布整个中东。终于,他通过行走得到了内心的和解,打破了旧有的“墙”,让当下和过去握手言和。 An in-depth article from China.com.cn (中国网) on my searching of identity as a Chinese Indonesian, about my winding journey to find the real “home”.   中国网 原创 2015-05-09 陈潇 印尼华人作家奥古斯丁最近把自己微信签名改为“新书要出啦”。34岁,十余年旅途,行走阿富汗、巴基斯坦、外蒙古等地。按他话说,《Ground Zero》作为他第三本书甚至凝聚他30年行走心血,一切视角核心围绕“家”。“对,我就是想给大家讲一个回家的故事”。 [read more]

May 10, 2015 // 0 Comments

中国网:呈现106期–行走故事–世界那么大,我想找个“家”

http://h5.china.com.cn/cx/publish/0509/ 想讲一个“回家”的故事 奥古斯丁,印尼华人作家,34岁。由于自我身份无法认同的过程驱动他踏上“寻家”之旅。奥古斯丁行走世界,虽漫笔各地域,落笔终回归印尼和华人的人与事,字里字外尝试解读这个新世界。  中国曾让他“看不懂” 奥古斯丁很难与长辈交流,无法得知更多关于中国的事情。联姻结盟后,他的表兄弟中开始出现蓝眼睛的后代。近百年历史沉浮,贯穿印尼华人祖孙辈的情感羁绊,因语言障碍,因联姻,情感在一步步萎缩。  陌生又熟悉的中国版图 大多数印尼华人对于中国的印象皆自一代代口耳相传下来模糊记忆,更多源于想象,且所有记忆也仅停留当初第一批移民华人离开中国时的样子。  回中国是当时印尼华人梦想 [read more]

May 9, 2015 // 0 Comments

Adventurer Agustinus Wibowo: A journey home

By Rory Howard China.org.cn, May 8, 2015 Agustinus Wibowo is a Chinese-Indonesian author. At first glance, he seems more like a traveler than an adventurer and more like a happy conversationalist than a philosopher. But just as my first impression of him is challenged by what I learn of him in our conversation, so too do we find in his latest book, “Ground Zero: When the Journey Takes You Home,” that his sense of self has been tested by his upbringing, his culture and his travels. Danger, charity, humanity Wibowo’s first two books – “A Blanket of Dust” and “Borderlines: A Journey to Central Asia” – tell of his earlier travels through Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. When asked what took him to these places, he answers that his journeys were governed by chance. “I wanted to be a journalist, but I didn’t have a background in journalism. The road itself is the best university,” he says. His [read more]

May 8, 2015 // 1 Comment

Indonesia: A Blaming Nation

This happened again. The police arrested one of the leaders of the anti-graft body. The President seemed helplessly requested the police not to make any controversial moves, as they have already done in the near past. The request seemed went to deaf ears. The public outcry was directed to the President, blaming him too weak to sit on the position. It is a huge contrast to the enormous support the Indonesian public has shown to Joko Widodo, a.k.a Jokowi, during the presidential election, less than a year back. He was duped as “Indonesian Obama”, “a new hope”, “someone from us”. Unlike other predecessors or other president candidates, he does not come from political elites or military family, nor does he lead any political party. His uniqueness as an “outsider”, a “working class and really working” governor, has produced an unprecedented euphoria among Indonesian public. Suddenly, people from the elites to the roadside vendors, from Chinese-ethnic merchants to Papuan [read more]

May 3, 2015 // 0 Comments

My Healing with Vipassana (3): The Art of Simple Life

The Vipassana experience was magical for me as I could now sense the sensation of the surface of my whole body, from top of the head to toe. I could sense the interior of my body. My left brain, my right brain, my stomach and my intestines, my bones… all were producing never-ending subtle vibrations. I could even sense the parts of the body when I was sleeping. When I was dreaming, it was more like watching a movie rather than being involved in the actions of the fantasy. At this point, the meditation was not merely about sitting anymore. When we take breath, we meditate. When we walk, we meditate. When we eat and drink, we meditate. Even when we sleep, as long as the awareness is there, we also meditate. By Day 6, I started to notice small details I used to neglect. I started to see the movement of grass and leaves of the trees, appreciate the freshness of the air and the beauty of the occasional noise from the neighborhood, and be thankful to all my weaknesses and flaws, all [read more]

March 25, 2015 // 0 Comments

My Healing with Vipassana (2): Nothing is Permanent

Goenka the Teacher had reminded all the students that the Day 2 and Day 6 in our 10-day course of Vipassana would be the most difficult. At least, I can say, the Day 2 was really the biggest torture. I came to the Vipassana meditation course with an expectation of finding salvation from my depression. I thought I would see a magic aura of enlightenment, or beautiful visions, or a surreal experience of ecstasy. But what’s this? This was just a boring process of sitting in total silence, with nothing to do but to observe breath for ten hours per day. The more I craved for a divine vision, the more I got restless. While I closed my eyes and seemed calm, my mind was not unlike an untamed wild horse which brought me galloping over series of memories and fears. Once I saw blurred pictures of places I have visited, changing rapidly as flash: mountains of Himalaya, deserts of Pakistan, jungles of Papua. Suddenly after those happy moments of reiterating my traveling years on the road, my [read more]

March 24, 2015 // 0 Comments

My Healing with Vipassana (1): A Happiness Seeker and His Breath

Something was terribly wrong with me lately. I used to feel much “alive” when I travel on the road, but returning to days of monotony confined in Jakarta apartment always brought depression to me. It’s ironic to feel lonely amidst a busy and noisy apartment block inhabited by thousands of people. I was sure, my depression had something to do with my family problems. Since I lost my mother five years ago, sadness and fear slowly grew inside me. Three years after that, my father passed away. Year after year, I could not handle this loneliness anymore. I felt more and more insecure. Every quiet night I go to bed alone, I was bombarded by frustrating thoughts. Am I still needed in this world? For the sake of whom do I still need to continue my life? Even worse, I have depression and anxiety at the same time. As the negativity piled up, once in a while, I even contemplated of doing something very, very stupid to end my life. Until then, a friend suggested me to try Vipassana [read more]

March 23, 2015 // 1 Comment

#BoycottBali: Who Needs Who?

When deciding where to go for a vacation, you usually have to consider many things: visa, attractions, cost, security. But Australians are reminded to consider one more thing: whether there is capital punishment in the destination. This can be seen from a boycott movement which swiped Australian social media sphere and had been trending topic in last few days: #BoycottBali. This movement is related to Indonesia’s firmness to execute two Australian drug convicts, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran who were arrested in Bali April 17, 2005. They were the main actors of a group of nine Australians dubbed by the media as “Bali Nine”, which attempted to smuggle 8.3 kilograms heroin worth of A$ 4 million from Indonesia to Australia. Death Row Diaries of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran (source: news.com.au) The clock is ticking, the execution date of the duo is yet unknown but believed to be very soon. Australian government is getting more and more persistent in asking for clemency from [read more]

February 23, 2015 // 9 Comments

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 [read more]

September 3, 2014 // 0 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 [read more]

August 30, 2014 // 0 Comments

Tais 28 August 2014: What is Your Dream?

The school is supposed to start at eight in the morning, and to finish at twelve. But none in this Papua New Guinean coastal village have clocks. Including Madam Singai, the only school teacher in the village. Nevertheless, she knows perfectly when she should start her class. That is when she has finished the cassava cooking and baby feeding in her house, and when she believes the sun is high enough. She then roams around the village, shouting all her students’ names. Dozens of barefooted students then resemble a parade of obedient ducks, follow her to the school hut at the end of the village. Madam Singai also knows when to finish her school. That is when most of her students make so much of noise, crying because of being hungry, or because of her own stomach produces noise calling for lunch. After gathering the students, Madam Singai is ready for the class today. The classroom for the Grade I and II students. Centipedes disrupted the class. Of course once in a while Madam Singai [read more]

August 28, 2014 // 0 Comments

Port Moresby 20 August 2014 Flying with Air Niugini

“One thing you have to remember is,” said one staffer in Indonesian Embassy in Port Moresby, “PNG is acronym for Promise Not Guaranteed. Never think that by holding a valid flight ticket you are guaranteed to fly.” Last week, Indonesian and PNG government held an annual border meeting in Port Moresby. One Indonesian delegation of 40 people was departing from Jayapura and crossed the land border to Vanimo in Papua New Guinea side. From the northern city, together with the Indonesian Consulate delegation, they were supposed to take domestic flight with the national carrier, Air Niugini, to Port Moresby. But once they arrived in the airport, they were told that the flight they were taking had no seat left. All of them held a confirmed ticket, but they were refused to fly. Worse, there were no other flights in the next three days. Thanks to assistance from the PNG governor in Vanimo, they finally made their way to Port Moresby, by chartering a special airplane! Jacksons [read more]

August 20, 2014 // 1 Comment

Byron Bay, July 31, 2014: A Nanny State?

“Australia is a country only for old people,” says Celine, a 22-year-old Indonesian student sitting next to me in a Qantas flight to Sydney. Celine lives in a suburb of Melbourne, and has been there for four years majoring food technology. “After 5 pm all shops are closed and the towns are deserted. There is absolutely no fun.” I am on my way to Gold Coast, to attend Byron Bay Writers Festival tomorrow; while Celine is heading to Melbourne and she will have some hours of transit in Sydney. Celine grumbles as she has no choice but to take this Qantas flight. She usually takes the Indonesian carrier, Garuda, which offers the only direct flight from Jakarta to Melbourne. But Garuda tickets are sold out, and only Qantas is available for her. But as I am a first timer to Qantas, I am very excited with this flight. In fact, I am first timer to any Western airlines. And I have to admit, I am shocked to see that all passengers were greeted by an overweight stewardess with thick lips [read more]

August 1, 2014 // 25 Comments

Jakarta, July 29, 2014: Australia and Papua New Guinea

I grab my backpack, clean it up from a layer of thick dust covering it, and put my clothes inside. It has been years since the last time I touched this backpack. Suddenly I realize I do not remember the last time I felt this kind of anxiety. Anxiety to face the Unknown and the Otherness. Tomorrow, I will start my first trip out of Asia. Just few days ago, on Monday, July 21, I got the confirmation of invitation to attend the Byron Bay Writers Festival (BBWF) in Byron Bay, NSW, Australia, to be held from August 1 to 3. It is a literary festival in collaboration with the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival in the Indonesian island of Bali, which I have attended twice. Each year BBWF provides an opportunity for Indonesian writer for a special appearance in this international event. As the confirmed invitation came up in very last minutes, I was worrying whether I would get my Australian visa on time. Australian visa usually takes five working days. But as Indonesia is celebrating [read more]

July 29, 2014 // 25 Comments

The Color is Red (Chinese New Year in Jakarta, 2014)

The Chinese Indonesians welcomes the arrival of Chinese New Year 2014. During the Suharto regime, the celebration of Chinese New Year in public was forbidden. But today, about a dozen years since the government allowed the Chinese community to celebrate their festivals and traditions openly, red is in full swing, red has become the dominating color in temples and shopping malls, on clothes and decorations, on the altar of Buddhist gods and on the lanterns and on the dragon masks. In Indonesia, the Chinese New Year is associated with religion. Indonesia is the only country in the world recognizing Confucianism as one of its state religions, and the Chinese New Year is regarded as religious holiday of Confucianism (as religious holidays are national holidays, thus it becomes nationwide holiday). While in China they say, “Happy Lunar New Year 2014”, in Indonesia they say, “Happy Lunar New Year 2565”, with 2565 is counted from the birthday of Confucius, the prophet of [read more]

February 1, 2014 // 7 Comments

Jakarta, Water City

The heavy rain from midnight until early morning today has caused numerous Jakarta streets flooded. Rains, floods, traffic jams, total deadlock, have been haunting Jakarta and other cities in Indonesia since last three weeks. In Jakarta, somehow it’s important to emphasize the difference between “a pile of water” and “flood”. The local Chinese believe that rains symbolize good fortune, especially if it rains during the Chinese new year’s Eve (which happens to be tomorrow midnight), the heavy rain is believed to bring a super-prosperous new year. But for sure, the flooding at least brings some fortune to the kids (who are always enjoying “beach-waves-and-swimming-pool-right-in-the-heart-of-the-capital-city”) and chart owners, who earned money by transporting motorcycles on their charts. In this year rainy season, some 40 thousands of Jakarta dwellers had to stay in temporary shelters. There were also some kids who participated in swimming contest [read more]

January 29, 2014 // 3 Comments

The Palace of Illusions

When drawing a picture about memory of the past, we tend to have only two alternatives. Either we amplify good memories and minimize the bad ones, or the other way round. When the nostalgia is about history, this can be dangerous, as the history may turn to an illusion, no matter how real the events are. The incidence of nostalgia may bring you to homesickness. American physicians in nineteenth century even pointed out that acute nostalgia led to “mental dejection”, “cerebral derangement” and sometimes even death. In Indonesia, the so-called history is never so long ago. Some people say, Indonesians have such short memories as they suffer from “history amnesia”. With most of its population are less than 30 years old, majority people did not really experience the whole history of the Republic, from the Independence struggle era (1940s), Sukarno’s Old Order (1950s), the chaos before the arrival of Suharto’s New Order (1960s), and the never ending period of [read more]

December 15, 2013 // 7 Comments

Eyes of Non-travelers: The Socialism Paradise of Beijing

What if the air of the 21st century Beijing still covered by the bravado of Cultural Revolution and the 2008 Olympic host city become a Maoist paradise? You may see the extraterrestrial architecture of China Central Television building worshipped by thousands of comrades chanting rouge slogans marching down the road. Or office workers work happily with their desktop computers, along with smiling cleaning staffer, and surrounded a parade of curious working class visitors with their happy faces and red flags. All of this imagination is portrayed in several paintings made by North Korean propaganda artists. The idea and effort of this project came from Beijing-based British expat duo, one of which runs the travel company specializing in trips to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, known better as North Korea). The duo showed some daily life photos of Beijing to the artists from the hermit kingdom, and invited them to visualize the life of the modern city they have never [read more]

December 14, 2013 // 0 Comments

[Audio] UWRF13: Reflections of Afghanistan

Ubud Writers and Readers Festival 2013 Reflections of Afghanistan : Ben Quilty, Agustinus Wibowo & Michael Vatikiotis Forgotten wars & forgotten people. Hear from two individuals who have made the journey to Afghanistan to record the lives of the people there through their images. What does it look like through their eyes? Indus, 15 October 2013   http://www.ubudwritersfestival.com/audio/reflections-of-afghanistan-ben-quilty-agustinus-wibowo-michael-vatikiotis/ Featuring: Ben Quilty Ben Quilty has been widely recognised for his artwork. Quilty’s paintings of his Holden Torana produced a sell-out show in 2002 and since then his work has been seen in many exhibits and art fairs. Some of his work can be seen at the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the Museum of Contemporary Art. Quilty won the Doug Moran Portrait Prize in 2009 for his painting Jimmy Barnes, ‘There but for the Grace of God Go I, no.2′. In the same year Quilty was named runner up in the Archibald Prize [read more]

December 5, 2013 // 0 Comments

[Audio] UWRF2013: Travellers

Ubud Writers and Readers Festival 2013 Travellers : Trinity, Don George, Tony Wheelers, Agustinus Wibowo & Lisa Dempster Travel – from the beginning of Lonely Planet to today, we track the journey of travel writing. Who are the travel writers these days, does what they say still have an impact or have we all become travel writers? Neka, 13 October 2014 http://www.ubudwritersfestival.com/audio/travellers-trinity-don-george-tony-wheelers-agustinus-wibowo-lisa-dempster/ Featuring:   Agustinus Wibowo Agustinus Wibowo is an Indonesian travel writer whose travel experiences have taken him through Asia to the Middle East. He is fascinated by cultures and traditions and is curious about how the world works as one when it is constantly divided by history and culture. He prefers to travel overland when he can and once entered Tibet by pretending to be a Chinese citizen. He also volunteered to help victims of a natural disaster in Kashmir, before deciding on a career in [read more]

December 5, 2013 // 0 Comments

[Audio] UWRF2013: Memoir

  Ubud Writers and Readers Festival 2013 Memoir : Bernice Chauly, Salena Godden, Agustinus Wibowo & Janet Steele In life there are short stories, big stories, stories that end well & ones that don’t. Would you share them all, or put a shiny & more exciting glaze over them? How do these writers go about writing their memoir – how much is truth & how much is fiction? Left Bank, 13 October 2013 http://www.ubudwritersfestival.com/audio/memoir-bernice-chauly-salena-godden-agustinus-wibowo-janet-steele/ Featuring: Bernice Chauly Bernice Chauly is a Malaysian writer, poet and teacher. Born in George Town, Penang, to Chinese-Punjabi teachers, she read Education and English Literature in Canada as a government scholar. For over 20 years, she has worked extensively in the creative industries as a writer, photographer, actor and film maker and has won multiple awards for her work and her contribution to the arts. In 1998, she began organising literary events and, in [read more]

December 5, 2013 // 0 Comments

Jakarta Globe (2013): Learning By Traveling

  http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/blogs/agustinus-wibowo-learning-by-traveling/   Agustinus Wibowo: Learning By Traveling By Annisa Dewi Yustita on 1:36 pm November 28, 2013. Category Blogs, Cultural Musings Tags: Indonesia author, travel Villagers traveling on the truck in Afghanistan western provinces. The central route of Afghanistan connecting Herat to Kabul is unpaved for about 900 km. (Agency Photo) Traveling is more than just spending time in a particular place. On a deeper level it enables us to learn many things from our destination, such as the language, culture and its people. Agustinus Wibowo is an Indonesian travel writer whose travel experiences have taken him through Asia and the Middle East. He said that he was fascinated by the world’s cultures and traditions and was curious about how the world works despite its historical and cultural divisions. Agustinus started his journey going around Asia with just US$2,000 from his savings during his study at [read more]

November 28, 2013 // 1 Comment

Travel and Escape (2013): Are Travel Writers Obsolete?

  http://www.travelandescape.ca/2013/11/are-travel-writers-obsolete/ Not too long ago, travellers communicated with home via letters and the beloved blue-paper aerogram. Nowadays we text, email and update social media from even some of the farthest reaches of the world. It’s easy to tell our stories and the internet is flooded with blogs, Facebook updates and reviews from travellers worldwide. With this new information-sharing culture, are traditional travel writers and their stories going to become obsolete?This was the question asked of travel writing experts—Tony Wheeler, founder of Lonely Planet, Don George, editor of National Geographic Traveller, and Agustinus Wibowo, a leading Indonesian travel writer—at the 2013 Ubud Writers and Readers Festival in Bali. Here are their responses:Credit: Victoria Watts  Tony Wheeler: I don’t think travel writers will become obsolete. People are still going to want information in a trusted fashion. However, the way we get that [read more]

November 27, 2013 // 0 Comments

National Geographic (2013): Literary Magic in Bali

http://intelligenttravel.nationalgeographic.com/2013/11/12/literary-magic-in-bali/   Literary Magic in Bali Posted by Don George of National Geographic Traveler in Travel with Heart on November 12, 2013 Last month I had the opportunity to participate for the second year in a row in the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival on the Indonesian island of Bali. At the six-day festival, I taught two travel writing workshops, spoke on a panel about the evolution of the genre, and hosted a luncheon conversation with the co-founders of Lonely Planet, Maureen and Tony Wheeler. Celebrating its tenth anniversary, this year’s fest was the biggest gathering yet, with more than 200 authors, musicians, and performers from more than 20 countries participating, and many hundreds of literature-lovers from around the Pacific Rim, Southeast Asia, and beyond attending. As with last year, I was exhilarated to encounter in panels and dinners and performances acclaimed and groundbreaking journalists, [read more]

November 12, 2013 // 0 Comments

Jakarta Post (2013): What Writers Think About Travel Writing

    http://www.jakpost.travel/news/what-writers-think-about-travel-writing-SDjzu7QgZ6JLP83q.html What writers think about travel writing By Raditya Margi, The Jakarta Post, Ubud | Oct 24, 2013 The Ubud Writers & Readers Festival (UMRF) 2013 in Bali brought several renowned travel writers such as Tony Wheeler, the founder of Lonely Planet publications, and Don George, who writes for many top-tier travel media like National Geographic Traveler. The two, along with Indonesian travel writers and book authors Trinity and Agustinus Wibowo, appeared on a panel discussion titled “The Traveler”, one of 75 main sessions on the UWRF. As the format becomes increasingly popular, masters such as Wheeler and George offered insights into what makes good travel writing. It is more than just a whimsical description of a faraway place. Wheeler said the content must be accurate, while Agustinus said that it must always be honest non-fiction. “Travel writing is fundamentally about a [read more]

October 24, 2013 // 0 Comments

Speak Without Interruption (2013): Give Afghanistan back to the Afghans

http://www.speakwithoutinterruption.com/site/2013/10/ubud-encounters-give-afghanistan-back-to-the-afghans/ October 20, 2013 Ubud encounters: Give Afghanistan back to the Afghans Posted by Muhammad Cohen in: Art, Asia, Books, China, Faith, Foreign Affairs, Immigration, Islam, Journalism, Military, Religion, Sociology, Terrorism, Travel, War, Women’s Rights, World Issues Australian painter Ben Quilty and Indonesian writer Agustinus Wibowo told the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival in Bali how they each reached Afghanistan by different routes for different reasons. But following their stays, they both also reached the same conclusion: after a dozen years and thousands of casualties, it’s time for Afghanistan to solve its problems without foreign help. Wibowo came to Afghanistan for the first time as a curious and footloose traveler. In Afghanistan as well as Pakistan, Wibowo said that since he came from Indonesia, people assumed he was Muslim. Telling them he was an ethic Chinese [read more]

October 20, 2013 // 1 Comment

Tempo (2013): Speaking about Poetry and Photography (Makassar International Writers Festival 2013)

http://en.tempo.co/read/news/2013/06/26/114491501/Speaking-about-Poetry-and-Photography Speaking about Poetry and Photography Wednesday, 26 June, 2013 | 22:13 WIB TEMPO.CO, Makassar – Agustinus Wibowo, the writer of three travel books, said, “As promoted by an airline ad, everyone can fly now. Yet not everyone can understand the meaning of a journey.” Agus put forth his statement during a discussion at the Makassar International Writers Festival on June 25, 2013. He was the speaker for the first session on the first day of the festival. He spoke about the relationship between poetry and photography. “Many things can be poetic and touching from a journey, just as long as we can find the meaning,” said the author of the books Titik Nol, Selimut Debu, and Garis Batas. Agus, who has traveled to numerous countries in Central Asia, exhibited some pictures as an example. He said trips that are rushed and target-oriented would not have any meaning. Only [read more]

June 26, 2013 // 0 Comments

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