#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: 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

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