Uzbekistan (2006-2007)

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 [read more]

April 25, 2011 // 4 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 [read more]

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 [read more]

February 7, 2007 // 6 Comments

Bukhara – Another Incident

My blury photos of Bukhara reflect my blurry mood My days in Uzbekistan seems never be far from incidents. Earlier in Tashkent I lost 400 US$ cash stolen. The other day in Samarkand I broke my camera. Then in Ferghana I experience some night hours in police station. Today, after the surprising climax that I will be thrown to my zero point, I have to experience other incidents at the last legs of this journey. I took a night bus from Tashkent to Bukhara. But I came late. When I arrived in bus station near the Sabir Rahimov Metro Station, the latest to Bukhara had departed. But there was another bus departing to Navoi, 2 hours before Bukhara, and I decided to take this night bus. It was 8 p.m. when I got in. But not until 11 the bus started the engine. I fell asleep since I got seated. Today was an exhausting day, as I was hunting for flight ticket to Malaysia and the fact that I am going home still shocked me. The journey to Navoi takes about 5 hours at night. I couldn’t remember [read more]

January 25, 2007 // 1 Comment

Tahskent – Ticket to Indonesia

The Uzbekistan Airways The sudden call from Indonesia does change my travel plan drastically. I decide to go home as soon as possible. My father suffers from heart attack and I know he wants to see me as he worries much about my recent being as ‘a homeless wanderer’. I do miss my parents. Almost every night I dream about them, and these dreams make me nothing but painful. I miss them and I know they do the same. Family relation is more like mythical telepathic connection. “Just go home. What else you need to think? Before you regret for your whole life,” said Rosalina Tobing, a friend of mine who works in the Indonesian embassy. The word regret does have a very strong power. I still have chance to go home, so why not? Rosalina suggested me to buy a ticket as soon as possible. Luckily now there is a promotion of Uzbek Airways which is commemorating its 15th anniversary, and a ticket to Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur costs only 299 US$ payable only in Uzbek sum (the biggest value of [read more]

January 24, 2007 // 1 Comment

Tashkent – A Call from Indonesia

An unexpected phone call This morning, my mother sent me an SMS. It says, “Papa wants you to go home for the Chinese new year, there is something to talk about.” I was so surprised. I am unable to call them back as international call is out of my limited balance. I sent them an SMS back but there was no reply. I ask help of my friend in Jakarta to call my family in Java. My friend says that my father was healthy, but he wants to gather in the New Year’s Eve. It has been 4 years already I missed the New Year’s Eve with my family. My father is sick, he gets a heart attack 2 years ago, and I always worry about him day and night during my travel. He always says that he is healthy and fine. But I know he is a strong man and dislike people to sympathize him. Never my father asks from me something, but now, he really begs me to go home. This is a sudden call from Indonesia. It was so sudden that I am still shocked. How about the traveling plan made up recently? I have obtained the [read more]

January 23, 2007 // 12 Comments

Ferghana – Police Department Visit

The journey to Ferghana, passing through very high snowy passes. Ferghana valley might be the widest valley in the world. A huge area surrounded by great mountains, sliced into portions of three countries (Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan) by only-God-knows-how-it-works border lines. I am always interested in visiting Ferghana Valley and experience the life here. Ferghana is said to have the purest Uzbek culture. The people of Andijan is said to speak the purest form of Uzbek language. Ferghana (Fergana, Farghona) is also a hotbed in Uzbekistan. The radical Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan forced Karimov to send troops to secure the area (thus sacrificing some of the civilians) and even force the smaller neighboring countries to support Uzbekistan’s government move against the militants. Karimov actions not only gained protest worldwide (remember demonstration in front of Uzbek embassy in Jakarta) but also difficult times with other Central Asian republics. The people of [read more]

January 16, 2007 // 1 Comment

Bishkek – Uzbekistan Visa

Another bureaucratic thing to do in Bishkek For Indonesian passport holders, Uzbekistan visa requires Letter of Invitation. Recently getting Uzbekistan visa is more difficult then before, since the Andijan massacre in 2005. Before the American passport holders were granted multiple entry visa, but since the Karimov president kicked all the American soldiers out, the visa is now only for one month, single entry, same for anybody else. Only the Japanese passport holders still enjoy the privilege of no LOI, no visa fee (they only pay 15$ for the visa). I got my invitation from the Embassy of Republic of Indonesia in Tashkent. It is a personal invitation from one of the diplomats there, Mrs Sunarti Ichwanto. It is also a 1-month, single entry visa. But they said that the visa can be extended. The Uzbekistan embassy requires invitation per telephone for people who apply for visa, and as interview will be conducted, everybody either should speak Russian or bring a Russian translator. I came [read more]

November 22, 2006 // 0 Comments