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

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

Jakarta Globe (2013): 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 (2011): ‘Traveling is about Losing your Ego’

December 29, 2011 Indonesian Travel Writer & Photographer Agustinus Wibowo: ‘Traveling is about Losing your Ego’ By: Yvette Benningshof   Passing borderlines is almost a daily routine for Agustinus Wibowo. The travel writer and photographer from Indonesia picked up his backpack at the age of 19 and started to travel throughout Central Asia. He has lived in Afghanistan for three years as a photojournalist and has written two bestsellers books about his borderless travels. Wibowo’s current latitude: Beijing, China. Agustinus Wibowo (30) left his village Lumajang in East-Java, Indonesia in 2000 to study Computer Science in Beijing. From there he started his travels to Mongolia where he got robbed on the first day. That didn’t hold him back to travel to even more ‘dangerous’ countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan in 2003. As a true budget backpacker he took off with only 300 US dollars. ‘I [read more]

December 29, 2011 // 0 Comments

Kabul – A Midnight Jog

Kabul taxi, can be dangerous day or night People tend to have more things to say when they are angry or disappointed. And today I do the same. I regret I didn’t tell you earlier how I was impressed by hospitality of Kabul taxi drivers, who usually refuse to receive money from a foreign guest (only lip service mostly, but anyway it makes me happy), but now I have to tell a scary experience with a Kabul driver. I was invited by a friend to a dinner in Wazir Akbar Khan area, the rich part of Kabul where many embassies, foreign organizations, and expatriate housings are located. I usually don’t stay until late night, but yesterday we talked until completely forgetting about the time. At the end, an AFP French reporter friend of mine realized that it was already 10:30, and we had to leave. She offered me to walk together to the main road, from where I can find taxi to go home and she went back to her house on foot. We walked together to the direction of the main road. Usually, at this [read more]

January 9, 2008 // 0 Comments

Globe Asia (2007): Solo Travel – Wealth of Experience

  SOLO TRAVEL: WEALTH OF EXPERIENCE Holiday season is approaching and perhaps it’s time to do something different. Try solo traveling. The trip might be more costly than joining an arranged tour but the joy of discovery is more than adequate reward, say Agustinus Weng and Nefransjah. BY MARY R. SILABAN Flying business class, staying at five-star resorts, joining a flock of fellow tourists in an air-conditioned bus and eating a sandwich while visiting an ancient temple is not how Nefransjah and Agustinus Wibowo like to travel. The two independent travelers, or what people usually call backpackers, demand the freedom to add their own flavor. While on the road, Nefransjah tries to be as close as he can to the street, and that means taking as few air flights as possible and avoiding the usual tourist sites. “1 want to absorb all the local ambience,’ says the 37 year-old. For Agustinus, 26, there’s no thought of joining a group tour. “When we travel solo, we have [read more]

June 29, 2007 // 0 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

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

Almaty – If You WaNNa LIVe

The park may look beautiful and quiet, but it can be dangerous The day started with a quarrel. Lyubova, the owner of the home stay, was not happy that I arrived with a taxi yesterday night. I was in the middle of Almaty downtown, when I realized it was already 7 pm. I was waiting a bus until 11 pm but no public buses at all going to airport area. I forgot, on Sundays all public transport stopped working as early as 6 pm. What a bad luck. I walked under darkness, with only fear of meeting criminals or drunks in my heart, from Respublika Alangy until Tole Bi. I gave up. It was almost midnight. At the end, I had to haggle a taxi (better than staying in a gay bar like last week). The taxi cost 500T. It was much beyond my budget, but I didn’t have any choice. When I arrived at the home stay, Lyubova was sleeping. The next morning, she started the quarrel. “Huh. You can pay a taxi but you cannot pay for your stay!” said her cynically. I just didn’t understand her. I paid [read more]

December 11, 2006 // 0 Comments

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 [read more]

October 6, 2006 // 2 Comments

Kabul, My Black Day

The police who slapped me, checked my camera, and slapped me again I cannot reckon any day worse than today. In the morning, there was another bomb blast in Kabul, in Mikroyan area. The suicide bomber was a young man in Western dress, who planted the bombs on his body, and blasted himself. There were 6 casualties. Two days before there was another bomb blast in front of the ministry of interior, which killed 16 people and wounded 50 others. Now is the Muslim’s holy month of Ramazan. But why are there bombings now? The extremists urge their followers to do the suicide bombings; for them it is jihad, as being a martyr in the holy month guarantees their place in heaven. Secondly, the winter is coming soon, and in winter terrorist actions would be more difficult to conduct. The extremists were in a hurry to complete their mission. The situation in Afghanistan is getting worse. Security is tightening up. But I still cannot accept the justification of what happened to me today. 4:30 [read more]

October 2, 2006 // 9 Comments

Lal o Sar Jangal – Coach Day

They promised to take me along with their trucks Cheragh was his nickname, literally means ‘lamp’. I don’t really know why he was called like that. He was a fat Hazara truck driver whom I talked with yesterday. He was agree to give me a lift up till Panjao, in Bamiyan province. Cheragh had interesting history. He spent 2 weeks in an island near Jakarta, of which he ever didn’t know the name. North of Jakarta, there are hundreds of small islands which are called as ‘thousand islands’. He, together with other 400 Afghans, was in a ship to Australia from Malaysia, their adventure for getting a better life, a dream from their warring country, 6 years ago. “The Indonesian government didn’t give us permission. Australia also didn’t give us permission,” They failed to get refugee visas even from Indonesia, and the archipelago government just allowed them to stay in an isolated island for two months. The government provided them food anyway, and the [read more]

September 18, 2006 // 0 Comments

Chekhcheran – The Journey to Chekhcheran

Other passenger hitchhiking together with me “This is not the place for humans. This is place for animals” – a driver from Chekhcheran The one-eyed hotel owner of Garmao was a very good man. Not only he conducted body search (taloshi) for the passengers sleeping in his restaurant to find my lost harddisk, he also helped me to get a truck lift from Garmao to the provincial capital of Chekhcheran. There were only two trucks passing the lonely village that day, after I had been waiting for more than 24 hours. The owner, a slim, bearded man, was reluctant to take me. He quoted 400 Af price which was very expensive, as he said, he was afraid that Taliban would specially targeted foreigners. It was only an excuse. The hotel owner, with his big voice, insisted him to take me. He was very authoritative, even the truck owner was afraid of him. Traveling by truck was far more interesting, comfortable, and cheap way of traversing the mountainous area of Afghanistan. It was slow. It [read more]

September 16, 2006 // 0 Comments

Garmao – The Minaret of Jam

The legendary Minaret of Jam “What was illegal has to be legal now, but what is legal is still illegal.” – Mohammad Yousuf Nassir Ahmad, a driver from Heart, owned a Mazda truck. His Mazda served as a public transport to the villages along the Central Route of Afghanistan, especially for those in Heart and Ghor provinces. From Garmao, some traders from the Jam village hired his car to transport their trading goods, and Nassir offered me a ride to the historical minaret of Jam. We departed from Garmao at 5:30 in the morning, delayed an hour from the initial planned time. Garmao, literally means ‘hot water’, seemed got its name in mistake, as the morning was extremely freezing. The truck had been loaded by goods of the traders, from rice, wheat, until strawberry jam and carbonated drinks Zam Zam from Iran. We, the hitch-hikers, sat on the open truck on the trading goods. The wind was very strong, and chilled. The rugged hills of Ghour province. Transport in [read more]

September 14, 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 [read more]

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 [read more]

August 13, 2006 // 0 Comments

Baharak – Passport Check, a Birthday Present

The nondescript bazaar town of Baharak “Everything is wrong in Afghanistan” – Dr. Momin Today is my birthday. I become 25 years old already. And with the wish of luck I departed Ishkashim together with Arnoult. We are heading to Baharak, where I can catch the next transport to Faizabad, and Arnoult was going to Shewa. The shared Falancoach started from Ishkashim at 8. As usual, Afghans have non-understandable concept of time. The driver came to the restaurant and rushed our breakfast as he said that the motor was going to start as soon as possible. It was not before an hour of waiting the motor just started the engine. There were some other passengers also heading to Faizabad, including a man from Tajikistan who spoke Russian with me. The road to Baharak itself is quite boring after the experience in the Wakhan. But Baharak, after 7 hours of nondescript Falancoach journey, was not anymore a nondescript town. In my previous post when I cam to Baharak from Fraizabad, I wrote [read more]

August 8, 2006 // 0 Comments

Kunduz – Set Back

The beautiful land of Pakistan that I saw in my dream “You will have to return back and start to think how to get back to the original place to continue your journey …” Lam Li once told me that after months of traveling, it was a common phenomenon to develop certain “nightmares”. The travelers’ nightmare as she experienced quite often was seeing herself somehow had to be thrown back to her home country, and in the dream she had to struggle hard to return back to the place where the journey was interrupted. “You will have to return back and start to think how to get back to the original place to continue your journey …” I heard about this when I met her in Kandahar. My journey started on July 28, 2005. So it is only a week for it to reach its 1st anniversary. It was a long overland journey from the busy city of Beijing, through the mainland China to the land of the Uyghurs in the west, climbed up the heavenly peaks of Tibet, traversing the province before going down [read more]

July 22, 2006 // 2 Comments

Kabul – Travelling Again

Let’s hit the road again with our favorite Falang Coach After being halted in Kabul for quite a while waiting for my beloved Pakistani friend, at last I had the chance to meet him, after his prolonged stay as a BBC camera man in the conflicted Helmand province. And now I am ready to travel again. Starting from tomorrow, Inshallah, I will venture through the northern Afghanistan to the upnorth province of Badakshan, returned back to the northwest provinces of Kunduz, Balkh, and all the way to Herat. And I also wish to take a peek to Iran, and then back to Afghanistan and take the Central Route to Kabul. During the journey Internet might be difficult and very expensive, so the updating of this Blog might be delayed. But I will keep all of the notes manually and then update it online when I have access to computer and Internet. Thank you very much for your support [read more]

July 21, 2006 // 8 Comments

Kandahar – From the Heartland of the Pashtuns

Pottery making is a traditional industry from Peshawar which still survive till today. “Everything here is expensive. But human life is cheap” Kandahar, the second biggest city of Afghanistan, had been lingering in the legends of the country since centuries ago. The description of old folklores about the heatwaves, about the tough desert, and about the hospitality of the Pashtun tribes are still up to date, but no doubt, the prolonged wars and the spread of fundamentalism has changed the face of the city. Living in Kandahar at this peak of the trend “war on terror” is overwhelmed by the concern of security problems. Suicide bombs can happen anywhere, and random shootings on street may deliver hot bullets just next to your feet. Taliban is the one who is always blamed to be the cause of everything, but nobody does really know who was the real actor behind all of the terrors. The politics in Afghanistan is complicated. Not only religious extrimists (thus those [read more]

July 10, 2006 // 2 Comments

Bamiyan – Being Penniless in Afghanistan :(

No money! How can I survive here? I was so excited to continue my way from Bamiyan. Everything in my mind was about the blue crystal water of the Band-e-Amir, and the adventure that I would have to experience in interior Bamiyan province. I was so excited, until this incident, which evaporated all of my dreams, happened. Yesterday, just before sleeping, I counted my money. My money was put together with my passport, wrapped in an envelope, placed in the zipped pocket on my left chest of my jacket. It was always wrapped properly, and always my habit to count the money every day or every other day. That night, at about 7 pm, with Ayatullah, the Muslim teacher who has religious program in Radio Bamiyan watching me. Actually there were about 5 people living in this room, in the same office where Akbar Danish from the NGO worked. I was a guest, with Ayatullah and other two Hazara guys, plus the servant boy. I was listening to nice dangdut song from my MP3 when trying to pluck out my money [read more]

June 23, 2006 // 6 Comments

Bamiyan – The De-Miners

Our job is to clean up the area for your safety, Sir! This is the life of those people, who risk their life, to find mines and unexploded materials around the Great Buddha statues of Bamiyan. They are those in uniform with Farsi letters: Main Paki, and English writing: De-mining. They are the de-miners working in Bamiyan. The encounter the day before with Saboor and Jamil brought me to learn deeper about the life of the de-miners. Achmad Saboor, a Tajik driver from Panjshir, picked me up to see their work around the Buddha hills. In that car I knew Waisuddin, or Wais, a Pashtun man in his thirties, with very strong short body. He was bearded but it seemed that was just trimmed, he also speaks very good English. Wais is among the most important persons in this demining project of Bamiyan Buddha. I was lucky to know him personally. And he was happy that he could practise his English with me. He is the commander of MCPA (Mine Clearance Planning Agency). The previously introduced Achmad [read more]

June 21, 2006 // 0 Comments

Bamiyan – Hiding?

Behind all the politeness and sweet promises, who really knows what they are actually thinking about? Early in the morning Hadi told me that suddenly his wife from Kabul had called and that he had to go back to Kabul to do ‘something’ at his house. He used that gesture that he meant his wife did really need him for the nights, as he had not been home for 25 days. I asked for how long he would be there in Kabul, he said for a week or 10 days. Yesterday there was someone from an NGO in Bamiyan offering me to go to the villages of the province after a week. I asked Hadi whether it was OK to stay in his office during the waiting time, he was trying to convince me that the activities of the NGO had nothing to do with my work (how he knew?), but then he said that it was no problem at all. But suddenly early this morning he said that he had to go to Kabul for 10 days, leaving completely his office and locked the news room, which is for me was just an excuse to ask me to leave. [read more]

June 19, 2006 // 0 Comments

Bamiyan – The Mined Buddha

War and Peace. This is the first impression of Bamiyan Buddha I saw back in 2003 This is still re-visiting trips of what I have visited three years ago. The devastated Buddha statues of Bamiyan are still quiet empty niches on the hill surrounded by green farming land. It was extremely quiet this morning, as children were already in the school and men started working. No other obvious ‘tourists’. But it was not that quiet either. This time there were many workers working in the area. There were two groups of them. First, those with yellow helmet, working near the big niches of the Big Buddha (55 m) and further on the Small Buddha (38 m). The Buddha niches are both fenced now, requesting visitors to pay for ticket to enter (I don’t know exactly about the ticket stuff as it seems it was OK to wander around without ticket, and the ticket office was always closed). Actually the workers just started working today. Their task is to remove the rubbish stones from the area. A [read more]

June 18, 2006 // 4 Comments

Bamiyan – Three Years After

Radio Bamiyan In July 2003 I visited the valley of Bamiyan for the first time. Along the way, there were war remnants to remind all visitors that the land was scrapped by the long period of wars. The trip in 2003 was full of horror and mistery, when seeing the skeletons of tanks scattered on the side of dusty and windy roads. Today, almost three years after, I went to Bamiyan again, alone. The public transport, as what it was in three years ago, started very early in the morning from Kabul. The difficulty of travelling from Kabul is that there are too many bus stations, and each bus station only has vehicles to go to a certain destination. Therefore it’s essential to make sure from which station start the vehicle you are going to take. The other difficulty is that the timing, most buses in three years ago would be all departed after 6, so passengers should come around 4 or 5 in the morning. The problem is if the bus station located far from the residential area, then another [read more]

June 17, 2006 // 0 Comments

Lahore – The Postal System

April 29, 2006 General Post Office (GPO) Lahore I never imagined that sending a CD by mail could be a very labourous work in Pakistan. That day I wanted to send some books and a CD of my photos to Indonesia. The post office system in Pakistan, as in India, curiously work inside and outside the building. Outside the building? Yes, in fact, half of the process of mailing have to pass these counters outside the building. There are a row of men with kiosks offering service of packing, packaging, enveloping, legal mattering, etc etc. The madam on the information desk directed me to an old man to package my books for the posting. The madam told me that this man would know anything I need to know. The book posting is quite cheap for sending books, with one requirement, the packaging should be one side opened for the checking by the post office. Then from outside I went back to the office building. The book post for sending my 1.5 kg books cost me only 166 Rs, but the man of the stamping [read more]

April 29, 2006 // 2 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 [read more]

April 26, 2006 // 2 Comments

Darra Adam Khel – The Gun Factories

April 16, 2006 They have known bullets and guns since childhood Darra Adam Khel is a village 38 kms south of Peshawar, on the way to Kohat. It looked like a normal village of Pakistan border, but somehow resemble Afghanistan villages also. It looked normal along the way: mud square houses, green field, boys wandering around, shops with their glass windows, and Pathans with their distinctive caps. But the name of Darra has something else to proud about, it’s the gun factory of Pakistan. The people in this area, if may say, all do the same business: gun making and selling. The factories are hidden in the rooms in the small alleys and bazaars, and gun shops are widely open. Pen-shapped pistols It’s obvious that this kind of place was not supposed for tourists to wander around. In fact, before the area was open for tourists, many tourist buses came here to visit the gun shops and ‘check’ the local made AK-47, guns, snippers, pistols, etc etc. Since Benazir Bhutto [read more]

April 16, 2006 // 1 Comment

Kandar – The Land of Fighters

April 3, 2006 Helicopter bringing aids to Harama. Imagine how those angry fighters hijacked the flying copter First, the rumors. The name of Kandar is full of myth, ask every villager of Noraseri, and his face will be filled by fear. Not only villagers from Noraseri, but the fame of Kandar had reached areas as far as Pattika and Muzaffarabad. The people of Kandar had made their popularity around the hills. Kandar, located on the top of the hill just behind, is visible from Noraseri. Seemed as close it was, the real four kilometer distance was somehow an unreachable gap for the villagers from Noraseri. It was the image of Kandar which put down the people of other villages. I have heard the rumor about Kandar for the first time from Rashid who told me how ‘nonsense’ these people were. Rashid said that no NGO was working there, as the NGOs were afraid of Kandari. Kandar, accidentally the name resembled “Kandahar”, one of the most dangerous areas in Afghanistan. It [read more]

April 3, 2006 // 0 Comments

Rawalpindi – Welcome to Rawalpindi

Guys having fun in Rawalpindi January 27, 2006 Hotel Al Hayat Hotel, Liaquat Chowk, Pindi, 130 Rs/nite The gruelling 20 hours bus journey from Gilgit, which I regretted to take, at last finished. The regret came from to my anxiety of getting the ticket since the road block, that I thought the ticket can be difficult to get, so I booked earlier. The bus I booked started at 3 pm yesterday, and I booked the ticket at 12. When I lingered along gilgit road, I was invited by Pathani truck drivers to go with them in their truck to Pindi. But I had the bus ticket already, and they couldnt wait for me to cancel the ticket. What happened next was I attracted so much crowds on the streets, as I tried to explain to the drivers that I would like to go with them but I need to cancel the ticket I got first (650 Rs, not that cheap to throw away). Then the owner of their truck coming, and saying I had to pay 400 Rs if I hitch the truck, which I think more like a polite refusal and suggested me to take [read more]

January 27, 2006 // 2 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 [read more]

January 13, 2006 // 2 Comments

Hunza – From Sust to Karimabad

The icy road of Hunza Today decided to go back to Karimabad. During the stay in the Upper Hunza area, there is a very big problem: electricity. Due to failure of generator in Khyber, a village next to Pasu, the villages in Upper Hunza has to wait for its turn for electricity. One in 4 days the electricity comes to a village. I missed both in Sust and Chapursan. So that my memory cards are full, my batteries are finished, my harddisk couldnt start, completely I cant take any more photos. The main reason to leave is that actually I missed the food and hot in Karimabad. Before starting, my Sust friend and I had breakfast together in Sust. Practising my Urdu, I was joking with them that I was very poor, but I could earn money when I didnt have enough, by sleeping with Pakistani men for 150 Rs (1 US$=60Rs). It was merely a joke. But apparently it was an offer for the restaurant owner. When my friends left for work, I was still having my breakfast. And the restaurant owner came, whispering [read more]

January 7, 2006 // 3 Comments

Chapursan – The Land without Sunshine

The difficult journey to the land without sunshine January 4-7, 2006 Have you heard about the land without sunshine? It was a cloudy morning when someone in Sust bazaar – just one step more to China – told me. “You should go to Chapursan, over there, there is no sunshine for 2.5 months!” Chapursan is up north from Sust, going parallel with the Afghan border. And for harsh winter like this, nobody goes there due to the low temperature, harsh wind, and of course no sunshine. The last part of the challenges really made me decided to depart. There are several cars departing from Sust bazaar. There is no exact departure time, all departures are depended on passengers. Noor Khan – a Chapursan native who have been living in Karachi since student time, and Aziz – a teacher, Noor’s relative, also have been living in Karachi, are my fellow passengers. They told me many things about the culture of Wakhan Tajik – the native of the valley, about the [read more]

January 7, 2006 // 1 Comment

Rawalpindi – Cantontment?

I never expected that it’s very difficult to find a place to stay in this city Imperial Hotel, Muree Road, Rawalpindi 400Rs/double bed room After the 5 hour bus journey from Lahore to Islamabad, and long taxi drive to Saddar Bazaar in Rawalpindi, I was really resent by the hotel owner who refused me to stay in his hotel. Saddar Bazaar is the place for the budget hotels in Rawalpindi, where 2 years ago I used to stay. Today, they refused to accept me as their guest, as there is a stamp ‘Visa not Valid for Cannt Area’ on my visa page. I didnt realize what the meaning of the small stamp on my visa before today. The feeling of being refused in a hotel was very bad. I can imagine the same feeling of people being refused to enter a certain country despite of possessing the valid visa. And I felt disappointed, badly treated, being looked as second class man, etc. Cantontment is military area, which sometimes also include residential and bazaar area, as in this example [read more]

December 17, 2005 // 0 Comments