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Thank God, This Blog is Moving

As a result of my frustration of this wordpress-based blog, I finally decide to move the content somewhere new. Those annoying huge font will be gone, and so with the other limitations.

You can visit the new one through this link http://www.muhammadfadli.com/blog/. Don’t worry about the previous content, it’s all there imported. And the best thing is how the blog is integrated into my new website

Feel free to browse the content 🙂

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Publication, Travel, Travel Photography

DestinAsian Indonesia May – June 2013

Few days back, I just realized that it has been more than a year since my last post. Time passed so quick and that’s terrible for this blog, extraordinarily terrible. For now at least, no second glance, I’m up for blogging again. Will I post regularly? Honestly, I have no idea yet. But will see if this new blog outlook will bring something good.

So, back in March, I was shooting around Magelang, Central Java, for a main travel feature in the May-June edition of DestinAsian Indonesia, the second edition of the magazine. I’ve been in Magelang before, but that was long time ago. And to my surprise, just like Tony Wheeler who’ve been always ignored this city in his Indonesia edition of Lonely Planet, I’ve actually missed many charms about this place, literally.

The trip itself took me to Oei Hong Djien Museum, Selogriyo (the Ubud of Central Java), some less visited temples (you’ll meet no other curious tourists other than yourself, and there are more than 70 other temples around), and some great resorts (I didn’t usually find any resort stay worth to be the highlight of my trip but who can resist the joy at Villa Borobudur).

The shooting conditions were great, and a lot of photo opportunities around. I just can’t complain.

Well, here’s the complete tearsheet and you can read the whole story here in Bahasa.

Muhammad_Fadli_MGL01 Muhammad_Fadli_MGL02 Muhammad_Fadli_MGL03 Muhammad_Fadli_MGL04 Muhammad_Fadli_MGL05 Muhammad_Fadli_MGL06 Muhammad_Fadli_MGL07

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Travel, Travel Photography

A Glimpse of Iran

Well, it’s been a while since the last time I posted something. The plans to fill this blog regularly remains just as that—plans. But today I’m trying to keep up, updating it with something new. It will be brief, but with pictures 😀

An Iranian Women in Yazd’s Bazaar

So now I’m in Iran, traveling to some parts of the country for 13 days (that’s kind of short). Arrived in the middle of last week, my first impression of this country was a little more than I ever expected. Probably that’s because of the everlasting impression created by the Western media—they made us think that Iran is not a safe place to go, and above all it’s on the United States list of the Axis of Evil.

The crumbling part of Yazd’s old city

An afternoon at the Yazd’s old city

The reality is just far away from that. Many times I found out that much of what media said about a country is wrong. And in Iran almost all of it are wrong. I can see how this country which full of kind-hearted Iranians is treated unfair by the world. For me it will be always likely to be on my list of the Axis of Good.

The Amir Chakmakh of Yazd

My travel was begun in Tehran. Unlike most of my travel before, I’m enjoying Iran with a good friend of mine, Mohammad Safir Makki from the Jakarta Globe. But we don’t have a lot of time. Instead of spending more days in the capital, we rushed to Yazd, a city flanked by never-ending desert in Central Iran. Here, where the weather is always burning during summer, we found a warm hospitality of the Iranians even more.

Iranians drive Paykans, the world drives the rest

There are a lot of stories. But I’m prefer to save it for later. This will be just the first.

And today, I’m in Esfahan.

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Publication, Travel Photography

Lipka Tatar’s Trail : Garuda Magazine

The pictures and words report from my trip to Kruszyniany, a Lipka Tatar village in eastern part of Poland finally published in recent edition of Garuda Magazine (Middle East Edition). It is nicely put on the cover and run six pages inside. What I’m so happy about, my favourite image displayed really well for the double spread title page 🙂

“These days, along with their muslim tradition, some thousands Lipka Tatars still live in Poland, Lithuania and Belarus.”


Lipka Tatar is a group of Tatar who initially resided in Grand Duchy of Lithuania during the 14th century.  Their ancestors can be tracked back to the Golden Horde, the later Mongolian Khanate famous for its nomadic style of living. But instead of bringing their shamanistic religion from the east, the Lipka Tatars are Sunni Muslims.

The Wodden Mosque of Kruszyniany on the Cover

Tatars, along with their ancestors are famous thourghout history for one thing: horse-riding. In the war-infested medieval times, the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth saw this as a great chance. This was a right decision. By waging them as soldiers, the commonwealth won some crucial battle, including the Battle of Grunwald against the Teutonic Knight. As the result, the Lipka Tatars gained a noble status which granted them spacious lands to live on.

***

These days, along with their muslim tradition, some thousands Lipka Tatars still live in Poland, Lithuania and Belarus. My visit to Poland on summer 2011 has brought me to Kruszyniany, a small deserted village near Belarus border (there are also another village called Bohoniki). The inital plan was to do an in-depth photo reportage there. But everything wasn’t going too well. I messed up the planning with a bad last-minute research.

Special thanks to (Jedrek Wojnar)

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A Note & Postcards from Pacu Jawi

A picture is worth a thousand words. Yes, you’ve heard it, and I’ve heard it too. But now a picture is also worth a thousand dollars.

If you’re smart enough, in today’s not-so-nice situation for emerging photographers, you still can sell a photograph for that amount. But here I’m not talking about that. Instead, by saying “a picture is worth a thousand dollars” I’m talking briefly of how a photograph can actually help a community to maintain their tradition. And they are the people of Tanah Datar, who held Pacu Jawi (you can read my description here). The famous Indonesian bull’s racing in West Sumatra.

The Pacu Jawi © Muhammad Fadli

Yesterday, I visited Tabek to shoot Pacu Jawi for the countless times. This village is somehow really special for me since this was the place where I did the Community Development Participation (Kuliah Kerja Nyata or KKN) during my college years in back in 2005. Here, I experienced one of the most happiest moment in my life: shared a real life with villagers for two months. So when a good friend from Tabek called me few days ago telling Pacu Jawi will be held there, I felt like I was facing an offer I can’t refuse (citing The Godfather). Departing from Padang, I accelerated my car passing the winding road that decorate the land of Minangkabau.

“If you’re visiting, you’re guaranteed a tasty local food and the sweet ‘kawa’ without having to be ripped off.”


What I found surprised me. Pacu Jawi today, is being celebrated more than ever before. Three years ago, when I first shot Pacu Jawi, there were only very few outsider watching the raging bulls running through the wet unplanted ricefield. Most people were locals. But then, there were more and more outsiders came, especially after the photographs of Pacu Jawi were published widely (almost all were done by local photographers and you can see my first photo of the festival here). Yesterday there were two Indonesian national TV (with their beautiful hosts), a horde of photographers, and tourists. This is good!!

© Muhammad Fadli

The Pacu Jawi © Muhammad Fadli

The more ousiders come, the more of the local economy will develop (it’s pretty obvious, so I actually don’t need to tell you this). In Pacu Jawi, locals sell anything from foods to toys. If you’re visiting, you’re guaranteed a tasty local food and the sweet kawa (like coffee but different) without having to be ripped off. And I can see that they are started making good business. By looking at this I couldn’t be happier.

So be sure to spend some of your money here.

P.S: If you’re a photographer, the local usually will also ask you to register as a guest. They will ask you for some donation too. Please kindly fill the box as you wish. Don’t mind. This will go directly to the community and making sure the bulls keep running.

(Pacu Jawi is held almost every Saturday somewhere in Tanah Datar. The series in Tabek will be celebrated until early February 2012)

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Amok

Last night, as me and a friend were driving down a crossroad in Padang,  we saw dozens of men gathered at the roadside.  They shouted out loud indicating a trouble. My Indonesian curiosity led me to park my car at a distance. Before long, I was there among them, sneaked in just to find a man, without his shirt, sprawling and begging for his life on the road. “It’s an amok” I said to my friend. He nodded.

“The times when we have to deal with our own anger, we often show our most honest but barbaric features.”


The word “amok” derived from a remark in Bahasa “amuk”, which literally means a state of fury. But more to an uncontrollable form of it. Psychiatrist would be agree to address this state often occured towards a patient with Schizophrenia. Some people may find it’s quite intriguing of how could an English word (by spelling) absorbed it from Bahasa identically. Most possible that was because they were unable to find a similar context within their society.

Amok © Muhammad Fadli

Looking back at history, there were enough account from the Dutch colony era, where the imperialist got used to see the native Indonesians doing the amok. If somebody got caught of stealing or involved in social distruption, then he is in a great risk, great danger. Even so, the act of amok actually wasn’t only originated in Malay culture. It’s no secret this also happened in many part of the worlds including in Europe.

Back to the man who’s begging for his life, he was accused of stealing a bird. Indeed, a bird. He ran into trouble when he and his friend failed attempt came into light by the resident of (how unlucky he was) an Indonesian Armies residential complex. This is smelled not like a good place to steal. He fell from his motorcycle and got punches galore by a horde of amok’s fans. His friend was lucky enough to escape the crowd.

The times when we have to deal with our own anger, whatever the causes, we often show our most honest but barbaric features. While the unlucky guy laid helpless, some people still manage to kick him hard. I also saw a muscular man stomped him on the face which likely broke his jaw. We did try to stop, but this step often as dilemmatic as we were hushed. There’s always risk of those violent behavior would turn towards us in no time.

A sad, tragic, embarassing, but true post for a weekend.

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Our Modest New Year’s Eve

For you, what is the best experience of enjoying the New Year’s Eve? Do you feel like to party? Do you feel like to fill yourself up with some beer? or may be driving along the coast while pushing your horn into the deafening decibel right at the 00.00? Well, as long as you’re happy, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Last year, I spent the night before 2011 begun in Sikuai Island, off the west coast of Padang and left disappointed. The party was lame and poorly organized. Rather than experiencing some inspiring moments, I felt like I was putting a bad start for my 2011. I could’ve just stayed at home for a solitary moment.

So, when 2012 was approaching several days back, I was thinking about what to do. And I gave up the any idea about another lame party. Before long, I decided to go on a trip with few friends (me, Faiz, Zhu, Aciak, and Rio). The destination shouldn’t be too far, but it had to be interesting and fresh. The only thing that crossed our mind was Kerinci, a highland in Jambi province famous with some of the best natural and cultural diversity. Actually, the initial plan was to go there mid-December ago. But I was getting back to Padang quite late from the date of our departure. So we’d better make it for our New Year’s Eve. Since Kerinci would be too vast for us, we then picked Gunung Tujuh (Seven Mountain).  The plan was we would camp there, celebrate the incoming of 2012, and make some pictures out of it.

***

Mount Kerinci 3,805m © Muhammad Fadli

The trip to Kerinci from Padang took us about 6 hour. After some hundred kilometers and tons of winding lane we finally arrived at 2 a.m in Telun Berasap, a small village near the border of Jambi province and West Sumatra. The night was cold and the only person we met was a guy working for Indonesian Transportation Department who seemed didn’t want to share the fire and space with us. Here, deep inside Sumatra, you really don’t have much choice. We then pulled out our sleeping bag and try to sleep right in front of a closed shop under the threat of scattered duck shit.

A Trekker Rests on a Collapsed Tree © Muhammad Fadli

High on the mountanious Kerinci, the sun shone earlier. To my surprise, I woke up at 5.30 a.m to find that Mount Kerinci was looming right behind the place where I slept. This was not my first encounter with Kerinci, but this was the closest I ever came across.

At 3,805m above sea level, Kerinci is the highest volcano in the South-East Asia. From Telun Berasap, I could see it rise up from the lush valley into a perfect cone. But what I admire the most is its massive size. Before Kerinci, I never saw a volcano that huge. By the time Kerinci coughed up its brown ashes that morning (30/12), I was both mesmerized and anxious.

***

Lake Gunung Tujuh © Muhammad Fadli

Lake Gunung Tujuh © Muhammad Fadli

Starry Night at the Lake of Gunung Tujuh © Muhammad Fadli

At 8 a.m, we finally arrived at Pelompek, the last place where we can purchase anything that we forgot for the hike to Gunung Tujuh. After an hour or so, we then started heading to the gatehouse of Kerinci Seblat National Park few kilometers away. Thanks to Mario and friends from Kerinci Photography Community, we just need to sit at the back of motorcycle which saved us some valuable energy.

The hike to Gunung Tujuh was my first since 2009. After my trip to Everest Region in Nepal on October two years ago I almost never set my foot on any hiking trip. Mostly, time was the reason. I wasn’t too busy, but it seemed that I’ve always had some problem organizing my time. By the time we ascended the path to Gunung Tujuh, I know that I missed mountain a lot.

“When the night was falling, our only friends were the stars, the slow ripple of Lake Gunung Tujuh, the packs of cigarette, and some old songs from Iwan Fals.”


The path to Gunung Tujuh was quite easy. However, there’s no shortcut to heaven. Like any other volcano, the path is mostly ascending. Compared to the trek in Everest Region which has a combination between ascending, some steep descending, and walking at the same level, volcano trek is virtually only ascending. The only way is up. That’s what make it somehow somehow more sternous.

***

Our Night at the Camp © Muhammad Fadli

Fireworks © Muhammad Fadli

Bathers at the Lake of Gunung Tujuh © Muhammad Fadli

Bathers at the Lake of Gunung Tujuh © Muhammad Fadli

We finally reached one of the seven peak of Gunung Tujuh around 2 p.m. We then descended to the lakeside at the altitude of 1,950m. After some puff of cigarette, we set our camp and had some lunch with a great view: the deep blue water of one of the highest caldera in South-East Asia region. When the night was falling, our only friends were the stars, the slow ripple of Lake Gunung Tujuh, the packs of cigarette, and some old songs from Iwan Fals sung by Faiz. And there’s only one thing we should patiently wait: the very first second of 2012. We had some packs of fireworks from our childhood to be burned, that was how we celebrated the New Year’s Eve.

The complete series of the photographs will be uploaded soon in http://muhammadfadli.com/.

(Special Thanks to Zhu, Mario, and KOMPAK)

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