Free e-photobook: Return to Aceh

This week marks the tenth years anniversary of the massive Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. So I did my best by compiling the photographs that I took on two recent trips to Aceh, the region which hit the worst by the tsunami (more than 130,000 recorded death), into an e-photobook. Looking at the scale of the disaster, I feel the urge to tell the story of how everything goes there nowadays. And the good thing about this e-photobook it is free. You can get it by clicking the cover page image below or later if you like, you can download it as PDF as well. 

Dedicated for the people of Aceh.

Digital Book Project Return to Aceh - Muhammad Fadli

Random Scenes: Stretched

Cameras are just like musical instruments, different devices produce distinct imageries. Here are my few takes on the toylike Russian made Horizon S3 panoramic camera. While operating this camera requires some degree of patience and the control also got some real quirks (but yet also very simple), I might find some real use of it in the future.

Onboard inter-island ferry from Sabang to Banda Aceh.

Onboard inter-island ferry from Sabang to Banda Aceh.

Tsunami relic in Aceh's western coast.

Tsunami relic in Aceh's western coast.

Bogor railway station, West Java.

Bogor railway station, West Java.

Rough sea north of the island of Wetar.

Rough sea north of the island of Wetar.

Chinatown, Padang, West Sumatra.

Chinatown, Padang, West Sumatra.

Port of Sunda Kelapa, Jakarta.

Port of Sunda Kelapa, Jakarta.

Taiwan Beyond Taipei: Taichung

Sometimes, you just have to arrive back in a place to see what you're missing. Last June, I visited Taichung, the third largest city in Taiwan, assigned by Destinasian Indonesia. I have been to Taiwan two years ago exploring the area around Taipei for a different magazine. But I had no interest (and time) to go beyond that. And then Taichung came as a pleasant surprise. 

Let's make it really short, here are some photographs from the trip.

An eccentric biker in Taichung.

An eccentric biker in Taichung.

Taichung's food feast.

Taichung's food feast.

Lanshu Chen, the Asia's Best Female Chef 2014.

Lanshu Chen, the Asia's Best Female Chef 2014.

Taichung city view from a skyscraper.

Taichung city view from a skyscraper.

Taichung's youth.

Taichung's youth.

Xaio long bao served in a roadside restaurant.

Xaio long bao served in a roadside restaurant.

Liz Silva enjoying beef satay.

Liz Silva enjoying beef satay.

This is how the publication turned out in Destinasian Indonesia September-October 2014 Issue.

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.

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 :D

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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)

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.

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!!

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)

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.

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.