The Jakarta Post
Insta-Stories are ilustrated journeys from wired wanderers. We asked Nicholas Saputra why he’s always traveling and got a quick answer: “To fulfill my curiosity,” says the 33-year-old actor and model. “I have a lot of interest in architecture, in nature and in culture.”
Nicholas loves to travel, whether its trekking for 10 hours up the hills outside Wamena, Papua (“If I slipped, I’d be dead”) or celebrating Carinval in Rio de Jainero (“For once I am not a minority. People really celebrate differences and being mixed is OK”).
Famous for roles in arthouse and blockbuster movies like Postcards from the Zoo and Ada Apa Dengan Cinta? (What’s Up with Love?), Nico says he loves to get away about eight to 10 times a year. He’s also not afraid to travel without an itinerary.
“I realized that there was a direct flight from here to Colombo,” Nico told J+ by The Jakarta Post, when asked about how planning his trips. “In the next five days, I was in Sri Lanka. I booked a hotel for only two nights.”
Nico says he was 15 when he made his first trip sans parents–a trip from Jakarta to Bandung with some high school friends. “We initially wanted to have more of an adventure. ‘Let’s just go to Bandung, take a train. Let’s not book any place. Let’s just stay in a mosque and take public transportation.’”
He pauses. “After we got off the train, we didn’t know where to go, so we hired a car. We stayed at the Sheraton hotel, because our parents were so concerned about us. Then we went shopping for shoes....so it wasn’t as adventurous as we expected.” Nico laughs.
Traveling solo, though, is Nico’s passion. In Jordan, Nico spent 10 days alone, traveling to see the rock-cut architecture of the Petra ruins and camping in the desert by Wadi Rum–the Valley of the Moon–just east of Aqaba. During the day, there was sand-boarding and hiking. At night, Nico marveled at the stars from a Bedouin-style tent. To make the 230-or-so kilometer trek from Amman to Petra, Nico hired a local taxi driver, who showed up with the owner of the taxi (for some company) and picked up a police officer passenger at a checkpoint. “They’re police and talking in Arabic and this guy jumped in the car,” Nico says, setting the scene. “So there’s a stranger, a taxi driver and a policeman. I was just trying to be relaxed, but also it’s probable that this is very common. It could have been worse. It was a formula for disaster, but actually the policeman just wanted to hitchhike to his station.”
For a two-year period, Nico says promised himself only to travel around the archipelago, which led to 10 trips to Komodo, among other places. “Exploring Indonesia is so eye opening,” Nicholas said. “The more you go east, the more diverse it is. If you go to Flores, for example, in a few hours you find another language. I realized how important the Indonesian language is. It connects people.”
Tangkahan, North Sumatra, is one of Nico’s favorite places. He’s made the trip to see the nearby Gunung Leuser National Park about 15 times in the last decade or so. “I like it as wild as possible, and that’s where I find it,” Nico says. He stays in lodges owned by local residents and enjoys spending time with rescued elephants, who live in a reserve. Nico also volunteers for NGOs like Fauna & Flora International, The Nature Conservancy and the World Wildlife Fund and speaks with obvious passion about how the NGOs cultivate nature and help people to live better, sustainable lives.
“When I was in Tangkahan–in the middle of the forest in the river, sunk in the fresh water, looking at the National Park–that’s luxury for me. Sometimes the word luxury is a bit overrated. It’s not about what you think it is. It’s something that you don’t get anywhere else.”