Stories from Indonesia
Paper Edition | Page: 3
People have different ways of expressing their love for their country. In the case of Farid Gaban and Ahmad Yunus, it’s through beautiful stories.
Farid, a former senior journalist with national newspaper Tempo, and Yunus, a former journalist with Pantau magazine, traveled around the country for 10 months from 2009 to 2010 on a shoestring budget.
On the trip, they focused on exploring the country’s maritime areas, visiting small islands that have barely had media coverage, and trying to get a deeper glimpse into the real condition of the country and its people.
The results can be enjoyed at their website, zamrud-khatulistiwa.or.id, through their travel notes, beautiful photos, videos and more.
“The journey was an eye-opener for me. I learned so many things, such as about tolerance. I lived in a home whose owners had different religions and we talked about faith and many things. They also allowed me to pray in the house,” Yunus says.
They had many interesting stories during the journey, including the irony that lies within the country’s beautiful islands.
“We have such beautiful nature but our people in the remoter areas still face problems in terms of knowledge, technology and capital that actually threaten their survival,” he said.
In writing their stories, the two used a journalistic approach, paying close and detailed attention as well as analysis to the stories, which they later published in a book titled Meraba Indonesia (The Feel of Indonesia).
The 51-year-old Farid said in the website that before leaving on the trip, in the back of his mind, the ocean was something that was surrounded by popular magical stories in Java, such as those on the South Sea as home to the powerful mythical queen known as Nyai Roro Kidul or Herman Meville’s tragic Moby Dick.
He could not believe that together with Yunus they went on a more than 10,000-kilometer trip around the country for a full year, including the time spent crossing the country’s seas.
“It turned out the seas and remote islands are not frightening. They’re in fact fun. Our trip combined an adventure in nature and the pleasure of enjoying beautiful things, which are probably just simple things,” says Farid, who has 11,349 followers on his Twitter account.
“The trip was also a lesson on living in the ocean and on the islands, something that we couldn’t possibly get from books, libraries or colleges.”
After the trip, Yunus has another plan to continue showing his love for the country.
The 30-year-old freelance journalist plans to work with his friends to make a travel documentary film that tells about the martial arts of Indonesia.
Through his latest venture, Yunus hopes he can capture the country’s beauty during the journey by documenting the world of martial arts in Sumatra, Java, Sulawesi and other areas.
“As part of our culture, martial arts would be very interesting if they were well documented.”
— JP/Indah Setiawati