Thursday, October 30, 2014

Taking The Focus On The People

Humans of New York: Before I return to New York portraits, I want to share some portraits and stories that I gathered on an unscheduled side trip that I took to Jerusalem. Because of the hastily arranged nature of the trip, I worked with some unorthodox interpreters, including an extremely bright sixteen year old Palestinian boy. He approached everyone quite confidently, until we got to this group, and suddenly he got fidgety and clammed up. “Um, I don’t know,” he said. “They, um, will probably say no, um, maybe we should ask someone else.” (Jerusalem)

Have you ever heard Humans of New York? It's a photography blog by New York-based photographer Brandon about New Yorkers. What makes it stands out from other photo blogs is not only that it captures the people's style, but also the people's stories as well as their fears, hopes and dreams. Brandon has been going on a world tour, photographing people worldwide as seen from the photo above. 

Similar blogs are taking the example too in Jakarta. At least there are three blogs and one Facebook page on Jakartans. Here they are:

See Jkt : Jakarta is a city bursting with stories, in which parts of them are told in this blogs curated by Aditya Suharmoko and Felix Dass. In Bahasa.

We Are Jakarta : Jane Spence, Kamal Merai and Daisy Santoso manage this blogs that asks Jakartans on specific themes during special moments, such as presidential election or Independence Day.

Humans in Jakarta : Founded by a local cosmetics company, Wardah, this blogs is run by American photographer Langston Hues and Lisa Namuri, a physical fitness instructor. Some posts are bilingual, Bahasa-English.

Humans of Jakarta (Facebook page) : Australian film teacher Talisa Salmon who is behind this Facebook page says she never has any problems getting Jakartans to open up.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Baby Elephant Agam

In this photograph taken on Oct.12, 2014, Indonesian veterinarian staff of Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) rehabilitates a two-year old orphaned baby male Sumatran elephant named Agam whose health condition is deteriorating due to a broken leg at the elephant rehabilitation center in Aceh Besar district located in Aceh province. Wildlife conservation officials rescued Agam, after the mother was found dead from suspected poisoning at a palm oil plantation last year. (AFP Photo/Chaideer Mahyuddin, source)

Earlier this week, I read in a social media that Agam died...

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Between Bukittinggi And Padang, Part 2

Day 4

Most of my colleagues were returning to Jakarta on Day 4, but me and four other girls decided to extend the stay. We spent the night at Edotel, a small hotel owned by vocational school SMK 9 Padang. The staffers, from receptionist to cook, are students of the vocational school.

Since we were not ambitious travelers, we spent the day stopping by the houses of Wid's foster parents and Meg's grandma and going to Bukit Langkisau (Langkisau Hill). Then we got back to the hotel and slept.   

Panorama of Bukit Langkisau (Langkisau Hill)

 Another viewpoint of Bukit Langkisau

Day 5

We decided to go island hopping to Pasumpahan island and chose a package from La Villa Sofia, a small villa nearby the Bungus port. When we got to the villa, we were struck with the view, it was majestic!

We  swam around, had lunch by the beach and returned shortly because we anticipated the rain. It's been raining in Padang and Bukittinggi during our visit. 

We passed Teluk Bayur (Bayur Bay) on our way to Bungus port

 Panorama from La Villa Sofia

 The book shelf in La Villa Sofia contains many works of Russian authors, me like :).

Pasumpahan island

Pasumpahan island

Jelly fish!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Between Bukittinggi And Padang, Part 1

Hello lovelies, how are things? As promised, here is the travel note from my trip to Bukittinggi and Padang, West Sumatra.

West Sumatra applies matrilineal family system, in which the mother holds the lineage, the women are the family heads and take decisions. But for me it is very confusing because West Sumatra is also very Islamic (we passed many Islamic boarding schools along the way) and in Islam, it is the men who should be responsible in taking care of the family.

In Pariaman regency, for example, a bride must pay the groom's dowry. The higher the groom's position/education, the more expensive the dowry, but in Islam it is men who should pay the dowry. While in other parts of West Sumatra, the women usually receive higher amount of inheritance than the men. Again, this is contrary to the Islamic inheritance law, in which men should receive 2x inheritance than women. 

The West Sumatra tradition pretty much contradicts the Islamic principles, but hey who am I to judge? Let's just consider it as a part of Indonesia's rich culture.

Day 1

Upon our arrival in Minangkabau airport, we boarded a bus and headed to Bukittinggi, which is about 2-3 hours by bus from Padang. We passed the lush green Lembah Anai (Anai Valley) and Sungai Batang Anai (Batang Anai River). Everything was green and fresh, but I was sleepy for most of the ride because it was such an early flight (06:20), that I should left home by 03:00 a.m.  

I'm omitting the boring part of my office workshop as I know you only need information on what you can do and see in Bukittinggi and Padang :).

On our way to Bukittinggi, we stopped at a souvenir shop. My girl friends went shopping, but I was more interested to explore a water mill on the other side of the road.

Here's what we found inside. It's a rice flour mill.

A sign board on the road side

Another rice flour mill next door. The owner was a very shy woman, she did not want to be photographed.

We also stopped to buy Bika (a local snack made from rice flour, grated coconut), it was delicious.

This looks like Vulcan's workshop, but it's where the Bika was baked.

Gloomy skyscape

Day 2

We concluded the day's workshop before lunch and then took a quick walk to Fort de Kock. Built in 1825, it served as a Dutch fort to protect them during the Padri War (Remember Imam Bonjol?). In later years, the surrounding area of the fort grew into a city, now known as Bukittinggi (literally means 'high hills').

FYI, many places in West Sumatra are named in contrary to the area's situation. Bukittinggi is not located in the hills, but in the valley, Payakumbuh (literally means 'difficult to grow anything') is green and lush, Sulit Air (means 'difficult to obtain water') is actually very easy to get water. Any West Sumantran would like to explain why they name the area in contrary? Enlighten me, please.

  The gate of Fort de Kock

 We crossed Limpapeh bridge and explored the zoo in a flash. These gentle giants were chained to the column. Heartbroken :(

 At the steps of Minangkabau traditional house

Tangled roots

 Panorama of Ngarai Sianok (Sianok Canyon)

A photo shot from inside the Japanese cave

A family of long-tailed macaques :)

Day 3

We had a Team Building session in Lembah Harau (Harau Valley) the whole morning, started with games that ended with me and two friends wearing Minangkabau traditional wedding garb as you can see in the previous post. Then we went to Serasah Boenta (Boenta waterfall).

  Harau Valley reminds of Rammang rammang in Maros, South Sulawesi

A sign near the waterfall, written in two languages: old spelling Indonesian and Dutch.

My colleague JHP provides a human scale to the waterfall

Chasing a waterfall :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Photo From Bukittinggi

One Uda, Two Uni, Three's Company* :)

Hi sweeties, how are you? I hope you're doing good. I've been flooded, swamped and trailed over by loads of work. Not just me, but the whole office was working our asses off. Last week we had a respite as we headed to Bukittinggi, West Sumatra for Team Building session.

Above is just one photo of so many we've taken. We played a game and ended up wearing traditional Minangkabaru wedding garb. I'm still compiling photos and text about the trip, I hope I can post more before this week ends.

On a much happier note, I managed to retrieve the photos I thought I've lost when the portable hard disk gave up on me. I kept the photos in iPhoto library and the common folders, so the photos are still in iPhoto library eventhough I've deleted the common folders. Alhamdulillah. 

I've been thinking of another way to preserve my photos. One solution is through this blog. So you'll see more of my face and my friends in this space. I hope you don't mind.

*Uda means brother, Uni means sister in Minangkabau language

Monday, October 20, 2014

Today, Indonesia Has A New President :)

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, center, shouts "freedom" while raising his fist as he delivers his speech during his inauguration ceremony as the country's seventh president at the parliament building in Jakarta, Indonesia, Monday, Oct. 20, 2014. Photo: Dita Alangkara, AP, found here