[VIDEO] Discovering Istanbul

[VIDEO] Discovering Istanbul

Istanbul, how can I even begin to describe you? The poverty of my words won’t give justice to the richness of your culture and history. I will still try but to start my series of posts about Istanbul, here is a video of short clips I stitched together during my 4-day stay in this city where two continents kiss. Continue reading

A Day in Bali

A Day in Bali

Love is sweeter the second time around, and so is Bali. It is a place that I could easily go back to because despite its touristic characteristics, Bali keeps on protecting its unique charm that has seduced travelers way back and continues to share its beauty, spiritualism, stories and smiles to people who keep coming back for more. Continue reading

From Dusk till Dawn over the Rice Fields of Maliana

From Dusk till Dawn over the Rice Fields of Maliana

It is still dark and other than the reflection of the evening light on the tips of rice stalks, I’m in an ocean of darkness, which is comforting because here I can easily drown in strangeness…or maybe not. I know we are surrounded by vast rice fields. Maliana is the rice bowl of Timor-Leste especially during the Indonesian occupation when it supplies the staple food to the rest of the country. Continue reading

Traversing Timor-Leste from West to East

Traversing Timor-Leste from West to East

I can repeat the dizzying bus rides and the challenging 2.5-hour walk just to see again this paradise I owned even for a while. Burying my feet with powdery white sand and studying my reflection on the clear waters, I feel like I am stranded on an island far from everywhere and everyone. If there is an edge to the world, it is here in Jaco Island. Continue reading

Children of Lafaek: The People and Culture of Timor-Leste

Children of Lafaek: The People and Culture of Timor-Leste

“Lafaek” is the Tetun word for crocodile and it is sacred for the Timorese. Legend says that the land is the body of the lafaek; the whole island of Timor is shaped like one–the lower body is West Timor and the head is East Timor. Whichever comes first–the legend or the map–lafaek is deeply embedded into the life and culture of the Timorese then and now. Continue reading

The Road to Balibo

The Road to Balibo

The lives of the Balibo Five do not outweigh the lives of tens of thousands of Timorese slained during that period but it proves something about wars: that they do not recognize anyone; every person who crosses the frontline is an enemy; and neutral zones are hardly delineated. Continue reading

The Lakes of Peace in Tasitolu

The Lakes of Peace in Tasitolu

“Tasitolu” means “three seas” in Tetun. The three salt lakes are guarded by hills and ocean waves and surrounded by simple houses of Tasitolu villagers. It is a painful reminder of the past, a peaceful refuge from the city today, and most importantly, a glaring example of what needs to be done. Continue reading

Through the Windows of Dili, Timor-Leste

Through the Windows of Dili, Timor-Leste

I was finishing the last pages of Gordon Peake’s book when the Sriwijaya pilot announced that we were about to land to President Nicolau Lobato International Airport of Dili. I raised my window shade and looked at this land I’ve been dreaming to see since I started studying about the humanitarian intervention and post-conflict rebuilding. “The Land of the Sleeping Crocodile,” I whispered to myself. The bright sky and blue waters awaken my tired body and sleepy mind. Continue reading

The Royal Palace in the Kingdom of Wonder

The Royal Palace in the Kingdom of Wonder

I was told that in Cambodia, the impossible can be possible, that’s why it’s called the Kingdom of Wonder. For a country with two prime minister after the UN-hosted elections in 1993, one can’t help but wonder. True enough, This idiomatic expression represents both the positive and negative aspects of Cambodian society. Continue reading

Genocide in Cambodia: Remembering the Past to Protect the Future

Genocide in Cambodia: Remembering the Past to Protect the Future

It was a depressing visit but an enlightening one. I learned that it is possible for people to kill their very own people. I learned that while thousands of lives are being taken in one part of the world, the rest of the world moves on with their lives. I also learned that we need to revisit again and again this part of history, no matter how painful it is, so that the same pain won’t be a part of the history we are making now. Continue reading