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

Phnom Penh at a Glance

Phnom Penh at a Glance

I realized that war may have been over in this land decades ago but a different kind of war is now being fought in the economic and political battlefields. That makes me sick to my stomach. After trailing the dark and dusty roads back to city centre, I had a fancy dinner in a fancy restaurant and I can’t stop thinking whether I am a part of this war. Continue reading

History Preserved Along the Straits of Malacca

History Preserved Along the Straits of Malacca

The Dutch, Portuguese and British controlled Malacca for centuries and managed to benefit from its strategic location. But the state of Malacca was able to preserve its sultanate origin and Peranakan traditions while incorporating foreign influences resulting to a cultural mosaic. These beautiful complexity, tended through time, made the city centre of Malacca a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Continue reading

Batu Caves – A Proof of Religious Harmony

Batu Caves – A Proof of Religious Harmony

This visit to the Batu Caves not only tested my endurance (276 steps is a kind of a big deal for me) and proved me that religious harmony is possible. Although an Islamic state, Malaysia allowed its people to practice their own beliefs (Buddhism, Hinduism or Christianity). Really, we don’t have to take arms and fight for our faith. Continue reading

Floriade 2013

Floriade 2013

I learned that usually beautiful things are just right in front of us waiting to be noticed once we are done with being preoccupied with trivial things.

It’s winter in most parts of the world and I assume Australia is now battling the summer heat but I hope these photos brighten up your day and inspire you to look forward to spring. Continue reading