In case you missed it, AXN Ultimate Challenge Indonesia has came and gone.

The part travel part reality series saw Indonesian celebrities, Afgansyah Reza (Afgan) and Isyana Sarasvati embark on a whirlwind adventure across three iconic Indonesian islands.

Held in partnership with the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy of Indonesia (MOTCE), the original television and digital series premiered on 25 November on AXN Asia. It is currently streaming worldwide on its official YouTube channel.

afgan profile

Hosted by Richard Kyle, the six-part 15-minute each multimedia series stars award-winning Indonesian celebrities, actor and singer-songwriter Afgansyah Reza (aka Afgan) and London’s Royal College of Music graduate, Isyana Sarasvati – the award-winning singer who sang the Indonesian soundtrack ‘A Whole New World’, for the 2019 live action remake of Aladdin.

The pair and their respective travel partners Reza Chandika (#TeamAfgan) and Rara Sekar (#TeamIsyana), took global audiences on an ultimate journey, including epic adventures and heart-pounding challenges as they experience and capture the social media worthy sights and sounds of Indonesia’s stunning island destinations. This includes Labuan Bajo (known for the Komodo National Park, snorkelling points and flying fox bats), Mandalika in Lombok (known for thrilling racing circuits, water parks and water sports activities), and Bali (without a doubt every traveller’s favourite getaway beach destination).

Team Afgan
Lombok Merese Hills

Each episode kept fans on the edge of their seats as Afgan and Isyana, alongside their travel partners, are pushed past their comfort zones through challenges that put their minds, brawn, and social media prowess to the test. In the process, discover the incredibly diverse cultures, mouth-watering gastronomic delights, and magnificent wonders of nature that Indonesia has to offer. In this interview, we catch-up with Afgan to find out more about his experience in this travel adventure and discovering more about his home country.

Why did you decide to join AXN Ultimate Challenge?

This past one and a half years have imposed various challenges for all of us. For me as well, since I’m used to travelling so often and I’ve been forced to stay in one place for the last two years. Once I got the offer, it was kind of a no-brainer for me because I get to travel to the three most beautiful spots in Indonesia with my best pals Isyana, Reza and Rara and we get to do fun challenges. I’ve always wanted to travel to Labuan Bajo.

What did you discover about Indonesia’s culture and heritage from participating in this show?

I have never been to Sasak village and Labuan Bajo. Those two places really surprised me when I discovered about their culture and their way of life and history. Especially with Sasak Village and how they stayed true to their roots. It’s just so mesmerising to see that this group of people still value the rich heritage that has been carried down for many generations..

Exploring the magnificent Rangko Cave in Labuan Bajo, a natural wonder that presents its blue water cave lank with sunlight shining directly on it, was breathtaking. Other distinct memories include sailing on the spectacular phinisi boat while enjoying the sunset and going to Pulau Komodo where I got to see Komodo Dragons in real life. Those things were on my bucket list, and they came true on this trip. I’m so grateful for this opportunity.

Bali Kelingking Beach

In Mandalika, we got to enjoy the sunset from the top of an iconic hill. I was so humbled and mesmerised by the view. When you surround yourself with nature, you see and realise how small you are, and it kind of humbles you and takes you back to the simple life. For me, every time I get back to nature, I forget and release all my negative energy. I get so much positive energy from nature, so I think it’s very therapeutic and was certainly what I needed to rejuvenate the mind, body, and spirit.

What was your most memorable experience on AXN Ultimate Challenge Indonesia?

Flyboarding was the most memorable challenge. Since I’m afraid of heights, I was initially doubtful but upon conquering it, I’ve come to realise I like it. The adrenalin rush of the entire experience also opened me up to a whole new perspective.

One of the key things I took out of the trip was being able to bond with my best pals and explore the remarkable sights together. The whole trip was tiring but I gained a lot mentally. I think it’s one of those once in a lifetime experiences.

What inspired you through your interactions with everyday Indonesians while doing the show?

Behind all the action and adventure, it was the people who completed the ultimate travel experience. I got to meet the local people of the Sasak tribe, such as 42-year old Bobby Hanafi, who shared his passion for preserving the rich culture of Sasak Village which has journeyed him from a guide in 1996 to current day village manager.

I also had the opportunity to explore the beauty of the Bugis culture with 47-year-old Nisbahuddin, a Pinisi captain of Bugis ancestry who followed in his sailor father’s footsteps, as well as Ni Komang Trisa Dewi who has been working as a guide at the Bali Turtle Conservation for the past 2 years because of her deep love and dedication to rescuing injured turtles. I am really inspired by the amazing people that brought to life the ultimate travel experience through their heartfelt passion.

What is your biggest takeaway from doing the show?

I think it was the experience, not only of nature and the beautiful scenery, but learning about culture and history. Indonesia has a very rich culture. That’s the most memorable part for me, learning more about my own country. Especially when we went to Sasak Village, which is located in Lombok, we got to see the village that has been there for hundreds of years.

We got to talk to the local people there, see how they manage to live in the pandemic, and how they tried to exclude technology that’s taking over the world right now. They still value the old way of living, and they don’t want to lose their old values.

Stream all episodes of AXN Ultimate Challenge Indonesia on YouTube now.

(Images: AXN)

written by.
Richard Augustin
Former chef turned writer; Richard has tip-toed around the publishing industry for two decades. When not busy chasing deadlines, you can still find him experimenting with recipes in the kitchen.

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