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Starting 25 November, fans can watch top singer Afgansyah Reza, aka Afgan, on TV again—not in a music concert—but in a reality show series titled AXN Ultimate Challenge Indonesia. In the show, Afgan travelled to three top tourist destinations in Indonesia: Labuan Bajo in East Nusa Tenggara, Mandalika in West Nusa Tenggara, and Bali.
The 32-year-old singer partnered with best friend Reza Chandika, an actor and comedian. Both unite as the "Afgan Team", contending with the "Isyana Team" powered by sister artists, Isyana Sarasvati and Rara Sekar. The two teams competed across numerous challenges.
"This AXN Ultimate Challenge is a reality show. We visit iconic places in Indonesia and introduce these locations to audiences from outside Indonesia with the aim of attracting more visitors to Indonesia to explore the locations highlighted in the show", said Afgan in an exclusive interview with Yahoo Indonesia.
"In this show, we engage in several challenges involving physical activities. We document each of our journeys and compile them into videos that we post on Instagram. This is one of the criteria against which we are judged in the process of selecting the show’s winner."
The filming of this show, which will be aired on AXN Asia's pay television channel along with their YouTube channel, lasted for 10 days. It was the first time Afgan returned to travelling after two years of staying at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Afgan, filming amid the COVID-19 pandemic posed increasingly more challenges, from complying with countless restrictions to doing repeated swab tests, in addition to the exhausting journey to the shooting location.
"One of the biggest challenges we faced was the need to shoot in three locations in one day, locations that were fairly distant from one another. At one point as we were approaching a location, we had to use a boat. In another we had to hike first and, in my opinion, this is the most … how to say? It’s very rough to shoot in this way," said the singer, who just released his sixth album "Wallflower" in April 2021.
"So, the main challenge was how to preserve and save energy because the journey was gruelling indeed."
Afgan said that overall, the process of shooting was fun because he got to spend time with his friends. There were also a lot of interesting challenges that he hadn’t encountered before.
The most memorable moment for Afgan was when he had to paraglide over a beach and read sentences written by Reza Chandika on the sand below. It was a tough challenge for Afgan in particular, as he is afraid of heights.
"I'm a person who is afraid of heights, so I was hesitant at first. But, when I did it, I became addicted! That challenge was one of my favourites, very memorable for me".
Indonesian tourism can flourish again
During filming, Afgan was also able to have a firsthand view of the impact of all the economic restrictions imposed during the pandemic for people on Labuan Bajo, Mandalika, and Bali, where the economy is highly dependent on tourism. The closure of airports and ports severely affected the industry. The number of foreign tourists, according to data from the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy, fell by 90 percent compared to the period before the pandemic struck Indonesia.
Afgan witnessed many tourist spots that were deserted by both domestic and foreign tourists. However, the singer is optimistic that things will get better soon. He felt that the locals he had met were very excited to revive the industry.
"I believe we can return stronger, for sure, because I met many people during this trip. They are optimistic that the situation will get better and that tourists will eventually return. And now I also see that the shortened quarantine period makes it easier for tourists to come back from abroad. Yesterday, when we went to Bali and Labuan Bajo, it was quiet, with not too many tourists. It's just that in spite of this, I see that the people there remain optimistic. I'm sure conditions can go back to how it was before, hopefully next year," Afgan said.
AXN Ultimate Challenge Indonesia is an original production of KC Global Media, in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy of the Republic of Indonesia.
The premiere episode will be aired on 25 November 2021, at 7.30pm WIB, followed by new episodes every Thursday and Friday on the AXN Asia channel throughout Southeast Asia. Viewers in other parts of the world can watch the show through AXN Asia’s YouTube channel starting 27 November.
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