Al Ghubaiba Bus Station: Menunggu Dubai Bus No. 8

Tepat tengah hari aku terduduk di pelataran utara Al Fahidi Fort. Aku duduk tepat di depan Dhow Boat –perahu tradisional khas Timur Tengah– yang menjadi property milik Dubai Museum. Sementara sang surya menyelinap malu di balik gumpalan awan yang melindungi kota dari sinar teriknya.

Para pengunjung masih berlalu lalang di hadapan demi menikmati nostalgia masa lalu Dubai di seantero museum. Sementara aku sedang berpikir keras, mencoba mempertaruhkan waktu antara menyudahi petualangan atau menambah lagi satu area destinasi.

Destinasi itu berjarak hampir dua puluh kilometer di arah selatan, tepat di pesisir pantai Jumeirah. Daerah itu bernama Umm Suqeim, area pantai dimana bangunan hotel ternama Burj Al Arab berada. Letaknya di sebelah utara pulau reklamasi elit Palm Jumeirah yang kukunjungi sehari sebelumnya.

Aku berpikir keras karena siang itu aku mulai memiliki faktor pembatas, yaitu penerbangan menuju Muscat pada malam harinya.

Kuperkirakan membutuhkan waktu tak kurang dari tiga setengah jam untuk perjalanan pulang pergi hingga tiba di penginapan kembali. Tentu aku harus kembali ke penginapan untuk mengambil backpack yang kutitipkan di Zain East Hotel semenjak check-out pagi hari sebelumnya.

Sementara itu, paling tidak membutuhkan waktu sekitar dua jam untuk mengeksplorasi kawasan Umm Suqeim. Jadi paling tidak aku akan sampai kembali di penginapan pada pukul enam sore. Penerbanganku ke Muscat sendiri akan dimulai pada pukul sembilan malam.

“Tidak usah ragu, Donny….Masih cukup waktu untuk melakukan eksplorasi tambahan…Cepat….Cepat….Cepat”, aku meyakinkan diriku sendiri untuk membuang rasa ragu

Aku pun segera menetapkan rute dan titik tolak untuk berangkat. Aku yang tak memiliki kuota internet lagi, segera memahami peta secara manual. Beruntung sebuah aplikasi berbasis peta memecahkan permasalahan itu, aku diarahkan oleh aplikasi itu untuk menggunakan jasa Dubai Bus No. 8 yang berangkat dari Al Ghubaiba Bus Station.

Kuperhatikan dengan cemat di dalam peta digital bahwa terminal bus itu berada sekitar satu setengah kilometer di barat tempatku berdiri, Dubai Museum.

Aku segera mengayunkan langkah cepat menujunya. Aku tiba dalam dua puluh menit, dengan nafas tersengal aku memasuki terminal itu dari sisi 16th Street di sisi barat terminal.

Begitu memasuki area terminal aku terdiam sejenak. Memperhatikan segenap penjuru terminal. Aku menyunggingkan senyum oleh karena perwujudan terminal yang diluar dugaanku sendiri. Al Ghubaiba Bus Station hanyalah sebuah tanah lapang beraspal yang disekat sekat dengan concrete barrier. Hanya ada beberapa platform yang diberikan atap, sisanya adalah tanah lapang dengan tiang-tiang penanda rute.

Dari sekian luas terminal, tentu akan membutuhkan banyak waktu jika aku harus menyisirnya satu per satu demi menemukan platform dimana Dubai Bus No. 8 akan berangkat. Untuk menyingkat waktu itu, aku bertanya ke seorang petugas terminal yang tampak mengatur lalu lintas di dalamnya.

“Over there…In west side near McDonald’s outlet, Sir”, petugas itu menjelaskan sembari menunjukkan tangannya jelas ke satu titik.

Hanya sedikit bagian dar terminal yang berkanopi.
Mari lihat lebih dekat!
Penampakan sebagian besar terminal. Area terbuka yang luas.
Platform Dubai Bus No.8 dengan tujuan akhir Ibn Battuta Metro Station.

Dengan petunjuk itu, aku pun menemukan platform dengan mudah. Dan ketika berdiri di depan platform, naluri blogger mendorongku untuk segera mengambil beberapa foto yang kuanggap perlu.

Wait….Wait….Wait. Don’t take picture with me in it”, tegur seorang pria India yang duduk di bangku platform. Dia mendekatiku dan memintaku memperlihatkan foto yang baru saja kuambil. Aku pun mengabulkannya.

Yes…this….you must delete this photo”, dia menunjuk ke layar kamera mirrorlessku.

Okay, Sir…No Matter, I deletes it now”, aku menenangkannya.

Usai kejadian itu, aku pun duduk bersebelahan dengannya dan kami berdua malah bercakap akrab sembari menunggu kedatangan bus.

Sebut saja namanya Sanu yang merantau dari tempat kelahirannya di India demi mengadu nasib di kota megapolitan Dubai.

Percakapan hangat itu terasa begitu cepat dan segera terhenti karena Dubai Bus No. 8 telah tiba di platform.

Saatnya menuju Umm Suqeim….

Dinner at Banpo Bridge

The majestic Banpo Bridge straddles Han River.

Luckily I didn’t sink into a deep nap in Kimchee Guesthouse Sinchon. A little past five in the afternoon I woke up. Immediately unpacking contents of my backpack, I looked for a toiletries bag and microfiber towel for my first bathing needs since 35 hours ago.

I purposely splashed myself with warm water for a long time even though I knew there was an innkeeper who knocked on the door several times as a sign asking me to hurry up and finishing my bathing soon.

After washing my socks, I got out of bathroom and smiled at a female guest from China who had been waiting all that time. Of course my warm smile was reciprocated by frown lips from her. “I’m sorry. Ms, It’s been a long time since I’ve taken a bath, I’m so sorry …..” .

After changing clothes and wearing all winter equipments, I prepared to visit Seoul again until night.

I still remembered words from my office mates who asked me to visit a bridge which was often used as a setting in famous Korean dramas. Even though I heeded them when I left, for some reason, that afternoon I had a strong desire to visit it too. My friends said, when night fallen, Banpo Bridge often had rainbow fountains, a mix of fountains and light show in both sides of bridge. “Okay, there’s nothing wrong with me to going there even though I’m not a fan of Korean dramas”, I finally decided on a goal.

From Hongik University Station, I would now head to Seoul Express Bus Terminal Station, where I first set my steps in Seoul. The feeling of fullness from a piece of Kimbab which I ate at Hongik University Station that afternoon was gone. Now my stomach was starting to loudly sound as celebrating my hunger. But due to concerned about being stuck by night at Banpo Bridge for that night, I decided to put off my desire for dinner.

I immediately walked to Hongik University Station, picked up the arrival of Seoul Metro Line 2 and headed to destination I was aiming for. I really understood Seoul Metro line because I had been staring at the map since that morning, making me aware that I had to transit in Euljiro 3 (sam)-ga Station first and had to change rode in Seoul Metro Line 3.

It took approximately half an hour to reaching Seoul Express Bus Terminal Station. Exiting gate 8-1 in the station, I walked to Banpo Hangang Park, the best side to enjoy beautiful Banpo Bridge.

It took 20 minutes to get to the park in the banks of Han River. Entering the park, which was getting dark with minimal lighting, was actually a little daunting. Luckily there was a group of Korean families who entered the park and headed for the same place. By pretending to show composure I stalked them from behind….Hahaha, you coward, Donny.

That family group who were busy walking while preparing some cameras made me believe that they were going to Banpo Bridge view point. It was true, that local family and I finally arrived at river bank together.

Yeaaa….. arrived too.

The appearance of Banpo Bridge with sparkling lights did look beautiful as it straddled Han River. I was very enthusiastic about sitting on the bank of river waiting for the moment when rainbow fountain show started. Second by second, minute by minute, even though I had volunteered to be rolled up in the cold city temperature, the show never came.

As a result, with the end that local family visitation because of same disappointment, I was forced to resign from that place. “Yes, It will bad when I have to be alone in the bank of a river that is quiet and dark like this…”, I growled while holding back hunger which had been really messing with my concentration.

Walking away from the beauty of Banpo Bridge, I was really lucky to see the existence of a small 7-Eleven outlet in other side of park. The light from inside indicated that that outlet was still open. Then without thinking long, I hastened my steps closer to it. “This will be delicious, if I eat cup noodles with rice …”, my enthusiasm came while remembering the simple way of eating that I always practiced during my visitation to South Korea.

I shouted with joy that I got it. The excitement grew even more because 7-Eleven outlet provided a tent in outside to eat food which be purchased from that outlet. Uniquely, the tent was warmed by a fan whose its blades were made from heating filaments.

Wow….

Napping in Kimchee Guesthouse Sinchon

Forgot to take a photo while staying…. Hihihi.

I was still standing motionless in north of square to enjoying the majesty of Gwanghwamun Gate , the six-century gate belonging to Gyeongbok Palace. Gwanghwamun Square with its andesite rock floor and a mix of green garden grass seemed to be starting to fill up with the flow of tourists visiting.

Apart from the statue of Admiral Yi Sunshin, the golden statue of King Sejong, the Great-the fourth king of Joseon Dynasty was an important destination for travelers. They were too fascinated by that statues when I preferred to pay attention to the bustle of United States Embassy in the edge of Sejong-daero Avenue next to National Museum of Korean Contemporary History.

It didn’t feel like time had passed since midday, the rest of sleepiness after spending the night in Seoul Express Bus Terminal made me unable to hide the sleepiness in my eyelids. My body which hadn’t been soaked in water since 30 hours ago also made me not feel comfortable.

“It’s better to just go back to the inn”, so excited, my mind aborted my enthusiasm to continue exploration. “Damn….I give up this time”, I was groaning in annoyance, I entered the gates of Gwanghwamun Station.

“Goodbye Jongno District”, I quietly thought as I jumped into Seoul Metro Line 5 carriage. Without noticing commotion inside the carriage, I immediately headed to an empty seat near carriage’s connection. Without further ado, I immediately closed my eyes because of sleepiness.

Now, I was heading to Hongik University Station with one stop at Chungjeongno Station because to get to Kimchee Guesthouse Sinchon in Seodaemun District I had to take Seoul Metro Line 2.

24 minutes later I arrived at my destination. Before actually leaving Hongik University Station, I took time to go to T-Money card vending machine at the corner of corridor to refill my T-Money which was almost out of balance. That time I filled my Seoul city travel card with 10,000 Won, more than enough for the end of my adventure in Seoul.

My back and forth at Hongik University Station ended up at a G-25 minimarket for a simple lunch. I managed to get a piece of packaged Kimbab for just 1,300 Won. Enough or not, that was the only lunch that I had to accept.

After eating it in convenience store table, I immediately climbed the escalator which rose to surface, passed Sinchon-ro 2-gil alley, crossed Sinchon-ro Avenue, then rushed to the inn.

“Hooohh….You, Donny. Welcome, your room is ready”, said the same receptionist who greeted me this morning.

“Hi, Sir….Thank you. I think I should go to bed soon….Hahaha”, I lihgtly answered while clutching my blue backpack which I had put in the corner of front room since this morning.

“Oh yeah, you look tired”

“Yes, I spent my last night at Seoul Express Bus Terminal”, I agreed.

After receptionist scanned my passport which I gave to him, the room key was given. Not waiting long, I immediately went upstairs, entered the room, took off my winter jacket and shoes, then immediately jumped into bunk bed to daub myself until afternoon.

Dubai Museum: Bagian dari Tembok Kota Bur Dubai

Membelakangi Bur Dubai Al Kabeer Masjid, aku menatap kuat bangunan mirip benteng di hadapan. Aku berdiri tepat di sisi utaranya dan tampak area parkir sisi utara itu dipenuhi oleh kendaraan. Sebuah pertanda bahwa bangunan benteng itu sedang ramai dikunjungi para wisatawan.

Kuperhaikan jelas bahwa keramaian itu terletak di sisi barat benteng, tampak bendera Uni Emirat Arab berkibar megah berdampingan dengan bendera Dubai Culture & Arts Authority di sisi itu.

“Itu pastilah pintu masuk menuju benteng”, aku mengambil kesimpulan cepat.

Kuputuskan untuk berjalan melingkar memotong arus Ali bin Abi Taleb Street dan aku berhasil mencapai sisi barat benteng dengan cepat. Benteng itu terletak berseberangan dengan gedung Kementrian Keuangan Uni Emirat Arab.

Dubai Museum”, aku membaca papan nama itu.

Memasuki area depan maka pemandangan tiga buah meriam kuno menyambutku. Hanya perlu membayar uang masuk sebesar 3 Dirham untuk bisa menikmati sisi dalam Dubai Museum.

Inilah bekas benteng abad ke-18 yang kini bertransformasi menjadi museum pameran multimedia tentang sejarah & warisan budaya lokal. Al Fahidi Fort adalah nama asli benteng tersebut.

Di dalamnya tertampil sejarah Dubai sebelum minyak bumi ditemukan di Uni Emirat Arab. Disebutkan pada masa itu, mayoritas warga lokal masih memperjuangkan ekonominya dengan menyelam untuk berburu mutiara dan mencari ikan.

Perahu-perahu masa lalu yang berusia lebih dari seabad dan digunakan untuk berburu hasil laut pun ditampilkan di museum ini.

Tak tanggung-tanggung, pemerintah Uni Emirat Arab menyediakan lahan seluas lebih dari satu hektar untuk menempatkan Dubai Museum di kawawan Al Fahidi Historical District tersebut.

Sisi utara Al Fahidi Fort.
Yuk masuk….
Ini dia bagian depannya.
Dinamakan juga sebagai Dubai Museum.
Dubai Museum sisi selatan.

Dari papan informasi di pintu museum, aku mengetahui informasi mengenai waktu berkunjung di Dubai Museum, yaitu hari Sabtu hingga hari Kamis (pukul 08:30 sd 20:30), hari Jum’at (pukul 14:30 sd 20:30) dan Hari Libur Nasional (pukul 08:30 sd 20:30).

Larangan umum seperti menyentuh benda bersejarah di dalam museum, makan dan minum di dalam museum, merokok, membuang sampah sembarangan, anak-anak harus ditemani orang dewasa dan pengawasan oleh CCTV sudah pasti ada pada papan informasi

Namun dua hal yang membuatku antusias yaitu larangan membawa tas berbobot berat ke dalam museum, jika pengunjung membawa tas jenis itu maka dia harus menaruhnya di pos keamanan. Satu lagi yang membuatku hatiku riang adalah tersedianya pemandu wisata gratis untuk pengunjung.

Pemandu wisata gratis inilah yang kumanfaatkan sebaik mungkin untuk menjelajah seisi museum dengan banyak informasi yang kuterima.

Pemandu wisata itu menjelaskan dengan gamblang bahwa tembok kota adalah wujud arsitektur yang menonjol dari konteks perkotaan pada kota-kota tua. Tembok tersebut mengelilingi kota untuk bertahan dan menyelamatkan mereka dari serangan musuh. Sepanjang sejarah, terdapat banyak contoh dinding kota yang memainkan peranan penting dalam melindungi kota, sebut saja Kota Kairo, Damaskus dan Baghdad.

Di masa lalu, Kota Dubai sendiri memiliki dua tembok kota. Tembok kota tertua dibangun di kawasan Bur Dubai yang dibangun pada tahun 1.800. Tembok itu mengelilingi kota tua yang didalamnya termasuk Al-Faheidi Fort, Masjid Agung Bur Dubai, dan perumahan warga. Sedangkan tembok kota kedua dibangun di Distrik Deira yang dibangun pada pertengahan Abad ke-19.

Tembok kota Bur Dubai dibangun menggunakan batu koral dan gypsum. Ketebalannya mencapai 50 cm, dengan panjang tak kurang dari 600 meter dan ketinggian mencapai 2,5 meter. Sayangnya di permulaan Abad ke-20, tembok kota itu dihancurkan untuk mengakomodasi pemekaran kota.

Satu-satunya bukti tersisa dari tembok kota tersebut tentunya adalah pondasinya yang kemudian direstorasi pada tahun 2001 oleh Bagian Bangunan Bersejarah Pemerintah Kota Dubai.

Hmhhh….Menarik ya.

Jadi inget tembok kota Batavia yang ditemukan pula pondasinya…..

The Candlelight Revolution in Gwanghwamun Square

It was almost noon as I slowly descended alley after alley of Bukchon Hanok Village. Stepping between traditional Korean buildings seemed to throw me back in time, a time when Joseon Dynasty was enjoying its golden era.

A few moments later, my steps were parallel to Bukchon-ro Avenue section. I casually walked enjoying cool midday air of Seoul while occasionally stopping in several winter jacket sellers. But its price, which was still above 125,000 Won, made me reluctant to stop any longer.

I quickened my pace when the face of Anguk Station could be seen far ahead. But a few steps later, I slowed down my steps, my ears could barely hear Indonesian language from a small shop, four Indonesian travelers were enjoying a dish of Chimaek (a dish of fried chicken mixed with South Korean beer). Their joking fun made me reluctant to greet them but I was able to confirm that they were from the same nation as me.

Entering Anguk Station, I headed straight for the platform. Catching the Seoul Metro to get to Sejongno area immediately. Seoul Metro arrived just moments after I reached the platform.

The Dog…Oops…..

Entering a carriage, I couldn’t hide my chuckle. “Oh, No……”, this Seoul Metro was similar to the old Jakarta’s Commuter “Very funny …”, there were a seller screaming explaining goods they was selling.

That was not enough… there were men quickly walked through carriage after carriage to simply slip business cards between doors, carriage poles and whatever places to put it were possible. “Ohh my God…”, I was even lowering my face I still couldn’t hide my amusement.

That funny moments was closed with another funny scene where train officer combed the carriage to take all business cards which were tucked away before I got off in Jongno 3(sam)-ga Station.

Now, I was changing to Seoul Metro Line 5 to get to final destination of Gwanghwamun Station. Not passing another station, so I quickly arrived at Gwanghwanum Square.

Impatiently stepping the escalator, I tried to get as fast as I could to surface. Arriving at the exit I could only stand frozen, staring at a statue of a legendary South Korean fighter. It was a statue of Admiral Yi Sun-sin who proudly stood with a sword grip in his right hand and a suit of armor which covered almost his entire body.

Admiral Yi Sun-sin himself was a Joseon Dynasty era warrior who with his 12 fleet of warships fought Japanese invasion in 23 major battles at sea.

Meanwhile, Gwanghwanum Square used to be one of the most famous royal squares because several royal government buildings were placed around this square.

However, my arrival seemed to coincide with a large demonstration that was remembered as The Candlelight Revolution, a popular protest against corruption scandal which carried out by the President of South Korea, Park Geun-hye.

Beberapa tenda demonstran masih tampak tersisa di kiri kanan sisi patung Laksamana Yi Sun-sin. Tetapi itu semua tidak mengurangi rasa antusiasku untuk menikmati Gwanghwamun Square.

Bur Dubai Al Kabeer Masjid: “I Don’t Understand What You Say”

Berada di akhir bagian dari Grand Souq-Bur Dubai, aku konsisten melangkahkan kaki di gang-gang sempit di sela-sela bangunan pertokoan.

Untuk berikutnya aku tiba di pelataran luas, aku berdiri terpaku tepat di tengahnya. Di sisi kiriku adalah toko berbentuk klasik dan berukuran besar milik Blossom Trading, di sisi kananku adalah toko modern Al Soroor, di belakangku adalah toko tak kalah modern milik Neelam Khamas Textorium, ketiga toko besar itu adalah outlet pakaian, sedangkan tepat di hadapan sana adalah bangunan dengan bentuk familiar di mataku….Ya, itu sudah jelas sebuah bangunan masjid berukuran besar dan berwarna kecoklatan.

Rasa penasaran akhirnya mengantarkanku untuk mendekati masjid tersebut. Tampak masjid itu dikelilingi oleh trotoar yang bersih dengan pepohonan tinggi yang dibiarkan hidup subur bersandingan di sisi masjid. Juga tampak jelas sebuah rambu-rambu di sisi barat masjid yang melarang parkir kendaraan kecuali bus pariwisata.

Di bagian pojok selatan masjid, tepatnya di sisi utara Ali bin Abi Taleb Street, tampak diberikan penanda penting yang menggantikan sebuah fungsi halte bus, yaitu  “Dubai Old Souk Station” yang kepemilikannya berada di bawah RSA (Roads and Transport Authority).

Tampak pintu utama masjid ditempatkan di sisi utara Ali bin Abi Taleb Street. Tepat di sebelah pintu utama, aku bisa membaca dengan jelas tulisan yang tertera di sebuah plat logam kuningan.

 “Bur Dubai Al Kabeer Masjid”, aku membaca perlahan tulisan itu.

“Oh ini nama masjidnya”, aku membatin.

Dari informasi yang kudapatkan dalam plat logam, jelas bahwa masjid tersebut kepemilikannya berada dibawah Islamic Affairs & Charitable Activities Department. Dan yang perlu diketahui bahwa masjid itu sudah ada sejak awal tahun 1900-an.

Langkahku sempat terhenti di depan pintu utama masjid ketika seorang lelaki berperawakan Asia Selatan menghampiri. Entah dia berbicara apa kepadaku, aku tak memahami bahasanya yang jika kutebak adalah Bahasam asal India. Aku hanya terus mengatakan kepadanya “I don’t understand what you say, Sir”, hingga dia memutuskan meninggalkanku dan menuju orang lain untuk melakukan hal yang sama.

Pertokoan di sisi barat masjid.
Bur Dubai Al Kabeer Masjid sisi barat.
Bur Dubai Al Kabeer Masjid sisi selatan.
Pintu utama masjid di sisi jalan Ali bin Abi Taleb Street.

Usai kejadian kecil itu, selanjutnya aku mulai memasuki gang di sisi timur masjid. Di bagian ini tampak sederetan toko yang menjual peralatan ibadah umat Hindu. Para pemilik toko-toko tersebut mayoritas adalah warga asal India.  Deretan toko itu menjual bunga-bunga peribadatan, guci dan banyak patung Dewa-Dewi dalam Hindu.

Dan benar adanya, ketika aku berada di sebelah utara masjid, tampak berdiri jelas beberapa kuil peribadatan untuk agama Hindu, diantaranya adalah Shrinath Ji Temple untuk memuja Dewa Krisna dan Shiva Temple untuk memuja Dewa Siwa.

Genap mengelilingi masjid, aku kembali ke sisi Ali bin Abi Taleb Street dan menatap ke depan serta membelakangi masjid.

Tampak bangunan besar nan klasik dengan pelataran yang lebih luas dan dimanfaatkan sebagai area parkir.

“Sepertinya itu bangunan benteng….Lebih baik aku mendekat ke sana untuk mencari tahu”, aku membatin sekaligus menetapkan tujuan.

Bukchon Hanok Village: The First Destination in Seoul

“Kamsahanida……”, I loudly said to a female cashier in CU Minimarket in that corner. I have finished in eating packaged white rice and cup noodles which made my lips feel hot because of its spiciness.

“Cheonmanneyo …”, that beautiful white cashier smiled while waving when I was in front of glass door and reached its handle.

Coming out of minimarket, I quickly walked towards the gate of Hongik University Station which wasn’t far away, just to left of a bend ahead.

Descending a long escalator swooping down underground, I began to open my own printed plan, then pointed to a point of destination. “I have to go to Anguk Station,” I thought as I folded my plan sheet and put it in my back pocket.

Then I was in platform. By noon, situation in underground station was deserted. Suddenly, a street romance show at the end of platform faded my enthusiasm for waiting for Seoul Metro arrival. A pair of lovebirds seemed to be hugging each other’s waist while looking at each other affectionately. Every now and then that man kissed his girl…. “Oh God….”, my envy feeling appeared. Shows like that really didn’t surprise me because I’ve often saw them in same transportation mode belonging to Singapore or Shenzen city. “Think of it as a travel bonus …”, I thought while wryly smiling.

Their intimate embrace was released for a moment after the sound of Seoul Metro could be heard when coming from right aisle. Seoul Metro softly squeaked and stopped in front of them, they ended their romance and I as the lone that romance viewer also boarded the train.

Seoul Metro Line 2 was pushing away from Seodaemun District heading east. I would travel to Jongno District which was eight stations away and had to change to Seoul Metro Line 3 at Euljiro 3(sam)-ga Station and it would take about 30 minutes.

According to the estimated time, I was now standing in front of Seoul Metro door when the announcer sound said that the train would soon be arrived Anguk Station. After a perfect stop, I jumped out of the carriage which I was already on it since several minutes ago, nothing else memorable after the romance for about half an hour ago.

Exiting Anguk Station, I was faced with Yulgok-ro Avenue. Confidently taking a step to the left led me to an intersection which was bustling with fashion, culinary and cosmetic outlets. Looked like I went to the wrong way.

I stood rooted to a side of Enso monument which was located right in a side of intersection. Enso itself is a traditional calligraphy brush native to South Korea. I observed the behavior of local people who were busy shopping. Meanwhile, several groups of tourists from Europe seemed to be conversing in Tourist Information booth which was located next to the monument. Looked like I had to go to the booth and asked for directions to my destination. I finally walked over to it.

Me: “Hello, Ms. Can I know which way that I need to choose toward Bukchon Hanok Village?”

Her: “Hi, Sir. You can go straight there and then turn left in crossroad. You will arrive in Bukchon Hanok Village with walking about 600 meters”.

Me: “Very clear, thank you, Ms”

Her: “You are welcome. And this tourism map is for you”, she smiled as she handed me a Seoul tourism map.

I immediately headed north. Relaxing a bit while enjoying the bustling streets of Bukchon-ro, I finally arrived at Bukchon Hanok Village in 20 minutes. That cultural village was located in west of the main road.

Notre Dame Education Center in Bukchon Hanok Village.

To my surprise, this was different from Gamcheon Culture Village in Busan which I visited a few days ago. Bukchon Hanok Village featured rows of Hanok (traditional South Korean houses) which were neatly arranged along the contour of pedestrian path. The wood which was part of Hanok building looked shiny and well maintained, the alleys which could only be passed by walking looked neat and clean. This was the residence of Joseon Dynasty-era nobles which were more than six centuries old and were the pride of Jongno District.

In accordance with its nickname as the “North Village”, this village was indeed located to the north of two main icons of Seoul, i.e Cheonggye River and Jongno District.

In addition to functioning as a Hanok preservation, this village also functions as a cultural center, traditional inns, restaurants and a place to drink tea together.

Walking through the interior of village, several female tourists looked elegant in Hanbok (South Korean clothing) in order to walking through this cultural village more solemnly.

A beauty that was stored in Gahoe area, I finally managed to come to it. A classic impression, serenity, silence, full of meaning and cultural majesty I felt very strongly during this visit.

Grand Souq-Bur Dubai: “You Broke My Heart”

Aku melompat turun dari perahu yang difungsikan sebagai taksi air di Dubai Creek. Aku tiba di Bur Dubai Water Taxi Station yang terletak di seberang selatan sungai.

Ketibaanku disambut dengan hamparan plaza yang terlindung oleh pepohonan nan rindang dan aktivitas warga yang duduk bersantai di dalamnya.

Tampak keramaian di booth dominan merah yang menjual tiket Dubai Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour. Sementara gerai Tropical Sno di tepian sungai yang menjual berbagai minuman dingin dan air kelapa muda tampak dipenuhi para pengunjungnya.

Aku segera meninggalkan plaza yang di sisi timurnya dimarkahi oleh satu menara pengawas klasik bak benteng mungil. Aku berjalan menuju gerbang pasar yang tepat berada di sisi 34th Street.

Tiba di bawah gerbang, langkahku terhenti oleh sepasang turis asal Jepang yang meminta tolong kepadaku untuk mengambilkan foto mereka berlatarkan gerbang pasar. Aku menuntaskan permintaan mereka dengan baik dan aku mendapatkan balasan yang sama, difotokan tepat di bawah gerbang pasar.

Pasar itu Bernama Grand Souq-Bur Dubai…..Sebuah pasar tua di Dubai yang memiliki koridor utama dengan atap kayu berukiran khas.

Aku baru tersadar karena mengunjungi pasar ini di hari Minggu. Padahal pasar ini biasa mencapai puncak keramaian di setiap Jumat, hari yang biasanya akan dimeriahkan oleh karnaval yang dihadiri oleh warga lokal, wisatawan dan para ekspatriat yang mengenakan pakaian serba meriah.

“Tak apalah….Lebih baik menikmati pasar apa adanya”, aku membatin dengan senyum.

Aku mulai berjalan menelusuri koridor utama. Sejauh mata memandang, pasar itu banyak menjual berbagai jenis kain, seperti sutra, katun, satin, dan beludru. Aku begitu menikmati atmosfer perdagangan di pasar tersebut.

Tetiba langkahku terhenti….


Aku tertegun ketika mendapati sebuah bangunan kios bertajuk “Indonesia”, tentu itu adalah nama tanah air tercintaku. Pada detik itu aku tak segera paham kenapa “Indonesia” menjadi nama sebuah kios.

Gerbang Grand Souq-Bur Dubai.
Koridor utama pasar.
Banyak penjual kain kan?
Yuk masuk lebih dalam.
Bangunan tempo dulu.
Kios Indonesia.
Menjelang koridor akhir.
TIba di bagian akhir pasar.

“Apakah untuk menarik wisatawan atau tenaga kerja asal Indonesia?”, aku menerka-nerka karena biasanya warga asal Indonesia memang suka berbelanja….Ah, entahlah.

Aku pun segera mengambil beberapa photo bangunan itu. Dan ketika hendak meninggalkan sisi itu, seorang pedagang yang kuduga berkebangsaan Pakistan menghampiri.


“Halo brother, do you need help?….I can take your photo”, dia menawarkan bantuan.


“Oh, sure, Sir. You are very kind”, aku memberikan gawai pintarku kepadanya setelah mengaturnya sehingga menu kamera siap digunakan.


Snap….snap….snap.


“Thanks, Sir”, aku menerima soloran tangannya yang mengembalikan gawai pintarku.


“Sir, We have nice scarfes for you”, pedagang itu menjulurkan tangan ke arah kiosnya demi membujukku.


“I don’t come here for shopping, Sir….Just for sightseeing”, aku halus menolaknya.


Tak menyerah, salah satu temannya datang dari kios menghampiriku dengan membawa beberapa helai syal. Penuh senyum dia mulai memamerkan kain-kain indah itu di depanku.


“Thanks for your offering, I can’t buy your scarfes”, aku untuk terakhir kali menolaknya halus.


“Oh, brother, you broke my heart”, dia tersenyum rela bahwa syalnya tidak laku dijual kepadaku.


Aku berpamitan kepadanya dan melanjutan penelusuranku di Grand Souq-Bur Dubai.

Menelusuri koridor sepanjang tak kurang dari tiga ratus meter, aku menemukan nuansa klasik Dubai di seantero pasar. Bangunan-bangunan tempo dulu yang difungsikan sebagai kios masih sangat terawat dan berdiri dengan anggun.

Akhirnya aku tiba di ujung pasar yang ditandai dengan keberadaan Grand Bur Dubai Mosque.

Sleeping for a while at Kimchee Guesthouse Sinchon

On half past nine in the morning, I was arrived at Hongik University Station, down the long corridor of station and went up a long-high escalator to surface. Station’s architecture greeted me with a garden decorated with beautiful flowers combined with several iconic sculptures.

I started down the main alley towards Sinchon-ro Avenue at north of station. As far as I know, the guesthouse which I booked was in an alley across the street. I crossed a single zebra cross at the road in front. Seoul Bus Rapid Transit was dominantly blue and white, with an outdoor AC compartment which extended on its top, complementing its long body, which seemed to be passing by, taking local residents who were starting their activities to appreciating the dawn.

I decided not to ask anyone about the location of guesthouse which I was staying at, I was sure in the middle of a super busy Capital City, it would be very rare for anyone to know where a small guesthouse was located in the middle of an alley in the middle of nowhere.

I picked up a map and quickly figured out which side of the alley to enter. I started entering Sinchon –ro 3-gil Alley and turned right at the first fork. As expected, I would find it easy.

Entering its unlocked door, I found the reception desk which dark and empty. Stairwell, kitchen and dining room equally dim. The guesthouse guests still seemed lazy in their blankets, as if they were reluctant to struggle with cold air outside.

With no choice, I entered the shared lounge which was equally dim, took a seat, put my backpack and cupped my face in my arms to fall asleep sitting down. At least the shared lounge was not as cold as Seoul Express Bus Terminal building that morning.

My sleep was awakened by the noise of someone who seemed to tidy up the reception room. Apparently I had been asleep for an hour. The young Korean man seemed to be looking at me expressionlessly. I rubbed my eyes to make my face immediately refreshed. Getting up from chair and rushedh towards him.

Me: “Hello, I’m Donny from Indonesia. I had booked a room in this guesthouse. This is my booking confirmation”.

He: “Let me see”, he carefully read the details of my sheet. “I think you will get your room on 1 pm, so I’m sorry”, I was amazed by British accent of his English pronunciation.

Me: “Oh, it’s OK. I know that. I just want to put my backpack here and I will go to sightseeing the city”.

Him: “Yeah, It will be better. Just put your backpack there”, he pointed to a corner of room which full of backpacks.

Me: “Ok, thanks, Sir”.

After successfully putting a backpack which started to make my back feel heavy. I immediately left the guesthouse. I had to find some breakfast before heading to my first destination in Seoul. Since talking to Mr. In Chul Park in Seoul Metro that morning, I started to hold back the hunger that attacked my stomach.

Crossing back Sinchon-ro Avenue I entered the alley leading to Hongik University Station. In the alley I slowly walked to find a minimarket. Yups….Finally I found a CU minimarket.

Browsing the shelves which filled with food, I found cup noodles and white rice packets, without hesitation I picked them up and took them to cashier. Like CU minimarket in Busan, CU minimarket Seoul also provides a dining corner, complete with a microwave and hot water. Customers are required to be able to operate that heating equipment and serve themselves to eat the food which they buy.

I, who was really hungry, ate the cup noodles and packaged rice quickly. Then immediately rushed to the first tourist destination.

Menyeberang Dubai Creek Menuju Bur Dubai

Surya mulai sedikit tergelincir menuju ufuk barat, tapi udara masihlah kering dan menyengat. Kuperhatikan kulitku semakin legam saja sejauh petualangan berjalan.

Sangkala bertengger di angka satu waktu setempat, bertepatan dengan rasa gembiraku karena telah menyentuh garis finish dalam mengeksplorasi kawasan heritage Al Ras di Distrik Deira. Tak kurang dari sepuluh spot warisan yang berhasil aku tengok di kawasan tersebut.

Pada akhir tahapan, aku berdiri di Deira Old Souq Water Taxi Station demi menunggu kedatangan perahu tradisional sebagai satu akses terbaik dan terhemat menuju kawasan Bur Dubai yang berlokasidi seberang selatan Dubai Creek.

Tak perlu menunggu lama, perahu penuh penumpang itu tiba. Merapat pelan ke dermaga dan mengantarkan setiap penumpangnya menuju ke tepian sungai.

Beberapa menit merapat, perahu itu telah kosong kembali. Tampak pengemudinya keluar dari lambung perahu dimana mesin ditempatkan. Kemudian mengambil sebuah jerigen bahan bakar yang diberikan oleh rekannya dari tepian sungai. Tampaknya sang pengemudi sedang mengisi bahan bakar untuk operasional perahu tersebut.

Tak lama tentunya….

“Come…Come….”, pengemudi perahu berperawakan khas Asia Selatan itu melambaikan tangannya kepada calon penumpang yang berada di dermaga.

Tanpa keraguan, aku pun melompat ke atas perahu dengan senang hati walaupun itu bukan kali pertama aku menaiki perahu.

Beda, Boy….ini perahu di Dubai. Perahu yang sering kulihat di layar televisi ketika menyaksikan program siaran TV tentang pariwisata Dubai….Bersyukur sekali, aku benar-benar menaikinya sekarang”, hatiku bergumam menang.

Dalam sekejap perahu itu telah penuh penumpang, sang pengemudi pun berkeliling menarik ongkos kepada segenap penumpangnya. Aku menyerahakan koin seharga 1 Dirham kepadanya sebagai biaya menyeberangi Dubai Creek yang memiiki lebar tak kurang dari dua ratus meter.

Deira Old Souq Water Taxi Station.
Menuju ke perahu.
Perahu pun tiba.
Itu tuh pelampungnya.
Gaya banget sih….Wkwkwk.
Dubai Creek yang tenang.
Bur Dubai Water Taxi Station.

Kuperhatikan dengan seksama bahwa taksi air itu memiliki kapasitas 20 penumpang dengan tempat duduk saling berpunggungan . Taksi air itu memilik panjang hampir 12 meter, memiliki naungan di atas bangku penumpang dimana sisi atap bagian dalamnya dimanfaatkan sebagai tempat menyimpan pelampung.

Perahu pun mulai melintasi Dubai Creek . Saat itu, permukaan sungai memiliki riak yang cukup tenang sehingga membuat hati sedikit tenang ketika melakukan penyeberangan. Hanya butuh waktu kurang dari lima menit untuk menyeberangi Dubai Creek.

Kuperhatikan dengan seksama bahwa perahu itu tidak berlayar dengan jalur pelayaran yang tegak lurus dengan badan sungai melainkan memiliki jalur pelayaran sedikit menyerong ke arah barat.

Setiba di bagian seberang sungai, aku diturunkan di Bur Dubai Water Taxi Station. Yang kuingat hanyalah dua nama distrik yang mengapit dermaga tempatku diturunkan, yaitu Historical Shindagha District yang berada di utara dari tempatku berdiri dan Al Fahidi Historical District di sisi selatannya.

Lalu….Kemanakah aku harus melangkah?