A pair of Bono in Tunjuk Ajar Integritas Park

Failed to check-in sooner, I decided to explore Senapelan area for next three or four hours, an area where Sultanate of Siak Sri Indrapura had reached its golden age. I tried to trace sultanate history by visiting its legacies which enduring until now.

For that reason, I went to Siak River which is famous and legendary in my country. Just imagine!, Siak River was once be the deepest river in Indonesia.

Chinatown on Dr. Leimena Street was still quiet that morning, only one or two cars passed. I turned left when I started cutting Ir. H. Juanda Street and then found a green area which seemed to be acquiring a junction area which is bounded by Riau Street and Jend. Ahmad Yani Street. Not far away, I estimate about half a kilometer north of my hotel.

To right: Ir. H. Juanda Street, straight: Jend. Ahmad Yani Street and to left: Riau Street

A park which covering an area of two times football fields is like many city parks in Jakarta. Exhibiting a name board and providing sidewalks as a barrier between main road and park area.

Here it is the park name.

Tunjuk Ajar Interigitas Green Open Space is a famous playground spot in Pekanbaru and is a favorite park for residents who live in Senapelan area.

Inevitably, even in the heat of day, there were still some small families who bring their children to the park and did some activities in sand playing area which is equipped with a swing seats, kids up-down stairs and kids slides.

While some park cleaners in a light-green long t-shirts looked busy in pulling weeds, watering plants and sweeping every park corner. The park is vast, but its cleanliness can’t be doubted.

Occupying a former office of Public Works Service, USD 600,000 of funds which is invested in park construction are reflected in spacious area and complete facilities which is provided in park.

In four corners of park are provided a concrete canopy with a mushroom-shaped roof and a canopy is right in the middle of park with a Malay roof and ornamented selembayung.

In left side, there is a circular open space which is arranged like a theater complete with a three-levels podium. Some young people seemed to sit in a canopy and holding their own skateboards. While owner of a battery-powered toy car appeared to arrange his rental toys in a shady area.

Jogging track splits the park.
Multifunctional open area.

Tunjuk Ajar” which means “Giving an Example” and “Integritas” which represents a “Leadership Attitude“, is sufficient to explain that this park is a vehicle for modeling integrity in community leadership. This meaning is emphasized by an existence of a monument at one side of park.

Integrity Monument.

Built and owned by Riau Provincial Government, this park is dedicated to corruption resistance program in regional government.

The Integrity Monument features Kampar River’s Bono and Rokan River’s Bono as well as Malay keris. Bono refers to a wave which is formed at both of Kampar and Rokan River estuary as a result of the meeting of fresh water which is leading to sea and seawater which headed ashore. While Malay keris describes a process of establishing integrity at all levels of society.

No loss too, stopped by in a park which I accidentally found before reaching Siak River banks.

Kecantikan Dewi Hidup di Kumari Ghar

Adalah Raja Prithvi Narayan Shah yang pertama kali menggunakan bendera dua segitiga ketika berhasil mempersatukan semua kerajaan di Nepal pada 1768. Ya, dua segitiga pada bendera nasional Nepal itu melambangkan dua dinasti besar yang pernah ada di Negeri Seribu Dewa yaitu Dinasti Shah dan Dinasti Rana.

Aku menemukannya dimana-mana.

Please, come!….Please, come!” seorang pria menyuruhku memasuki sebuah bangunan mengkilat merah bata. Para turis Eropa beserta tour guidenya yang sepertinya telah tahu alasan mengapa mendatangi tempat ini tampak berbondong memasuki gerbang. Aku yang belum menyimpan informasi apapun, hanya mengandalkan senyuman bersahaja dari pria itu. Sebentar kemudian aku sudah di dalam.

Pria berjaket abu-abu yang berjasa menemukanku pada seorang Dewi.

Pria lain di dalam menyambutku, “Welcome to Kumari Ghar…The house of Kumari”. Kumari adalah Dewa hidup dalam mitologi Hindu bahkan Buddha. Kumari sendiri adalah istilah Sansekerta yang berarti “Putri (princess)”. Kumari dipilih oleh kepala Pandita dan dianggap sebagai reinkarnasi dari Dewi Taleju, Sang Dewi Penjaga Kota.

Mencincang daging kerbau untuk persembahan esok hari.

Aku terus menguping penjelasan tour guide kepada para pelancong Eropa itu. Konon raja terakhir Malla sering  bertemu secara rahasia dengan Dewi Taleju yang diminta untuk melindungi kerajaan. Istrinya yang curiga, pada suatu malam membututi sang Raja ketika hendak bertemu Sang Dewi. Sontak Sang Dewi murka karena keberadaannya terungkap. Tetapi Sang Dewi masih berbaik hati untuk tetap bersedia melindungi kerajaan, tetapi dengan satu syarat yaitu disediakannya seorang gadis sebagai reinkarnasi darinya. Nah, gadis inilah yang akan kulihat kali ini.

Salah satu sisi Kumari Ghar yang telah berusia 263 tahun.

Semua mata mengarah pada tiga jendela hitam di lantai teratas Kumari Ghar. Dari situlah Kumari akan dipertontonkan secara kilat. Para lelaki tegap tampak mulai menyebar ke segala sudut dan matanya tak berkedip mengawasi kami. Wajah mereka menyapu suluruh turis di pelataran, mereka berjaga jangan sampai ada sorotan video atau tangkapan kamera yang mengarah ke Kumari saat dipertontonkan nanti.

Gelisah untuk segera melihatnya.

Saatnya tiba, semua hening melihat jendela yang perlahan dibuka. Kumari belum juga keluar, aku tak berkedip karena khawatir kehilangan penampakannya yang akan singkat. Para pengawas di bawah berteriak lantang kepada pengawas di atas, entah apa yang dilaporkannya. Mungkin kondisi sudah siap untuk Kumari muncul di jendela.

Dua perempuan mengecek kembali kondisi di bawah dari atas. Sewaktu kemudian, mereka memberikan kode ke arah dalam. Sekejap kemudian, gadis cantik berbusana serba merah, bermahkota lembaran emas dengan mata ketiga di keningnya muncul di lubang jendela. Hanya sebentar, tak sampai setengah menit.

Wooouwww”, ucapan seragam yang terlontar dari para pelancong dan kemudian meraka sibuk berbisik dengan temannya masing dengan bahasa bangsanya. Sementara aku masih saja memandangi jendela yang sudah tertutup sejak tadi sambil tersenyum. Gila rasanya bisa bertemu dengan seorang Dewi yang benar-benar hidup…..Hahaha.

Seperti inilah penampakan Kumari.

Mengikuti kepercayaan, Kumari akan selesai menjadi reinkarnasi Dewi Taleju ketika mengalami menstruasi dan akan digantikan oleh Kumari baru. Kumari akan dipilih sejak berusia tiga tahun dengan persyaratan yang sangat ketat seperti tidak boleh ada bekas luka, tidak takut pada pria bertopeng yang menari di atas darah kerbau yang disembelih, tidak akan menginjak tanah selama menjadi Kumari dan hanya keluar sekali setahun dalam acara acara Bhoto Jatra yaitu festival perayaan musum hujan  sekaligus panen.

Magis ya budaya Nepal ini….Luar biasa.

From Sri Indrayani Hotel….The Adventure was Began

I still didn’t budge with an offer of taxi drivers, while other INTRA Bus passengers preferred to use taxi services towards their final destination in Pekanbaru.

Several time later, from across the street, an online motorcycle taxi driver waved to me. Of course he knew, I was wearing a blue jacket with same color backpack. I had sent a description to him via message in application.

Are you originally from here, Sir?” I asked in back seat.

No, I’m from Padang, Sir. Are you from Java? your accent is typical“, he answered and asked.

I ever studied in a college at Yogyakarta, Sir. Which Java are you from?“, I didn’t have answered yet, He had asked again.

I’m originally from Solo, Sir. Are local residents nice, Sir?”, I began to wonder.

Most of Pekanbaru residents are from Padang, Sir. Calm down, Sir, anywhere is safe“, he soothingly said .

From an article I read afterwards, it’s true that 40% of Pekanbaru residents are Minang native migrants. Indeed, Minang people are great in odyssey

Not even 10 o’clock in the morning, I arrived.

The three-star hotel which I booked through Airy Rooms exactly on nine days before my arrival in Pekanbaru was only USD 6 per night. Cheap, right?

I deliberately chose to stay in Senapelan area just to tracing the glory of Siak Sri Indrapura Sultanate. Looking at economic activities of city residents, remembering that the name of Pekanbaru came from words of Pekan Baharu, a market which was pioneered by Young Sultan named Tengku Muhammad Ali, the 5th Siak Sultan. It can be said that Senapelan area was the forerunner to the formation of Pekanbaru City which was born as a positive impact from Sultanate economic development.

Hotel front yard is on an edge of Sam Ratulangi Street.

Coming too early, I tried my luck in front of reception desk. Maybe they could put me faster to rest in hotel room.

The room isn’t ready, Sir. Just wait in our lobby until 13 o’clock”, young staff on duty said in neat uniform.

Oh well, Sir. Can I put my backpack here. I better go around the city first, then come back when I can check-in“, I replied.

Oh sure, sir. Just put it here“, he asked my backpack to put behind the table.

Sir, is there a power outlet to recharge my handphone?“, I asked him

Oh, the plug is in hotel’s restaurant at right of the lobby. Just go in, Sir!“, His index finger pointed at a door.

Straightening my waist for a while in the lobby, I was still staring at the authentic reception room, golden yellow dominated. Three roofs with three selembayung at the end. praying hand shape symbolizes the close relationship between living things and God.

In addition to selembayung, motifs like a Malay songket is beautify the room.

After my camera and handphone was charged, to take advantage my time while waiting for check-in, I began to explore some traces of Siak Sultanate which were clearly represented along Siak River, Tuan Kadi’s Halfway House and Nur Alam Grand Mosque

Entering twin bed room at 2 pm.
Cheap but luxurious hotel room for me.

Sri Indrayani Hotel was originally a guesthouse which was rented by an airline for its air crew since 1971. Along with Pekanbaru development, this guesthouse perfected itself by transforming into a leading shariah hotel in Pekanbaru during the city’s development. Its location which opposite the Chinatown also made hotel development was quickly its time.

Finally, I found warm water after didn’t bathing for 38 hours.
The park behind hotel is bordered by Bangka Street.

From Sri Indrayani Hotel, my adventure to exploring Pekanbaru was began. It was time to got around the city and got to know about the capital of Riau Province.

Madira di Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square

Masih pagi….Tak ragu, aku menukar Rp. 125.000 dengan tiket putih-kemerah jambuan sebagai akses menikmati sejarah Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square.

Menapaki jalanan Layaku Marg yang keabuan berlapis andesit serta debu tipis yang dilemparkan oleh sapu lidi para petugas kebersihan, aku telah bersiap memasuki Nepal tempoe doeloe yang masih berbentuk kerajaan.

Kuil untuk menyembah “Dewi Ilmu Pengetahuan” kulewati dengan cepat untuk kemudian ku jumpai kerumunan warga yang sibuk membakar dupa, menabur bunga dan kemudian menyatukan kedua telapak tangannya di dada meghadap patung hitam enam lengan yang dipercaya sebagai perwujudan Dewa Siwa Sang Pemusnah.

Saraswati Temple.

Sementara para pedagang dupa di pelataran Indorapur Mandir membuat area itu menjadi sangat ramai dibanding area lain di Kathmandu Durbar Square. Selaras padu dengan kesibukan ratusan merpati dalam menyantap sarapan pemberian para pelancong yang sudah datang lebih dulu

Kaal Bhairav bermahkota emas perwujudan Dewa Siwa.

Lapis-lapis atap segenap kuil tampak sama dan membawaku pada nuansa rekaan Majapahit di perfilman tanah air. Atmosfer Ksatria Hindu yang sangat kental di pagi itu, mampu melemparku sejenak dari dunia yang fanatik dengan teknologi.

Biji jagung yang dijual untuk merpati.

Istana Kerajaan Malla yang kemudian dilanjutgunakan oleh Dinasti Shah adalah icon penting  di Kathmandu Durbar Square. Oleh karena dijaga patung Dewa Hanuman di gerbang depan, UNESCO World Heritage Sites ini dikenal dengan sebutan Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square. Beberapa khalayak menyebutnya Basantapur Durbar Khsetra karena istana ini terletak di area Basantapur.

Itu gerbangnya.

Selepas gerbang maka pelataran istana nan luas menyambut. Dikenal dengan sebutan Nasal Chowk. Nasal berarti tarian, merujuk pada Dewa Siwa yang menari Tandava Nataraja  ketika menghancurkan semesta yang sudah usang. Pelataran yang mirip dengan plaza ini dikepung oleh bangunan-bangunan istana di keempat sisinya.

Bangunan putih di sisi barat istana.

Sementara di sisi selatan pelataran terpampang papan nama proyek yang didanai oleh Kementrian Perdagangan Republik Rakyat China untuk merenovasi istana yang mengalami kerusakan hebat pasca gempa tektonik yang dihasilkan dari tumbukan lempeng India dan Eurasia di Himalaya pada 2015.

Basantapur Tower Sembilan tingkat yang telah runtuh.
Ruang yang didalamnya terdapat patung Dewa Siwa yang sedang menari.
Sun Dial, penunjuk waktu sebelum ditemukannya jam.

Lalu, di sisi utara terpampang bentuk arsitektur Newar dengan jendela hijau mencolok. Berjuluk Sisha Baithak yang berfungsi sebagai ruang audiensi kerjaan. Di lantai bawah bangunan itu, terpampang deretan foto para raja. Dan dua polisi penjaga istana nampak mondar-mandir dengan senapan laras panjangnya di sekitar bangunan ini.

Dari kiri adalah King Rana Bahadur Shah (Raja Nepal ketiga) dan anaknya King Girbanayuddha Bikram Shah (Raja keempat-foto kanan)
Bersama Guard Police di Sisha Baithak sebelum meninggalkan istana.

Aku meninggalkan istana sembari melempar kata terimakasih dan sampai jumpa kepada Guard Police itu. Sontak temannya yang baru tiba berucap kepadanya dalam bahasa Nepal, kutebak berbunyi “Darimana dia berasal?”, karena polisi yang kuajak berfoto berujar singkat “Indonesia”.

Satu tips ketika berada di kawasan Kathmandu Durbar Square adalah coba pahami satu-persatu bangunan yang kamu lewati, karena setiap bangunan disana memiliki fungsi dan nilai historis yang mengagumkan.

Kembali aku menemukan bangunan unik. Sebuah kuil bertahtakan Shwet Bhairav yang diyakini sebagai perwujudan paling kuat dari Dewa Siwa. Disembunyikan dalam tirai kayu dan menunggu Indrajatra Festival untuk menampakkan diri secara penuh kepada penduduk Newar. Saat festival tiba, dari mulutnya akan di pancurkan Madira (alkohol) sebagai bentuk berkah bagi manusia.

Shwet Bhairav.

Beranjak siang….Matahari kini mulai mampu menembus setiap celah alun-alun, menghangatkan tubuhku yang sedari pagi terpapar hawa dingin. Saatnya meneruskan langkah menuju destinasi berikutnya.

Selanjutnya akan kutunjukkan kecantikan paras seorang Dewi dalam mitologi Hindu dan Buddha di Nepal.

Yuks….Ikuti aku!

7 Tourist Attractions in Pekanbaru

Entering Pekanbaru, all INTRA Bus passengers were unloaded in a non-permanent restaurant building which is made from green colour wood. Entering in back of restaurant, long row of simple bathrooms made me easy to washing my face and preparing myself to explore “Madani City“.

Entering city’s roads for the first time on an online motorcycle taxi seat, I began to save my curiosity about destinations which I could visit in the city. Until I finally arrived at Sri Indrayani Hotel lobby before check-in schedule. After charging my camera and smartphone to several cell bars in the hotel restaurant, I immediately swung my steps to nearest spots.

  1. Tunjuk Ajar Integritas Park

Not far away, half a kilometer to northwest of hotel, there is a fairly well-known park in Pekanbaru. It is Tunjuk Ajar Integritas Park which has became a favorite play ground for city residents whice its development is dedicated to corruption resistance program in local government.

Integrity Monument in the park.

Not yet midday, hot air began to feel. Forcing me to took a shelter on park edge. Visitors was still quiet, considering I didn’t visit on weekend.

2. Siak River

Continuing my steps, I went down to Wakaf Street before finally being led by a traffic policeman to turn right and passing Jembatan Siak I street then reached edge of Siak River.

Visiting Siak River and imagining the glory and prosperity of Siak Sri Indrapura Sultanate who once stood on this river edge was a thing that was interested me to made it as one of my destinations this time.

Panorama of Siak I Bridge.

3. Tuan Kadi’s Halfway House

Still wandering along the river, now I headed to Siak II Bridge. People call it as Bridge of Sultan Muhammad Ali Abdul Jalil Muazzam Syah, taken from name of the 5th Sultan of Siak Sultanate.

Stunned to stare at a building under the bridge, an original house since golden era of Siak Sultanate. This tourism site is known in the name Tuan Kadi’s Halfway House. Kadi or Qadhi itself is a famous title during the sultanate. The first owner of this house is Qadhi Haji Zakaria bin Haji Abdul Muthalib who had served as Chairperson of Siak Sultanate’s Shariah Deliberative Board.

It was once be a stopover for Sultan Syarif Kasim II, the 12th Sultan.

4. Nur Alam Grand Mosque

The sun began to slip from its highest position, meaning that I was able to entering Sri Indrayani Hotel’s room. Taking southeast direction, I intended to stop by and praying Dzuhur at Nur Alam Grand Mosque before arriving at hotel.

The oldest mosque in Pekanbaru.

The relic mosque of Siak Sri Indrapura Sultanate still firmly stands with its yellow dome as a symbol of Malay greatness. It feels, Pekanbaru residents worth give a thank to Sultan Abdul Jalil Alamuddin Syah, the fourth Sultan who had built this magnificent mosque.

5. An-Nur Great Mosque

The heat of city began to subside, especially after I finished to bathing in hotel. Finishing lunch then I continued my exploration. After visiting the oldest mosque, now I headed to the grandest mosque in Riau Province.

Exhausted after walking almost 4 km, I chose to use an online motorcycle taxi towards An-Nur Great Mosque, two kilometers to southeast.

Indonesia’s Taj Mahal.

An-Nur Great Mosque itself has been a religious icon of Riau Province since the first year it was built, in 1963. Make sure that you don’t miss to visiting it when you are in Pekanbaru.

6. Putri Kaca Mayang Park

Next, I hurried to downtown. My next choice was Putri Kaca Mayang Park. Located on a side of Pekanbaru’s protocol street, this park looked more presentable than the first park which I visited.

The park name is taken from a princess name in a legendary tale in society.

Time that had slipped towards afternoon, one by one residents were seen coming to the park to just releasing fatigue or bringing their children to spending time by playing around the park.

7. Jenderal Sudirman Street

Like the same street name in Jakarta, Jenderal Sudirman Street in Pekanbaru also plays a role as a protocol road in the city.

As a main road, of course there are many things which can be enjoyed along the way. Road width with busy passing of vehicles is decorated by classy buildings architecture on both sides made Jenderal Sudirman street as a photography spot which worth to visiting.

The Soeman HS Library, Lancang Kuning Tower, Riau Governor’s Office and Dang Merdu Tower are architectures which look striking and different from other buildings along Jenderal Sudirman Street.

The road is decorated with Asmaul Husna along its edge.

Come on, vacation to Pekanbaru!

Indra Chowk sebelum Kathmandu Durbar Square

Bersiap sarapan.

Tak seperti biasanya, santapan pagi sedikit mewah telah disiapkan di lantai teratas Shangrila Boutique Hotel. Nasi goreng bertabur potongan dadu daging kerbau, dua potong sosis dan selembar telur mata sapi. Masih pula disiapkan dua lapis toast berselai selembar keju. Kemudian ditutup dengan secangkir kopi hitam panas.

Perut kenyang dan aku siap memasuki kejayaan Nepal masa lalu yang akan tersirat pada tiap jengkal area di Kathmandu Durbar Square, satu diantara tiga Durbar Square terkenal di Nepal. “Durbar” sendiri berarti “istana”, sementara “square” berarti “alun-alun”. Jadi sebenarnya Durbar Square adalah alun-alun istana pada umumnya.

Membilang di Amrit Marg, hangatnya mentari pagi meringankan langkah ketika harus menembus suhu 9 derajat yang masih saja enggan beranjak naik. Sementara batuk telah menghuni tenggorokan sejak sehari lalu akibat debu yang terus terhisap tak terkendali. “Tak apa, besok aku terbang menuju New Delhi, pasti udara akan lebih bersih disana”, batinku menenangkan diri. Keyakinan itu membuat Ambroxol yang kubawa dari Jakarta masih saja utuh.

Kini aku mulai memasuki sejumlah tikungan rumit sempit. Jalanan berlapis andesit dengan deret ruko penghadang surya dan bertabur signboard tak beraturan. Bahkan di bilangan Jyatha Marg diperparah dengan untaian kabel listrik yang bersimpul sangat kusut.

Petugas PLN Nepal pasti mahir menangani kerusakan listrik.
Penjual bunga Gemitir di tepian Chandraman Singh Marg.

Tiba saatnya melangkah di perempatan terakhir sebelum memasuki area terkenal Indra Chowk. Waktu sudah jam 10 pagi tetapi pertokoan di sepanjang Chandraman Singh Marg masih saja tutup. Sementara itu, sepeda motor yang berlalu-lalang tercacah dalam hitungan jari..

Pengayuh becak yang beranjak mengais rezeqi.
Mencicip kacang rebus.

Beberapa dasa langkah, area yang kusasar ada di depan mata, simpang lima dengan kesibukan sangat tinggi. Gemuruh perniagaan pagi yang membuatku tertegun mengamatinya di suatu sisi. Inilah Indra Chowk, area yang selama berabad-abad telah menjadi sentra perdagangan tersohor di distrik Kathmandu. Siapa saja yang ingin berburu pakaian khas Nepal, souvenir untuk dibawa pulang ataupun merasakan aneka makanan lokal, maka datanglah kesini!

Pangkalan becak di Indra Chowk.

Memasuki area simpang lima dari sisi utara melalui Chandraman Singh Marg, aku bisa melihat keempat jalan lain sebagai penyusun simpang yaitu Siddhidas Marg (dari Timur Laut), Watu Marg, Sukra Path, dan Siddhidas Marg (dari Barat Daya). Kelimanya bermuara pada lingkaran luas dengan pemandangan ikonik kuil Aakash Bhairav.

Aakash Bhairav yang bersejarah menjadi istana raja pertama Nepal.

Melangkah kembali, menjauhi kebisingan Indra Chowk sembari mencangking Dhaka Topi yang kubeli ketengan, jalanan yang tak begitu ramai kembali menyambut.

Abege di  Siddhidas Marg….Manis ya?….Hahaha.

Di jalan inilah terdapat satu spot menarik. Khalayak mengenalnya sebagai Makhan Tole. Spot kesenian terkenal di Kathmandu. Karya seni rupa banyak dijumpai disini dan tentu banyak pelancong yang memburunya.

Gerbang Makhan Tole.

Dari Makhan Tole, hanya memerlukan 5 menit berjalan kaki menuju Kathmandu Durbar Square.

Akhirnya aku sampai juga.

Yuk kita eksplore apa saja yang ada di Kathmandu Durbar Square ini…….

7 Fast Destination at Pematang Siantar

Sitting in waiting room, my gaze focused on my watch and INTRA bus office yard….Never saw when he arrived, from right side of the yard, he shouted to me. It was nice to meet an old friend.

His kindness and simplicity was still the same as Erwin who I met in Kuala Lumpur 2013 ago. Remembered again when he gave me a small box of red cakes on Kuala Lumpur’s Hop on Hop off. And now, he gave me four hours of his time to enjoying Pematang Siantar.

Come on, bro, ride up!“, He said while turning backpack to his chest. I Instantly glided on his 90’s Japan motorcycle towards his home. He had to change a teacher uniform which he wore before going around the city.

1. Warung Miso Pematang

Let’s have lunch first, bro! There is something special for you. Come on!“, His smile ignored my rejection because he just wanted to be a good host. Tracing the “rat path” which I never knew its exact location, I felt the rear tire was a bit shaky. It made me believe that Erwin is a sincere and simple person.

Warung Miso Pematang. Oh, is this the special dish that is meant?“, I muttered. Erwin rushed into the restaurant with its front door at the back. While I was still in the yard, busy capturing the picture. It was amazingly delicious, a bowl of Miso, a mixture of yellow-white noodles which are flushed with soup mixed with fried tofu, chicken liver-gizzard and mushroom for USD 1.3.

The dish was closed with fresh orange juice….Yummy.
The first Siantar specialty food which I tasted.

2. Pedicab Monument BSA (Birmingham Small Army).

Come on, I’ll show you the Siantar icon!“, He spoke while cranked the motor starter. I give a thumb as agree sign. Riding along Sudirman Street until finally arrived at a motorized rickshaw-crowned monument. Supposedly said that this city has almost 1,000 war motorbikes. Therefore you have to queue to be able to take a picture in front of the monument.

The main character this time.

3. Sintong Bingei Public Library

Right behind the monument is a public library owned by the city government while on the right opposite is Pematang Siantar City Hall where the Mayor worked.

Sintong Bingei Public Library. Sintong Bingei is father of the North Sumatra “Cigarette King“-Edwin Bingei Purbo Siboro.

4. Pematang Siantar City Hall

Pematang Siantar City Hall is a century-old Dutch building.

Gecko ornaments in most of large buildings in Siantar made me to asked a question about it. Erwin briefly explained that gecko is a wisdom and wealth symbol for the Batak ethnic. Local people call it as Gorga Boraspati.

5. Hangout Area near Pedicab Monument

While on right side of the monument is a coffee shop row which seems to only wait for short time to be filled by city millennials to hang out at night.

Unfortunately I didn’t have time to sip the coffee.

6. Pematang Siantar City’s Bunga Park

While right behind hang out area is Bunga Park. As a Child Friendly Public Open Space makes this park as a favorite place to spend time with family after work.

The perfect place to celebrate a weekend for city dwellers.

7. Ganda Bakery

Bro, it’s almost dark, let’s go back to INTRA office!“, Erwin reminded me. I jumped on his motorcycle and hurried to INTRA bus office. Upss ….”Why Bakery?“, I suspected.

Don’t flatter yourself, I don’t buy bread for you, but I will buy it for my family at home“, he thinly smiled. I was burst out laughing when seeing his act. I took a moment to enjoy storefronts with fragrant aroma of tempting bread.

Ganda Bakery is legendary since 1979.

Ten minutes later, I was standing outside and waiting for him to complete payment at the cashier. And then….He held two packs of bread in his hands.

This is for your breakfast tomorrow on the way“, he said while offering a packet of bread with srikaya jam which was famously delicious. It was forbidden to refuse it, so I accepted it with many thanks.

Come on, now it’s really going to INTRA Bus office and not stopping by anymore!“, He said with a laugh. That was the end of my fast journey at Pematang Siantar.

Thank You Erwin. See you later.

Goyang Bollywood di Jalanan Thamel

Aku ditempatkan di kamar lantai pertama dibalik sebelah kanan meja resepsionis Shangrila Boutiqe Hotel. Menaruh backpack 45 liter dan melepas ikat sepatu boots maka selang beberapa waktu, kubiarkan air hangat lama menyiram tubuh lelahku pasca hampir setengah hari berjibaku pada perjalanan darat meninggalkan Pokhara.

Tak ingin terjebak kejenuhan di dalam kamar, aku mulai menaiki tangga berkarpet merah menuju atap hotel. Di atas, seorang pemuda berdiri di meja kasir menyapa ringan dan menawarkan menu spesial restoran. Tak ada menu spesial yang kupesan, aku hanya akan menghabiskan senja dengan secangkir teh hangat dan menikmati pesona Thamel dari atas.

Restoran Shangrila Boutique Hotel.

Hingga kemudian hasrat petualanganku menggoda. Rasanya akan merugi jika tak merapat ke jalan dan menikmati suasana secara langsung. Thamel sungguh istimewa. Betapa tidak, jalanannya tiap malam dipersembahkan khusus untuk para tamu negara itu. Setiap ujung jalan dijaga oleh polisi yang tak akan membiarkan satu pun kendaraan bermotor lolos melintas masuk. Thamel selalu ramai ditumpahi para pelancong untuk menghabiskan malam Kathmandu.

Aku mulai ke jalanan.
Suasana sore menjelang gelap.

Tetap berdebu….Aku menelusuri jalanan yang dibatasi dengan kios-kios pashmina, souvenir, restoran, money changer, hotel ataupun kantor agen pariwisata di kiri-kanannya. Tips buat kamu…Jika tak berminat membeli pashmina, maka jangan berusaha menawarnya, penjual akan mengajakmu bertransaksi di dalam kios dan mereka adalah para negosiator ulung dan kupastikan kamu akan keluar dengan menenteng salah satu dari dagangan mereka.

Kios-kios penggoda kantong.
Khas bendera warna-warni seperti pada kuil mereka.

Sedikit kesulitan mencarinya karena sengaja menghindari menu restoran. Aku berjibaku mencari sebuah kedai untuk bersantap malam. Keluar masuk gang hingga akhirnya menemukannya, benar-benar jauh masuk ke dalam gang. Beruntung kedai kecil itu menyediakan momo.  Menyempurnakannya, aku memesan segelas kecil honey lemon tercampur potongan memanjang ginger yang membuatku terasa hangat.

Momo khas Nepal.

Kembali ke jalanan setelah hampir satu jam duduk di kedai itu. Menelusuri  jalanan yang berbeda, aku terhenti seketika di sebuah perempatan dan menoleh ke kanan. Sebuah kerumunan dengan musik menghentak-hentak di bilangan Chaksibari Marg. Setelah mendekatinya , ternyata sekelompok dancer sedang berlatih tarian Bollywood. Asik juga melihat secara langsung tarian itu secara langsung. Untuk tak ada pohon, bisa-bisa aku ikut menari mengelilinginya.

Mereka berlatih untuk sebuah film.

Semakin dingin, aku meninggalkan kerumunan  dan segera menuju ke hotel. Tapi yang namanya daerah wisata, para penggoda kembali menghentikan langkah. Kali ini seorang pemuda memanggil dan menawariku untuk menghabiskan malam dengan hangat di sebuah bar. “You can enjoy our band performance”, ungkapnya. Aku yang seumur hidup tak pernah memasuki bar kini mulai tergoda, “Oke lah, tak ada salahnya”, batinku.

Alhasil, aku mulai menaiki tangga Sisha Bar & Restaurant. Benar adanya, sebuah band lokal beranggota 4 pemuda millennial dengan 1 vokalis perempuan sedang melantunkan pop lokal yang membuatku bersemangat untuk segera duduk dan menikmati pertunjukan itu. Hingga aku menghabiskan dua porsi besar hot lemon with honey saking khusu’nya.

Malam yang indah dan tak terlupakan di Thamel

Black Taxi from Toba Lake to Pematang Siantar

I entered Eloise’s room to pick up my backpack which I had entrusted since morning. I checked out in the morning and continued to exploring Samosir all day with her. I said good-bye to her and prepared to go to Pematang Siantar, while she was still overnight at Samosir.

Bagus Bay Homestay staff directed me to wait for a ferry at the nearest port. Turn left after exiting the hotel, a few tens of meters later, I entered a alley at left side of road. Keep stepping until I reached a stall, right on port edge.

Tigaraja, Sir? Wait for half an hour, okay?“, Said a timer to me. Half an hour which was more than enough to ate a bowl of instant noodles with egg topping for USD 1.1 in stall corner.

Ferry looked approaching and the timer was silently pointing my face, then his index finger was pointing toward the ferry. I understand what that means.

Not even perfectly leaning yet, I jumped into the ferry. All passengers on the left deck shouted. “Watch out, Sir!” I waved like an artist. It turned out that my ability to maneuver with motorboats in Jatiluhur Dam when I became a fish farm salesman was still good.

Zoe’s Paradise Hotel (white) and Dumasari Hotel (red) stared at me when leaving Samosir.
Heading to Tigaraja port in 50 minutes.

The man in a faded blue jeans was intently staring in the distance when I descended the ferry. There isn’t other way to avoid it. I looked like waiting for a thug who was ready to hit me.

Siantar, Sir. Forty thousand Rupiah (USD 3)?“, He said while shadowing my steps. “Oh, taxi service“, I said. Chasing INTRA Bus which would leave at seven o’clock in the evening, I said yes. And I was taken to Bagus Taxi’s office.

Dying for a pee but didn’t getting a toilet, someone took a shower too long….Huftt.
Driver and passenger were hostile through a wooden pawns fight.

Looked like I was the last filler in taxi manifest. So fast, I’ve just sat on right side of middle row seat.

Right on my left, an old man who liked smoking during journey.

Black Avanza (one of Toyota type in Indonesia) swirled to measure street and picked up passengers one by one. pickup was ended with one incident when a woman missed her wallet in the fifth kilometer of our trip. It was annoying but can make me a little bit laugh. There wasn’t choice, the taxi turned back to get her wallet.

Leaving Toba Lake, the taxi speed forced me to open my eyes. It invited me to snaking and enjoying beautiful natural scenery of Simalungun Regency. Oil palm plantations, fields, hills and valleys were passed one by one. Occasionally the driver created humors, one of it when he frantically installing a seat belt which he didn’t wear in unison with a passenger next to him, even failedly installing it, until we passed the police operation area….Luckily, he didn’t stopped by police.

Within an hour and 20 minutes, taxi started to entering city edge, then headed to downtown via Gereja Street and Merdeka Street with two monuments as city landmarks.

Adipura Monument. Siantar has won this environmental award for four times.
Wahana Tata Nugraha Monument in President Soeharto era, an award for the excellent of transportation management.

Brother, once you get to Parluasan area, just go to the bus office, be careful“, said Erwin (my backpacker friend who accidentally met on KL HoHo Bus on 2013). Maybe he was worried about me when entering Parluasan area who was famous for its thugs. But I casually responded because I knew that I would be dropped right in front of the INTRA bus office.

I arrived…..

Let’s waited for brother Erwin to pick me up for getting around Pematang Siantar for a moment.t

Salah Bangku di Tourist Bus Pokhara-Kathmandu.

Mr. Tirtha masih saja menemaniku berbincang, kami berdua berdiri bersandar di taksi mungilnya sembari mengamati kesibukan di sekitar Tourist Bus Park. Beberapa pedagang asongan silih berganti naik turun di seluruh bus berukuran tiga perempat menawarkan dagangannya.

Sewaktu kemudian, Mr. Tirtha  merentangkan tangannya lebar dan kami berpeluk ringan sebagai pengganti ucapan “terimakasih dan sampai jumpa”. Aku sengaja memasuki bus setengah jam sebelum keberangkatan. Akan lebih baik karena Mr. Tirtha bisa dengan segera melanjutkan mencari nafkah dengan taksinya.

Si kondektur menunjukkanku tempat dimana aku harus duduk. Baris kedua dibelakang sopir yang dibatasi sekat kaca. Kini pemandangan menjadi tegang, ketika sepasang suami istri India beradu mulut dengan si kondektur. Sejoli itu merasa dirugikan karena agen tiket di Kathmandu menjanjikan bangku paling depan buat mereka. Si kondektur dengan santainya balik menggertak, “This is Pokhara, Not Kathmandu”. Seketika suasana hening. Aku baru sadar, sejoli itu mengincar bangkuku….Hahaha, padahal jika disuruh tuker aku juga tak menolak. Ada-ada saja.

Europeans di depan itu seru bermain kartu sepanjang perjalanan.

Tiga setengah jam setelah keberangkatan pukul 7 pagi, bus berhenti untuk breakfast break selama 20 menit setelah sejam sebelumnya bus sudah sekali melakukan 15 menit toilet break. Sarapan yang diberikan Mr. Raj di pagi hari nampaknya cukup efektif bagiku untuk tak mengeluarkan budget konsumsi apapun kali ini. Yuk, kuperlihatkan bagaimana restoran tempatku berhenti:

Makan prasmanan aja ya!
Itu tarifnya.
Kopyah yang dipakai kasir itu bernama Dhaka Topi.
Ah masih kenyang….Ngopi aja lah.

Aku baru merasa kelaparan pada lunch break pukul 13:30,  menikmati se-thali (piring lebar khas India) makanan yang kuambil dari meja prasmanan seharga  Rp. 52.000 dan sebuah free-orange juice yang diberikan pada semua penumpang sejak pemberangkatan di Pokhara.

Lumayan free….  
Aku naik yang warna putih.

Jarum jam menunjuk pukul 15:34. Toilet break terakhir kali ini menjadi bagian paling berkesan.  Kumanfaatkan waktu dengan menelusuri area di sekitar tempat peristirahatan. Aku bergerak menuju tepian jalan dan menikmati panorama lembah dan jurang dibawahnya.

Kebanyakan truk di Nepal adalah Tata Motor.

Tergeletik dengan kehidupan di pinggiran jalan, aku memasuki sebuah gang kecil dan melihat sekelumit aktivitas warga lokal yang hidup di pinggiran jalan. Mengamati sebuah spanduk yang tertempel di sebuah sisi tembok beton, aku mencoba sedikit membuka kulit luar perpolitikan di Nepal.

Nepal adalah negara berbentuk republik parlementer yang memiliki empat partai politik utama. Communist Party of Nepal (CPN) menjadi partai pemenang di Nepal yang menempatkan dua tokoh pentingnya yaitu Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli sebagai Perdana Menteri dan Bidhya Devi Bhandari sebagai  Presiden negara tersebut.

Itu dia lambang CPN.

Kembali berada di bangku bus, perjalanan kali ini mengalami kemacetan luar biasa ketika menuruni bukit terakhir menjelang perbatasan Kathmandu. Layaknya kemacetan di Cianjur saat weekend tiba.

Bus merapat di Kanti Path pada pukul 17:08. Kelelahan yang teramat sangat membujukku untuk segera menemukan Shangrila Boutique Hotel di area Thamel. Aku menelusuri banyak gang-gang sempit dan menanyakan kepada penduduk lokal untuk menemukan lokasinya. Hanya berjalan selama 20 menit, akhirnya penginapan itu kutemukan.

Kuserahkan Rp. 280.000 sebagai tarif menginap per malam. Kali ini aku akan bermalam 2 petang di Kathmandu untuk menikmati wisata kota.