Hamad International Airport….The Best in Middle East

On exactly 5:16 am, a white apron shuttle bus belonging to Qatar Aviation Services (QAS) completed its task of transporting all Kuwait Airways flight KU 621 passengers. Qatar Aviation Services itself is the main company which focuses in ground handling at Hamad International Airport (HIA) .

Go to immigration counter.

From arrival time, it would take thirty minutes to complete the immigration process, then crossing exit gate and enjoyed fresh situation of Arrivals Meet and Greet Hall.

Baggage conveyor belts.

Arrivals Meet and Greet Hall

Bottom view.
Top view.

Hunting for information about Qatar tourism at information desk, I was silent watching a display in neon box. The pattern which shows that HIA has obtained Airport Carbon Accreditation Level 3. This shows that the airport is able to respond to climate change through energy optimization programs and is successful in collaborating with stakeholders in managing third party emissions.

Information desk.

The time that was too early morning was able to put me to sleep in a chair covered in brown leather and located under a date palm tree which towered over the room.

Waiting chair….

An hour and a half later, I was shocked. The sun peeked at hall and airport visitors were already busy passing by. I stepped to airport’s east wing to wash and prepared to leave the airport.

Toilet.
Very clean.

Two water bottles which had dried up since last night were now filled. I left front area of toilet which was decorated with a herd of long-horned deer scattered on a side of the hall. Shiny chocolate like a fighter deer.

Free water station.
Contemporary Dutch art, “8 oryxes” represents a herd of deer typical of the Arabian Peninsula.

In the airport’s west wing, I hunted for money changers. A little tricky to find it, a little bit to right from main hall. 144 US Dollars changed to 479 Qatari Riyals, then 70 Riyals were left to buy a 2.5 GB SIM Card with a validity period of 30 days.

Travelex Qatar Money Changer.
Oredoo booth.

Aku menemukan lagi karya seni kontemporer setelah menukar Dollar. Karya tanpa nama sebagai bentuk penghormatan kepada para pekerja pembangun HIA. TaI found another piece of contemporary art after exchanging Dollars. An anonymous work as a form of respect for HIA construction workers. It looked like their signature was etched on that work of art.

Italian taste art.

Still on west wing, finished in equipping myself with drinking water, SIM Card and some Riyal money sheets, it was time to go to downtown using airport bus number 727. To riding it, I needed a KARWA Smart Card which could be purchased at automatic ticketing machine in waiting room of airport bus terminal.

Waiting room of airport bus terminal.

Departure Hall

If four days earlier I went to downtown using the airport bus, then when I left Doha, I used Doha Metro to HIA. Just wanted to feel the difference. From Casper Hotel, I took a Free Doha Metrolink Shuttle Service. A brown colored pink bus dropped me off at Oqba Ibn Nafie Station. Gliding with Doha Metro, one station later, I arrived at Hamad International Airport T1 Station.

Airport station interior.

Before passing through airport car park, the HIA Mosque tower became the best view on skybridge route which connected Doha Metro Station and Terminal 1. Then,travelator helped me to relieve my tired calf muscles after five days of exploring hot streets of Doha.

HIA Mosque tower.
Terminal 1 parking lot.
Travelator to Terminal 1.

Now I was sitting in check-in counter zone waiting for Philippines Airlines flight number to appear on one of 12 LCD screens on wall. Like waiting for a lottery number, I was happy when the number actually appeared. I rushed to check-in counter PR 685 which seemed quiet.

Seventh line check-in counter.

Hi, please queue, Sir!” warning from a ground staff who automatically braked my steps. He pointed to a queue of Filipinos starting from an airport pole. They all laughed at me and lowered my face in shame.

Check-in counter.

After stamping my passport, I went down stairs and found an old dream. It was obvious how cute the Lamp Bear was sitting helplessly stuck to a black lamppost. Every passerby scrambled to immortalize themself with the ill-fated bear. A Bangladeshi finally helped immortalize myself with the bear.

Duty free zone with a Lamp Bear mascot in the middle.
Yihaa….

I started looking for gate D3, a gate from which I flew to Manila. Took an escalator and rode skytrain to concourse D. Within 2 minutes, the skytrain dropped me off at a new hall with many forks leading to all gates at councourses D and E. The junction was marked by contemporary art titled “Cosmos” in the center.

Going to gate D3.
HIA skytrain.
Contemporary French art called “Cosmos” which symbolizes the world’s traveling culture.

Finally I arrived at waiting room at gate D3 and waited for Philippines Airlines to arrive to pick me up.

Gate D3.

How about Hamad International Airport, how magnificent is it?

One Thousand and Five Hundred Dollars in Qatar Immigration

<—-Previous Story

Peeking Departure Hall.

I was still standing still holding the iron fence on a side of the Arrival Hall Hamad International Airport. Separated by a glass partition, I still stared to the bronze statue nicknamed “Lamp Bear” which is the pride of the best airport in the Middle East region. While other passengers moved very fast with their respective travel trolleys. The yellow bear statue rised as high as seven meters and made every traveler who crosses it like a swarm of ants which busy with their own desires.

Soon I would pass through the immigration counter to adding stamp collection on my e-passport. Reading some stories of several homeland travelers who weren’t a bit rejected, I was already prepared with a lot of questions at the counter later. Understandably, I came to a country with the highest per capita income in the entire world. Meanwhile, my income from a salesman profession in Indonesia’s capital city was only a fingernail compared to the income of this country citizens.

“Don’t worry, Donny. You have prepared well”, I thought to calming down myself. Flashback to a month before departure, when I spoke with a female staff on duty at the front office of Qatar Embassy in Jakarta via telephone. “Entering Qatar doesn’t need a visa, Sir. The important thing is to bring 1,500 US dollars, plane ticket to leaving Qatar and booking confirmation from the hotel where you’ll be staying”, he briefly explained at the time.

Now I was in front of the immigration counter and directed by an officerto queue in a line which was still closed with a tape barrier. There was no immigration officers at the counter yet. Five minutes later the immigration officer came and entering into immigration box. Adding another five minutes to prepare computer, camera and some other supporting equipment. After that, the first traveler in queue came forward. She was told to move her position to take her beautiful face in a photo. Over and over….I got suspicious, maybe he collected those photos for himself…..Hahahaha #joked.

It was my turn in third queue to be called, I had prepared my passport, booking confirmation from Casper Hotel, Philippines Airlines e-ticket, and credit card. Less than 1,500 US dollars, as I recall, I only brought it with the remaining limit of 500 US dollars. If it was rejected…. Well, I would stay for four nights at the airport and would wait for my return schedule…. Crazy gamble.

The last documents in front of the immigration counter.

A handsome officer with a thin beard in a white robe and turban caught my e-passport which almost fell on the counter. He had been flipping through that international identity for a long time. One by one, he looked at my track record. As far as I remembered, my green passport was already filled until page 32.

“Which countries did you go to before coming here?”, he asked, intently looking at me. “I went to Malaysia, India, Dubai, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain since 29 December, Sir”, I replied, slightly shaking with anxiety. He was still watching me, even before he asked again, I was a little proactive and tried my best to save the situation “This is my return ticket and this is my hotel booking confirmation, Sir”. He just slightly frowned as he said “Oh, No need … No need”. Ah finally, so easy, not as I feared.

Free Visa with one month old.

Welcome Qatar!, my mind cheered with joy.

It was time to exploring Hamad International Airport before going to downtown. Come on….!

Kuwait Airways KU 621 from Kuwait (KWI) to Doha (DOH)

KU 621 Kuwait Airways route (Source: https://www.radarbox.com/).

Early morning….Still at 03:14 hours….Situation at Kuwait International Airport was so peaceful with melodious instrumental music. At first glance I felt like I was on a side of Changi International Airport, which often played the same music.

The ticket which I got from Bahrain International Airport.

I took a seat at the very end of waiting chair, feeling a runny nose which still left little bit flu. Weirdest flu I’ve ever had in my life. It was mid-January, while COVID-19 began to spread a month before I was in Kuwait….I even interacted closely with Mainland Chinese citizens who were going to work to Oman a few days earlier at Dubai International Airport….Ah, I didn’t know.

Me and 12Go….True partners.

The loudspeaker started to call my flight number. “Half an hour late”, I thought in response. I started queuing to enter the “Blue Bird” airline. This was my second flight with it after a day before I rode it on Bahrain to Kuwait route.

Crossing the aerobridge.
Business Class.
Economy Class.

I kept peeking atTerminal 4 building. All I could imagine was how cold it was outside when I saw the dew covering every inch of the fuselage. While on the right, an Airbus A330 was doing the same process.

Seat 13K, strange seat numbering (ABC-HJK).
Alburaq inflight magazine accompanied me to fly for about 568 kilometers.

After going through 30 minutes of boarding process, finally, I slowly left Kuwait and left its beauty out of the air. Kuwait Airways flied away from its mainhub.

Sunny morning with beautiful city lights.
Goodbye Kuwait.

This was a Kuwait Airways flight which I rescheduled in the previous story. Tickets cost for about 21 Kuwait Dinar which I have prepared since 9 months before the flight. One other thing that became my fad when ordering plane tickets was trying different types of food. This time I ordered the Diabetic Meal (DBML), a low-sugar food with a little salt along with fruits and vegetables rich in fiber.

I wasn’t a diabetic but just curious to taste it.
Watching “Gemini Man” during the flight.
Cabin situation for about 1 hour 40 minutes flight.

Sunny mornings along the Persian Gulf provide a comfortable flight into Qatar’s airspace. Kuwait Airways began to lower and exposed Doha’s face which was bright with the colors of earth’s light.

Preparing to tread in Doha.

I arrived at Hamad International Airport at exactly 04:45 hours. A giant yellow teddy bear stuck to a power pole was the first thing I recorded in my minds about this airport. I wanted to see it right away.

Dropping passengers at the airport apron.

On a cold morning, ground crews didn’t provide an aerobridge for this flight. Passengers have to get off in airport apron and took turns boarding in an apron shuttle bus. As soon as I left the plane door, my body was mercilessly pierced by cold air. Moreover, I had to wait for the next bus to go to the arrival hall.

Airbus A320-214.
Arriving at the arrival hall in 12 minutes.

I kept walking in search of the yellow Teddy Bear when other passengers queued at the toilet or scrambled for luggage on the conveyor belt. I finally found it, although I couldn’t get close because the doll was in the departure hall area.

It was okay, I would take a picture with it when I would go to home.

Welcome to Doha!

Kuwait International Airport Closer

Kuwait International Airport became the 30th airport outside of Indonesia which I visited. Precisely in Terminal 4, I started to introduce myself to a side of this beautiful airport. Terminal 4 itself is the official mainhub of Kuwait Airways, which in that time I chose as transportation mode to leave Bahrain.

Arrival Hall

Kuwait Airways KU 614 stopped at airport apron.

Smoothly landing in a runway on 13:35 hours, I couldn’t wait to reach airport ground floor.

Like a modern airport, exit from plane through aerobridge.
Terminal 4 building with three floors.

Turning to right from aerobridge, a carpeted corridor often featured the Emir face of Kuwait, i.e Sabah IV Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah who waving his hand as if to say “Welcome to Kuwait“.

The next corridor led to arrival hall.

I was ready to entering the screening gate to reach transfer hall. My traveling habit which didn’t use a belt and usually put a passport, money, watch, camera, smartphone and mineral water bottle in a small folding bag, kept me from being as busy as other passengers who were always nervous when entering screening area with fast tempo.

I wasn’t against confiscation of my mineral water bottle, because I was sure it would be easy to find a free water station at an international airport which was almost a century old.

I started to entering duty free zone with camera in hand. Of course there wasn’t waiter who greeted me who just brought a backpack on my back. Yes, that was it. I didn’t bring anything for my 21 days adventure except 5 t-shirts, 2 trousers, 1 shorts and I even used disposable panties for my underware, practically disposable and then just threw it into rubbish bin after was used. I was very light backpacker. All of my friend called me “Crazy backpacker“.

Duty free zone.

Departure Hall

Still on the 1st floor, after duty free zone, I was faced directly to departure area with 5 departure gates coded B1 to B5.

Departure gate 1st floor.

On this floor was provided Al Mubarakiya Lounge for anyone who wanted to relax waiting for their flight. I myself only used gate B1 when waiting for airline shuttle bus to go to Safir Airport Hotel which was a free gift from Kuwait Airways to me during transit.

Gate B1.
Cafe Coco near gate B1.

Meanwhile, in early hours of next morning, when I was about to fly with Kuwait Airways KU 621 to Doha, I used facilities along departure gate D1-D8 on 2nd floor. I still remembered when I slept on a long green sofa a day before and was approached by a policeman dressed in white like an angel who escorted me on luck getting a free staying at Safir Airport Hotel.

Sofa on 2nd floor.
Flying to Qatar via gate D8.

Airport Apron and Cargo Area

Come on, let’s took a peek at airport outside. I managed to freely see it when I boarded airline shuttle bus to Safir Airport Hotel. Only 10 minutes long, I slowly crossed the cargo area. This was the first time to directly see cargo loading process when passing cargo planes.

Turkish Airlines Cargo.
Cargo area.

As a result of Air Force base development, Kuwait International Airport still shared space with Abdullah Al-Mubarak Air Base. The base itself was at east of the airport, next to Safir Airport Hotel where I stayed.

Alenia C-27J Spartan military transport aircraft.

Lounge

As an airport which had passenger capacity of more than nine million passengers per year, apart from providing 5 terminal areas, lounge facilities are a lucrative business. Besides Al Mubarakiya Lounge, Kuwait International Airport also provides Bayan Lounge on the 2nd floor.

Bayan Lounge near gate D8.

Toilet

Well, in the last section, let’s see how airport toilets look like. Here it is:

Clean and fragrant.
Toilet on 2nd floor.

That’s a brief overview of Kuwait International Airport, especially Terminal 4.

Okay….Time to flying to Doha.

Taken to Safir Airport Hotel, Kuwait

<—-Previous Story

I slowly walked to enjoy each arrival hall corridor in Terminal 4, Kuwait International Airport. There wasn’t rush, because my next flight was still fifteen hours away.

Moving to the transfer hall, my step rhythm became fast because aviation security officers arranged it in that way. Not long, I was in front of the screening gate after showing boarding pass to the female Kuwait Airways staff from Philippines. Damn, the screening process finally confiscated my mineral water.

Passing duty free zone in 1st floor, instinct directed me to find the most comfortable place to close my eyes. The trauma of being late has kept me awake at Bahrain Plaza Hotel since three o’clock in the morning. Now sleepiness overtaked me.

I went up to the 2nd floor via an elevator near gate B1. Excited, I caught fourteen long green sofas uninhabited right next to the departure gate D5-6. “Yeaaa….This is my bed”, the heart mumbled.

—-****—-

Police: “Hello, Sir?”, a man with white robe woke me up.

Me: “Yes, sir”, I was surprised because I suddenly woke up.

Police: “Can I see your ticket and passport?”

Me: “Sure, Sir”, I frantically looked for it which was somehow tucked away.

Police: “Ohh, long transit. What airline did you use before?”

Me: “Kuwait Airways, Sir”, I showed my boording pass fragment.

Police: “Follow me now!”, upss, I got a problem …..

My heart beated faster as I followed his steps. Arriving at screening gate area where I originally have arrived several minutes ago, through a special door I was directed to Kuwait Airways Customer Service desk. I didn’t know what he said to staffs, until he called me to come closer. “Come!”, he said.

Customer Service staff apologized for didn’t carefully check my ticket. Even though my two tickets were non-connecting flights. But because both using Kuwait Airways, I got a benefit of staying at Safir Airport Hotel. Considering my next flight had to wait more than eight hours.

Police: “Enjoy your trip”, he said without a smile.

Me: “thank you very much, Sir”.

Police: “Welcome”, he just walked away.

For me, he wasn’t the airport police, but he ws an angel who suddenly came to me.

Transit card as access to hotel.

Passing back through the screening gate, I headed to gate B1 as instructed. Two Filipino ground staff invited me to sit and wait for airline shuttle bus to pick up. Then, one of them was seen busy with a walkie talkie to calling the shuttle bus in question.

Picked me up with two female passengers from Qatar.

Lobby Area

The airline shuttle bus freely took me around the airport. The bustle of cargo area with large cargo planes background left me stunned.

Ten minutes later, I was dropped off right in front of hotel’s lobby. A policeman suddenly stood up from his relaxed seat at the screening gate. He was seriously observing my single backpack inside the Luggage Screening Device. “OK, clear”, his words ending the process.

Lobby gate.
Area with sofa.
Area without sofa.
Departure fight information.

Room Area

I walked down the corridor to room 113. It was a pleasure to be able to taste the hotel which fare abour for 54 Kuwait Dinar per night. It was just a shame, I couldn’t enjoy all its free luxurious facilities because of a severe flu attack since left Bahrain. I spent the entire room and toilet’s paper to fight clear mucus which kept uncontrollably flowing from my nose.

Corridor leading to the room.
Got a twin bed room.
Bathroom.
Poor sleeping.

Scenery

Suddenly I woke up because curious about view in the window. A service plane from the Kingdom of Kuwait was seen parked unaccompanied. Half an hour later, a military transport plane, Boeing C-17 Globemaster III landed, it was the type of plane which was destroyed by Donatello in the film, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.

I even had time to enjoy a row of fighter jets at a side of airport. Indeed Kuwait International Airport was basically a development of Abdullah Al-Mubarak Air Base belonging to the Kuwait Air Force. Wow, lucky me.

Kuwaiti Royal Service Aircraft.
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III.

Restaurant

A call from receptionist woke me up, “Sir, please come down!”. I briefly answered “Wait for 10 minutes, Sir”. I packed my gears into backpack. Then hurry down. “Why do you bring your backpack and check-out, I just want to give you an information that it’s dinner time”, he said with a laugh. Suddenly, I returned to the room embarrassed. Then went down again for dinner.

Al-Dawarza Restaurant.
Restaurant terrace.

Hmmm….Unforgettable memories.

Kuwait Airways KU 614 from Bahrain to Kuwait

<—-Previous Story

KU 614 flight route (source: https://www.radarbox.com/)

Exactly on five in the morning I started to wash my body in the bathroom of Bahrain Plaza Hotel. That day, I would leave Bahrain and heading to Kuwait. After making sure all equipments wasn’t left behind, I went down to the first floor to hand over the key and headed to the nearest bus shelter. Not far, just three hundred meters at south of the hotel, right in front of Manama Cemetery.

Ten minutes later, the bus from MAN manufacturer numbered A1 arrived. Entering from its front door and tapping Go Card to pay the fare worth BHD 0.300, I drove to Bahrain International Airport for the next a hour.

Arriving at the airport on 07:45 hours, I went straight to 1st floor. Its check-in area wan’t better than the same counter owned by Halim Perdanakusuma Airport (second airport in Jakarta). The flight number which didn’t appeared yet on the Departure Hall LCD gave me time to exchange the remaining Bahraini Dinar (BHD). Apparently the money changer on the 1st floor didn’t want to accept small amount of Dinar, fortunately the Bahrain Financing Company (BFC) on the 0th floor was still willing to accept it.

On 9:30 hours, the check-in counter for Kuwait Airways flight KU 614 began to open. I briefly explained that I was going to Qatar with two non-connecting flights and would transit in Kuwait. The young male staff only once asked me about the Qatar Visa. “Qatar visa is free for Indonesian, Sir“, I answered to ending the conversation and he gave two tickets with the blue bird logo at once. The ticket itself I ordered on nine months before departure.

Kuwait Airways was the 27th airline which I boarded.

Smoothly passing through the immigration counter, I immediately headed to Gate 15 which was located in the corner of departure waiting hall with a narrow hallway which connects to the aerobridge. Waiting for boarding time, I continued to observe the flow of Gulf Air, a well-known airline belonging to the Kingdom of Bahrain.

Departure waiting room.

A little late, I started boarding on 11:51 hours. Couldn’t wait to experience the first time flying with Kuwait Airways, the airline belonging to the Kingdom of Kuwait.

Late for a hour.
Business Class.
Economy Class.

Immediately took a seat as stated on the boarding pass and preparing for a short flight of 420 km which would be covered in 1 hour 10 minutes.

Seat number 17A was where I sat.
Thank you 12Go for being an Affiliate Partner for travelingpersecond.com.
Alburaq inflight magazine.

It appeared that some of the airline’s aircrew were from the Philippines and some from African region. During the flight, I noticed that alcohol bottles weren’t visible on food trolley, it looked like the Kuwait Airways flight was an alcohol-free flight…..It was cool.

Watching “The Martian“.
The Low Fat Meal (LFML) menu which I ordered together with the ticket order.

That afternoon the air on the southwest bank of Persian Gulf was clear. This made my flight felt very smooth, with no turbulence at all. Nice flight.

Sunny weather in early January.
How did the feel, flying with Middle East people?.

DIn the last quarter of flight, the plane began to lower and revealed the land of Kuwait which looked arid and hot. I myself couldn’t wait to get to know Kuwait International Airport which was the main hub of Kuwait Airways.

Middle East mainland which typical sandy brown.
Busyness at Terminal 2 Expansion Project.
Kuwait city view.

The time was 13:35 hours. After the plane came to a perfect stop, I immediately left the fuselage for Transit Hall of Kuwait International Airport. I would patiently wait until four o’clock on the next morning to heading to Qatar.

A320-251N Neo Generation of Airbus

Next Story—->

Reschedule Kuwait Airways after Kuwait Tourist Visa Failed

Exactly thirty days before my backpacking departure to Middle East Region, I started to get busy in hunting all visas needed, it were tourist visas to visiting Kochi, Dubai, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar.

Among the six visas, I had a bitter experience when I finally failed to get a Kuwait Tourist Visa. This caused me to must satisfy to just enjoying Kuwait by transit, but of course it was better than nothing.

At the end of November, all information about Kuwait Tourist Visa which I got through internet (google, youtube and facebook) I recorded in detail. Until I phoned those contact numbers one by one. The best information which I have was that I could enter Kuwait by Visa on Arrival (VoA).

Conversation via Whatsapp with Kuwait Visa agency.

Calling several phone numbers which I got on internet, every ring which I sent was unanswered. So to immediately made sure, I rushed to Kuningan area in early December to directly ask at Kuwaiti Embassy.

It was quite difficult to find its location, because the address which was displayed by Google was never correct. I had to get lost in an unnamed embassy office in Patra Kuningan I Avenue . A large building which was guarded by a group of men in military helmets and armed with long barrels. The brake screech of my motorbike right in front of the entrance made them suddenly alert and raised their weapons to their chests.

Me: “Sir, is it the Kuwaiti Embassy, ​​is it?

Guard: “No sir, this is the Australian Embassy”.

Me: “How come google maps directs me here, sir?”.

Guard: “That’s wrong, Sir, a lot of people stray here like you“.

Me: “Do you know where the location is?”.

Guard: “Oh, I don’t know, Sir“.

Finally they lowered the position of weapon after knowing my aim. It’s just that I admits that I was impolite, asking something on a motorbike and right in front of the gate…. Hahahaha.

Address from other sources also led me to stray on Denpasar Raya Avenue. I didn’t know what office it was, fortunately its guard was able to give me clear direction to the Kuwait Embassy. Until finally I arrived at the Kuwait Embassy office on Mega Kuningan Barat III Avenue.

Pretty simple Kuwaiti Embassy office.

There were no visitors and only two security guarded it. They directed me to sit on a small terrace in left corner of the embassy. Until they called the staff who handled Visa application.

Finally my hope of exploring Kuwait were dashed after the beautiful embassy staff gave an explanation through a narrow slit in the visa counter.

For Indonesian citizens, Kuwait does not issue tourist visas, Sir. We only handle Working Visas and Diplomatic Visas. To be able to travel there, you have to get a Calling Visa from your friends or family in Kuwait,” She said.

Knowing my intention was gone then there wasn’t other way. I had to expedite the Kuwait-Doha departure ticket which I got since mid-April. After counting, rescheduling was more cheaper than buying a Bahrain-Doha direct flight ticket.

So from Bahrain, I was going to Doha with a transit in Kuwait.

Kuwait-Doha ticket.

I immediately contacted Kuwait Airways via Whatsapp in the first weekend of December.

Conversation with Kuwait Airways Customer Service.   
After fixed reschedule the flight, they gave me a payment link via email.
Link was two hours old. I needed to quickly make a payment via credit card.

In addition to rescheduling flights, of course I had to cancel hotel reservations on Booking.com.

Vera House & Hotel for 14.4 Kuwait Dollar per night.

This means, in the middle of my trip later, I wouldl visit Doha longer. From the previous plan, i.e three visiting days became five visiting days. And my exploration to Kuwait was only limited to transit. But this transit period had provided an unforgettable experience.

What kind of experience?….Hahaha, just read on next story!

Philippine Airlines PR 685 dari Doha (DOH) ke Manila (MNL)

<—-Kisah Sebelumnya

Jalur penerbangan PR 685 (sumber: https://www.radarbox.com).

Jika ingin merasakan sensasi menunggang airline komersial pertama di Asia maka naiklah Philippine Airlines, maka secara otomatis kamu akan tertasbih telah menaiki maskapai tertua di Benua Asia. Dan Philippine Airlines menjadi maskapai ke-28 yang kunaiki sepanjang perjalananku menjadi seorang backpacker.

Dimulai dengan insiden kecil  yang cukup membuat malu. Sore itu area depan konter check-in tampak melompong, kontan setelah nomor pernerbangan PR 685 berstatus “open”, aku melenggang kangkung menelusuri liukan alur yang dibentuk oleh boarder tape.

Dan tiba-tiba terdengar suara lantang….

Hi, please queue, Sir!” tegur ground staff yang otomatis mengerem langkahku. Dia menunjuk antrian penumpang asal Philippines yang bermula dari sebuah tiang bangunan. Mereka semua menertawakanku dan menyungkurkan mukaku dalam rasa malu. Berusaha tersenyum tetapi tetap saja tak bisa menyembunyikan kecut muka, aku melewati para penumpang itu yang hampir sepanjang antrian tertawa memandangiku. Hingga akhirnya, aku sudah berdiri di antrian, jauh di belakang.

Check-in counter.
Tiket ke-11 dalam petualangan akhir tahunku.

Meninggalkan area check-in dan menyelesaikan urusan di konter imigrasi, langkahku tertahan sekejap.

Asal mana pak?“, sapaku pada dua lelaki paruh baya yang sedari tadi memegangi paspor hijau bergambar garuda. “Loh, ada orang Indonesia nih, cak“, tegas seorang darinya kepada teman sebelahnya. Aku hanya tersenyum untuk menghangatkan suasana.

Naik Qatar Airways juga ya mas?“, pertanyaan yang mungkin berharap kita bertiga bisa terbang sepesawat. “Saya mampir Manila dulu pak, naik Philippine Airlines, tujuan akhir saya Jakarta. Bapak berdua mau kemana? “, tanyaku singkat sebelum berpisah. Kedua lelaki itu tampak berbenah memasukkan setiap berkas imigrasi, paspor dan tiketnya ke dalam tas. “Kami dari Surabaya, mas“, senyumnya hangatnya membuatku merasa tak jauh dari rumah.

Menurut tuturnya, kedua lelaki itu sedang ada tugas dari perusahaannya di Doha. Sedangkan aku menjawab dengan percaya diri bahwa aku baru saja selesai backpackeran sendirian di Timur Tengah. “Wah hebat si mas, keliling sendirian“, ucapan penutupnya sebelum kami berpisah menuju gate masing-masing.

Kemudian aku menuruni escalator dan melewati duty free zone di sekitar maskot “Lamp Bear”. Berlanjut lagi dengan menaiki escalator untuk menaiki skytrain menuju concourse D. Menemukan gate yang kumaksud, maka terduduklah aku sembari mengunyah paratha tersisa untuk makan malam sambil menunggu Philippine Airlines tiba menjemput.

Tepat pukul 20:45, aku mulai boarding melalui aerobridge. Aku memasuki pesawat dari koridor kabin sebelah kiri. Begitu terduduk di window seat berbilangan 39K, impian kemegahan kabin yang sedari semula saat membeli tiket akhirnya sirna.  Ternyata pesawat ini tak dilengkapi LCD screen di setiap bangkunya. Terbayang sudah, penerbangan panjang sejauh 7.277 Km ini pasti akan membosankan.

Airbus 330-300.
Sayap yang memamerkan kegagahan.
Mulai mencari tempat duduk.
Nah ini dia, tempat dudukku selama 9 jam 35 menit.

Aku duduk bersebelahan dengan wanita tambun di sisi kiri sedangkan di ujung baris terduduk lelaki paruh baya berpostur sebaliknya, jangkung dan kurus. Sembilan puluh persen penumpang tentu berkebangsaan Philippines. Karena ini pesawat negara mereka.

Aku terus memperhatikan pramugari berpotongan rambut bob, berlipstik ungu dan berpostur semampai. Siapa yang meragukan kecantikan para pinay, Philippines memang penghasil para wanita cantik di dunia….Hahaha.

Setelah mendemokan prosedur keselamatan terbang, pramugari dan pramugara itu membagikan amenities berupa selimut, handuk, sikat dan pasta gigi. Aku mulai membaca beberapa prosedur keamanan pesawat Airbus ini. Membaca infight magazinenya dan bersiap untuk santap malam kedua kali setelah take-off.

Thanks 12Go.
Selamat tinggal Hamad International Airport.
Selimut untuk setiap penumpang.
Mabuhay….Inflight magazine milik Philippine Airlines.

Sir, I have ordered the menu. My menu should  a Jain Meal, not Seafood Meal, Sir”, tanyaku pada seorang pramugara. “Dinner menu must be ordered 3 hours before flight, Have you order it?”, jawabnya sedikit tegas. Daripada menimbulkan keributan yang tak mengenakkan, aku mengalah saja. Begitulah aku, selalu menghindari gesekan dan cenderung mengalah pada setiap perselisihan….Hebat ya guwe, mulia banget….Hahaha.

Menu makan malam: nasi dan ikan laut.
Ternyata Jean Meal pesananku keluar di pagi hari bersama kopi…Oalah, ndeso tenan.
Indah sekali bukan, rentangan garis-garis emas bentukan pelita bumi Doha?. Lihat perairan Teluk Persia itu!.

Setelah semua penumpang selesai dengan dinnernya masing-masing, awak kabin mulai meminta setiap penumpang yang duduk di window seat untuk menutup jendela. Ah, aku tak mendengarkan perintah, malahan memperhatikan wajah ayu pramugari yang kukagumi sedari tadi. Aku baru tersadar akan perintah ketika pramugari itu tersenyum terus dan menunjuk jendelaku sembari menaik turunkan telunjuknya sebagai isyarat bagiku untuk segera menutupnya….”Iya mbak, aku ngerti kok, cuma sedang terpesona denganmu saja”, batinku menjawab senyumannya. Kejadian itu membuat penumpang di sebelahku tertawa….Kacau kan guwe?.

Malam itu penerbanganku sangat mulus tanpa turbulensi. Pilot menginformasikan bahwa aku sedang melaju di dalam selongsong terbang dengan kecepatan 800 Km per jam. Luar biasa. Malam itu aku tak tidur nyenyak, terus gelisah menunggu tiba di Manila. Entah sampai dimana, pramugari itu kembali berkeliling di koridor kabin dan meminta setiap penumpang di window seat untuk membuka kembali jendelanya.

Inilah drama alam yang baru pertama kali ku alami. Aku menutup jendela dalam gulita dan tiba-tiba membukanya dalam kondisi terang benderang. Bak permianan sulap di angkasa, matahari sepertinya lebih cepat muncul dari waktu normalnya.

Selamat pagi….Entah aku berada dimana?.
Gunung yang menyembul di kerumunan awan….Menakjubkan.

Antrian di setiap toilet begitu panjang. Dengan gagapnya, aku pun mulai mengantri. Aku harus bergosok gigi dan menyeka  muka dengan air hangat sebelum mendarat.  Inilah kegiatan sikat gigi di pesawat terbang untuk pertama kalinya dalam hidupku.

Tak lama setelah duduk kembali, pilot memberitahukan bahwa flag carrier milik Philippines ini akan segera mendarat di mainhubnya, yaitu Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). Maskapai berlogo dua layar biru dan merah yang melambangkan bendera kebesaran negara dan sunburst kuning delapan sinar ini akan mendarat di Terminal 1 sesuai rencana.

Bersiap mendarat di Manila.

Pesawat mendarat dengan mulusnya di runway dan kemudian taxiing dengan menampilkan pemandangan cepat tentang hiruk pikuknya suasana bandara. Aku pantas berterimakasih pada jasa maskapain berusia 79 tahun ini.

Rindu Cebu Pacific….Teringat menunggangnya empat tahun silam.
Thank you Philippine Airlines “The Heart of the Filipino”.

Saatnya transit dan menjelajah Manila dalam waktu singkat.

Yuksss…..Berkelana lagi!

Alternatif untuk tiket pesawat dari Doha ke Manila bisa dicari di 12Go atau link berikut: https://12go.asia/?z=3283832

Kisah Selanjutnya—->

Doha Metro Red Line dari Doha ke Hamad International Airport

<—-Kisah Sebelumnya

Penerbanganku masih sore nanti. Jam 19:00 tepatnya. Jadi aku akan bersantai dahulu hingga masa inapku di Casper Hotel habis tepat di tengah hari. Sedari Shalat Subuh, aku kembali menggulung badan dengan selimut dormitory, nyaman sekali memejamkan mata dalam hangat selimut di tengah bekunya pagi. Hingga alarm iri dan meneriakiku….Sudah pukul sembilan. Aku harus bangun, sarapan dan bersiap diri.

Selepas mandi kulipat jemuran yang masih lembab, sudah pasti akan kutempatkan di kantong plastik tersendiri di backpackku nanti. Kupisahkan dengan baik setiap peralatan yang sudah terbongkar sejak lima hari lalu. Toiletries, t-shirt, kamera, tripod, snack dan celana panjang kupacking pada kantong plastik masing-masing.

Berlanjut kemudian dengan mengunyah paratha buatan GRANDMA Bakery and Sweets beserta dua lembar telur mata sapi karya tanganku sendiri.

Tepat 12:30, aku undur diri…..

Aku berpelukan dan berjabat tangan dengan tiga sahabat sekaligus keluarga baruku asal Pakistan yang bekerja mengurusi penginapan itu. Seusai mengucap salam, aku pulang.

Terimakasih kawan.

Seperti biasa aku berdiri di shelter bus tepat di sebelah kiri gerbang penginapan.

“Saatnya mencoba Free Doha Metrolink Shuttle Services, kebetulan Karwa Smart Cardku memang sudah menipis saldonya”, batinku beride. Tapi bus Metrolink itu tak pernah berhenti ketika aku stop. Saat menyetop bus ketiga, sopir Metrolink itu menunjuk sebuah tiang di ujung sana. Dia menunjuk dirinya lalu menunjukku lalu menunjuk tiang itu. Aku cepat memaknai isyarat itu: “Larilah kesana, aku menunggumu!”. Aku spontan berlari, ketika bus mendahuliku dan berhenti di tiang itu.

Good morning, friend. You must stop this Metrolink in its shelter, Okay!. Tommorow if you want to use it, you must wait at this pole”, ucapnya sembari menginjak Metrolink itu cepat-cepat.

Oh Okay, Sir”, ucapku memahami, dia tak tahu rupanya bahwa aku akan pulang dan esok hari sudah tak berada lagi di Doha.

Where will this metrolink stop?”, tanyaku pada pengemudi berkebangsaan Nigeria itu.

It will stop in Oqba Ibn Nafie Station, It’s free, if you want back to home just wait this bus in Oqba Ibn Nafie Station again, okay!”, jawabnya detail, rupanya dia tahu aku pengelana pencari gratisan….Hahaha.

Sepuluh menit kemudian, aku tiba di Stasiun Oqba Ibn Nafie…..

Aku sudah tak punya receh dan aku juga tahu bahwa ticketing vending machine itu tak menerima pecahan besar. Aku langsung menuju customer service yang diduduki oleh para staf berkebangsaan Philippines. Aku bermaksud menukarkan uang, beruntung mereka menyediakan uang pecahan kecil. Aku rela menukarkan Riyal menjadi pecahan kecil yang tentu akan berpengaruh terhadap nilai tukarnya ke Dolar Amerika di bandara nanti, semakin kecil pecahan tentu harganya akan semakin murah. Tapi tak apalah, tak ada opsi lain.

Aku mulai menaiki Doha Metro Red Line menuju Stasiun Hamad International Airport T1. Menempuh jarak 10 Km, tak berselang dengan satu stasiun pun, aku tiba dalam dua puluh menit.

Tiba di platform Stasiun Hamad International Airport T1.
Lihat interiornya….Keren kan?
Artistik banget.

Stasiun Hamad International Aiport T1 adalah sebuah shelter transportasi yang terhubung dengan Hamad International Airport oleh sebuah jembatan penyeberangan mewah. Jembatan penyeberangan bernaung atap dan berpendingin ini berdindingkan kaca dan berfasilitaskan travelator. Mengangkangi jalur-jalur utama kendaraan di sekitaran Hamad International Airport. Juga melewati venue ikonik sepeti HIA Mosque dengan minaretnya yang aduhai.

Jalur kendaraan yang dilewati oleh jembatan penyeberangan.
HIA Mosque minaret.

Sempat keluar sejenak dari connector itu, aku dilewatkan pada lahan parkir bandara yang cukup luas, kemudian aku dimasukkan lagi ke dalam sebuah connector menuju bangunan utama terminal.

Parking slot bandara.
Travelator di jembatan penghubung.

Berjalan selama sepuluh menit akhirnya aku tiba di Departure Gate. Masih jam 14:05, aku masih perlu menunggu sekitar dua setengah jam hingga konter check-in dibuka. Aku langsung menuju check-in area untuk mencari tempat tunggu yang nyaman dan sekaligus beristirahat.

Di depan Departure Hall.
Check-in area.
Menunggu PR 685 menuju Manila.

Tau kan Philippine Airlines?……

Kisah Selanjutnya—->

Radwani House: Bentuk Klasik Properti Qatar

Di bagian akhir kunjungan ke Msheireb Museum, aku melakukan eksplorasi bersama lelaki setengah baya dari Perancis. Aku menuntunnya pelan-pelan memasuki ruangan demi ruangan.

Radwani House adalah gambaran asli dari rumah khas Qatar yang dibangun pada tahun 1920-an di perbatasan distrik tertua di Qatar yaitu Al-Jassra dan Msheireb. Rumah ini dibeli oleh Ali Akbar Radwani pada 5 Desember 1936 dan ditinggali bersama keluarganya hingga lebih dari 70 tahun.

Radwani House ini sudah diperbesar dan ditata ulang dari bangunan awal seiring waktu berjalan dan inilah satu dari sekian banyak bangunan bersejarah terpenting di Doha. Rumah ini menunjukkan sejarah kehidupan dan gaya hidup warga Qatar yang luar biasa dan menggambarkan adaptasi atas perubahan sosial kemasyarakatan yang luas di Qatar selama Abad XX.

Penelitian khusus mengenai Radwani House dilakukan pada musim dingin 2012-2013 oleh tim arkeolog dari University College London Qatar. Inilah investigasi arkeologi pertama kali yang dilakukan di seantero Qatar.

Ditemukannya pondasi lain dalam bangunan ini menunjukkan bahwa rumah ini sudah mengalami banyak renovasi sepanjang umur berdirinya, tampak ditemukan subuah sumur yang apabila diperhatikan dari layout awal rumah itu, maka sumur ini terletak di luar bangunan utama, tepatnya di sebuah gang sempit.

Diketahui pula bahwa rumah ini awalnya terdiri dari dua bangunan, yang setelah kedua bagian ini dibeli oleh pemilik yang sama maka kedua bagian itu digabungkan. Kedua ujung gang ditutup sehingga menghasilkan bentuk rumah yang lebih luas.

Pondasi lama.
Sumur beserta bak mandi.

Penggalian Radwani House menemukan beberapa benda yang memberikan petunjuk akan kehidupan sehari-hari di rumah ini. Ditemukan tempat pembakar dupa dari tahun 1920-1930, serangkaian cangkang mutiara yang dibuang yang merupakan hasil dari pengumpulan kerang laut saat air sedang surut, cangkir kopi, gelas, perhiasan, pakaian dan mainan.

Sherbah, kendi berleher panjang berbahan tanah liat dan berguna sebagai tempat minum.
Cangkang mutiara.
Cangkir kopi.

Radwani House direnovasi pada awal tahun 1940an untuk menghasilkan rumah seperti yang anda lihat saat ini:

Bentuk Radwani House saat ini.
Pintu depan.
Teras.
Majlis- halaman rumah khas Qatar-.

Walaupun halaman rumah tampak luas, tetap saja Ridwani House menampilan concern sebuah privasi.  Tampak bagian luar rumah tak berjendela. Jendela hanya ada pada dinding yang menghadap ke halaman. Sedangkan halaman itu sendiri seluruh sisinya dikelilingi oleh bangunan rumah.

Sedangkan bagian dari gerbang utama yang akan menghantarkan orang menuju ke halaman harus berbelok dahulu 90 derajat untuk memastikan bahwa halaman rumah tak terlihat oleh orang dari luar.

Penyusunan ruangan Radwani House juga menunjukkan kekhasan tersendiri. Ada ruangan yang berfungsi sangat khusus seperti dapur dan gudang. Sebagian lagi dibangun sebagai ruang fungsional.

Ruang tamu.
Kamar tidur.
Ruang lesehan keluarga.
Ruang lesehan tamu.
Dapur.
Furniture ruangan.

Inilah destinasi terakhir selama kunjunganku di Qatar. Maka sudah barang tentu, aku harus segera meninggalkan Qatar.

Mau kemana ya kedua kakiku ini hendak dilangkahkan?……