Writing Inspiration from Tribhuvan International Airport

<—-Previous Story

Time was so fast. Yesterday afternoon I was still exploring Basantapur area. But now it was four in the morning. I had just soaked myself under a warm shower of Shangrila Butique Hotel. After making sure that nothing was left behind, I immediately went to reception desk to check-out and a step later I was down on the streets of Thamel. Dark, empty and full of worries.

I continued down the street and hoping to found a taxi soon, while from behind in the dark I heard footsteps of several people accompanied by Nepalese chants that made my heart beat faster. I dared to look back, five young men quickly walked after me. I couldn’t seem to walk any faster because my backpack was weighing me down on my back. I seemed resigned if something happened when they actually caught up with me.

Plakk“, the hand of one of them tightly patted my right shoulder. “Oh, God“, I quickly thought responded.

Good morning, Brothers. Are you happy in Nepal?”, he said while accompanying my steps which were already slowing down in fear.

Hi….Yeaaa, nice country”, I said louder than usual just to show courage.

Good….Be careful, bro”, he quickly passed me while the other four friends looked at me with a light smile and simultaneously said “Hi”.

Oh, God thank you for still sending good people to greet me in the dark of the morning.

Arriving at an intersection, there were rows of taxis queuing up to transport passengers. The leading taxi flashed a flash of light at me and I raised my hand in response that I would use his services.

Airport, sir….How much?”, I curtly asked.

Seven hundreds Rupees“, he answered as he grabbed my backpack which closed my intention to bid.

Ok“, there was no other answer I can come up with.

The taxi was speeding fast without a barrier in Pashupati Road which of course was still quiet. Less than 20 minutes, the taxi arrived to Tribhuvan International Airport.

At half past six in the morning, the airport was still closed and quiet.

There wasn’t much I could do, I just waited at the airport police desk which looked empty while still staring at the international gate and hoping that its door would open soon because it was very cold outside.

Slowly the passengers arrived.

Do you Indonesian, brother?“, the joke came from behind. I looked left and right, there was no one beside me. The voice was clearly asking me. I looked back and saw a woman in her 30s smiling at me.

 “Hi Mam, how do you know I’m from Indonesia?“, I replied smiling back.

That’s it, Sir“, she pointed to one of my backpack pockets which wasn’t completely closed and slightly revealed the red and white flag which I had worn four days ago at Sarangkot.

As a result we talked to each other while waiting for the gate to open. It turned out that she was a graduate of a well-known university in Indonesia and a senior worker at an oil exploration company in Bangladesh. After traveling to Nepal, she would return to his hometown via New Delhi.

On the plane with me to New Delhi, she continued to fly with Singapore Airlines which transiting Singapore. Meanwhile I would explore New Delhi and Agra first.

The gate had been opened, I immediately went to check-in counter. The process took a little longer, I overheard the whispers between them and said the word “internet connection“. No wonder my online check-in process failed last night.

First time flying with Jet Airways.

Then in another row of immigration counters, I saw her having a warm conversation with the immigration officer. Her english was very fluent. Shee briefly explained to me in the waiting room that immigration officers in Asia tend to be more flexible than officers in Europe and America. Of course I believed that.

Waiting Room in Tribhuvan International Airport.
She treated me to a cup of chiya until the plane arrived.

I could say, she who disn’t want to be named was a person who inspired me to write and share every travel experience which I did so that I could support every traveler with information. She herself was never able to write because she was very busy, even though she had extraordinary stories. One was when she was able to survive a desert storm which hit her in Kuwait.

Jet Airways flying 9W 0263 was ready. I came out of the waiting room to apron. There was one uniqueness that I have never experienced before, namely when there was an inspection of each passenger’s cabin baggage in the extension area right in front of the plane door. Hilarious and fun experience.

OK, it was time to fly.

See you later Nepal. Welcome India.

Goodbye Basantapur

<—-Previous Story

Stepping away from Kumari Ghar, I was still thinking. When Kumari retires later, how does she live in society after only leaving Kumari Ghar once a year for a dozen years, how does she work until which man who is lucky to marry her…. Hmmhh.

My steps arrived at a wide plaza. Elongated white buildings with European architecture flanking the wide courtyard on the left and right, while in the middle, souvenir traders place their stalls.

Basantapur Dabali is a must-visit historical landmark.

Playing a role as the heart of Kathmandu, Basantapur had indeed been a meeting place for people from all over for politics and trading since Nepal was still a kingdom. Therefore Basantapur is always crowded until now.

For you as millennials, Basantapur provides many modern cafes to just hang out. Himalayan tea is also easy to find in this area. You can feel the deliciousness of Chiya (tea mixed with milk) in the cold air of Kathmandu.

Hunting for Himalayan Tea at one of the stalls.

Freak Street was a lane which looks quite busy with the existence of this iconic plaza. The charm of Basantapur Dabali hypnotized anyone to last a long time enjoying it. But the sun had slipped far, it was time for me to leave Basantapur to return to Thamel.

Sinha Swan Khala, a fairly busy religious institution in Freak Street.

Enjoying Kathmandu can’t be done by taking a taxi, make sure you keep going and enjoy the authentic Newar culture and architecture which is in every side of the city.

Now I was back in the streets of Layaku Marg. “Layaku” is another word for “Durbar Square”, while “Durbar Square” itself means “Palace Square”. It is true as it is, this Layaku Marg divides Basantapur and places the Royal Palace of Malla on its a side.

Layaku Marg towards Bishal Bazaar area.

Bishal Bazaar or Vishal Bazaar is a very famous shopping area in Kathmandu. Characterized by the existence of an old mall and Chinese Market. Bishal Bazaar may be the right place for fans of jewelry knick-knacks.

The Basantapur and Bishal Bazaar areas are bordered by the Sukra Path that begins with the Juddha Statue, a statue at the crossroads in honor of Nepal’s King Juddha Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana who played a major role in rebuilding his country from the severe damage caused by the Nepal earthquake in 1934.

Juddha Statue.
One side of the Sukra Path.

Before actually completing the trip to Thamel, I tried to enjoy the busy activities of local residents by entering a restaurant in the Sukra Path number

Vegetable Chow Mien for 150 Rupee.

That afternoon was my last evening in enjoying Kathmandu because the next day I would fly using Jet Airways 9W 0263 to the capital of India. Maybe tonight I won’t wander around much because I have to get ready to leave for Tribhuvan International Airport in the dark of the morning.

I arrived in Thamel and immediately checked-in online for my flight, tonight I’m only going out for a while to enjoy dinner.

Wow… Look that beautiful woman in the shampoo commercial.

Next Story—->

Kesempatan Kedua ke India: Air Asia AK 39 dari Kuala Lumpur (KUL) ke Kochi (COK)

<—-Kisah Sebelumnya

Jalur penerbangan Air Asia AK 39 (sumber: flightaware).

Berangkat ke India selalu saja menyematkan debar di sebuah sisi hati. Provokasi informasi tak bertanggungjawab terkadang sukses membuat gentar nyali. Hembusan kabar mulai dari faktor keamanan, kehigienisan kuliner, variasi scam, serta printilan mencekam lainnya mulai menggelayuti pikiran sore itu.

Oleh karenanya sebelum bertolak ke India, selama lima hari aku memanaskan nyali di Kuala Terengganu dan Kuala Lumpur, berharap keluar dari Negeri Jiran bisa menyandang nyali yang gagah berani. Tetapi sore itu seolah-olah aku tetap saja mulai membangun keberanian dari awal lagi.

Dalam kelanjutan petualangan ini, India akan menjadi pintu pendahuluan menuju destinasi utama, yaitu Timur Tengah. Kenapa demikian?….Alasannya hanya satu bahwa India selalu saja mengiming-imingi tiket murah menuju kota wisata utama di Jazirah Arab, yaitu Dubai. Selain tiket, India juga menyediakan variasi titik tolak untuk melompat ke kota itu.

Sedangkan bagi sejarah petualanganku, setelah New Delhi dan Agra dua tahun sebelumnya, kali ini aku memilih titik tolak lain, yaitu Kochi, sebuah destinasi wisata eksotis di barat daya India.

—-****—-

Aku menikmati sekali tekstur lembut nasi putih di Quizinn by RASA setelah 24 jam lamanya tak mencicip makanan idola itu. Nasi putih kali ini sekaligus merepresentasikan Ringgit terakhir yang kumiliki, mulai esok hari aku sudah menggunakan Rupee.

Lima menit sebelum check-in desk Air Asia Ak 39 dibuka, aku usai menyuap nasi putih dengan potongan telur kandar terakhir.

Seperti yang kuungkapkan di atas, alih-alih bersemangat, justru dadaku berdegup kencang…”Oh India, berdamailah dengan petualanganku kali ini”, aku menenangkan hati.

Bangkit dari tempat duduk di sebuah pojok food court di lantai 2M, aku memanggul backpack biru kesayangan. Melangkah ke atas menuju Departure Hall di lantai 3.

Ternyata antrian sudah panjang….”, kepercayaan diriku untuk tiba sebagai pengantri perdana runtuh.

Liuk antrian yang didominasi warga India menahanku di antrian buncit. Toh aku tetap tenang, waktu masih panjang menuju penerbangan, masih empat jam lagi. Aku mulai mengeluarkan zipper bag untuk menyiapkan dokumen, yaitu passport­, booking confirmation hotel di India, tiket menuju dan keluar India serta lembaran free e-Visa India.

Adè Visa kah?, petugas konter check-in bertanya tegas padaku.

Ini Cik”, aku menyerahkan segenap dokumen yang telah kusiapkan.

Indonesiè ke Indiè betulkèh cukup e-Visa, Pak Cik?. Petugas wanita itu  bertanya kepada kolega seniornya.

Petugas senior itu mengonfirmasi dan petugas perempuan itu akhirnya mencetak boarding pass untukku.

Tahap pertama usai, aku bergegas menuju Gerbang Pelepasan Antar Bangsa yang dijaga ketat sejumlah Aviation Security. Di antrian depan, tampak tak sedikit calon penumpang yang tertahan masuk karena terlalu berlebih membawa cabin baggage. Selain Aviation Security tampak beberapa  ground staff maskapai Air Asia mengawasi ketat para penumpang yang curang dengan membawa cabin baggage berlebih.

Untukku?…..Itu mudah saja, aku melewati gate tanpa pemeriksaan. Dengan pemeriksaan pun aku akan tetap lolos, karena keseluruhan beban backpack sudah kutimbang sebelum menuju check-in desk….Enteng, hanya 6,5 kilogram.

Kemana arah menuju gate L14?”, aku bertanya pada diriku sendiri.

Aku terus menelusuri koridor-koridor panjang hingga kemudian menuruni sebuah escalator yang di ujung bawahnya sudah menghadang beberapa kolom screening gate.

Seperti biasa, aku selalu melepas sepatu ketika melewati screening gate, itu semua karena aku akan merasa malas jika harus kembali mengulang screening process ketika sepatuku membunyikan pintu screening.

Aku lolos dengan mudah….

Kini aku hanya perlu meneruskan langkah melalui koridor tersisa demi mencapai gate L14.

Yuks berburu boarding pass.
Alhamdulillah….
Salah satu koridor di International Departure Hall KLIA2.
Itu dia petunjuk menuju gate pelepasan Air Asia AK 39.

Sedikit lewat dari jam tujuh malam, aku tiba di gate yang dimaksud.

Hhmmmhhhh….Satu setengah jam lagi menuju boarding”, aku menduduki sebuah kursi di luar waiting room yang masih tertutup rapat.

Aku memutuskan untuk melakukan shalat jamak qashar dan memenuhi botol minuman di free water station. Selebihnya aku hanya duduk menunggu hingga pintu waiting room dibuka satu jam sebelum penerbangan.

Beruntung selama menunggu, kebosananku redam oleh tingkah lucu seorang balita cilik India yang tingkahnya sangat menggemaskan.

—-****—-

Menunggu di ruang tunggu, aku kembali tertegun dengan sebuah rombongan besar jama’ah Hindu. Dari seragam serba hitam yang dipakai, aku bisa mengidentifikasi jama’ah itu berasal dari Kuil Sabarimala Ayyappa yang terletak di Negara Bagian Kerala, India.

Kekhasan dari jama’ah Hindu India tersebut adalah tidak menggunakan alas kaki. Beberapa pemeluk Hindu di India memang percaya bahwa tidak menggunakan alas kaki adalah bentuk penghormatan kepada para Dewa.

Berbaju dan ber-Lungi*1) hitam juga menjadi penampilan religius rombongan tersebut. Mau tak mau aku harus duduk berbaur di ruang tunggu bersama rombongan itu.

Sementara pemandangan di jendela kaca adalah terparkir sempurnanya pesawat Airbus A320 Twin Jet dominan putih dengan kelir kombinasi biru-merah dan bertuliskan jargon promosi pariwisata “Sarawak More to Discover”.

Menunggu dengan penuh kesabaran usai sudah….

Panggilan boarding untuk penerbangan Air Asia AK 39 memenuhi langit-langit bandara.

Aku segera bangkit serta mempersiapkan passport dan boarding pass demi melewati pemeriksaan akhir calon penumpang sebelum memasuki kabin. Ahhh….Aku sudah tak sabar.

Jam setengah sembilan aku mulai boarding…..

Di dalam waiting room Gate L14.
Itu dia AK 39.
Menelusuri aerobridge menuju kabin pesawat.
Maskapai langganan dan idaman.
Suasana kabin saat berburu kursi.
Lihatlah warga-warga India itu…..Kamu pengen ga sih ke India?

Memasuki kabin pesawat berbadan kecil itu, aku mencari bangku bernomor 11E. Dalam penerbangan selama 3 jam 40 menit ke depan, aku akan duduk di kolom tengah, membuatku tak leluasa untuk menangkap potret indah bumi.

Ketika proses boarding usai,  di barisku hanya ada aku dan salah seorang dari rombongan jama’ah Hindu itu. Oleh karenanya, aku memutuskan pindah ke aisle seat untuk mendapatkan kelegaan dalam perjalanan udara sejauh 3.000 km tersebut.

—-****—-

Begitu terkejutnya aku, ketika membuka lembaran Travel 360 inflight magazine, aku menemukan potret diri sosok travel influencer yang rasanya tak asing di mataku. Aku sangat familiar dengan nama marganya….Groves.

Sudah kupastikan itu adalah saudara bule cantik asal Aussie yang kukenal  setahun sebelumya di Samosir, Eloise Groves. Dia pernah bercerita di bawah air terjun Naisogop bahwa dirinya memiliki saudara laki-laki bernama Jackson Groves yang merupakan seorang travel influencer. Melihat kesamaan raut muka atas sosok yang ada di dalam inflight magazine yang sedang kubaca dengan sosok yang sering muncul di dalam laman Facebook milik Eloise, aku yakin 100% itu adalah saudaranya.

Dan benar, nantinya aku akan mendapat konfirmasi dari Eloise bahwa itu benar saudara kandungnya setelah mengirimkan pesan singkat melau aplikasi facebook messenger ketika aku tiba di India.

Mencoba memejamkan mata usai membolak-balik Travel 360, aku berusaha tidur. Tetapi sesungguhnya aku tak benar-benar terpejam. Begitulah aku, tak pernah sempurna terlelap setiap duduk di selongsong terbang.

Itu dia si Jackson Groves di inflight magazine milik Air Asia.
Tiba di Terminal 3 Cochin International Airport.
Jelajah bandara yukkk !

Akhirnya waktu yang ditunggu tiba juga….

Pukul satu dini hari, Air Asia AK 39 mendarat di Cochin International Airport, sebuah bandara megah di Negara Bagian Kerala di sebelah barat daya India.

Alhamdulillah….

Kini aku semakin jauh saja dari rumah.

Kochi yang berjarak darat hampir 9.000 km dari Jakarta.

Yuk kita eksplore….Ada apa saja di Kochi?

Untuk mendapatkan tiket penerbangan dari Kuala Lumpur ke Kochi, Anda bisa mencarinya di 12go Asia dengan link sebagai berikut:  https://12go.asia/?z=3283832

Keterangan kata:

Lungi*1) = Sepotong kain panjang yang dililitkan di pinggang dan merupakan pakaian khas India

Masjid Tengku Tengah Zaharah….Hiasan Ruhani di Muara Sungai Ibai

<—-Kisah Sebelumnya

Gagal turun di Pantai Batu Burok akibat terlalu menyerahkan perjalanan kepada pengemudi Bas KITē, aku diturunkan di destinasi incaran kedua. Adalah Masjid Tengku Tengah Zaharah, masjid terapung pertama di Negeri Jiran.

Bas KITē berhenti di area parkir sisi utara yang juga terkenal sebagai area Bazar Ramadhan Masjid Terapung. Begitu turun, aku tak langsung memasuki masjid. Aku mengambil posisi berdiri di sisi utara muara Sungai Ibai demi menikmati tampilan utuh Masjid Tengku Tengah Zaharah bermenara tiga puluh meter itu dari kejauhan.

Zaharah….Adalah kata yang diambil dari nama ibunda Sultan Mahmud yaitu Tengku Intan Zaharah. Masjid berusia tiga puluh tahun itu sungguh mempesona dipandang dengan mata telanjang dari posisi berdiriku, pantas saja bangku-bangku dari lembaran panjang kayu disediakan di sisi utara muara, memberikan kesempatan kepada pengunjung manapun untuk duduk di fajar ataupun senja demi menikmati keindahan masjid berkapasitas seribu jama’ah itu.

Tak hanya bangunannya, aku juga tertegun pada air di bawahnya. Air muara itu dipenuhi ikan-ikan jinak yang bergerombol indah ketika diberi makan oleh para pengunjung dari jembatan penghubung di sisi utara. Pengunjung mendapatkan makanan ikan dari seorang penjual pelet ikan di area parkir dengan harga satu Ringgit saja per bungkusnya.

Aku mulai memasuki masjid dari jembatan utara yang sengaja diberikan kanopi di sepanjangnya, membuat para pengunjung nyaman berlama-lama untuk memberi makan ikan. Di sepanjang kanopi, papan-papan bertuliskan sabda Rasulullah berhasil menjadi peneduh hati sebelum benar-benar memasuki masjid.

Hal pertama yang kulakukan ketika tiba di depan pintu masjid adalah mengelilingi masjid dan melihat pemandangan dari seluruh sisi. Beberapa pemandangan luar biasa ke arah sekitar mudah sekali kutemukan ketika aku berdiri pada spot-spot terbaik di teras masjid. Mau lihat pemandangan indah itu?….Ini dia:

Pengunjung yang menikmati kegiatan mengumpan ikan.
Tanaman kaktus di beranda masjid.
Jembatan penghubung di sisi selatan yang tanpa kanopi.
Jernih kehijauan….Inilah wujud muara Sungai Ibai dimana masjid berdiri.
Paviliun elegan yang menyediakan tempat duduk bagi pengunjung untuk menikmati keindahan sekitar.

Usai tuntas merekam dalam kepala segenap keindahan di sekitar masjid, aku bergegas menuju ke ruang bersuci. Waktu Dzuhur belumlah tiba, tetapi aku sangat bersemangat untuk melakukan shalat tahiyatul masjid.

Memasuki ruang bersuci, aku benar-benar membasuh muka dengan khusyu’, mempersiapkan diri untuk beribadah di masjid yang kedudukannya sungguh tenar sebagai landmark penting Negara Bagian Terengganu.

Kini aku akan menikmati sisi dalam masjid yang merupakan bagian inti dari bangunan itu, tentu juga menjadi bagian inti dari kunjungan kali ini. Bentangan karpet lembut warna merah di shaf depan dipadu dengan karpet biru muda di shaf belakang membuat ruangan  menjadi hidup. Dua belas pilar besar menyanggga keseluruhan badan masjid dan tiang-tiang sisi mimbar berhiaskan lampu-lampu indah bertengadah ke atas. Sedangkan di tengah bangunan bertengger kubah dengan dasar struktur segi enam. Lalu jendela-jendela yang dominan hijau semakin memperkaya warna saja. Sayang, aku tak sempat melongok lantai bagian atas.

Aku selesai menjalankan shalat di saat beberapa pengurus masjid masih sibuk membersihkan teras. Aku kembali keluar dari tempat ibadah itu melalui jembatan sisi utara dan berjalan mengelilingi muara sungai menuju taman sisi selatan. Aku harus menggenapkan sisi pandang. Setelah menikmati sisi utara, kini aku terduduk di taman selatan dan menikmati keindahan masjid Tengku Tengah Zaharah dari sisi muara yang lain.

Kunjungan itu disempurnakan dengan menikmati pantai di timur Taman Awam Lagun Kuala Ibai. Itulah pantai pengganti destinasi Pantai Batu Burok yang tak bisa kugapai karena aku terlarut dalam laju Bas KITē.

Pukul satu siang aku mengusaikan diri bersantai di tepian pantai. Aku harus segera mengambil tempat duduk di area Bazar Ramadhan Masjid Terapung  yang membentang luas di sisi utara masjid untuk menunggu kedatangan Bas KITē yang akan tiba satu jam lagi. Aku tak mau tertinggal karena harus segera kembali ke Hentian Bas Majlis Bandaraya Kuala Terengganu. Aku tetap ingin mencari peluang untuk pergi ke Masjid Kristal yang tadi pagi telah kuputuskan untuk tercoret dari bucket list.

Shalat yuk!
Desain pintu dan jendelanya keren.
Jendela masjid di setiap sisinya..
Taman sisi selatan.
Pemandangan dari sisi selatan muara.

Kali ini aku sengaja tak mengikuti Shalat Dzuhur berjama’ah yang sebentar lagi akan diselenggarakan, aku memutuskan untuk menjama’nya saja nanti. Aku harus menangkap busnya kali ini karena bisa saja Bas KITē akan datang lebih cepat.

Kuputuskan untuk duduk di salah satu hamparan rumput di bawah pokok Rhu untuk menghindari terpaan langsung matahari. Pokok Rhu itu tentu membuat badan lebih nyaman dalam menunggu kedatangan Bas KITe Laluan C01 A.

Kini aku bersiap meninggalkan Distrik Kuala Ibai.

Kisah Selanjutnya—->

The Beauty of the Living Goddess in Kumari Ghar

<—-Previous Story

It was King Prithvi Narayan Shah who first in using the two-triangular flag when he succeeded in unifying all kingdoms in Nepal on 1768. Yes, two triangles on the Nepalese national flag represent two great dynasties which once existed in the Land of a Thousand Gods, namely the Shah Dynasty and the Rana Dynasty.

I found it everywhere.

Please, come!….Please, come!” a man told me to entering a shiny red brick building. European tourists and their tour guides who seem to know the reason why they come to this place seem to flock to entering the gate. I who haven’t saved any information, just rely on that man’s humble smile. A moment later I was inside.

The man in a gray jacket who was meritorious to brought me to the Goddess.

Another man inside greeted me, “Welcome to Kumari Ghar…The house of Kumari”. Kumari is a living goddess in Hindu and even Buddhist mythology. Kumari itself is a Sanskrit term which means “Princess”. Kumari is chosen by the head of Pandita and is considered the reincarnation of Goddess Taleju, the Goddess of Guardians of the City.

Chop up buffalo meat for tomorrow’s offering ceremony.

I kept eavesdropping on tour guide’s explanation to European travelers. It was said that the last king Malla often met in secret with Goddess Taleju who was asked to protect the kingdom. His wife who was suspicious, on a night followed the King when he was about to meet the Goddess. Suddenly the Goddess was angry because her whereabouts was revealed. But the Goddess was still kind enough to remain willing to protect the kingdom, but with one requirement, i.e by providing a girl as a reincarnation of her. Well, this girl was what I was going to see this time.

A side of 263 years old Kumari Ghar.

All eyes were on three black windows on top floor of Kumari Ghar. From there, Kumari will be displayed in a flash. The burly men seemed to be starting to spread out in all corners and their eyes were unblinking at us. Their faces swept across to all tourists in courtyard, they were careful to not to let any video highlights or camera captures pointed towards Kumari when it was shown later.

Curious to immediately see it.

The time came, everyone was silent as the window slowly opened. Kumari hadn’t come out yet, I didn’t blink for fearing of losing her appearance. Burly men below loudly shouted to other above, I didn’t know what they was reporting. Perhap condition were ready for Kumari to appeared in the window.

Two women rechecked condition below from above. A moment later, they gave a code to inside. An instant later, a beautiful girl who dressed in all red, crowned with gold sheets with a third eye on her forehead appeared in the window opening. Just a moment, less than half a minute.

Wooouwww“, a word which came out from all visitors and then they were busy whispering to their friends in their language. While I was still looking at the window which had been closed since earlier with a smile. It was crazy to be able to meet a goddess who was actually alive.

This is what Kumari looks like.

Following the belief, Kumari will finish being the reincarnation of Goddess Taleju when she is menstruating and will be replaced by a new Kumari. Kumari will be selected from three years old with very strict requirements such as no scars, no fear from masked men who dancing on the blood of slaughtered buffalo, she willn’t step on the ground as long as become Kumari and only come out just once a year, i.e in Bhoto Jatra ceremony, the festival to celebrating rainy season as well as harvest season.

This Nepali culture is magical….It’s amazing.

Madira at Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square

Early morning….No doubt, I exchanged 1.000 Rupee with a pink-white ticket as an access to enjoying the history of Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square.

Walking on andesite-covered Layaku Marg Street which looking gray color and the thin dust which thrown by the cleaning staff’s broomsticks, I was ready to entering ancient Nepal are which was still in the form of a kingdom.

The temple to worship “Goddess of Science” I passed passed and then I met a crowd of people who were busy burning incense, sowing flowers and then putting their palms together on their chests facing a black six-armed statue which was believed to be the embodiment of Lord Shiva the Destroyer.

Saraswati Temple.

Meanwhile, the incense traders in Indorapur Mandir courtyard made this area very crowded if was compared to other areas in Kathmandu Durbar Square. In harmony with a busyness of hundreds of pigeons were eating their breakfast which was given by travelers who have come first in this area.

Kaal Bhairav ​​with golden crown as embodiment of Lord Shiva.

Roof layers of all temples look the same and took me to Majapahit fiction atmosphere likely in Indonesian cinema. The atmosphere of Hindu Knights which was very thick that morning, was able to throw me for a moment from a world which was fanatical with technology.

Corn kernels were sold to pigeons.

The Royal Palace of Malla which was later used by Shah Dynasty was an important icon in Kathmandu Durbar Square. Because the statue of Lord Hanuman was guarded at front gate, this UNESCO World Heritage Site was known as Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square. Some people call it as Basantapur Durbar Khsetra because this palace was located in Basantapur area.

That was the gate.

After gate, the spacious palace courtyard welcame. Known as Nasal Chowk. Nasal means dance, referring to Lord Shiva who danced Tandava Nataraja when destroying the obsolete universe. This plaza-like courtyard was surrounded by palace buildings on all four sides.

White building on west side of palace.

Meanwhile on south side of courtyard was a sign of a project funded by Ministry of Commerce of People’s Republic of China to renovated the palace which was badly damaged after a tectonic earthquake which was resulted from the collision of the Indian and Eurasian plates in the Himalayas in 2015.

The Nine-story Basantapur Tower which has collapsed.
The room in which there was a statue of Lord Shiva who was dancing.
Sun Dial, the timepiece before clock invention.

Then, on north side, there was the architectural form of Newar with striking green windows. Nicknamed as Sisha Baithak which its functions as a work audience room. On the lower floor of this building, there were rows of king photos. And two palace guards were seen pacing with their rifles around this building.

From left were King Rana Bahadur Shah (third King of Nepal) and his son King Girbanayuddha Bikram Shah (fourth King-pictured at right)
With Guard Police at Sisha Baithak before leaving the palace.

I left the palace while throwing my thanks and goodbye to Guard Police. Suddenly his friend who had just arrived said to him in Nepali, I guess it reads “Where is he from?”, because the policeman who I took the photo with said simply “Indonesia”.

One tip when you are in Kathmandu Durbar Square area is to try to understand one by one buildings which you pass, because every building there has an amazing function and historical value.

Again I found a unique building. A temple which studded with Shwet Bhairav ​​which was believed to be the most powerful embodiment of Lord Shiva. Hidden in wooden curtains and waiting for the Indrajatra Festival to fully reveal itself to the people of Newar. When the festival arrived, Madira (alcohol) will be emitted from his mouth as a form of blessing for humans.

Shwet Bhairav.

It was noon….The sun was now starting to penetrate every gap in the square, warming my body which had been exposed to the cold since morning. It was time to move on to next destination.

Next I would show you the beauty of a goddess in Hindu and Buddhist mythology in Nepal.

Yups….Follow me!

Indra Chowk before Kathmandu Durbar Square

Got ready for breakfast….

Unusually, a slightly luxurious breakfast had been prepared on the top floor of Shangrila Boutique Hotel. Fried rice sprinkled with diced buffalo meat, two slices of sausage and a sheet of beef eye egg. Two layers of toast with a sheet of cheese were also prepared. Then they closed with a cup of hot black coffee.

A full stomach and I was ready to enter the past Nepalese glory that will be implied in every inch of area in Kathmandu Durbar Square, one of three famous Durbar Square in Nepal. “Durbar” itself means “palace”. So actually Durbar Square is a palace square in general.

Walking in Amrit Marg, the warm morning sun eased my steps when I must defeat 9 degrees Celcius air which was still reluctant to move up. While coughing had inhabited my throat since a day ago due to dust which continued to be uncontrollably inhaled. “It’s okay, tomorrow I fly to New Delhi, surely air will be cleaner there,” I thought to calm myself. This belief kept Ambroxol tablets which I brought from Jakarta still intact.

Now I was starting to enter a number of narrow intricate turns. Andesite-floor streets lined with a row of sun-blocking shophouses and spreading of irregular signboards. Even in Jyatha Marg, it was decorated by the very tangled knotted strands of electric cables.

Nepalese electric officer must be adept at dealing with electrical damage.
Gemitir flower trader on the edge of Chandraman Singh Marg.

It was time to step out at last intersection before entering the famous Indra Chowk area. It was 10 a.m. but shops along Chandraman Singh Marg were still closed. Meanwhile, motorbikes which were passing could be counted in a matter of fingers.

Pedicabs which started their services.
Tasting boiled peanuts.

A few steps, the area which I headed for was in front of my eyes, intersection of five streets with very high activity. The rumble of morning trading which stunned me to observe it from a intersection side. This was Indra Chowk, an area which for centuries had been a famous trading center in Kathmandu district. Anyone who wanted to hunt for Nepalese clothes, souvenirs or tasting local food then just came here!

Pedicab base at Indra Chowk.

Entering intersection area from north side via Chandraman Singh Marg, I could see other four roads which made up the intersection, namely Siddhidas Marg (from Northeast), Watu Marg, Sukra Path, and Siddhidas Marg (from Southwest). All five lead to a broad circle with an iconic view of Aakash Bhairav ​​temple.

Aakash Bhairav yang bersejara The historic Aakash Bhairav ​​became Nepal’s first king’s palace.

Stepping back, away from the noise of Indra Chowk while holding Dhaka Topi which I bought from a shophouse, a less crowded street greeted me again.

Siddhidas Marg.

On this street, there was an interesting spot. Public knew it as Makhan Tole. A famous art spot in Kathmandu. There were many fine arts works here and of course many travelers chase them.

Makhan Tole Gate.

From Makhan Tole, it only took 5 minutes walking to Kathmandu Durbar Square.

Finally I arrived.

Let’s explore what were in Kathmandu Durbar Square …….

Bollywood Dance in Thamel

I was put in the first floor room to the right of Shangrila Boutiqe Hotel’s reception desk. Putting my 45 litre backpack and took my boots off, after some time, I let the warm water splash my tired body after almost half a day of hard journey in a road trip leaving Pokhara.

Not wanting to be trapped in boredom at my room, I started stepping red carpeted stairs to hotel’s roof. At above, a young man who standing at cash counter greeted and offered me a special restaurant menu. There wasn’t special menu which I ordered, I would just spend the evening with a cup of hot tea and enjoying the charm of Thamel area from above.

Shangrila Boutique Hotel restaurant.

Until my adventure desires teased. It felt like a loss if I didn’t move closer to the road and directly enjoying the atmosphere. Thamel was really special. Imagine, the streets were dedicated every night especially for their country’s guests. Each end of the road was guarded by police who wouldn’t allow motorized vehicles to passing through. Thamel was always crowded with travelers to spend the Kathmandu’s night.

I started out on the street.
Evening before dark.

Still dusty….I walked along the streets lined with pashmina outlets, souvenirs, restaurants, money changers, hotels or tourism agency offices on either side of it. Tips for you….If you aren’t interesting in buying pashmina, then don’t try to bid it, the seller will ask you to transact in their outlet and they are the best negotiators and I make sure that you will go out from their stall with carrying one of their wares.

Wallet’s teasers.
Typical colorful flags like on their shrine.

I had a little trouble in finding dinner menu because I purposely avoided a restaurant menu. I struggled to find a food stall for dinner. Exiting and entering some alleys until finally I found it, really far into the alley. Luckily, this food stall provided momo. To completing this Nepalese typical food, I ordered a small glass of honey lemon mixed with ginger slices which made me feel warm.

Nepalese momo.

Back on the street after almost an hour sitting at the food stall. Passing a different road, I stopped at an intersection and turned to the right. A crowd with music kicking off Chaksibari Marg. After approaching it, it turned out that a group of dancers were practicing Bollywood dance. It was also fun to directly see the dance.

They practiced for a film.

Getting colder, I left the crowd and headed straight for the hotel. But because of a tourist area, some bar waitress stopped my steps. Now a young man spoke to me and offering me to spend a warm evening at a bar. “You can enjoy our band performance“, he said. I who have never entered a bar in my life, starting to be tempted, “Okay, there’s nothing wrong to try“, I thought.

As a result, I started walking on the steps of Sisha Bar & Restaurant. It was true, a local band with 4 millennial youth members with 1 female vocalist was singing local pops which made me excited to sit down and enjoying the show. Until I drank two large portions of hot lemon with honey for enjoying the band show.

Beautiful and unforgettable evening in Thamel

Wrong Seat in Pokhara-Kathmandu Tourist Bus

Mr. Tirtha still accompanied me to speak, we leaned back in his tiny taxi while observing the bustle around Tourist Bus Park. Several hawkers took turn getting on and off in all small sized-buses offering their wares.

A while later, Mr. Tirtha widely spread his arms and we lightly hugged as a substitute for saying “thank you and see you later”. I entered a bus on half an hour before departure. It would be better because Mr. Tirtha could immediately continue work with his taxi.

The conductor showed me a seat where I should sit. At second row behind driver which was limited by a glass screen. Now situation became tense, when an Indian spouse argued with the conductor. They felt were aggrieved because a ticket agent in Kathmandu had promised them to giving them a front seat. The conductor casually snapped back, “This is Pokhara, Not Kathmandu”. Instantly situation was silence. I just realized, that spouse wanted my seat…. Hahaha, even though I was asked to exchange, I didn’t refuse either. Seriously.

Three European tourists in the front seat near driver had fun playing cards the whole way.

Three and a half hours after departure on 7 am, bus stopped for breakfast break for 20 minutes after an hour earlier, bus had once done 15 minutes of toilet break. Hotel’s breakfast which Mr. Raj prepared on the last morning seemed quite effective for me to didn’t spend any consumption budget this time. Come on!, let me showed you how the restaurant which I stopped at:

Buffet eating!
That was the cost.
The hat which used by the cashier was called as Dhaka Topi.
Yups, I still full….Just drank a coffee.

I felt hungry at lunch break on 1:30 p.m., enjoying a thali (Indian wide plate) of food which I picked up from buffet table for 400 Rupee and drink a free-orange juice which was given to all passengers since our  departure in Pokhara.

For free….
I got on the white one.

My watch pointed to 15:34 hours. The last toilet break was the most memorable part. Taking the time to explore area around the rest area. I moved towards a side of road and enjoyed panoramic view of valley and ravine below.

Most trucks in Nepal are Tata Motor.

Impressed with situation on a side of road, I entered a small alley and saw a glimpse of local residents activities who living on a side of road. Observing a banner which stucked in a concrete wall, I tried to slightly open an outer skin of Nepal’s politics.

Nepal is a parliamentary republic which has four main political parties. The Communist Party of Nepal (CPN) became the winning party in Nepal which placed two important figures, namely Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli as Prime Minister and Bidhya Devi Bhandari as President of the country.

That’s the symbol of CPN.

Back in bus seat, this time, my journey encountered a terrible traffic jam when it descended the last hill nearing Kathmandu border. Looked like a traffic jam in Cianjur on the weekend (Cianjur is tourist destination near my home).

The bus arrived in Kanti Path Road on 17:08 hours. Excessive fatigue persuaded me to immediately looked for Shangrila Boutique Hotel in Thamel area. I walked through many narrow alleys and asking to local people to find the location. Only walking for 20 minutes, I finally found the hotel.

I handed over 2.300 Rupee as the rate of staying per night. This time, I would spend 2 nights in Kathmandu to enjoy the city.

Himalayan Coffee and Nepali Thali

Before I really finished descending Anadu Hill, I stopped at a shop. A grocery store which sell some snacks, mineral waters, as well as soft alcoholic drinks. A small shop which spread smell of coffee aroma from the roasting stove at right.

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Somersby with 5% alkohol….Popular in Pokhara.

Himalayan coffee bean”, said the seller when I watched how he roasted coffees. For some people, passion is everything. Like this man, he was willing to released  his Japan citizenship and chose to be Nepalese for his love of Himalayan coffee.

I take it“, I pointed to 250 gram coffee package and bought it.

—- **** —-

Mr. Tirtha, your country is unique. Some Nepalese faces are like Indians, sometimes I find them similar to Chinese”, I said when Mr. Tirtha who began to step on gas pedal away from the hill.

Yess…. Nepal is flanked by India in south and China in north. So some Nepalese have mixed marriages”, he said with a friendly smile answering my question.

We moved northeast around Phewa Lake to bak to hotel which was 6 km away. Upon arrival at New Pokhara Lodge, I thanked to Mr. Tirtha who had been accompanying me since 4 am in my Pokhara exploration. I handed over 5.000 Rupee as service fee, that means I only needed to spend a transportation budget of 1.600 Rupee because I used this taxi with other three backpacker who staying in the same hotel.

Having not lost the feel of New Years celebration on Lakeside Road, I returned to explore the outskirts of Phewa Lake after bathing and stretching my legs. This time, I was starving and had to dinner. There was still promise in myself after whole day conversation with Mr. Tirtha. Yes… .I would taste Nepali Thali.

Street foods seem not to be able to dampen my hunger, I rushed into a restaurant. I sat on its inside to get warm air, then greeted by a sweet female servant. It didn’t take long to choose. “Nepali Vegetarian Thali and Orange Juice“, I told to her after seeing the menu which I was reading. Nepalese food for 300 Rupee and juice for 150 Rupee to close my day that night.

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@Bellas Garden Restaurant.

—-****—-

The evening turned to morning, I sipped hot tea and finished the breakfast menu in hotel courtyard. Then returned to the room and shouldered my blue backpack to get ready to say goodbye to Mr. Raj. I shook his wrinkled hand and repeatedly patted his upper arm.

Me: “Thank you Mr. Raj for your kindness and hope to see you again next time ”.

Mr. Raj: “Be careful, Donny. Thank you for stopping by in New Pokhara Lodge ”.

I know Mr. Raj was still forcing himself to work because his last son is still studying at Kathmandu University. Because of his work, he still looked fit.

This time, Mr. Tirtha came for the last time to give me a taxi service. We both headed for Tourist Bus Park, the bus would take me to Kathmandu.

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Can you look more elegant…. Hufft, Donny!