Jhelum Express dari New Delhi ke Agra

Saatnya mengeksekusi tiket.

Nomor 11078 yang merupakan nomor keberangkatanku hanya muncul sekali saja di display board. Setelahnya lama tak muncul kembali, aku terduduk di platform dan terus mengamati display board itu….Hilang sudah!

Penantian tak ada akhir di platfom 4.

Aku: “Sir, can you give me some information?. My train number 11078 is never appear again in that display board. Even though my train will depart on 10:15 am.”.

Si Tampan: “If your train number disappears from the screen. That means your train is getting delay. “Haze storms” which routinely occur every year indeed often make many trains delay for hours.”

Aku kembali menuju konter dan menanyakan tentang masalah ini. Mereka hanya meminta maaf dan membenarkan bahwa kereta delay. Dia memperkirakan kereta akan berangkat jam 16:00….Busyeettt.

Untuk mengusir kejenuhan yang tak berujung, aku bertolak menuju Khan Market. Daripada bengong lebih baik aku mengoleksi satu destinasi wisata di New Delhi untuk kubagikan bersama kalian tentangnya….Nanti ya, pasti akan kutulis.

Salah satu sudut Khan Market, New Delhi.

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Pukul 14:00….Memastikan kembali setiap ikatan dan kuncian di backpack, aku segera menuju New Delhi Railway Station untuk menaiki Jhelum Express yang akan segera datang menjemputku.

Penasaran yang luar biasa untuk segera berbaur dengan masyarakat India dalam satu gerbong kelas ekonomi, membuatku menjadi orang paling tidak sabar di dunia sore itu.

Potret kesenjangan di Ibukota India.

Lokomotif merah kusam itu berteriak melengking mendekatiku seraya meringis menggigit rel untuk berhenti tepat di platform 4

Belum juga lokomotif itu menghentikan setiap gerbongnya dengan sempurna, para penumpang berlari….berjejal memasuki gerbong. Aku hanya tersenyum dan terpana dengan keunikan warga India. Sementara mereka berdesakan masuk, aku masih sibuk memahami penomoran gerbong karena ada gerbong bernomor 10 dan 10A. Dasar iseng nih orang yang punya ide menomori demikian. Setelah bolak-balik ke depan dan ke belakang, akhirnya aku menemukan gerbongnya….Yups, gerbong S3 kursi no 41 Low Berth (bangku bawah).

Benar adanya, keruwetan yang kubayangkan sejak awal membeli tiket terjadi. Gerbong itu sangat berjubel dan membuatnya terasa sempit.

Bangku teralokasi tiga penumpang saling berhadapan ditambah satu bangku lipat panjang diatas kepalaku yang digunakan sebagai sleeper seat (Upper Berth)….Ah, aku semakin mencintai kondisi ini. Kejadian yang menakjubkan.

Hello Sir, Excuse me”, seorang laki-laki muda melewat didepanku sambil menggandeng istrinya lalu duduk berhadapan denganku. Senyum tanpa dosanya membuat bibirku pun melakukan hal yang sama. Bagaimana tidak, di depanku sekarang telah duduk 4 penumpang dengan kursi yang hanya bertuliskan tiga nomor saja….Hahaha.

Sembari kereta berjalan, aku mendengar sayup-sayup gertakan yang entah itu marah atau memang begitu adanya. Kondektur tambun berkumis melintir itu mengecek satu persatu tiket tamunya. Satu penumpang di seberang kursiku dimarahinya habis-habisan gegara tak mampu menunjukkan tiket, si penumpang lalu menunjukkan sebuah kartu terlaminating dari dalam dompetnya. Dan entah itu apa, mampu mengusir kondektur tambun itu dengan efektif dari hadapannya….Damn.

Bapak pekerja kantoran di kiri depanku mengeluarkan sesuatu dari tasnya. Bak film-film India, adat itu masih dijunjungnya. Rantang panjang bertumpuk empat berbahan stainless beraroma kari diangkatnya tinggi-tinggi. Andai dia tahu muka hatiku, pasti dia tersenyum melihatnya terbahak….Omaigat, ini mah India yang orisinil. Seolah menjadi menjadi pemicu ledakan, penumpang lain dikiri kananku pun melakukan hal yang sama.

Kemurahan hati itu terpancar seiring dengan tutur mereka menawarkan diri untuk makan bersama sebagai satu keluarga di dalam kereta. Kuterima? Tidak….Aku juga mengeluarkan setangkup burger lokal seharga Rp. 10.000 yang terbeli di platform stasiun sore tadi. Mari kita makan bersama….

Si Bapak dipinggir jendela menjadi orang tersibuk sepanjang perjalanan karena harus terus menutup jendela kayu yang kait penguncinya sudah usang. Setiap sekian menit jandela itu akan tertarik ke atas dan memasukkan udara super dingin ke dalam gerbong.

Mungkin kondisi itulah yang dimanfaatkan oleh penjual chai untuk berfokus di gerbongku demi menghabiskan dagangannya. “Chai”, nama lain dari teh tarik yang melegenda di Dhaka, terfavorit di India dan menyebar ke Malaysia. Girang hatinya, tumpukan gelas kertas yang digenggamnya semakin memendek. Dia akan pulang dengan keuntungan berlipat kali ini.

Kelucuan penjual mainan anak-anak membuat seisi kereta tak henti-hentinya terbahak. Dia melempar spiderman karetnya kesana kemari sesuka hati. Hebatnya, si spiderman itu bisa menempel dengan sempurna….Hahaha. Hiburan untuk melupakan masalah kehidupan seharian yang sudah mereka hadapi.

Guys….Kapan terakhir kali kereta kita masih ada penjual segala macam di dalam gerbong?….Hahaha….Aku saja sudah lupa saking lamanya aturan itu diketatkan.

Kereta yang berhenti….Menurunkan….Menaikkan penumpang….Lalu melaju kembali dan terus mengulangnya di setiap stasiun baru membuatku sadar bahwa tak pernah ada pengumuman kereta berhenti di stasiun mana?.

Aku: “How long will the train run to its last destination?”

Dia: “Jhelum Express will stop in Pune on 6 am tomorrow morning

Aku: “Thanks Sir”, Aku tersenyum pahit penuh kekhawatiran.

Kini musuhku satu….Informasi, ketiadaan paket data di gawaiku semakin memperkuat musuh bebuyutanku malam itu. Aku harus banyak bertanya untuk mengalahkannya.

Aku: “Where will you stop, Sir?”

Dia: “At Mathura Junction Station

Aku: “Do you know Agra Cantt Station?

Dia: “Sure, 2 stops after my station

Aku: “Oh, nice”, Aku lega….Begitu dia turun, aku tinggal hitung 2x berhenti. Itu Agra Cantt

Dia: “Are you from China?

Aku: “No, I’m Indonesian”. Mana ada tampang China gelap kayak gue.

Dia: “What for do you go to Agra?”

Aku: “Taj Mahal, Sir

Dia: “Oh, very happy to hear Indonesian goes to Taj Mahal

Aku: “Taj Mahal….My dream to visiting it

Dia: “Nice”. Menyalamiku dengan kebahagiaan tak tersembunyikan.

Itulah percakapan 10 menit sebelum dia turun di Mathura Junction Station. Setelahnya aku akan menyusul turun di dua perhentian berikutnya yaitu Agra Cantt Station.

Salah satu sisi Agra Cantt Station.

Aku akhirnya tiba di kota Agra pada pukul 20:30.

Saatnya menuju hotel…..Makan malam tyuss bobok.

SCAM….Sesuatu yang Nyata di India

Staff Hotel: “Go to New Delhi Railway Station platform 1 floor 1!”, jawaban singkat tertutur dari bibir si cantiq yang masih terlihat sibuk menerima para penginap dari berbagai bangsa.

Aku: “Thank you, honey Ms”.

Oh ya, mencari dormitory terdekat dari stasiun MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) memang kebiasaan yang telah bersifat di diriku.

Aku mulai membuka pintu goStops Delhi Hostel dan melintas beberapa warga yang kurang beruntung. Terenyuh ketika sinar surya satu-satunya yang bisa membantu menghangatkan mereka yang masih pulas meringkuk diatas kasur busa bekas yang entah mereka dapat dari mana.

300 meter kemudian aku tiba Delhi Gate Metro Station. Melewati X-ray gate setiap memasuki stasiun MRT di New Delhi menjadikanku merasa aman selama melaju di jalurnya.

Yuk kita lihat dalaman ttasiun subway di New Delhi…Ini adalah Indira Gandhi Airport Metro Station saat pertama kali aku tiba di India

Menyusuri Delhi Metro Violet Line dan kemudian bertransfer ke Yellow Line di Kashmere Gate Metro Station, maka di stasiun ketiga aku tiba di New Delhi Metro Station.

Tiba di tujuan akhir, aku harus berpindah antar dua moda kereta yang tak terintegrasi. Meninggalkan New Delhi Metro Station yang begitu bersih terawat menuju New Delhi Railway Station yang lebih dari sekedar kotor. Jaraknya antar keduanya hanya sekitar 450 meter.

Berjalan 6 menit, aku tiba di depan New Delhi Railway Station

Dari tangga penghubung antar platform, kuperhatikan petugas Indian Railways itu menyemprotkan air di atas jalur kereta. Kupikir mereka begitu disiplin mengurangi laju debu di udara, ternyata beberapa waktu kemudian aku tahu bahwa mereka sedang membersihkan jalur kereta api dari kotoran manusia….#unique.

Upss….Kejadian itu tiba:

Scammer: “Where will you go, Sir?”

Aku: “Agra.

Scammer: “Let me help you to get the ticket.”

Aku: “Oh thanks. Based information from my hotel that ticket counter is on platform 1 floor 1.”

Scammer: “Oh, yes. But It’s Friday. So, the counter is closed. You can get the ticket at left side of this station.

Aku: “Oh, OK.

Entah “Bego” atau “Dungu”, aku mengikuti semua petunjuknya. Pemuda tampan itu tak menyertai langkahku, sehingga tak ada kecurigaan sedikitpun di otakku. Hebatnya, ada seorang di gerbang stasiun yang kesannya menunjukkan dimana lokasi konter penjualan tiket tersebut. Jelas sekali mengarahkanku ke sebuah kantor di ujung jalan sebelah kiri.

Oh, ini kantor agen travel, bukan kantor Indian Railways”, batinku. Aku batal menaiki anak tangga berikutnya dan berbalik meninggalkan kantor mereka. Walau salah satu dari mereka terus mengejarku, aku bersikukuh halus dengan menyampaikan akan menunda keberangkatan ke Agra hingga esok hari saja, sehingga mampu meredam emosinya yang terlihat mulai meninggi.

Huftt….Selamett. Scam kedua yang menimpaku setelah terakhir menghampiriku di Bangkok di akhir 2013.

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Kelegaan yang terasa berlipat karena selain mampu menemukan kantor penjualan tiket milik International Tourist Bureau di platform 1 lantai 1, Aku juga mendapat bonus berlindung dalam kantor itu dari dinginnya terpaan udara New Delhi yang membuatku serasa beku.

Kantor yang sederhana itu dipercantik dengan layanan konsultasi petugas penjualan tiket kepada setiap turis dengan sangat baiknya. Jadi kamu harus bersabar menunggu nomor antrianmu dipanggil petugas karena satu pembeli bisa berkonsultasi 10-15 menit, beberapa bahkan lebih. Tak menjadi masalah bagiku, semakin lama semakin baik karena aku tak perlu kedinginan diluar sana.

Tiket Jhelum Express seharga Rp. 40.000 sudah di tangan.

Yuk ke Agra….Bersih-bersih Taj Mahal….Yuhuuu.

Lima Destinasi Wisata Agra dalam 10 Jam.

PARAHHHHH…..

Badai kabut di utara India telah merampas waktuku lebih dari 6 jam.  Tetapi kejengkelan telak terkalahkan dengan keripuhanku sendiri melawan super dinginnya udara Negeri Nehru itu.

Petaka kabut di India

Jhelum Express menepi di Agra pada 20:30. Pengen denger ceritaku menjajal kereta ekonomi mereka….nanti saja lah….MENGERIKAN !!!.

Tak ada yang bisa kuperbuat malam itu. Suhu yang hampir menyentuh nol derajat Celcius, bahkan udara dengan cepat mendinginkan sajian mie goreng pinggir jalan yang kubeli. Bumbu India yang terkenal menyengat itu bahkan tak mampu kurasakan karena beku mulai menghantam lidah.

Aku bak seorang pengecut yang bersembunyi di balik selimut GoStops Hostel sambil menunggu aliran listrik memenuhi segenap “teman elektronikku”.

Staff Hotel: “You must be grateful to be an Indonesian. You can easily go everywhere. Not like me, getting a passport is very difficult. Our government protect their citizen from getting difficult life at out of our country. I had waited for two years to get a passport, I hope I will get this year. I want go around the world like you

Aku: “Don’t worry, you will get it, my friend. You will go to my country also sometimes.  One thing that should made you proud with India. Your currency is more stronger than my currency…..Aaannnnddddd, Your country have great histories and cultures in the world.

Itu sedikit percakapan serius sebelum aku memasuki kamar, dan percakapan yang sedikit intelektual setelah sebelumnya aku hanya berbicara dengan penumpang kereta yang duduk di depanku dan sopir taxi yang mentransferku dari Stasiun Agra Cantt ke hotel.

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OKAY….Kukuruyukkkkk….#perasaanganemuayam.

Automatically, Aku hanya memiliki 10 jam berharga untuk mengeksplorasi Agra dimulai dari jam 7 pagi. Kali ini aku tak akan membenarkan diriku untuk menggunakan transportasi umum….Terlalu mepet….Beruntungnya, aku melakukan sharing cost bersama teman-teman backpacker sekamar untuk jasa taxi yang bersedia di carter hingga sore hari. Karena sore hari, aku akan menuju New Delhi. Aku hanya perlu mengeluarkan Rp. 60.000 untuk biaya transportasiku seharian.

1. Taj Mahal

Tak berani menyentuh air untuk membasuh badan, aku tergopoh memasuki taxi yang sudah siap di depan hostel. Pagi itu….Kabut sangat tebal bahkan matahari pagi tak mampu menyibaknya.

Yes, akhirnya….Aku menuju destinasi idaman turis seluruh dunia….Taj Mahal

Taxi bergerak ke utara menyusuri Agra-Bah Road. Tak jauh, hanya 3.5 km yang tertempuh dalam 15 menit. Taxi berhenti di tepi jalanan, aku hanya ingat dengan papan nama “Malik Tour & Travel” sebagai penanda.

Jasa bajaj seharga Rp. 40.000 menjadi penghubung berikutnya menuju Taj Mahal West Gate Ticket Office. Kulepas Rp. 98.000 untuk mendapatkan tiket masuknya.

Setiap jengkal di Taj Mahal selalu menggoreskan kesan, satu-satunya benda yang sangat mengganggu para wisatawan adalah kabut yang membuat mereka seakan kesal tak bisa mengabadikan dirinya bersama bangunan sangat bersejarah itu.

Taj Mahal tertangkap dari Mehtab Bagh.

Wisata andalan Negara Bagian Uttar Pradesh itu memang sungguh mengesankan. Makam yang didedikasikan untuk Mumtaz Mahal (istri dari kaisar Shah Jahan) sanggup menarik 8 juta wisatawan dari seluruh dunia setiap tahunnya. Salah satu Situs Warisan Dunia UNESCO yang harus kamu kunjungi jika memasuki tanah Mahabharata itu.       

2. Itimad ud Daulah Tomb

Dua jam meresapi dan menikmati keindahan Taj Mahal yang hampir keseluruhannya berbalut marmer putih mematri doktrin di otakku bahwa dunia itu sungguh indah.

Yuk, balik ke hostel untuk berbasuh dan menyantap sajian free-breakfast sederhana yang disajikan hostel. Aku sendiri langsung berkemas check-out dan menaruh backpack di bagasi taxi. Selepas menengok Agra Fort nanti, aku akan langsung bertolak ke New Delhi.

Berada 4.5 km di utara Taj Mahal, situs ini menawarkan ketenangan dan kenyamanan. Tak seperti Taj Mahal yang bising pengunjung. Mirip tapi tak sebesar Taj Mahal menjadikannya dikenal sebagai “Bayi Taj”.

Adalah bangunan yang mengilhami gaya arsitektur Taj Mahal.

Jika Taj Mahal didedikasikan untuk Mumtaz Mahal, maka pembangunan Itimad ud Daulah didedikasikan untuk kakek dari Mumtaz Mahal yang bernama Mirza Ghiyas Beg.

Aku ndak mau bercerita banyak….Datang sendiri aja ya….Yuhuuuuu !!!!

3. Yamuna River

Satu jam bergulir dengan cepatnya. Niatanku untuk segera bergegas menuju destinasi berikutnya kandas. Aku tertegun dengan penampakan sungai kering nan menghampar begitu luas, seakan memamerkan kegagahan kepada semua yang makhluk melihat, melintasi atau bahkan hidup daripadanya.

Terletak di sebelah barat Itimad ud Daulah……Beuh,

Man….Itu Sungai Yamuna….Seumur-umur, aku baru melihat sungai seluas itu.

Didaulat umat Hindu sebagai Dewi Yamuna.

Sungai yang bersumber dari gletser Yamunotri di  Negara Bagian Uttarakhand ini terlihat surut dan terpapar berbagai bentuk limbah seperti plastik dan limbah cair yang mudah diterka dari baunya.

4. Mehtab Bagh

Dua kilometer berikutnya di selatan…..

Menjilat, menyesap dan menelan pelan french fries jalanan berbumbu garam beraroma kari menjadi aktivitas tak pentingku berikutnya….Sisihkan beberapa Rp. 10.000-an untuk mencoba beberapa kuliner ringan jalanan di India !. Kujamin kamu akan terkesan.

Gaes, aku sudah di sisi sebuah taman nan lebar dan romantis….Mehtab Bagh namanya.

Mehtab Bagh” sendiri memiliki makna yang tak jauh dari sepasang kata dalam Bahasa Inggris “Moonlight Garden”….tuh, gimana ga romantis coba?.

Konon…. Shah Jahan akan membangun Black Taj Mahal di taman ini. Tapi tak pernah kesampaian.

Sering menjadi persinggahan sang Raja untuk menikmati keindahan Taj Mahal yang berada di seberangnya dan hanya terpisahkan oleh Sungai Yamuna.

Harga tiket masuk sebesar Rp. 40.000 tidaklah seberapa dibandingkan dengan keindahan taman yang bisa kamu nikmati dengan aman. Aman?….Ya taman ini dijaga dua tentara bersenjata lengkap yang selalu berkeliling taman.

5. Agra Fort

Masala Tea = 90 Rupee ….ini mah Rp. 17.000

Egg Fried Rice = 150 Rupee….yah sekitar Rp. 29.000.

Itulah menu makan siangku di “The Master Chef” Restaurant di bilangan Fatehabad Road sebelum menuju destinasi terakhirku di Agra….#sedih.

Terletak 2.5 km di barat laut Taj Mahal, Agra Fort juga menjadi Situs Warisan Dunia yang sangat menonjol dengan warna merahnya.

Kota berdinding ala Agra Fort….Menakjubkan.

Kamu harus membayar Rp. 98.000 untuk membayangkan secara langsung para kaisar Mughal tinggal di Agra Fort ini.

Berkeliling sepuasnya di dalam Agra Fort sebelum berpisah dengan kota Agra. Aku menelusuri satu demi satu bagian didalam banteng kota ini.

Memasuki Diwan-i-Am bak rakyat Mughal yang sedang berkeluh kesah, atau memasuki Diwan-i-Khas bak tamu penting kerajaan yang sedang dijamu sang raja.

Merasakan kemewahan Jahangiri Mahal yang merupakan istana khusus untuk istri raja, lalu terduduk merelaksasi diri di Anguri Bagh yang pada masanya digunakan oleh para wanita anggota kerajaan sebagai taman kerajaan.

Dan sebagai seorang muslim, aku juga merasa wajib menapaki Moti Masjid didalam Agra Fort sebagai tempat peribadatan segenap anggota kerajaan.

—-****—-

Waktu singkat yang mengenalkanku pada kota kuno di utara India. Kota yang arsitekturnya mempengaruhi banyak kreasi bangunan di seluruh dunia.

Pastikan kamu mengunjunginya lebih lama dariku karena nilai sejarah kota ini begitu tinggi dan tak bisa dinikmati dalam sekejap saja.

Passing a Morning and Getting a Sunrise in Sarangkot, Nepal

SARANGKOT …. is name of a village with an altitude of 1,400 meters above sea level in Kaski District, Gandaki Zone. Located in Phokara which is a centre of tourism in Nepal, it makes Sarangkot as one of favorite destinations. Why ?….Because Sarangkot is the best viewpoint for observing Himalayan Mountains.

Eight Himalayan peaks which can be seen from this village pushed me to put this village name in my itinerary.

First day in 2018….Happy New Year, Donny!

Sarangkot as if close in my eyelids. I ordered a daily rental taxi for USD 10,1 at Phokara Lodge Hotel where I was staying. The good news was I would pay it jointly with 3 other tourists.

It was still dark when Mr. Raj -the hotel staff- woke me up, “the driver is ready at downstairs,” He said. Brushing my teeth and washing my face only, I immediately descended hotel stairs to meet the driver.

Driver’s hospitality was implied from every smile which was thrown in front of me. His amazing English accent shows that he is also a good guide for every guests. According to him, ability to speak English is a must because tourism is heart of Nepal’s economy.

On early morning I started my trip to Sarangkot. A trip as far as 12 km, its large portion of route would pass through Phokara-Baglung road.

I became a lucky person because the sky was clear since yesterday night. It means that I will see beauty of Himalayas without cloud obstructions.

Entering Sarangkot gate, Bus was stopped and I paid for USD 0,5 to buy a entrance ticket. It only took 30 minutes to arrive in Sarangkot parking lot.

Entrance ticket

Climbing dozens of stair, I was aware that I was at a height. But it was very early morning, making it hard for me to saw the view below me.

A moment later, I arrived in spacious courtyard. This is the viewpoint which I mean. There were already a lot of tourist who sitting on edge of hill and waiting for sunrise. Some professional photographers look busy in preparing cameras and other equipments.

Temperature was 4o Celsius. It was defeated by a shadow of Himalayan charms which filled my imaginative realm.

Time was seem to be going on for a long when we were waiting for a thing which is loved.…Sun in Sarangkot also….as if tease me by delaying its appearance to warm the Himalayas.

The sun was came….

It began to shows its bright ray.

Just choose!.…the nose of the sun or the nose of that charming girl.…
That villagers must be happy, seeing beauty of Himalayas every day.
Look at that Machhapuchhare peak…!

When the sun’s rays hit ice glazes at Himalayas top, golden color would shine and it made my eyes hard to blink. Fear if that luxury view just vanished….Oh my Goddess

The dawn was ended, I could see a real view of that courtyard. This is it:

A courtyard to enjoying beauty of Himalayas.
If you are still unsatisfied and want to see in more height….You can go up to roof in left of courtyard.
Or at top roof in right of courtyard.

Immediately moving to other side of courtyard !. You will see a closing view, namely Phewa Lake which is geographically located in south of Sarangkot village.

Don’t look at the person !….just look at the lake !….focus!….focus!

After staying above for 2.5 hours. I decided to go down. The village view which wasn’t visible when I departed, finally seen clearly and beautifully when I slowly left Sarangkot peak.

Citizens’ housing from above.
Downing dozens of stairs.

Actually, if you don’t want to bother going there in very early morning from Phokara, you can stay around Sarangkot and come in a day before. There are several inns which provide rooms for tourists who will enjoy Himalayas in Sarangkot.

One of inns there.
Many restaurants too

After downing hill for 15 minutes, I finally arrived back in parking lot..

Visitor’s cars in parking lot.

After met again with our taxi driver, then I visited Purana Bazaar to see trading activities in that Phokara’s famous market.

Menembus Pagi Mejemput Fajar di Sarangkot, Nepal

SARANGKOT….adalah nama sebuah desa berketinggian 1.400 mdpl di Distrik Kaski, Zona Gandaki. Terletak tepat di kota Phokara yang merupakan pusat turisme di Nepal menjadikan Sarangkot sebagai salah satu destinasi favorit. Kenapa demikian?….Karena Sarangkot adalah viewpoint terbaik untuk mengamati Pegunungan Himalaya.

Delapan puncak Himalaya yang bisa dilihat dari desa ini mendorongku menaruh nama desa ini dalam itineraryku.

Hari pertama tahun 2018….Happy New Year, Donny!

Sarangkot seakan dekat di pelupuk mata. Taxi sewa harian seharga 1.100 Rupee sudah kupesan di Phokara Lodge Hotel tempatku menginap. Kabar baiknya Aku akan membayarnya secara patungan dengan 3 turis lain.

Haripun masih gelap ketika Mr. Raj si pengurus hotel membangunkanku, “driver sudah siap di bawah”, sahutnya. Hanya bersikat gigi dan membasuh muka, Aku segera menuruni tangga hotel untuk bertemu sang driver.

Keramahannya tersirat dari setiap senyum yang terlempar di hadapanku. Aksen Inggrisnya yang menakjubkan menunjukkan bahwa Dia juga seorang pemandu yang baik untuk setiap tamunya. Menurutnya, kemampuan berbahasa Inggris menjadi sebuah kewajiban mengingat pariwisata adalah jantung perekonomian Nepal.

Pagi-pagi buta Aku memulai lawatan ke Sarangkot. Perjalanan sejauh 12 km ini porsi besar jalurnya akan melewati jalan Phokara-Baglung.

Aku menjadi orang yang beruntung, karena sejak malam langit terlihat cerah. Artinya Aku akan melihat indahnya Himalaya tanpa halangan awan.

Memasuki  gerbang Sarangkot, kendaraan diberhentikan dan Aku harus mengeluarkan 50 rupee untuk ditukar dengan entrance ticket. Total hanya perlu 30 menit untuk tiba tepat di pelataran parkir Sarangkot.

Entrance ticket

Menaiki puluhan anak tangga, tersadar bahwa Aku berada di ketinggian. Tetapi gulitanya pagi, membuatku susah melihat pemandangan di bawah.

Sekejap kemudian, Aku tiba di luasnya pelataran. Sepertinya ini adalah titik pandang Himalaya yang dimaksud. Sudah lumayan banyak turis yang duduk di bibir bukit menunggu datangnya fajar. Beberapa photographer professional terlihat sibuk mempersiapkan kamera dan peralatan lainnya.

Suhu 4o Celcius  terkalahkan dengan bayangan pesona Himalaya yang memenuhi  alam imajinasiku.

Waktu seolah berjalan lama ketika Kita menantikan sesuatu yang dicinta….begitupun Surya di Sarangkot….seakan menggodaku dengan menunda-nunda kemunculannya untuk menghangatkan Himalaya.

Pucuk di cinta ulam pun tiba

Dia mulai menunjukkan batang hidungnya  

Tinggal pilih aja…hidung matahari atau hidung si charming itu….
Penduduk desa itu pasti bahagia, setiap hari melihat indahnya Himalaya.
Lihatlah puncak Machhapuchhare yang lancip itu….

Ketika sinar surya menerpa lapisan es di puncak Himalaya, maka warna keemasan akan memancar dan itu membuat mataku susah berkedip. Takut kemewahan itu sirna begitu saja…….Hadeuh….Bahasamu Don.

Pagi yang sudah tersibak, Aku baru bisa melihat bentuk pelataran sesungguhnya. Ini dia:

Pelataran untuk menikmati indahnya Himalaya
Yang ga puas dan kurang tinggi….boleh naik ke atap di kiri pelataran
Atau atap di kanan pelataran.

Segeralah berpindah ke sisi pelataran lain. Kamu akan melihat pemandangan penutup, yaitu Phewa Lake yang secara geografis terletak  di sebelah selatan desa Sarangkot.

Jangan liat orangnya…liat aja danaunya…fokus!…fokus!.

Setelah berdiam diatas selama 2,5 jam. Kuputuskan untuk turun kembali. Pemandangan desa yang tak tampak ketika Aku berangkat, akhirnya terlihat dengan jelas dan indah ketika Aku perlahan meninggalkan puncak Sarangkot.

Perumahan warga dari atas.
Menuruni puluhan anak tangga

Sebetulnya jika tak mau repot berangkat pagi-pagi dari kota Phokara, Kamu bisa menginap di sekitar Sarangkot dan datang sehari sebelumnya. Di Sarangkot terdapat beberapa penginapan yang menyediakan kamar untuk turis yang akan menikmati Himalaya.

Salah satu penginapan disana.
Restoran pun banyak

Menuruni punggung bukit selama 15 menit, akhirnya Aku tiba kembali di pelataran parkir.

Mobil pengunjung di tempat parkir.

Menemui driver taxi yang menemaniku, kemudian Aku di ajaknya menuju Purana Bazaar untuk melihat aktivitas perniagaan di pasar yang terkenal di Phokara.

Jet Airways 9W 256 from Mumbai to Colombo (BOM-CMB)

My third-flight and also my last flight with Jet Airways were deliberately priority to be written. Remembering every Jet Airways flights that are very important in completing my exploration in South Asia region.

Early morning flight (2:05 p.m.) which was departed from Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai made me lack of sleep time since checked-in until landing (04: 35).

Entering airport, I immediately sought a pray room. Entering prayer room, I was greeted by a man who was wearing an ihram cloth (Ihram cloth is specific cloth for hajj or umrah in Mecca) among a group of umrah tour which were praying together. His hospitality smile welcomed me after ablutions.

He : “Assalamu’alaikum, hi brother, where are you come from?

Me: “Hi sir …. from Indonesia“. I threw a smile to him.

He: “I’m from Bangadesh, I think you are from Malaysia“. He smiled again.

Me: “Yeaa….Malaysian and Indonesia are looking same”. I shaked his hand

He: “Where will you go?

Me: “I will go to Colombo…Oh ya three days ago, I visit your country

He: Suddenly hugging me … ” Really, How about my country? nice?

Me: “Yeaa, exotic country….very original….I will come again next time”.

He: smile again and patted my shoulder.

I also found some Indians praying at some airport corridors.

Dinner at that night were some authentic Indian street fried foods which I got from the last rupee after exploring Mumbai”

A thing that I always do when traveling is to exchange my last local moneys into USD before leaving a country which I visited and then spending last coins which can’t be exchanged to buy a menu for next meal. In fact, sometimes I will eat it in next country.

Last 2 hours waiting time was used to charge all my electronic devices which low battery after I use it in exploring Mumbai.

Airport information calls which don’t use Indian-English accent at all make me feeling like at European airports (It’s still dream….I’ve never set foot in Europe). Yeah cool.…all information calls at this airport is accented with native english .

It was really nice to see my plane leaned on gate 85D, a sign that I would set foot in Colombo soon.

My plane just arrived and was unloading

1 hour later boarding process started.…

through aviobridge I finally caught my third flight with Jet Airways.

Online checking-in that I did 24 hours before flight made me free to choose a window seat. This position is always my choose at every flight to easy documenting every moment during flight.

boarding process before I really fell asleep.

Trying to still awake by reading “Jet Wings”, I hoped cabin crews would immediately distribute in-fligt meal.

this is Jet Airways’ inflight magazine.

Even when I fell asleep, inflight meal never came. Apparently, there wasn’t food on this flight. Or whether I missed it. Because I really fell asleep very hard. Because less sleep during Mumbai exploration.

I was awakened by flight attendants to immediately establish my seat, signaling that I would land in Colombo soon.

I deftly set up my Canon EOS M10 and turned it on. I would catch some city view when plane prepared to touch down at Bandaranaike International Airport.

I was stunned by a row of lights that were patterned straight and neat. There wasn’t doubt that it must be a beach that would ll be my destination in Colombo.

View along the famous Galle Face beach.

10 minutes later, Jet Airways actually landed in Colombo. Hmmmh… couldn’t wait to get down soon.

Bandaranaike International Airport could be seen from plane’s window.

My arrival was at 4:35 a.m., I had to wait until morning to catch first airport bus which would go to downtown.

Jet Airways was in unloading process at Bandaranaike International Airport

Subha udesenak!Pearl of the Indian Ocean“….kindly welcomed me, please….hehehe.

Jet Airways 9W 256 dari Mumbai ke Colombo (BOM-CMB)

Penerbangan ke-3 sekaligus penerbangan terakhir bersama Jet Airways ini sengaja kudahulukan untuk ditulis. Mengenang setiap penerbangan Jet Airways yang sangat berjasa dalam menuntaskan penjelajahanku di kawasan Asia Selatan.

Penerbangan dini hari (jam 02:05) yang bertolak dari Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport di Mumbai membuatku kekurangan waktu tidur dari mulai check-in hingga landing (jam 04:35).

Memasuki airport, Aku segera mencari pray room untuk bersembahyang. Memasuki mushala, Aku disapa oleh seorang Bapak yang mengenakan kain ihram bersama sekelompok rombongan yang sedang shalat bersama. Senyum keramahannya menyambutku seusai berwudhu.

Dia: “Assalamu’alaikum, hi brother, where are you come from?”

Saya: “Hi Sir….from Indonesia”. Sembari kulempar senyum.

Dia: “I’m from Bangadesh, I think you are from Malaysia”. Dia kembali tersenyum

Saya: “Yeaa….Malaysian and Indonesia are looking same”. Kujabat tangannya

Dia: “Where will you go?

Saya: “I will go to Colombo…Oh ya three days ago, I visit your country

Dia: Tiba-tiba memelukku….”Really, How about my country? nice?

Saya: “Yeaa, exotic country….very original….I will come again next time”.

Dia: Kembali senyum dan menepuk-nepuk pundakku.

Aku juga menemukan beberapa orang India bersembahyang di beberapa selasar airport.

Makan malam waktu itu bermenu “beberapa gorengan jalanan asli India yang kudapat dari recehan rupee terakhir pasca menjelajah Mumbai”

Trik yang selalu kulakukan saat traveling adalah menukar kembali kelebihan uang lokal dengan USD sebelum meninggalkan negara yang kukunjungi lalu membelanjakan uang receh yang tak bisa ditukar dengan seporsi menu untuk waktu makan selanjutnya. Bahkan terkadang makanan itu akan kumakan di negara selanjutnya….Gokil bued….Ngirit minta ampun.

2 jam waktu tunggu tersisa kumanfaatkan untuk mengisi daya semua alat elektronikku yang lowbatt setelah kugunakan dalam menjelajah Mumbai.

Panggilan informasi bandara yang tidak sama sekali berlogat Indian English membuat Aku merasa berada di bandara-bandara Eropa (Ngaco….padahal belum pernah menginjakkan kaki di Eropa). Iya keren lho….panggilan informasi di airport ini beraksen native english.

Seneng banget melihat pesawatku merapat ke gate 85D, pertanda Aku akan segera menginjakkan kaki di Colombo.

Pesawatku baru sampai dan sedang proses unloading

1 jam kemudian boarding process pun dimulai…..

melalui aviobridge akhirnya Aku menangkap penerbangan ketigaku bersama Jet Airways.

Online check-in yang kulakukan 24 jam sebelum penerbangan membuatku leluasa memilih window seat. Posisi ini yang memang selalu kuincar setiap terbang untuk bisa mendokumentasikan setiap momen selama pernerbangan berlangsung.

boarding process sebelum Aku benar-benar terlelap tidur.

Mencoba menahan mata dengan mambaca “Jet Wings” berharap para awak kabin segera membagikan in-fligt meal.

inilah infligt magazine nya Jet Airways.

Bahkan hingga Aku terlelap menu itu tak pernah datang. Ternyata memang tak ada makanan dalam penerbangan kali ini. Atau entah Aku melewatkannya. Karena Aku benar-benar terlelap sangat nyenyak. Akibat kurang tidur selama eksplorasi Mumbai.

Dibangunkan oleh pramugari untuk segera menegakkan tempat duduk, menandakan Aku akan segera mendarat di Colombo.

Dengan cekatan Aku segera men-setting Canon EOS M10 ku dan menyalakannya. Aku akan menangkap beberapa view kota disaat pesawat bersiap touch down di Bandaranaike International Airport.

Aku tertegun dengan deretan cahaya lampu yang terpola lurus dan rapi. Tak salah lagi itu pasti pantai yang akan menjadi destinasiku di Colombo.

View sepanjang pantai Galle Face yang sangat terkenal itu.

10 menit kemudian Jet Airways benar-benar mendarat di Colombo. Aduh…ga sabar untuk segera turun.

Bandaranaike International Airport terlihat dari jendela pesawat.

Kedatanganku pada pukul 04:35 dini hari, membuatku harus menunggu hingga pagi untuk menangkap airport bus pertama yang akan menuju pusat kota Colombo.

Jet Airways sedang unloading process di Bandaranaike International Airport

Subha udesenak!Pearl of the Indian Ocean“….sambutlah diriku dengan ramah ya….hehehe.

Jet Airways 9W275 from Dhaka to Mumbai (DAC-BOM)

Jet Airways is the 19th airline that I have used during my backpacker journey. This yellow-blue airline is India’s second largest airline and part of its holdings are held by Etihad Airways from United Arab Emirates (UAE). And this Jet Airways’ flight was my second flight with it. My first flight with Jet Airways occurred when I was flying from Kathmandu to New Delhi on January 4, 2018.

This Jet Airways 9W275 was a regular flight on Wednesday, January 2, 2019. I issued my ticket 7 months before flight, precisely on May 26, 2018.

MUMBAI has attractiveness that anesthetized me to be willing to stop by before heading to Colombo, Sri Lanka. I have never believed in the “negative” news about India ….For me, this Mahabharata land has exotic views which I can’t forgotten. Exoticism that can be carved in my heart and contaminates my brain when I leave this country.

Back to Jet Airways flight….

After I finished my process in Shahjalal International Airport immigration counter, I just needed to pass a small hall where passengers waited before entering the gate.

towards gate 11

Before entering airport waiting room, I passed X-ray checking in front of gate :

long queue

This is the uniqueness about Jet Airways, after passing x-ray checking, every passenger’s cabin baggage have to be opened and checked again. It felt very strict. Reminded me when my cabin baggage checked in front of Jet Airways door. It happened when I left Kathmandu for New Delhi in January 2018… very funny.

That is inspection table of cabin baggage

after passing the cabin baggage inspection, all passengers could sat in waiting room of gate 11:

I think India and Bangladesh passanger have uniqueness

After 20 minutes of waiting, I finally started boarding.

Peek a front of plane…become my ritual before flying.

Boarding through aviobridge and looking for my seat number 37F … It was window seat.

This is interior appearance of Boeing 737-900 ER from Jet Airways

Wanted to see my face that hasn’t been bathed since 24 hours before flying.

This flight duration was 3 hours 25 minutes. During the flight, I was treated to a Non Vegetarian Meal. I was offered vegetarian or non vegetarian meal by a flight attendant on the plane because I forgot to choose food when I issued the ticket. After I opened, the contents was rice with Indian curry chicken.

The beautiful and handsome Indian flight attendants became a view that spiced up my flight.

are they beautiful?

At the beginning of my flight when leaving Dhaka, the outside view from plane’s window seemed ordinary. I chose to read JetWings, which is Jet Airways’ inflight magazine.

But starting into the 2.5 flight hours, I was presented with beautiful scenery that captivated my eyes

rocky mountains.…very close….scary but beautiful.

I don’t know, what river is that?….it is very long and beautiful

An hour later, the plane was above Mumbai city.

Mumbai city from above

Resident houses are very crowded

Finally after 3.5 hours, I landed at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai. Oh yess.…This airport is the main hub of Jet Airways, guys.…

Finally I set foot in India .…Do you want to see Mumbai, guys?….

20 Tourist Attractions in Male’ City

Premium Link Ferry slowly approached Male’ island after 18 minutes sailing from Hulhumale island. That day I intended to visit Hulhumale, Male ‘and Villingili.

Set foot on Male’ Ferry Terminal front yard, I tried to calm down and swept around the view. Finally a sign board seized my attention.

This direction taught me how to explore Male’ by walking. And finally my adventure started from here:

Situation of Boduthakurufaanu Magu Street

My steps slowly led to Medhuziyaarai Magu Street. There were many interesting photo spots on this road:

  1. People Majlis

People Majlis is the office of Maldives Parliament.

Then if You walk straight to west, You will find this building:

2. Medhu Ziyaaraiy Shrine

This is the tomb of Abdul Barakat Yoosuf Al Barbary from Morocco who had an important role in Islam spreading in Maldives.

Then, next to this tomb is the official residence of Maldives’ president. The name of this building is:

3. Mulee-aage Palace

This 100-year-old house was originally Maldives’ crown prince residence before the country turned into a republic.

4. Hukuru Miskiyy (Friday Mosque).

Precisely in front of Mulee-aage, you can visit Hukuru Miskiyy.

The oldest mosque in Maldives and has the most artistic value in this country. Being one of UNESCO’s world heritages, this mosque uses Maldives’s natural wealth as its building material, which is coral reef …. It’s cool.

I took the time to pray Dzhuha here and talked with a mosque staff.

5. Velaanaage

From Hukuru Miskiyy walk towards north coast, you will pass this modern building:

Get a title as the tallest building in Maldives. This building has a function as Maldives’ government administration office with a integrated service concept.

6. President’s Office.

Walking on north coast of Male’ towards west, the next spot to be found is the building where the President of Maldives works every day

7. Izzudheen Faalan

This is the presidential sea dock. Opened in 2015 and named after a hero who contributed to maintaining the independence of Maldives.

8. Jumhooree Maidhaan

People know it as Republic Square. A big square where Maldivian do their activities. In addition to seeing the giant Maldivian flag, you will also meet a herd of pigeons in the square … of course, you can feed it.

At one of square sides, You will find a large fountain that seems to be a beautiful show at night because it is combined with music.

9. Male’ Islamic Centre

From this square, moving towards south and visiting the Islamic development center in Maldives. The Islamic Center is marked by the majestic standing of Al-Sulthan Muhammad Thakurufaanu Al-Auzam mosque.

10. The November 3rd Memorial.

Walking to right of the mosque, I found a monument to commemorate the death of 19 people due to a terrorist attack on November 3, 1988. The nineteen victims consisted of 8 military and 11 civilians.

11. Sultan Park.

Precisely in front of The November 3rd Memorial is Sultan Park. It is the best park in Male’. Tourists must pay to enter it but it is free for Maldivians.

The park’s operating hours are Sunday (16: 00-23: 00), Monday-Thursday (09: 00-23: 00) and weekends or public holidays (06: 00-24: 00).

12. National Museum.

After sightseeing in Sultan Park, I decided to visit National Museum near this park. The Museum building is a gift from China Government to Maldives Government. During my journey in Maldives, I saw a lot of large projects in Maldives which were carried out by China Government.

13. Theemuge

Tired after walking around the museum, Resting under a large tree in front of National Museum was the best choice. I could enjoy to see Maldivian activitiesat the T-junction in front of the museum.

Leaving the museum, I headed to Orchid Magu street to find the Theemuge. Theemuge is office of the Maldives Supreme Court.

14. Local Market

Back towards the Male’s north coast in north of Theemuge, you can visit the Local Market. It’s nice to visit Local Market and see Maldivian’s trading activities.

15. STO Building

This is 8-storey building as headquarters of STO (State Trading Organization) which was built in Maafanu area. The company which 80% shares held by the Maldives government. The company is engaged in various business such as electronics, health and supermarkets

16. Rasfannu

At the westest of Male’ island, you will find to a artificial beach named Rasfannu. Beach where are often used by Maldivians (even tourists) to relax themselves after work in the afternoon.

17. Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH)

This is hospital that a gift from India Government for Maldive Government. So its status is certainly a state hospital.

18. Dhiraagu Building

Dhiraagu is the leading telecommunications provider in Maldives. I had bought 4GB internet quota from this provider for USD 15 during visiting in Maldives … Thanks Dhiraagu.

19. Tsunami Monument

This monument was erected to commemorate Tsunami disaster in 2004. A tsunami that occurred simultaneously with Aceh’s Tsunami in Indonesia

20. Sinamale Bridge

This China-Maldives friendship bridge connects Male’ island dan Hulhule island. Hulhule is an island where Velana International Airport is located. This 2 km bridge opened in 2018 and You must pay to pass it.

So guys, Let’s visit Male’ Island ‘… I guarantee that it will be interesting.

Airport Bus from Bandaranaike International Airport to Colombo Central Bus Stand

My arrival in Colombo, Sri Lanka began with a strange toilet activity. Airport cleaning service-man greeted me, “Indonesia?”, He pressed a flush button on my urinal and gave three sheets of tissue in front of bathroom sink and finally at the toilet door he asked me some money for eat. I didn’t have Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR) that morning because I hadn’t exchanged my USD to local money. I apologized and left him.

There wasn’t problem when passing the immigration counter because I have an e-Visa, a return ticket to exit from Sri Lanka and a dormitory reservation voucher.

I immediately exchanged my USD … I got a little problem. The money changer staff said that I must exchanged minimum USD 100/transaction. I didn’t gave up for asking one by one to all money changer, and finally I could exchange just USD 50 at the Sampath Bank’s money changer.

Left: Sampath Bank money changer at Bandaranaike International Airport.

Right: Sri Lanka Telecom’s Kiosk Mobitel

I was actually little crazy, that local money that I got from money changer would still remaining about USD 25 at the end of my adventure in Colombo. I exchanged the remaining LKR to USD at the money changer in downtown.

With LKR 8,830, my first spending was the 4 GB SimCard Mobitel from Sri Lanka Telecom for LKR 960.

After waiting almost 2 hours until bright morning, I decided to head to downtown. I left the arrival hall to catch the first airport bus. Coming out along the corridor, I was a little nervous in my loneliness, but I just said to myself “hi man, you have arrived … so if you want to do more, you must explore”.

My muttering was stopped when I faced an airport guard soldier and I asked to him where the airport bus shelter was. Actually, I already knew the answer, surely I have to turned left from the exit door and the bus was at the end of the corridor. Yes… True, He said like that. (I knew because I have been googling before came to Colombo, so I asked only for affirmations). So I walked to the left of exit door.

Yess, I was at the end of corridor….but, “where is the bus?”. There are lots of Toyota Hiace parked. Someone approached me. “Where are you going, sir” … I said I wanted to go to Galle Face Beach (My hostel is near there). In essence, he said there wasn’t airport bus here and he offered services for 6,000 Rupees to Galle Face with His Toyota Hiace. Well, surely I couldn’t afford to pay it. I said that I was a backpacker and didn’t have much money. I just asked him for helping me to showed where was the location of airport bus shelter … He was so kind and finally told me … actually, the bus was at the right of exit door.

Top left: Sign to airportbus shelter. Top right: Airport bus shelter

Bottom right: Airport bus ticket for LKR 150.

Lower Left: Situation of airport bus inside

I immediately got in bus. 15 minutes later the bus left the airport. My eyes couldn’t close because I was stunned by the view of Colombo’s morning street. Then the bus pushed onto highway, the morning sun warmly penetrated the bus windows, Keeping me from cold temperature of the bus. The medium-sized bus drove slowly and showing off the originality of Colombo … Ahhh, I couldn’t wait to get to downtown.

40 minutes later, the bus arrived at Colombo Central Bus Stand. I didn’t want to linger in this central terminal. If I was long here, it means that I would be surrounded by taxi and tuk-tuk drivers. Got information from Sri Lanka tourism site. As soon as I got off the bus, I immediately avoided their intention to gathering around me. I just said: “I’m sorry, I’m looking for bus no 100”. I crossed the arterial road in front of the terminal then turned right around 500 meters. And sure enough, I saw the bus. Running to catch it and hupp … I jumped through the back door

Left Top: City bus no. 100 to Galle Face. Top Right: Bus inside

Bottom Right: The closest bus stop from Hostel at Galle Face

Lower Left: Arterial road situation around Colombo Central Bus Stand

I began to feel strange, my southeast asia face was surrounded by their south asia face. Crammed standing into Colombo bus wasn’t different with Kopaja (name of Jakarta’s city bus). It only took 14 minutes to arrive at Galle Face and then walked 200 meters from the bus stop, I found my hostel.

Okay … I would bring you to see Colombo… let’s go!