Total Failure when Visiting Taj Mahal

My passionate spirit of visiting Taj Mahal which wasn’t higher than my trifling guts of conquering cold of every drop of water which coming out from GoStops Agra’ shower, had embarrassed myself on a saturday morning.

Needle is exactly on number 7, a taxi which we rented for full-day through sharing costs arrived and the driver was waiting in hostel’s lobby while tightly holding his hands as a sign that he had been hit by a stabbing cold weather in streets.

Do you want to know our white taxi rent fare?….Sure….USD 17.8 divided by four people. So, I had to give USD 4.4 as my transportation budget that day.

Brushing my teeth without bathing, I approached and talked while waiting for 3 other tourists to come down. “No need long time to reach Taj Mahal, brother“, he said first while shaking his head in Indian style to open a conversation that morning. “Nice“, I said while busy fixing my winter jacket and syall which coiled around my neck.

Ten minutes later, his exhaust fumes began to acquiring thick fog along Agra-Bah Road. Sure enough as he said, 15 minutes later he asked us to come down and point to a bajaj with fare about for USD 2.9 to continuing our journey to Taj Majal Eastern Gate. No problem with price because we finally rode that bajaj with all of us….Oh No, we were unpolite tourist….Hahaha.

At 7:30 a.m, tourists queued to hunt for tickets with fare for about USD 7.2.
A ticket in my hand.

What a fool!….Blindly curiosity had closed my logic that morning. Never clearly thought since leaving my hostel that thick fog storm in Agra would perfectly close Taj Mahal courtyard….Ah, I annoyance stood with a long sigh at Taj Mahal entrance. Not able to see anything 10 meters ahead. Only a thick fog which made me slowly freeze.

There was no choice, like it or not, I had to start exploring Taj Mahal with a definite guarantee that I would never fully enjoy its beauty.

I started slowly up the stairs and entering first gate of that famous site. The first gate is named Jilau Khana.

The area around Jilau Khana or often called Forecourt.

What happened was really out of reason. I haven’t finished yet in enjoying Jilau Khana’s red bricks, my automatic footsteps were unstoppable in approaching main building. Taj Mahal like a magnet for anyone who visits it.

Connecting road between Jilau Khana and main gate

Before arriving at main building….About 100 meters later, I reached the grand Main Gate.

Its name is Darwaza-i-rauza or often called Great Gate.

Tourists complaints began to hear while blaming the mist. “I can’t take a picture“, He complained to his fellow friends. Wry smile, I didn’t care about same disappointment.

Look at carvings inside the Darwaza-i-rauza!

Then, where is Taj Mahal main building which is always hunted by world travelers?

Yup….350 meters at north of Darwaza-i-rauza is Taj Mahal location, the tomb of two legendary “lovebirds“. Shah Jahan as the king and Mumtaz Mahal as the “Persian descent” empress who have a extraordinary beauty.

Not long, I immediately put a shoe cover then I got ready to entering Taj Mahal

Shoe cover will be given when buying a ticket.

Like the commonly mosque, Taj Mahal is equipped with four minarets on each side. The greatness of Mughal kingdom is reflected in every inch of Taj Mahal which composed from white marble which was specially imported from Rajashtan and sapphires which was sent from Sri Lanka.

Minaret as high as 40 meters with a cylindrical wall.

Another intriguing thing when visiting Taj Mahal was when each visitor regularly walked to follow a path which had been made by officers to enjoy each side of Taj Mahal main room where Mumtaz Mahal tomb is located. Three heavily armed police closely watched every visitor. Sometimes they gave order to some tourists to immediately move because taking photos for a long time could make a path to be stuck.

Taj Mahal wall.
Taj Mahal window.
Beautiful art of calligraphy in Taj Mahal.
Not bad….Than not at all.

Such is the fact, the 372-year-old Taj Mahal is indeed charming. No wonder, 4 million tourists are interested in visiting it every year.

After enjoying Taj Mahal, then I immediately retreated and returned to eastern gate for approaching taxi which was waiting for me.

I went back east….Which way did you choose to go back?

12 Jam Menginap di Suvarnabhumi International Airport.

Melalui aerogbridge, aku segera menuju transit hall untuk menunggu connecting flight Thai Airways berikutnya. Waktu menunjukkan pukul 23:15. Aku berusaha menemukan lokasi information centre untuk menanyakan tempat ternyaman beristirahat di Suvarnabhumi International Airport.

Aku: “Hi, Ms. Where is better place for rest and getting food?, Transit hall or departure hall?”

Staff: “I think you will be better staying in transit hall. Departure hall is very crowded than you think. Many food stall are in transit hall, so don’t worry”.

Aku: “Oh, okay Ms. Thank you”.

Akhirnya, sarannya menuntunku untuk segera memasuki transit hall. Melewati konter pemeriksaan tiket dan passport dengan lancar, kemudian aku mengakhirinya melalui x-ray screening dengan cepat.

Memasuki transit hall.

Aku akan bermalam selama  12 jam hingga pernerbangan Thai Airways TG 0319 menuju Kathmandu. Setiba di transit hall, aku segera mencari spot terbaik untuk memejamkan mata. Situasi yang masih ramai, tak memungkinkan bagiku menemukan deretan bangku kosong untuk selonjoran.

Akhirnya, menghabiskan waktu sekitar 1,5 jam untuk mengeksplore seluruh transit hall.

Tengah malam mulai berlalu, perlahan airport mulai kehilangan para pengunjungnya. Deretan bangku-bangku biru memanjang itupun nampak mulai kosong. Beberapa cleaning service terlihat mulai menyeka bangku-bangku itu dengan pewangi dan sterilizer. Mereka sepertinya tahu gelagatku untuk segera meniduri bangku-bangku yang tampak seperti springbed dalam penglihatanku.

Akhirnya menenukan bangku kosong.

Sungguh terlelap berbantal backpack hingga menjelang fajar. Perlahan suara geretan koper para penumpang penerbangan pagi mulai menginterupsi “mimpi Nepal”ku. Aku terbangun tetapi masih tak kuasa menahan kantuk. Kuputuskan untuk mencari mushola dan berharap bisa melanjutkan mimpi.

Electric Information Board
Ruangan mushola yang kosong dan menggoda.

Waktu subuh di Bangkok adalah jam 05:20. Sembari menunggunya tiba, dengan sigap aku mengambil spot tidur di ujung belakang mushola. Tetapi kali ini, aku harus meringkuk disebabkan dinginnya ruangan karena AC besar mushola.

Beberapa jam setelahnya, derap langkah para jama’ah  mulai sering terdengar memasuki ruangan. Waktu Subuh kian menjelang. Sudah tak lelap lagi, bersiaplah diriku mengerjakan Subuh berjama’ah.

Bahagia rasanya, bisa shalat bersama kaum muslim Bangkok pekerja Suvarnabhumi. Aku berbaur dengan security, staff imigrasi hingga para polisi bandara. Sehabis shalat aku sedikit bercakap dengan salah satu staff imigrasi. Satu yang kutangkap adalah kaum muslim Bangkok berjumlah sekitar 10% dari total penduduk Ibukota. Persentase itu berkisar di angka 800-900 ribu.

Subuh telah berlalu,  saatnya bersih-bersih di toilet lalu mencari sedikit kudapan untuk sarapan sebelum TG 0319 take off pada pukul 10:30 menuju ibukota Nepal.

Sarapan yukkkk…!

Jhelum Express from New Delhi to Agra

It was time to execute the ticket.

11078 which was my departure number only appeared once on display board. After a long time, it didn’t appear, I sat on platform and continued to observe that display board….It’s gone!

Endless waiting on platform 4.

Me: “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.”.

He: “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.”

I went back to counter and asked about this problem. They only apologized and confirmed that train was delayed. He estimated that train will leave at 16:00….God.

To drove away endless boredom, I headed for Khan Market. Instead of being stunned, I’d better collected a tourist destination in New Delhi to share with you about it….Later, I will definitely write it.

A corner of Khan Market, New Delhi.

—-****—-

On 14:00 hours…. Ensuring every bond and lock in backpack, I immediately headed to New Delhi Railway Station to ride Jhelum Express which would soon come to pick me up.

An extraordinary curiosity to immediately mingle with Indians in an economy class train, making me be the most impatient person in the world that afternoon.

Portrait of inequality in India’s Capital.

The dull red locomotive shrill screams when approaching me, grimacing and bite the rails to precisely stop on platform 4.

The locomotive hadn’t completely stopped each wagons yet, passengers were running….crowding in front of wagons. I just smiled and was stunned by uniqueness of Indian citizens. While they crammed, I was still busy understanding the wagon numbering because there were wagon numbered 10 and 10A. Very unique person who has the idea of numbering system like that. After back and forth, I finally found my wagon….Yups, Wagon S3 seat No. 41 Low Berth (lower seat).

It was true, the complexity which I imagined from the beginning when buying a ticket occurred. The train inside was very crowded and made it feel cramped.

The allocated seat of three passengers facing each other plus one long folding stool above my head which is used as a sleeper seat (Upper Berth)….Ah, I loved it. an amazing condition.

Hello Sir, excuse me“, a young man passed in front of me holding his wife hand and sat facing me. A sinless smile makes my lips do the same thing. How not, now, in front of me has sat 4 passengers on seats which should for only three passengers….Haha.

While the train was running, I hear faint bluff which is either angry or just normally like that. A fat and whiskered conductor checked his guest tickets one by one. A passenger in opposite side of my seat was scolded, He was unable to showing his ticket, then he showed a laminated card from his wallet. And I didn’t know what was that, It was being able to effectively drove out that fat conductor….Damn.

A office worker in front left of me took out a something from his bag. Like Indian films, their culture is still upheld. He held up high a long stack of four stainless steel dinner box with curry scented. If he knew my heart’s face, he would have smiled when see it was roar laughing….Oh God, this was an original Indian. As if it was be a trigger, another passenger on my left and right was doing the same thing.

Their generosity emanated when they offered me to eat together as a family on train. Did I accept? Nup….I also brought out a local burger package with price about USD 0.75 which I purchased at station’s platform that afternoon. Let’s eat together….Ahhaaa.

A passenger at window seat became the busiest person on our journey because he had to keep closing a wooden window whose locking hooks were worn out. Every few minutes, that window would automatically open and put super cold air into wagon.

Maybe that condition was used by “chai” seller to focus on my wagon to sell his wares. “Chai“, another name for “pulled tea” which be legendary in Dhaka, be favorite in India and spreading to Malaysia. Excited, the stack of paper cups which he held was getting shorter. He would go home with a multiple profit this time.

Cuteness of a children’s toy seller made whole train passenger endlessly burst out laughing. He throwed a rubber spiderman every where as he pleased. Amazingly, the spiderman could perfectly stick….Haha. It was be an entertainment to forget many problems at that day which they have faced.

Guys….When did the last time our trains (Indonesia’s trains) still had sellers of all kinds inside it?….Hahaha….I forgot. It was long time a rule about seller restriction in our trains.

The train which stopped….brought down its passenger….took its passengers….Then drove back and kept repeating it at each station made me realize that there was never an announcement where did the train stopped?

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

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

Me: “Thanks Sir”, I bitterly smiled with worry.

Now, my enemy was one….i.e Information….the absence of data packets in my gadget further strengthened my mortal enemy that night. I had to asking questions a lot to defeat it.

Me: “Where will you stop, Sir?”

He: “At Mathura Junction Station

Me: “Do you know Agra Cantt Station?

He: “Sure, 2 stops after my station

Me: “Oh, nice”, I was relieved…. Once he got down, I just had to count 2x stops. That was Agra Cantt.

He: “Are you from China?

Me: “No, I’m Indonesian”.

He: “What for do you go to Agra?”

Me: “Taj Mahal, Sir

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

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

He: “Nice”. Shaking my hand with his happiness which can’t hidden.

That was 10 minutes conversation before he got off at Mathura Junction Station. After that I would get off at next two stops namely Agra Cantt Station.

A side of Agra Cantt Station.

I finally arrived in Agra on 20:30 hours.

It was time to go to hotel….Then slept.

TG 436: Mewah Mengudara Menuju Bangkok

Jalur penerbangan TG 436

Akhirnya aku mengulang perjalanan menuju Negeri Gajah Putih setelah eksplorasi terakhir pada 2013. Empat tahun lamanya, aku menunggu kesempatan itu. Jika 2013, aku terbang bersama Air Asia menuju Don Mueang International Airport maka kali ini aku sangat mujur karena bisa menangkap promo murah meriah yang dikeluarkan oleh Thai Airways pada April 2017.

Menunggu selama 8 bulan sebelum benar-benar terbang adalah sesuatu yang sangat tak mengenakkan. Bukan karena Bangkok nya, tapi hanya karena hasrat mencicipi pesawat premium berbadan lebar. Setahun sebelum, aku pernah menaiki jenis pesawat yang sama milik Air Asia ketika pulang dari Incheon.

—-****—-

Selepas Jum’atan, aku menyempurnakan packing untuk perjalanan selama  11 hari yang tentu akan membuat penasaran. Tepat jam 3 sore, aku bergegas memanggul backpack menaiki angkot menuju Terminal Kampung Rambutan. Angkot yang begitu lama tiba, membuatku terhukum dengan menaiki bus DAMRI satu jadwal keberangkatan lebih lambat.

Jam 16:00, DAMRI meluncur tetapi tak berselang lama kondisi jalan tol menjadi stuck. DAMRI sungguh lama tak bergerak. Terusut sudah terdapat perbaikan jalan di sebuah terowongan dikombinasi dengan insiden truk terguling 400 meter setelahnya. Padahal penerbanganku terjadwal jam 19:05. Itu berarti aku harus siap pada jam 17:55 sebelum benar-benar boarding….Mepeeetttt.

Beruntung sirine Highway Patrol mulai terdengar merangsek ke depan. Signifikan, 15 menit kemudian DAMRI melaju mulus menuju Terminal 2 Soetta.

Thai Airways akhirnya menjadi maskapai ke-18 yang kunaiki.

Beruntung Soetta melompong dan hanya perlu 5 menit untuk proses check-in kemudian boarding pass ungu putih tergenggam. Semua pos pemeriksaan x-ray kulewati dengan sangat cepat karena hanya satu backpack 45L saja yang perlu di screening.

Mulai boarding.

Aku memasuki Airbus A330-300 melalui jalur kabin sebelah kanan untuk menemukan bangku bernomor 52K. Kali ini akan menjadi sangat lega karena aku duduk di bangku kolom tiga sendirian. Ndeso….Baru kali ini naik pesawat dengan layar LCD didepan mata….Pencat-pencet sesuka hati.

Jakarta-Bangkok yang berjarak darat sejauh 3.000 km di tempuh dalam waktu 3 jam 35 menit dengan kecepatan rata-rata 475 knot ( 880 km/jam). Bisa dibayangkan betapa kencangnya.

Moslem meal yang disajikan setelah brown rice cracker dan apple juice di berikan.

Selama penerbangan, pramugari cantik berwajah khas Thailand memang sungguh memikat sejauh mata memandang. Untung saya hanya backpacker kere…..Andai aku businessman kelas atas…..Pasti aku akan lamar dia….Hihihi.

Pertama kali landing di runway Suvarnabhumi International Airport.

Tiba pada pukul 22:35 menyebabkan aku tak punya opsi lain. Tak mungkin keluar bandara dan beranjak menuju kota. Jika ada waktu pun, saya mungkin juga enggan. Karena bukan Bangkok tujuanku….Tapi, NEPAL.

Yess….Nepal akan menjadi negara ke-11 yang kukunjungi.

Mau tahu kan kisahku berikutnya ke “Negeri Seribu Kuil”

Ikutin kisahku selama disana ya.

Cari tiket penerbangan dari Jakarta ke Bangkok melalui 12go Asia. Berikutnya linknya:  https://12go.asia/?z=3283832

SCAM….Something Real in India

Hotel Staff: “Go to New Delhi Railway Station platform 1 floor 1!“, a short answer was spoken by beautiful staff who still looked busy in accepting traveler from various nations.

Me: “Thank you, honey Ms”.

Oh yes, looking for the nearest dormitory from MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) station is a habit which has been in me.

I started to open GoStops Delhi Hostel’s door and passed a few disadvantaged citizens. It was touched when the sun’s rays were the only thing which could help warm them who were still asleep curled up on an old foam mattress which I couldn’t know how they got it.

300 meters later I arrived at Delhi Gate Metro Station. Passing a X-ray gate every time when I entered MRT station in New Delhi made me feel safe while using train on its track.

Let’s see inside of subway station in New Delhi….This is Indira Gandhi Airport Metro Station when I first time arrived in India.

Going through Delhi Metro Violet Line and then transferring to Yellow Line at Kashmere Gate Metro Station, so at third station I arrived at New Delhi Metro Station.

Arriving at final destination, I had to move between two modes of train which weren’t integrated. Leaving clean and well-maintained New Delhi Metro Station to New Delhi Railway Station which is more than just dirty. The distance between them is only around 450 meters.

Walking 6 minutes, I arrived in front of New Delhi Railway Station.

From a connecting bridge between platforms, I noticed that Indian Railways officer sprayed water on railroad track. I thought they were so disciplined to reduce dust rate in air, it turns out some time later I knew that they were cleaning railroad tracks from human waste …. # unique.

Upss….The incident arrived:

Scammer: “Where will you go, Sir?”

Me: “Agra.

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

Me: “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.

Me: “Oh, OK.

Either “Unknow” or “Stupid“, I followed all his instructions. A handsome young man didn’t accompany my steps, so there wasn’t slightest suspicion in my brain. Amazingly, there was a person at a station gate who seemed to directing me about where ticket sales counter was located. He was obviously directing me to an office at end of road on the left.

Oh, this is a travel agent’s office, not an Indian Railways office“, I thought. I canceled to going up the next step and turned to leave their office. Even though one of them continued to chase me, I smoothly insisted by saying that I would postpone my departure to Agra until tomorrow, so that I could reduce his emotions that seemed to be rising.

Huftt….I was safe now. Second scam which happened to me after the first one which happened in Bangkok at end of 2013.

—-****—-

Relieving which felt doubled because in addition to being able to find International Tourist Bureau ticket sales office on platform 1 floor 1, I also got a bonus for protect mysely in this office from New Delhi’s cold weather that made me feel frozen.

The modest office is beautified with excellent ticket sales officer consulting services for every tourist. So you have to be patient for waiting for your queue number to be called by sales officer because one buyer could consult for about 10-15 minutes, some even more. Not a problem for me, a longer queue time would be better because I didn’t need to be cold in out of office.

Jhelum Express ticket for about USD 2.9 was already in my hand.

Let’s go to Agra….Visiting Taj Mahal….Yuhuuu.

5 Agra’s Tourist Attraction in 10 Hours

SEVERE……….

A fog storm in northern India has robbed more than six hours of my time. But my aggravation was defeated by my own vulnerability against India’s cold air .

Fog calamity in India

Jhelum Express pulled up at Agra on 8:30 pm. Do you want to hear my story in using their economic train….Just wait….HORRIBLE !!!.

There was nothing I could do that night. Temperature almost touched zero degree Celsius, even air quickly cooled fried noodles I bought at street food stall. Even Indian spices which are stinging, I still couldn’t feel because a frozen began to hit my tongue.

I was like a coward hiding under the blanket of GoStops Hostel while waiting for the electricity to fill all my “electronic friends”.

Hotel staff: “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

Me: “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.

It was a bit of a serious conversation before I entered room, and a slightly intellectual conversation after previously I only talked to Jhelum Express’ passengers who sitting in front of me and also to taxi driver who transferred me from Agra Cantt Station to hotel.

—-****—-

OKAY….A morning has came

Automatically, I only had 10 valuable hours to explore Agra starting on 7:00 in the morning. This time I wouldn’t justify myself to use public transportation….Too tight….Luckily, I did sharing costs with fellow backpacker roommates for a taxi services which was willing to be chartered until afternoon. Because in the afternoon, I would go to New Delhi. I just needed to spend USD 4.4 for my entire transportation fee.

1. Taj Mahal

Didn’t daring to touch water to wash myself, I rushed into a taxi which was ready in front of hostel. That morning….Fog was so thick which even the morning sun was unable to uncover it.

Yes, finally….I headed for dream destination of tourists all over the world….Taj Mahal

Taxi moved north along Agra-Bah Road. Not far away, only 3.5 km which is traveled in 15 minutes. Taxi stopped at edge of road, I was only remember a sign “Malik Tour & Travel” as a marker.

Bajaj service for USD 2.9 became a next connector toward Taj Mahal West Gate Ticket Office. I spend USD 7.25 to get a entry ticket.

Every inchies in Taj Mahal always carried an impression, a only thing which really disturbed all tourists was fog which made them feel annoyed because they couldn’t capture themselves with this historical building.

Taj Mahal was captured from Mehtab Bagh.

This mainstay of Uttar Pradesh State Tourism is truly impressive. A tomb which is dedicated to Mumtaz Mahal (wife of emperor Shah Jahan) is able to attract 8 million tourists from all over the world each year. One of UNESCO World Heritage Sites which you must visit if you enter Mahabharata land.

2. Itimad ud Daulah Tomb

Two hours of absorbing and enjoying the beauty of Taj Mahal which is almost entirely wrapped in white marble had carved a doctrine in my brain that the world is really beautiful.

Let’s go back to hostel to took a bath and ate a simple free-breakfast which was served by hostel. I immediately packed my backpack for check-out and put it in taxi luggage. After enjoying Agra Fort later, I would immediately go to New Delhi.

Located at 4.5 km north of Taj Mahal, this site offers tranquility and comfort. Unlike with Taj Mahal which is noisy with visitors. Similar but don’t as big as Taj Mahal which make it known as the “Baby Taj“.

A building which inspires architectural style of Taj Mahal.

If Taj Mahal is dedicated to Mumtaz Mahal, the construction of Itimad ud Daulah is dedicated to Mumtaz Mahal’s grandfather named Mirza Ghiyas Beg.

I don’t want to tell much….Visit it, yes!…Yuhuuuuu !!!!

3. Yamuna River

An hour moved quickly. My intention to immediately rushed to next destination ran aground. I was stunned by appearance of a dry river which stretched so broadly, as if showing off its beauty to all who were seeing, crossing or even living in it.

Located at west of Itimad ud Daulah.…Nice.

Guys….That’s Yamuna River….All my life, It was first time to saw a river which very wide like it.

Considered by Hindus as the Goddess Yamuna.

The river which is originating from Yamunotri glacier at Uttarakhand State looked receding and exposed to various forms of waste such as plastic and liquid waste which are easily guessed from its smell. .

4. Mehtab Bagh

Next two kilometers to south….

Licking, sipping and gently swallowing French fries with curry-flavored salt became my next unimportant activity….Set aside for about USD 0.7 to try some street culinary in India! I guarantee that you will be impressed.

Guys, I was already on a side of wide and romantic park….Mehtab Bagh is its name.

Mehtab Bagh” itself has a meaning which is similar to a meaning of pair of words in English i.e “Moonlight Garden“…Yes, how romantic is it?

It was said that….Shah Jahan would build a Black Taj Mahal in this park. But it was never achieved..

It is often been King’s stopover to enjoy beauty of Taj Mahal which is located at opposite it and is only separated by Yamuna River.

The price of admission ticket for USD 2.9 is nothing compared to the beauty of park which you can safely enjoy. Safe?….Yes, park was guarded by two fully armed soldiers who always walk around park.

5. Agra Fort

Masala Tea = 90 Rupee….This is USD 1.2

Egg Fried Rice = 150 Rupee….This is USD 2.1

That was my lunch menu at “The Master Chef” Restaurant at Fatehabad Road before heading to my last destination in Agra….#sad.

Located 2.5 km northwest of Taj Mahal, Agra Fort is also a World Heritage Site which is very prominent in its red color.

The walled city of Agra Fort….Amazing.

You have to pay USD 7.2 to directly imagine how is the Mughal emperor living in Agra Fort.

Walking around as much as you can in Agra Fort before parting with Agra city. I traced one by one of part in this fort.

Entering Diwan-i-Am like Mughal people who are complaining, or entering Diwan-i-Khas like an important royal guest who is being entertained by the king.

Feel the luxury of Jahangiri Mahal, which is a special palace for king’s wife then sat down to relax in Anguri Bagh which was used by women member of kingdom as a royal garden.

And as a Muslim, I also feel obliged to visit Moti Mosque in Agra Fort as a worship place for all kingdom members.

—-****—-

A short time that introduced me to an ancient city in northern India. City whose its architecture influences many building creations around the world.

Make sure that you visit it longer than me because historical values of this city are so high and can’t be enjoyed in an instant time.

10 Destinasi Medan: Sebentar yang Merindukan.

Aku tak pernah memberi kesempatan sedikitpun terhadap otak untuk berfikir panjang. Menunggang ojek online, aku mengucap sayonara pada Terminal Amplas yang sepertinya tak rela ditinggal pengunjung yang sudi meluangkan waktu untuk mengenalnya.

15 menit kemudian, aku sudah hinggap di destinasi utama kota Medan. Tak lain lagi dialah:

1. Istana Maimun

Istana yang namanya bermakna “Berkah” ini telah berjasa selama hampir 130 tahun merepresentasikan agungnya Kesultanan Deli. Dibangunnya istana ini sekaligus sebagai penanda berpindahnya ibukota kerajaan dari Labuhan ke Medan.

Kuning adalah warna khas Melayu yang melambangkan kebijaksanaan.

Menebus tiket masuk bernilai Rp. 5.000, aku menjelajah setiap sudut istana dan terus mengagumi setiap detail perpaduan arsitektur India, Timur Tengah dan Eropa. Lima hektar area istana membuat siapa saja leluasa menikmati keindahan istana dari berbagai sisi pandang.

Destinasi berikutnya hanya berjeda 2 menit dengan berjalan kaki, yaitu:

2. Masjid Raya Al Mashun

Terletak di barat istana, bangunan suci bersegi delapan ini berdiri megah tak bergeming melintas masa. Karya fenomelal milik Sultan Ma’mun Al Rasyid Perkasa Alam ini menyiratkan bahwa beliau lebih mengutamakan keagungan masjid dibanding istana tempat tinggalnya.

Marmernya didatangkan langsung dari Italia

Tepat waktu Dzuhur, aku menyempatkan diri berbaur dengan masyarakat Medan untuk mencicipi sejuknya hawa masjid tua berusia 110 tahun tersebut. Kemegahan masjid merupakan penanda kemakmuran Kesultanan Deli di masanya.

Jangan beranjak dulu dari area sekitar istana dan masjid karena masih ada satu tempat lagi yang diyakini sebagai peninggalan Kesultanan Deli, yaitu:

3. Taman Sri Deli

Melangkah 100 meter ke utara masjid, aku telah hadir di pusat taman.  Untuk meresapi nilai sejarahnya, aku mencoba membayangkan menjadi putra Sultan yang sedang bersantai di sore hari kemudian membasuh badan di kolam trapesium yang terletak di tengah taman.

Taman yang mampu meredam panas kota.

Taman ini menjadi penutup eksplorasi mengenang kejayaan Melayu dibawah pimpinan Sri Paduka Tuanku Sultan (gelar Sultan Deli).

4. Menara Air Tirtanadi

Terus berjalan mengambil arah utara, dalam 800 meter aku menemukan tandon air raksasa milik PDAM Tirtanadi Provinsi Sumatera Utara. Penampung air raksasa ini telah lama menjadi wisata landmark kota.

Jangan lihat wajah tuanya tapi lihat perannya.

Siapa sangka toren belang merah putih ini adalah buatan Belanda  di permulaan abad 20. Sesuai makna nama Sansekertanya, Tirtanadi memiliki peranan vital dalam mensuplai kebutuhan air bersih warga kota sejak pertama kali dibangun hingga kini.

Tahu kan arti kata Tirtanadi?….Yups, Tirta berarti air dan Nadi bermakna kehidupan.

5. Museum Uang Sumatera

Ayo melangkah lagi !….Tanggung nih.

Sekitar 300 meter di barat Tirtanadi Tower, aku menemukan koleksi berbagai rupa uang dari berbagai zaman dalam sebuah museum yang pendiriannya diinisiasi oleh seorang kolektor uang bernama Saparudin Barus.

Bahkan uang dari zaman Kesultanan Deli pun masih tersimpan dengan baik

Museum ini tidak bertiket masuk. Hanya saja mereka akan memberikan souvenir berupa 2 uang koin dengan lubang ditengah dan dihargai Rp. 10.000.

6. Tjong A Fie Mansion

Kali ini, aku singgah di destinasi penting lain kota Medan. Ini adalah rumah saudagar kaya raya keturunan Tiongkok yang mempunyai peran besar dalam pembangunan kota. Sang dermawan ini bernama Tjong A Fie. Dan yang tersisa selain dari kebesaran namanya adalah rumah tempat tinggal beliau.

Setiap ruang dalam rumah Tjong A Fie memiliki fungsi khusus yang membuatku terkagum.

Aku rela membayar tiket masuk seharga Rp. 35.000. Tetapi nilai itu terbayar lunas begitu memahami cerita tempoe doeloe yang membahas setiap sisi rumah dan menapak tilas kiprah Tjong A Fie dalam membesarkan bisnis dan membangun Medan.

7. Kampung Madras

Tak ada alasan shahih yang bisa kujelaskan mengapa aku harus mengunjugi Kampung Madras. Satu alasan sederhana saja, itu adalah efek domino karena aku menginap di Dazhong Backpacker’s Hostel yang berada di pusat Kampung Madras.

Berbaur dengan warga keturunan India!

Madras diambil dari nama sebuah daerah di India Selatan yang merupakan asal nenek moyang warga Medan keturunan India Tamil.

8. Waroenk Nenek

Selesai bertemu teman dekat di Medan, gelapnya hari membujuk untuk kembali ke hotel.  Tetapi badai lapar yang tak terbendung , membuatku terpaksa mencari makan malam sebelum aku benar-benar sampai di hotel.

Destinasi bonus.

Hinggaplah langkah di sebuah rumah makan bermoto “Semua Ada”  di bilangan Jalan Patimura. Seporsi pecel lele yang disuguhkan oleh dara-dara cantik berhijab menjadi hadiah terindah malam itu.

9. Merdeka Walk

Segarnya badan setelah makan malam membuatku urung kembali ke hotel. Aku menambah kembali koleksi dengan mengunjungi pusat kuliner dan hiburan kota yang biasa dipanggil eMWe.

Gerimis mulai turun ketika aku tiba.

Dibuat pada 2005 dan mampu menampung 700 pengunjung dalam satu waktu menjadikan tempat ini sebagai destinasi favorit saat weekend tiba. Terutama buat anak-anak muda yang ingin melepas penat setelah berkerja padat sepanjang minggu

10. Pendopo Kota Medan

Masih satu area dengan Merdeka Walk yang menempati salah satu sisi Lapangan Merdeka. Pendopo ini akan menjadi pusat alun-alun kota Medan di masa depan pasca revitalisasi yang sedang dirancang oleh pemerintah kota.

Jam 21:00 pun pendopi masih kedatangan pengunjung.

Ketersediaan taman di sekitar pendopo menjadikan tempat ini ramai akan berbagai aktivitas dari sekedar berkumpul bersama keluarga, berolah raga ataupun aktivitas beberapa komunitas muda Medan.

Itulah kunjungan kilat di Medan yang membuatku rindu untuk kembali.

National Mosque….Malaysia’s Independence Symbol

Blue Hop on Hop Off bus little bit squeak in braking when entering a bend that leads this tourist bus into a worship building which is full of charisma. “Nash(ә)n(ә)l mäsk”…. My mouth spelled a black marble with gold alphabet.

Thought fast….Get off or not at all.

Ladies and gentlemen, who want to visit the mosque, please get off here. Have a good visit”, beautiful tour guide smiled while holding her microphones.

Not listed in my itinerary, It didn’t make me turn and I chose it to be a bonus destination on my last day before returning to Jakarta.

It was the first Prime Minister who gave it a name as National Mosque

Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj is a nobleman who played an important role in its construction until naming this mosque. The initiator of the construction of National Mosque as an expression of gratitude for Malaysia’s independence from British colonialism without spilling out Malaysian blood.

I slowly entered main building after performing ablution to fulfill Asr pray. A room under a great dome auspices and high-quality soft carpet. I almost didn’t want to move from its comfort which trapping me.

The dome has 18 star-shaped ornaments.

Eighteen ornaments which alternately pronunciation of Allah and Muhammad symbolize 13 states in Malaysia’s constitutional monarchy and 5 pillars of Islam as foundation of Islamic religion which is embraced by more than 60% of Malaysians.

The extent of building….Indeed, it can’t be doubted if some statements state that National Mosque can hold up to 15,000 worshipers at a time. Incredibly, that’s half capacity of Patriot Stadium in Bekasi (a stadium near my home).

At front door before main worship room, you will find a white tower which stands in one corner of a pool which makes this mosque more elegant.

National Mosque tower is 73 meters in high.

Also pay attention when you enter this mosque. Then at far left, there is a building which is separated by a short corridor from mosque’s main building. Its white roof is in the shape of seven stars and below it, there are tombs of country’s great heroes. One of the famous heroes who buried here is Tun Abdul Razak. Bugis descendant who played an important role behind Malaysian independence.

Here are tombs of Malaysian moslem heroes.

National Mosque itself was inaugurated and opened to public about 8 years after Malaysia’s independence day. Do you know, when was Malaysia independent?…Yup, 1957.

Its inaugurating coincide with a year in which Malaysia and Singapore constitutionally separated..

Had become the largest mosque in Malaysia before this title was seized by Blue Mosque in Shah Alam area.

National Mosque is architecturally connected to Old Railway Station building through an underground passageway. The train station itself is located adjacent to Malayan Railway Administration Building which is currently used as headquarters of KTM (Keretapi Tanah Melayu).

A building at my behind is Malayan Railway Administration Building.

Going to KL….Let’s stop by at National Mosque!

DAMRI Kualanamu: Mengejar Amplas yang Semakin Menua

Bahkan seminggu sebelum terbang, pilihan telah kutetapkan. Bukan “Si cepat dari Woojin”, apalagi “si burung biru”yang biasa berlalu lalang di Kualanamu. Pilihanku tetap pada transportasi ala rakyat yang bersahabat dengan kantong. Tak lain lagi, itu DAMRI.

Terduduk kantuk di ruang tunggu stasiun kereta bandara lalu mengamati para eksekutif menggeret kopernya, berkejaran dengan waktu keberangkatan kereta. Atau sebaliknya, langkah cepat para penumpang necis yang baru saja keluar dari kereta untuk mengejar waktu penerbangan mereka masing-masing. Aku menjadi manusia tersantai pagi itu di Kualanamu. Ya iya lah…Aku kan lagi ngelayap, bukan sedang dalam perjalanan dinas.

Mereka yang pada sibuk

15 menit mengamati lalu lalang “Si Biru Langit”, Aku keluar stasiun dengan memanggul backpack biru cetakan Tiongkok yang kudapat lewat salah satu e-commerce ternama setahun lalu.

Senyum Sersan Kepala menyambut sembari membantu menyeberangkanku melewati jalur mobil untuk kemudian aku mengarahkan langkah menuju platform airport bus.

Tuh doi ngumpet di samping “si merah”

Berbelok ke ujung kanan pintu keluar bandara maka konter penjualan tiket DAMRI sangat mudah terlihat dan ditemukan. Terbaca dengan jelas “Amplas, Siantar atau Binjai”, sebagai beberapa tujuan transportasi umum keluar Kualanamu. Sudah kupelajari dengan baik dan tertuang jelas di itinerary, Amplas adalah tolakanku berikutnya.

Menebus selembar tiket seharga Rp. 15.000 saja, aku kini berakses untuk mencicipi transportasi milik pemerintah yang sudah terlanjur melegenda di hati masyarakat.

Murah bingit.

Abang lihat papan petunjuk daerah tujuan aja ya, bang! Disana bang”, seloroh petugas tiket berseragam sembari telunjuk dan matanya menuju ke arah yang sama.

Ok, bang”, aku menjawab singkat.

DAMRI medium berpenumpang 24 yang tak kunjung penuh.

Memasuki pintu tunggalnya aku duduk tepat disebelah pintu, tak sampai semenit aku sudah di bangku belakang, bahkan sejurus kemudian sudah di bangku tengah. AC ventilator itu sudah tak berpenutup, kaca bagian belakang itu sudah sangat kusam sehingga kameraku pun kehilangan kejernihannya, di tengah pun sama reclining seat tak berfungsi selayaknya. Aku selalu memaklumi dengan kondisi ini, ini DAMRI kannnn.

AC super dingin yang membuatku menggigil sepanjang perjalanan.

 “Mana tiket Kau?”, sapa kondektur dengan kerasnya yang membuatku terperanjat. Kalau di Kampung Rambutan itu seperti hentakan preman.

Ah, ini mah Medan ternyata”, batinku yang akhirnya membuatku bersikap wajar dan tak perlu kaget.

Amplas, Bang”, kusodorkan tiket kepadanya. Ternyata dibalik wajah garang sang kondektur ada senyum tipis terlepas otomatis di bibirnya. Aku mulai jatuh cinta dengan Medan.

Melaju menjauhi Kualanamu

Aku sangat sibuk berpindah di bangku manapun demi menciptakan jepretan terbaik (walau akhirnya gagal….Hahaha), karena DAMRI ini hanya mengangkut 5 penumpang. Aku tahu pak sopir terus mengawasiku lewat kaca spion. Demi membuatnya wajar, aku mengacungkan jempol kepadanya dan uniknya dia juga mengacungkan jempolnya tinggi-tinggi. Semua penumpang tertawa melihatku….Kacau.

Suasana gang sebuah perkampungan

Kebun yang luas milik warga

Tak berasa DAMRI pun sudah melaju di jalan tol Medan-Kualanamu-Tebing Tinggi dengan cepatnya.

Bersiap masuk jalur cepat.

Tiga puluh menit DAMRI merangsek ke barat hingga akhirnya tiba di Terminal Terpadu Amplas yang sangat tersohor di Medan itu. Terminal yang tak sesangar seperti yang kubayangkan. Tak seorangpun menggangguku ketika selama 20 menit mengekplore seisi terminal itu.

Terminal Amplas yang telah berusia 29 tahun

Bahkan aku sempatkan bercakap dengan petugas Dishub perihal cara menuju Toba dari terminal ini. Juga bercakap dengan seorang kondektur bus PO Sejahtera untuk menanyakan keberangkatan pertama armadanya menuju danau vulkanik terbesar di dunia itu.

Warung biru tempat aku bercakap dengan warga lokal.

Senang mendengar kabar bahwa Terminal Amplas akan direvitalisasi oleh Mister Menteri dan akan menjadi terminal yang terintegrasi dengan mall dan hotel. Keren yaaaa.

Yuk, jangan lama-lama di terminal. Mari kutunjukkan Medan seperti apa.

Panggil ojek online! Explore Medan!

Genting Highlands….Tourist Gem on Titiwangsa Mountain Summit.

Inexperienced to sleep in a room with a Central AC made me didn’t really sleep because of cold. The advantage which I got was keeping myself from welcoming the dawn which was slowly present. At 5:30am, I started bathing in shared bathroom.

Who’s taking a shower?

That were all because of me. Agosto Inn staff were stunned and rushed to prepare a breakfast menu which was actually quite simple at dining table. Forgive me if it made you nervous, miss….Hahaha.

Pouring tea pot, baking white bread, stirring oatmeal and slicing sunkist oranges in a relaxed manner before Srilankans sat at the same table.

Me: “Hai….Hello….Are you from India?”. My first question to them.

Srilankan: “No, We are from Colombo”.

Me: “Oh, Srilanka”.

Srilankan: “Yeaa….Great, you know that”. Broadly smiling and inviting to shaking hands.

Me: “I hope I can go to your exotic country

Srilankan: “Yes….You must go there

You know, how long did I need to realize that hope?….Yup, 5 years later I was present in Colombo. A derfect dream.

45 minutes later, I already rode LRT Kelana Jaya to KL Sentral. I would catch first departure of Go Genting Express Bus at 08:00 hours.

My failure to got a ticket on my first day in Kuala Lumpur wasn’t repeated after a ticket was held before first departure time.

My ticket which including Genting Skyway fare.

Very happy when roar of “The Maroon Red” began to be heard at a corner towards KL Sentral Bus Station which is located on basement floor.

15 minutes before departure. Go Genting Express Bus get ready on its platform.

Bus seats which was full made the driver immediately work in his seat by stepping on gas pedal and then leave KL Sentral in a matter of minutes.

Damn….The first sight was a Chinese descent child who had to pee in front of my eyes. His urine entered perfectly into empty mineral water bottle which held by his mum which is pretty….Hhmmhh. She kept the bottle in a small trunk in front of her chair….I hope you weren’t wrong to take a bottle when you drink, Mam.

As far as 42 km, my eyes enjoyed Karak Expressway views together with Go Genting Express speed. An hour later, the bus slowly approached at Lower Genting Skyway Station precisely at Basement Level 4 (B4). I immediately moved to Genting Skyway Complex level T1 to boarding the cable car.

30 minutes hanging to Genting Highlands Station.
On 9:20 hours, I arrived at Genting Highlands Station which is integrated with First World Plaza. It is located at level 4.

Actually, my expectations to visiting Genting Highlands were just curious, there wasn’t intention to staying there at all because of my limited time to explore. As a result, I only allocated 2 hours to explore First World Plaza.

Because I arrived at First World Plaza on 4th floor, I was doing reverse exploration. Starting from 4th floor and ending on 1st floor. You need to know that what I currently visited was a 4 storey modern mall building.

Nice….The first thing that I did was stop by at a local food and beverage retail store which is very famous in Malaysia, Heng Heng Local Delights on 4th floor. Even though I didn’t know how to bring it home later because of my small backpacks and I am a person who anti-buying baggage planes.

Conventional trip….Still thinking of buying souvenirs….Hahaha

After shopping, I got around myself at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Adventureland and visiting Jurassic Research Center and taking time to play on PlayTime! Video Games Park which is part of Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium

After visiting First World Indoor Theme Park on 4th floor, I returned to 2nd floor to visit Snow World.

Do you want to play snow?

I also took time to see Genting Casino which is really greedy because it occupies 2 floors at the same time at First World Plaza. It uses Level 1 and Level 2 for gambling business.

Thin difference: look to lose in gambling or can’t afford to gambling?.

After exploring entire floor of First World Plaza, I decided to return to KL Sentral for exploring Bukit Bintang, which is also a retail and fashion center in Kuala Lumpur.

Preparing return to downtown.

Massive development by 21st Century Fox has turned Genting Highlands into an Asian and even world tourist gem.

For those who haven’t visited yet, please go a few hours to go there.