Roman Aura at Grand Mosque of Central Java

Leaving Sam Poo Kong Temple, my gaze ransacked canteen area. Trying to find Mr. Muchlis as soon as possible. I had to bring him to Grand Mosque of Central Java, not only to perform prayer, but also to fulfill religious tourism that afternoon after just finishing around the temple.

I found him in a corner, he looked delicious in smoking a cigarette. Smoking while taking turns with splashing his throat with mango juice….Hahaha.

Come on sir, come with me again!“, I loudly shouted from a distance.

Oh, where are we going?“, He exclaimed, putting out his cigarette fire.

Let’s prayer“, I briefly said as I stepped towards temple exit gate.

Regular taxi which was also online taxi came to pick us. Now I faced with a half-aged driver who was already proud with his human mistakes. He said, he once asked for more fees from a pair of Dutch tourists just because he had a reason that Dutch had colonized his country. Then that two tourists didn’t accept it. The driver stopped the taxi in front of police office, he explained his reason for asking for more fare. Then the policeman explained to that tourists in a more elegant way. Amazingly, That tourists somehow wanted to pay more to the driver….Funny, strange and magical….Hahaha.

Once, he didn’t want to accept a fare change Chinese tourist. He said that he had a pride to not to be pitied….This story was even more miraculous, I wanted to laugh out loud

Never mind…. I was lazy to argue….I hoped that this white taxi ran faster and arrived soon….And finally, this online taxi arrived right at the destination courtyard.

Yup…. Great Mosque of Central Java… Call it as MAJT.

The courtyard was deserted, car park but full of motorbikes, shining lamp in combination with gurgling of fountains along pond in the middle of sidewalk. At the end of courtyard, there was a gate with twenty-five pillars, in roman style, with a typical Middle Eastern calligraphy which was circling on top.…Roman taste was clearly embedded in the courtyard.

Roman aura at the start of my visitation.
How?.…Cool, right ?.

The right side of mosque was dominated by Al Husna Tower as high as 62 meters, embodied in 19 floors. If you want, go up as you like, at above, binoculars are waiting you to enjoying the beauty of Atlas City from altitude, then enjoy a cup of coffee at an 18th floor cafe which can turn in a full circle….Wow.

Al Husna Tower.

While the left side of mosque was acquired by a giant green drum which put under 3 layer roof pavilion. A Gift of students from Al Falah Boarding School in Banyumas for MAJT.

How does that giant drum sound?

Meanwhile, mosque courtyard was decorated with six giant hydraulic umbrellas which liked same umbrella in Al Masjid an Nabawi at Medina. This great mosque looked endless spacious, it was said that its area reached 10 hectares. Making this mosque as pride of Sambirejo people. A beautiful mosque whose dome had a diameter of 20 meters which was combined “Limas Roof” as Javanese typical architecture.

Look at the full shape….Waooww.

Not really caring about the crowds in yard, I hurried towards downstairs, did ablution, then prayed in upstairs. Praying with the accompaniment of an ustadz’s sermon to recitation congregation.

Mosque interior.
Hanging lamp in the middle of mosque room.

I linger a little by following this spiritual sermon. A habit which I always repeated when visiting famous mosques. No needed to worry because my time to treat my colleagues was still later. I could catch up with an online taxi in just 15 minutes.

The giant Qur’an by Mr. Hayatuddin, a calligraphy writer from University of Science and Qur’an, Wonosobo.

After the sermon, I began to leave this 14-year-old building, said goodbye to this Islamic center after a religious tour in it, and praying that MAJT would become a prosperous religious education center.

You needed to know that this mosque has other functions, i.e as a library, auditorium, lodging, marriage ceremony room and museum of Islamic development.

Helmsman Service at Sam Poo Kong Temple

Semarang deserves to thank to Helmsman Ong Keng Hong for gotting a serious illness. Because of his illness, he had to anchor and chose to be left by expedition group at Simongan Hill. Admiral Zheng He was still generous in sending several soldiers to accompany and care for his Helmsman in Semarang. Then at one time, around the XV century, Ong Keng Hong was the figure who spread Islam and founded Gedung Batu Cave which was the forerunner to establishment of Sam Poo Kong Temple in the modern era….Oh yes, it was said that Ong Keng Hong controlled a giant ship along 130 m in wide and 55 m in wide with 9 masts. Accompanied by 299 other ships on a grand expedition.

That afternoon, clock showed 3:30 p.m., a sign that my duty to guard the training was complete. After packing every essential equipment for re-used on second day training tomorrow, I didn’t directly go to hotel, but intended to explore Bongsari area.

The training closing moment….Couldn’t wait to get started the exploration.

Because tonight I had to entertain important colleagues for dinner together, the training host was kind enough to take Mr. Muchlis and me to the destination which I meant. Soon, I arrived at Sam Poo Kong Temple. Sitting for a moment in parking lot at temple north gate, my heart kept pounding, what history was inside?

Redeemed a ticket of USD 2, I started to enter it.

Temple north gate.

It seemed that this pagoda was indeed very ready to become a tourist attraction, various directional signs were very complete and placed in several strategic positions, some of the best points for taking photos had also been marked in detail.

Donny, I’m sitting here, yes. I want to drink ice and smoked. I’m very tired. You can go around by yourself, yes!”, Said Mr. Muchlis, grimacing while massaging his calf. He was more interested in orange juice and sitting in rest area.

Rest Area.

I combed from north side, past a joglo (typical roof shape is Central Java) pavilion where its space part was used by traders to trade souvenirs, while right in front of it is a health post with a yellow wall. Meanwhile, in very large temple courtyard, there were two statues of a golden lion which carrying a globe and a lion cub as well as two white statues of Yin and Yang guardians.

Joglo pavilion.
Health post.
Yin (moon) and Yang (sun) guardians.

I started to walking into temple parts one by one. I entered a temple with thirty-six pillars and two stacks of roof. At its front was guarded by two golden lions and eight deities. This is worship temple of Thao Tee Kong (God of Earth) to asking for blessings and life safety.

Earth God Temple.

Next to the south side, lied the Helmsman Temple. Of course, this temple was dedicated to Ong Keng Hong, the helmsman who spread Islam in Semarang. Smaller in size, this temple was built with sixteen pillars, two of which were brown, with dragon carve and located right at the entrance. Guarded by a green lion statue and two gods in the courtyard.

Helmsman Temple.

I arrived at the main building in a prayer complex for the Tridharma (Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism). It was Sam Poo Kong Temple which firmly stood with ninety pillars and had a three-tiered roof.

I managed to enter this temple. But I made a big mistake by photographing worship area which was forbidden. Temple staff scolded me. I was sorry, Sir, I didn’t see a camera image with red cross near the center pole.

Behind this main temple were ten reliefs which tell important events during Admiral Zheng He’s expedition, or we was more familiar to called him as Admiral Cheng Ho. Some people call him as San Poo Tay Djien.

Among the stories, Admiral Zheng He was rewarded with several giraffes by King Hulumosi from Iran, crushing Iskandar’s rebellion in Samudra Pasai Kingdom, one hundred and seventy of his soldiers died in overcoming a civil war between Wikramawardhana (King of West Java) and Wirabumi (King of East Java), crushing five thousands of pirates who led by Chen Zhu Yi in Palembang, overcoming the conflict between Malacca (Malaysia) and Siam (Thailand), early departure story of expedition which he led from Liu Jia Gang, escorting Princess Han Li Bao to be married to Malaysia King (Sultan Mansyur Syah), until save the missing China ambassador in Indonesia… Wow, those were cool of this Admiral’s story.

Reliefs behind the main temple. The stories were told in three languages, i.e. English, Indonesian and Chinese.
12 meters tall bronze statue of Admiral Zheng He and Sam Poo Kong Temple.
South gate behind the Admiral Zheng He statue.

It was getting darker, colorful lights began to be lit. I have arrived at the end of this temple exploration. I took the time to sit in a building which served as a performance venue, where in rows of steps stood soldier statues who Admiral Zheng He brought.

Stage for show.
Admiral Cheng Ho’s warrior statues.

For visitors who wanted to take pictures with wearing costumes which using in Admiral Zheng He era, they could rent it at costume photo rental shop.

Costume Photo.

That was my visit story at Sam Poo Kong Temple, a full of history temple and telling about entire crew under Admiral Zheng He command.

Kampung Laut’s Kampung Batik

Shortly after entering room number 523 at The Azana Hotel Airport, I rushed into bathroom, then came out with wearing casual clothes. From his face, I knew that Mr. Muchlis was starving. Because of this, he has been snacking on packaged peanuts which he brought from the rehearsal place.

Come on sir, let’s go, looking for dinner!“, I said while preparing Canon EOS M10.

Where are we going to have dinner, Donny?“, He also seemed to didn’t have choice.

Do you want to go to Kampung Laut or not? Let’s eat seafood!”, I asked him. Secretly, I’ve found this restaurant through browsing since leaving the airport this afternoon.

Is it far, Donny?“, He asked. Maybe he was reluctant because as far as I know his passion is not far from climbing mountains, doing city exploration made him was grabbed by laziness.

No sir, it’s only six kilometers, at most a quarter of an hour, sir, let’s go! Before too late.“, I said.

I agree, Donny. I will order a online taxi”, Let’s go.

Soon, a black Honda Jazz picked up us at the lobby, we drove to Tawangsari area. I understand that this was same route when I left Ahmad Yani International Airport to The Azana Hotel Airport. We passed Yos Sudarso Street then turned left and following Puri Anjasmoro Street towards the airport. It was just that we will stop about two kilometers before actually arriving at the airport.

We arrived at Kampung Laut Restaurant.

Together with Mr. Muchlis in Kampung Laut.

Once arrived at our destination, I forgot to be hungry. Sight of whole restaurant made my exploration desire relapse. I asked Mr. Muchlis to find a seat, I briefly looked at the menu at a table, then I asked him to order white rice, sweet and sour squid and young coconut ice for my dishes.

I’ll walk around for a while, Sir, let me know where we will sit!“, I hurriedly asked.

I’ll sit in the middle, there Donny, I’ll wait!“, He pointed to a small table in open space on west side of main hut.

Yes Sir“, I closed our quick conversation.

I left him to explore some spots in restaurant which is designed to float on artificial lake. I started to enter the first part which was eight main huts, four on left and the rest on right. Elongated tables with dozens of chairs were arranged under huts, as a sign that that huts are used to serve large numbers of visitors. It seemed that Mr. Muchlis was right to chose a small table in outer court.

A row of huts with a pond in front of it.
Long dining table in the hut….Perfect for eating together with all office-mate.

Meanwhile, at western end, there is a long platform leading to a “Kampung Laut” nameboard which is designed to be a spot to take pictures for visitors after eating. The concept which attracts young people to visit here.

The best photo spot in Kampung Laut.

Not long after, I immediately joined with Mr. Muchlis for dinner after he sent a short message “Foods are ready, Donny. Come here!“.

Come on, dinner….

Outdoor dining table.
Our menu: water spinach, squids, fishes, coconut ice and avocado juice….It was simple menu… .Hahahaha.

After eating, I talked about rehearsal this afternoon which Mr. Muchlis did without my help. Were there anything missing?, what can be prepared again before tomorrow’s training?. “All were done, Donny, you don’t need to worry. The important thing is tomorrow we come half an hour before the event start, Okay! “, He concisely and convincingly said .

Before closing our dinner at Kampung Laut Restaurant, we stood in front of a small stage and enjoyed several songs which sung by a beautiful singer. Wow, if there were a lot of time, I would definitely sing with her. But seemed, She was singing a few requested songs from restaurant guests.

What was the best song if I had a duet with her?… .”Yellow” or “Tiwas Tresno”.

At exactly 21:30 hours, we withdrew and immediately headed to hotel to rest. Mr. Muchlis swiftly brought in an online taxi with Wuling Confero brand. This was first time for me to feel sensation of riding a China car.
Hmmhhh….It was quite relieved. “This uses a Chevrolet engine, for your information, Sir“, said the driver, proud to his car. Woow….When I hear a “Chevrolet” word, the first image which comes to my mind is the yellow “Bumblebee”.

Eittt I forgot, before actually leaving the restaurant, for you who wanted to shop for “Batik (Javanese clothes)“, there was a “Kampung Batik” outlet that sells Semarang typical batik.

For Batik fans…. Please stop by.

Time for sleeping and got a sweet dream, my friend …….

Exploring Ahmad Yani International Airport

I started this free business trip, very suddenly and equipped myself sufficiently. The most important thing was, my lovely tool wasn’t left behind….None other than black Canon EOS M10. Apart from supplies, an itinerary was never arranged before leaving. In the next four days, I will be an explorer who played as I pleases.

When Citilink started to take-off and leaving Halim Perdanakusuma International Airport, I never thought anything about Ahmad Yani International Airport. My memory is still the same about it. Simple, not big, a waiting room which is directly face to face with plane muzzle when it’s parking. Those are memory sheets which neatly arranged in my brain cabinet. However, several years ago, Ahmad Yani International Airport was playing a role in taking off for the first flight in my life.

Oh apparently…..

It’s different, it’s amazing“, I muttered when I peeked through plane window when Citilink QG 144 was taxiing towards the apron.

It’s true, Ahmad Yani International Airport which have IATA code “SRG“, has transformed itself into a super elegant airport. I was dropped off in parking lot, next to Lion Air plane. Stepping under giant wing, main terminal building looked like a stretch of glass windows which showing off large pillars inside. Solar light appeared to perfectly penetrate the entire room in glass building.

Let’s entering the terminal building.

Asphalt on airport vehicle lane still looked very black and smooth, a sign that this route was recently operated. Road markings which stuck to asphalt were still perfectly white. The terminal wall was still a light beige.

A. Arrival

I entered arrival hall corridor towards baggage claim area. The floor was still shiny and reflected the lights in a regular pattern, glass room on left was still under construction status, while corridor right side had several toilets, lifts and a prayer room in operation. Several shelves containing shoe flower pots were beautify room corners.

Corridor towards baggage claim area.
Baggage claim area.

Some baggage service counters of several airlines still appeared to be closed, maybe the airlines concerned weren’t operating yet at this terminal.

After going through baggage claim area, a row of information provider counters have been prepared, such as Tourist Information Center, BP3TKI, money changers and TRAC car rental companies. Meanwhile, between main building and road for in and out of the airport are separated by a stretch of water. Yes, I was currently in a floating terminal which covering 7 hectares area which was built on a swamp.

The exit area is under a canopy corridor and framed by whitewashed steel beams. This corridor connects arrival hall and commercial zone of airport. The existence of a pool, umbrella shade with chairs under it and a garden planted with medium tall trees with a patterned distribution make exit area appearance is very neat. Here is where the pick-up await their guests arrival or relatives who have just landed.

Exit gate.
Park area.

Once past exit gate, there was a photospot area with background of President Joko Widodo who is riding his onthel bicycle. Followed by existence of toilets, nursery rooms, money changers, prayer rooms and ATM areas.

Musalla after exit gate.
Corridor with a line of ATMs from several banks.

Airport digital clock screen showed 17:09 hours, when I entered commercial zone. Two predominantly green customer service desks appear parallel to exit gate. Meanwhile, black and red waiting benches circle every main pillars in terminal building and several of them line up in several empty walls. Several photo spots are located in building corners, while departure and arrival flight information LCD are in the middle zone so that it is easily accessible to all passengers and visitors.

Customer service counters.

Commercial zone area was already occupied by several well-known brands such as X-Side Eat, A&W, Kukomart, Bank BNI, Eaten Kopi Tiam and other brands.

Exiting commercial zone building, I was greeted by a double corridor separated by a four-wheeled vehicle lane. This is taxi zone and drop and pickup zone. This corridor looks neat with round poles and spandex roofs. Meanwhile, under the shade, waiting chairs are arranged along corridor. I myself chose taxi transportation mode to downtown, considering that this was a business trip which all costs were paid by office where I work.

B. Departure

Three days later, I returned to this airport to return to capital city. Online taxi dropped me off at same place where I left the airport when I arrived on the first day. I set foot in drop and pickup zone then rushed to find check-in area inside of terminal building.

Arrived in drop and pickup zone.

Entering commercial zone, I just continued through it, many prospective passengers seemed to be relaxing in this area, either in public area or eating food at several coffee shops. As soon as I left commercial zone, I entered a transparent roofed area with steel pillars with two LCD check-in information screens, while on right side there was a wooden deck with number of palm pots on it, while the other part was a pool which soaked terminal piles, it was giving a impression that this is a floating passenger terminal …. Very cool.

Garden and pool on right side of departure hall.

At the end of garden and pond, I entered a building which served as a check-in area. As in garden outside, this check-in area looks tall and wide. Thirty check-in counters stretches on a hall side. Meanwhile, “Total Baggage Solution” counter is ready to help each passenger for wrapping their luggage to secure it during loading & unloading process in plane hull.

Check-in area.

I rushed to waiting room after getting my boarding pass, passing through a narrow corridor which in its left side is glass window which facing a garden and the right side is covered by plywood of a functional space project. At the end of corridor, facing iPORT shop, I turned left into commercial zone. Several clothing stores such as POLO or coffee shops like Starbucks are in this area.

Commercal zone in departure hall.

I started to enter waiting room which have green waiting chairs, carpeted in gray patterns, equipped with a prayer room, executive lounge, smoking area, toilet, charging area, LCD TV and free internet counter. In some spots, a photospot was provided.

Waiting room.
One of photo spots in waiting room.

And finally, that afternoon I left Ahmad Yani International Airport through gate 2A. That was short story of my exploration in an airport which Semarang residents were proud of it.

Let’s visit Atlas City and enjoy its beauty!.

Beautiful Spots at The Azana Hotel Airport

Almost Isha’ time….

I entered The Azana Hotel Airport gate which is located on edge of Jenderal Sudirman Street just under Kalibanteng flyover. Hotel room which have booked by my office for three days for USD 33/night.

The Azana Hotel Airport.

Thing that I know is, my colleague, Mr. Muchlis, who comes from Gresik City, had been opening the room since noon. He preceded me, because he departed earlier using Argo Bromo Anggrek train from Surabaya this morning. In fact, he had completed all kinds of rehearsals for next two days of training. Make all were easy for me, because I just accepted final concept when I arrived in Semarang….Thank you, Mr. Muchlis.

Reception desk.
Mini bar in lobby.

I got information that our room which was ordered with office name was number 523, so I decided to directly go to upstairs for quickly pausing and cleaning myself, I felt very disheveled after half a day of was exposured by capital city street dust.

I had a plan to hunt seafood with Mr. Muchlis after taking a bath, it was normal, when I had an office assignment like this, I always used it to improve nutrition….Hahahaha. But I didn’t know where we would go, I would have a discussion with him later.

Room corridor.
Guest room.
Bathroom.

It was also nice to meet friend from same company but from different branches. I worked at head office and Mr. Muchlis at Surabaya branch. We usually met once a year during Year End Party, a moment where awards are given to several outstanding employees.

That night, we decided to go to Kampung Laut in Tawangsari area. For an hour and a half, we enjoyed seafood dishes on the lake. Enjoying the taste, sitting back, relax, enjoying fruit juice, eating sea food while was accompanied by a local band amidst splash of serene lights. Releasing tired after a long journey.

After being satisfied and full, on around 9:30 p.m., we left Kampung Laut Restaurant, took by online taxi which using Wuling Confero (a brand of China car), we headed back to hotel.

And it’s not a Donny if I stop exploring….Arriving at hotel, I didn’t directly go to the room for rest. According to information from reception staff, on seventh floor or the top floor, I could enjoy the beauty of Semarang city from a height. Immediately I headed to Sky Lounge. Here were the best pictures which I have:

Sky Lounge. You can order hot coffee here….Cool, right?.
Kalibanteng Flyover was rich in color.
Great views towards beach and airport.

Not only that, I also went out to street in front of hotel. The festive colors of lights on Bunderan Kalibanteng Street have actually attracted several young people to spend their night at the roundabout. Meanwhile, at intersection point of Yos Sudarso Street and Jenderal Sudirman Street, there is a statue of Ir. Soekarno who was reading proclamation text.

Is third statue of Ir. Soekarno in Atlas City.

So on second day in Semarang, I went back upstairs to get something, here it was:

Guess!….Dawn or dusk?

Oh yes, literally, Azana means “the most luxurious“. Maybe it reflects this hotel vision. Then in general, The Azana Hotel Airport provides guest rooms on the third, fifth and sixth floors. Meanwhile, restaurant and meeting room are placed on second floor. The karaoke area and lobby are on Ground floor. Then swimming pool is placed on basement floor.

Let’s had breakfast at hotel restaurant. After that let’s worked and continued to explore Semarang City in the afternoon!

Taxi from Ahmad Yani International Airport to Downtown

The debate of choice was quickly over by my own authority. “Don’t be obedient to backpacker art, Donny. This is an business trip, just take facility advantage, take a taxi! ”, I firmly thought to defeated some stupid options which sometimes sporadically appeared in my attitudes and choices.

Oh, thrifty man“, my colleagues joked, that’s brand which is embedded to me. How come?. Every time I leave the airport, I always automatically think that taking a bus was only a quarter of taxi cost. So I always linger waiting for catch bus to downtown.

Taxi Service Counter at Ahmad Yani International Airport.

Almost Maghrib time….

My phone kept ringing from my colleague who was doing a training rehearsel session in Bukit Semarang Baru (BSB) area. Without hesitation I picked up my smartphone, it turned out that he just wanted to tell me that I better directly go to hotel, because the rehearsel would be complete in fifteen minutes.

Five minutes in queueing to got a taxi service ticket for USD 3.7, I was immediately directed to a taxi. A simple middle-aged driver jogged to pick me up. “Assalamu’alaikum. Where are you going, sir? ”he asked with smile and then brought my cardboard box on his left shoulder and carried two roll up banners in his right hand.

This airport taxi service is managed by Primkopad (Primer Koperasi Taksi Angkatan Darat) S-16.

As usual, my beloved backpack still never leaves me, with me it was entering from front door. I read ID Card board which was pasted on the dashboard.

Do you a resident here , Sir Ari?“, I opened conversation while putting on safety belt and then skied together to hotel.

Oh no sir, I am from Pekalongan City. Where were you come from, sir? ”He replied as he slowly stepped on pedal out of airport area.

I’m from the capital, Sir. How long have you been working in Semarang? Is Semarang a busy city?“, dialogue smoothly flowed to warm the situation.

It was only been three years, Mr. Donny. Previously I worked in Jakarta, because of my son had graduated from school, so I moved to Semarang to be close to home”, he cheerfully said controlling his white taxi leaving Tambakharjo area.

Office assignment, Sir Donny?“, He asked like investigating….Hahaha.

Yes, if it’s not an office assignment, I usually take airport bus, Sir. Does this airport have airport bus service to downtown, Sir? “, I asked for looking for a reference.

Yes, there is Trans Semarang BRT (Bus Rapid Transit). It’s cheap, only USD 0.3 for one way, Sir”, He explained.

Me and Mr. Ari.
Puri Anjasmoro Street on 17:24 hours.

It had been a long time, I didn’t use an airport taxi service. So that I really enjoy 20 minutes to enjoy it….Thank you to my beloved office for this opportunity.

Slowly, taxi turned right, starting to passed at Yos Sudarso Street, heading south. I moved from new construsction road with concrete barrier to two-lane road on each section, is bordered as high as its sidewalk and many shady trees on each left side.

In twenty minutes, with a distance of six kilometers, I arrived at The Azana Hotel Airport. I handed over USD 7.5 to Mr. Ari. I purposely gave more this trip cost and shared kindness to him….Self-conscious, when I’m backpacking, I rarely gave more for trip cost….Hahahaha.

I would stay for two nights at this hotel.

Let’s see in the next four days, What did Semarang have?

Citilink QG 144 from Jakarta (HLP) to Semarang (SRG)

Flight route QG 144 (source: https://flightaware.com/).

Yeaaaa …. I had a weekend business trip. As usual, I always made a strategy for my office duties assignments in order to keep my main hobby….Yes, exploration. After my training assignment for Friday and Saturday, I would extend my trip to Sunday in this free trip.

SEMARANG….

That was the city which I was going to this time. Halim Perdanakusuma International Airport was my starting point and Ahmad Yani International Airport was my landing point.

Boss: “Donny, I haven’t got anyone to handle our training in Semarang. Can you do that? You must go to Semarang this weekend!. It’s suddenly Donny, I’m sorry before”.

Me: “Hhmmhh (I pretend to think), it’s okay sir

Boss: “You go on Thursday afternoon and back on Saturday afternoon, let Marketing Support staff buy your tickets.

Me : “Yes, Sir”.

After our conversation was over, I immediately called the Marketing Support staff. I asked for my return ticket to be extended until Sunday afternoon. “I’ll be responsible for accommodation cost on Sunday, but my return ticket is still paid by office“, I said to her, then be followed by her confirmation “OK, Mr. Donny“.

Wow, my heart was happy….Traveling again.

That morning, I was still working as usual until noon. After saving my favorite black “beat pop” (beat pos is a brand of Honda motorbike) at home, I went to Halim. Not far, only 25 minutes from a landmark where I stay near it, Kampung Rambutan Bus Terminal.

I arrived at the airport very close with boarding times, causing me to focus on the length of queues at check-in counters. For some reason, passengers who was queueing in front of me always called their friends when they were in front of the counter, it was very annoying, because many passengers who are queueing behind me could automatically overtook the queue….It was bad.

I exactly got the ticket on ten minutes before boarding time. Because of it…. I no longer think about documenting every my session at Halim Perdanakusuma International Airport.

Alhamdulillah, I wasn’t late.

I entered gate 6 with a quick breath because fearing of missing my flight. Not having time to cooled off my sweat, the flight call arrived. Without having time to sat down, I immediately got ready to fly to Semarang that afternoon.

Waiting room in Halim Perdanakusuma International Airport.
Queueing up for boarding in gate 6.

Citilink is on 12th airline list of 28 airlines which I’ve ever ridden. Proud to be able to enjoying a flight from this airline which its corporate colour is green. The color symbolizes three meanings, i.e young-fun-dynamic. This is subsidiary of the famous airline in Indonesia i.e Garuda Indonesia. And surely more proud when Citilink was selected in the list of “The 20 Best Budget Airline for 2019” by Skytrax.

Cool view, huh. Only needed to walk from gate 6 to the plane.
Wooow….Right at under plane.
Look at the air conditioner, so foggy….Cold.

I should have sat on seat 23A, right in the window seat.

A Woman : “Sir, can I swap seat with you. I get dizzy when I’m not near the window”.

Me: “Oh, It’s okay mom“, hmmmh slowly I entered my Canon EOS M10 camera to my bag, I wouldn’t use it during flight, I won’t be able to capture beauty of the earth from plane seat number 23C.

Sit in the aisle seat.
Linkers… .Inflight magazine belonging to Citilink.

This 400 km trip was taken in 50 minutes. So this was a very short flight and very short time too for sleeping. Better, I compiled an impromptu itinerary from some references which I got and compiled a travel budget.

That afternoon, my journey was really tough because north coast of Java Sea was full of clouds which made my flight was full of turbulence. I thought all passengers were silent because of thinking the same thing….Hahaha. Meanwhile, an air crew continued to hold on to cabin baggage to save him from throwning off due to turbulence. Happy but thrilling. I myself always surrender to “The Almighty” when I fly.

So relieved, when soft voice of flight attendant directed all passengers to get ready to landing. Entering Semarang CIty, weather turned sunny and plane started to smooth landing and finally….Semarang Touchdown.

Oh that, Ahmad Yani International Airport new building.
Thank you Citilink.

The training which was assigned by office was still ongoing tomorrow and training rehearel had been represented by my colleague who came from Surabaya branch office since this morning. He chose to use train from Surabaya to Semarang. So, I didn’t have to rush to hotel after landing.

As usual, I would explore tourist gate of Semarang City….Yes, Ahmad Yani International Airport.

Come on, guys….

Lion Air JT 257 from Padang (PDG) to Jakarta (CGK)

Flight route JT 257 (source: https://www.radarbox.com/)

This wasn’t the first time for me to ride Lion Air, I have ridden this airline on its route: Solo-Jakarta, Jakarta-Surabaya, Jakarta-Singapore, or vice versa. However, this was the first time that I have experienced to ride a Boeing 737 MAX 8, a phenomenal type of aircraft, which had been “grounded” since double accidents, the first one was in Indonesia and the second one was in Ethiopia, with the same cause.

I finally managed to explore Minangkabau International Airport in a drizzle, but I’ll tell you later. I still have a repetition adventure to Padang on a business trip in early 2020. So please be patient if you want to peek at the authenticity of Minangkabau International Airport from this travel blog.

Drop Zone in Departure Hall of Minangkabau International Airport.

I was dropped off right in front of departure lobby by DAMRI airport bus, but after that, I didn’t immediately enter to check-in area. I prefered to take some pictures when the rain was changing its phase to be soft drizzles. I did it until several pictures were catched into my Canon EOS M10 memory card.

Let’s entered to check-in area!

Local flights, which only require a flight booking confirmation display on a smartphone screen and a national ID Card with a same name, made it easier for passengers to entering check-in area.

I had to provide patience because after leaving a check-in counter, I would wait for the “Red Lion” to come longer….Delayed, guys !. I had indeed been prepared with that condition. It wasn’t a matter about time, but about affordability of airline tickets which be my priority.

Cabin.

After taking the escalator to Departure Gate, I sat for a while in commercial hall which is located next to screening gate. Tidying up every equipments, so that it were a little tidy and comfortable when entering aircraft cabin later. Meanwhile, my 45L backpack chose to stay in plane hull for keeping my rainbow-patterned umbrella which its price is USD 3,7 which I bought at Tiga Raja Harbor five days ago.

Air conditioner.

The surprise arrived, when I headed to the prayer room for Maghrib prayer, I met Boris, a postman from Slovakia.

Me         :     “Hi, Boris….What happen to your flight?

Boris      :     ”Hi, Donny, It’s crazy…..Very long delay with Citilink

I didn’t talk for long because Boris had started to enter a queue towards the gate, he flew to Surabaya, then he would continue his journey to Malang as soon as he landed. Gubeng Station was his choice to depart from “City of Heroes“. I got this information while talking in the back seat of Maestro Travel five hours ago. What I observed, mineral water bottles which I gave was still intact tucked into left of his backpack….Hahaha, how can, that water could be escaped from airport screening gate.

After waiting for a long time, finally JT 257 flight started to calling its passengers. I started to queuing up and getting ready for trip towards Soekarno Hatta International Airport with flight price for USD 41.7. I bought this ticket about 11 days before departure.

Through the aerobridge, I entered cabin, actually I just found out that this plane is a Boeing 737 MAX 8 type after one of its crew who holding the microphone informed it when demonstrated passenger safety standards.

Besides new, the first impression that I got after sitting in a window seats were its relief and futuristic appearance. Then, plane was in the best position to start its jet engine, the pilot was waiting for a confirmation to fly. A few minutes later I actually left Padang.

The slightly cloudy night made the plane slightly shaken and penetrated into low clouds in “Minang” sky. What I saw later were sequels to earth lamps show between thin black clouds. Beautiful and enchanting as a bedtime. And then….

Dark….

Dark……..

Dark…………

I slept under the cover of extreme fatigue after six days traveling around Sumatra. It looked like I slept for 1 hour 45 minutes, which was equivalent to flight time. Sleeping for more than 700 km along with the smooth performance of aircraft which was owned by the largest private airline in my country.

Landing.
I arrived at Cengkareng on past midnight.
An airline that has been in the air for 20 years.
Soekarno Hatta International Airport (CGK) is the mainhub of Lion Air.

I arrived in sleepy condition, then hurriedly stopped DAMRI airport bus which was heading to Kampung Rambutan Terminal. Then I arrived at home by a motorbike taxi and thanked to Allah for giving me an exploration opportunity which was be an umpteenth chapter in the story of my life’s journey.

It is time to close story of my journey to Sumatra Land. And move on to the next trip.

Where am I going to ????

Yes, SEMARANG…….

DAMRI Bus from Padang to Minangkabau International Airport

I ate its authentic taste of tambusuprocessed cow intestines with egg, tofu and spices in it – as the last dinner in a week of my adventure in Sumatra land. a culinary incident bothered me in mid-chewing. I thought that a chewy thing was a part of tambusu menu….Oh….it was a rubber band.

Restaurant owner : “Looks like Uda come from far away.”

Me                               :     “From Jakarta, Uda.

Restaurant owner     :     “Do you work in Padang, Uda?”

Me                              :     “Oh, no Uda. I’m just traveling.”

Restaurant owner     :     “Ohh….Where have you been, Uda?

Me                              :     “A few days ago I toured to Medan, Toba, Siantar, Pekanbaru and Bukittinggi, Uda. The last one is Padang….Now, I want to fly back to Jakarta.”

Restaurant owner    :     “Wow, this is great, Uda. The totality in traveling.

Light conversation was interrupted by Black Calya (Calya is Toyota brand in Indonesia) arrival who would take me to DAMRI Bus shelter in Hasanuddin Street. In pouring rain, I finally wet online taxi front seat. Luckily the owner was very friendly and ignored it, even though it was a new car which still had a strong factory scent.

Hasanuddin Street.

Unlike what I imagined, it turned out that the splendor of DAMRI bus shelter in my mindset was only realized by a open tent space which wasn’t better than a city bus shelter in general.

DAMRI Airport Bus shelter.

I was waiting for DAMRI bus arrival which would transfer me from Padang downtown to Minangkabau International Airport which was about 25 kilometers away and took about 40 minutes. All can be redeemed for USD 1.8.

While waiting for DAMRI bus to arrived, I continued to observe a soccer game which playing by teenagers who scattered to fill Imam Bonjol Square field for rain party while playing “the round leather“.

Imam Bonjol Square.

DAMRI bus conductor suddenly called me, “Uda, come on, get on, we’re going!” I didn’t even realize that DAMRI bus had arrived earlier.

That’s DAMRI Airport Bus.

Wet condition of DAMRI bus corridor showed that Minangkabau International Airport wasn’t spared from rain. This was a signal that I wouldn’t be free to search for material to writing a content about Minangkabau International Airport. Ahhh….I could miss an important content.

Only a few passengers

Air conditioner on DAMRI bus was so cold that it made me shiver because my T-shirt itself was too damp. A few passengers that afternoon made me not embarrassed in deciding to change my t-shirt on bus. Sitting at backseat and no one noticed me while shirtless….Hahaha.

Maybe because of heavy rain, so many people were reluctant to be on streets and prefered to temporarily postpone their own needs. Because of that, Streets were empty and made me quickly arrived at Minangkabau International Airport.

Minangkabau International Airport.

It was time to going back to Jakarta with Boeing 737 MAX 8 which is owned by Lion Air.

Batang Arau, Siti Nurbaya Bridge and Boeing 737 MAX 8

Dengarkan Manusia  yang Terasah oleh Falsafah

Sesaat Katanya itu bukan Dogma

(Cukup Siti Nurbaya by Dewa 19, year 1995)

White iron horse” digital miniature continued to approaching in a popular application. As a result, I had to open my rainbow motif umbrella and in a moment my feet stepped on the sidewalk. I got ready for entering white Avanza (a brand name of Toyota in Indonesia).

T-shirts which were already getting damp, some parts of backpack which were already soaking wet, combined with AC cold bursts of online taxi made my condition was uncomfortable at all. All due to my desire that wanted to spend the remaining sixty minutes to add my destination collection. Though actually, if I thought deeper, it didn’t really matter at all….Hahaha.

Driver    :     “Heavy rain like this, why do you impose yourself to go to the bridge, Uda?

Me        :     “Yes Uda, just curious

Driver    :     “But indeed, there are a lot of people who visiting that place, Uda. The view of Batang Arau River is very beautiful

Me :     “So that’s why, Uda

Batang Arau River has Mount Padang background at its end.

I didn’t know why that afternoon, Padang earthquake in 2009 continued to fulfill my brain capacity. I continued to investigate the driver about the story behind tragedy. What happened after earthquake shocks? What did the panic look like afterward? He explained that sea water had receded at that time. “This is a sign that we are ready to be hit by a tsunami, Uda“, he said choked up. People had resigned in prayer, everyone were ready to face the end of destiny. Luckily the disaster didn’t really happen.

18 year old bridge.

Within twenty minutes, the online taxi had crossed the bridge which I was aiming for. Not stopping, but he chose to pass a small u-turn at the end and then lowered me right in the middle of bridge.

Borrowing legendary woman name in Minang land, this bridge form is very easily recorded in memory. Yellow black poles with milky white lamps at its top, straddling Batang Arau River which has a width of about 160 meters, with green hills background and traditional ornament boats moored along the river…. Really beautiful.

Roasted corn traders seemed to prepare their mini stalls. If I could stay until dark, maybe I would enjoy a street culinary party over Siti Nurbaya bridge. Unfortunately my time wasn’t long.

The next plan is, I would quicken dinner time before arriving at airport, for saving my budget, of course. I chose “Warung Nasi Kapau Bandar Damar” to execute the plan. After that I immediately went to Minangkabau International Airport, catching Lion Air JT 257 which was scheduled to fly at 21:20.

Later, I will tell you how about my first flight with Boeing 737 MAX 8, the most beautiful opportunity to feel flying sensation with it before this aircraft type was grounded after Lion Air JT 610 crash in Tanjung Pakis waters, Karawang, Indonesia which was followed by a similar accident on Ethiopian Airlines ET 302 on farm land, Bishoftu city.

That was my quick journey story in Siti Nurbaya Bridge.

If you go to Padang, don’t forget to visit it!