Her name is Maeda….Vanilla Air JW 130 from Kaohsiung (KHH) to Tokyo (NRT)

Vanilla Air JW 130 flight path (source: https://www.radarbox.com/).

The beautiful stewardess in a blue uniform with a flower in her right ear looked the youngest….Also the prettiest. Her smile was also the happiest. Short brown hair along the shoulders but a little longer on the left side and of course, an oriental look was completing her beauty.

Her name is Maeda….

I don’t know, if traced, she is positioning in the lineage with Tadashi Maeda, a Rear Admiral who played an important role in Indonesia independence.

The name Maeda is historically known as a Samurai Clan in Japan. Having honest, brave, loyal and upholding commitment to the truth.

Hunting for Yen at Kaohsiung International Airport.
Got ready to check-in.
Yes, boarding pass was in hand.
Headed to the gate after being interrogated for quite a while at immigration.

That morning, she was the busiest over the East China Sea. A Chinese family was too stubborn to acquire a row of seats for a small family to sit together on this Vanilla Air flight. “The Beauty” Maeda continued to persuade them to sit according to number listed on the boarding pass. It turned out that her soft voice had never succeeded in persuading that family to part until half the flight. Even Maeda seduced them with squat in front of the passenger.

I didn’t know why until now I still remember Maeda,

Maeda was a bonus for choosing an airline I didn’t really know well before. My search time on a flight filter site based on several categories, settled me on this Air Asia Japan acquirer. At a later date, tickets which cost about 6.780 Yen finally flew me from Kaohsiung in Taiwan to Tokyo.

Even my times before I met Maeda weren’tt as beautiful as I imagined. I forced myself to sleep in whole night at Kaohiung International Airport in a lobby of Departure Hall.

Waking up early….Even still sleepy, because I was carried away by talking with other passengers until after midnight, I grumbled to the check-in desk after exchanging the remain of my New Taiwan Dollars into Yen. The check-in counter numbered D18 with an LCD with the airline’s name on it quickly completed my check-in process.

Gate 30, the place to waiting for Vanilla Air JW 130 to arrived.
Happy boarding.
Look for seat numbered 27D.

Another problem arose,

At the immigration desk, there was an agenda to clarify everything that made me separated from the queue and seated on a seat at the end of counter row.

“Why do your visa look like this?”, my Visa Waiver was suspected.

“It’s a new waiver visa for Indonesian e-passport holder, Mam”

“Wait, let me check to my boss!”.

The young woman hastily left me into a room. I was still calm waiting for her to come back, up to 15 minutes.

“Ahh … I will pass this process”, I thought.

“Ok, Sir, It’s valid”, her chatter broke my frozen face who was observing a corner of terminal building.

After that, she let me go into a corridor with arched ceilings with artificial trees on  left leading to gate number thirty.

That was “The Beauty” Maeda.
Disembarkation Card and Customs Declaration to enter Japan.

Then what about the Chinese family who had been persuaded by “The Beauty” Maeda?

Thankfully, the lead flight attendant stepped in to help her and managed to separate that small family according to flight procedures.

Impressive! Vanilla Air is number fourteen of twenty-eight airlines I have rode. Grateful of course to be able to enjoying flight services of this subsidiary of ANA (All Nippon Airways).

That morning the pilot explained there was a slight storm coming from Philippine Sea, but thankfully, the turbulence didn’t last long on the way. The flight using an Airbus A320, as far as 2,500 Km, three hours later at an altitude of 37,000 feet was really fun. Maybe, because this was my culmination point in exploring Asia. Who doesn’t want to visit the Land of Samurai?

On eleven more minutes, I finally arrived at Narita International Airport.

Let’s have an adventure in Tokyo!

Alternatives for airline tickets from Kaohsiung to Tokyo can be found on 12Go or the following link: https://12go.asia/?z=3283832

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

<—-Previous Story

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

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

The ticket which I got from Bahrain International Airport.

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

Me and 12Go….True partners.

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

Crossing the aerobridge.
Business Class.
Economy Class.

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

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

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

Sunny morning with beautiful city lights.
Goodbye Kuwait.

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

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

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

Preparing to tread in Doha.

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

Dropping passengers at the airport apron.

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

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

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

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

Welcome to Doha!

Next Story—->

Kuwait Airways KU 614 from Bahrain to Kuwait

<—-Previous Story

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

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

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

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

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

Kuwait Airways was the 27th airline which I boarded.

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

Departure waiting room.

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

Late for a hour.
Business Class.
Economy Class.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A320-251N Neo Generation of Airbus

Next Story—->

Namanya Maeda….Vanilla Air JW 130 dari Kaohsiung (KHH) ke Tokyo (NRT)

Jalur pernerbangan Vanilla Air JW 130 (sumber: https://www.radarbox.com/).

Pramugari ayu berbalut seragam biru dengan bunga di selipan telinga kanannya itu terlihat paling muda….Juga paling cantik.  Senyumnya juga paling ceria.  Berambut pendek  kecoklatan sepanjang bahu tetapi sedikit lebih panjang di potongan sisi kirinya dan sudah barang tentu, paras oriental menjadi penyempurna keelokannya.

Namanya Maeda….

Entah, kalau dirunut, dia terletak di silsilah yang mana dengan Tadashi Maeda, seorang Laksamana Muda yang berperan penting dalam kemerdekaan Indonesia.

Nama Maeda disejarahkan sebagai sebuah Klan Samurai di Jepang. Memiliki sifat jujur, berani, setia dan memegang teguh komitmen pada kebenaran.

Berburu Yen di Kaohsiung International Airport.
Bersiap check-in.
Yes, boarding pass ditangan.
Menuju gate setelah diinterogasi cukup lama di imigrasi.

Pagi itu, dia menjadi yang tersibuk di atas Laut China Timur. Seorang keluarga asal Tiongkok terlalu keras kepala mengakuisisi deret bangku demi berkumpulnya satu keluarga kecil dalam penerbangan Vanilla Air kali ini. “Si Ayu” Maeda terus membujuknya untuk duduk sesuai nomor yang tertera dalam boarding pass. Ternyata suara lembutnya tak pernah berhasil membujuk keluarga itu untuk berpisah hingga separuh waktu penerbangan. Bahkan Maeda merayunya hingga berjongkok di depan penumpang itu.

Entah kenapa sampai sekarang pun aku masih teringat dengan si Maeda ini,

Maeda menjadi sebuah bonus dari penetapan pilihan pada maskapai yang sebenarnya aku tak mengenal baik sebelumnya. Pencarianku pada situs penyaring penerbangan berdasarkan beberapa kategori, memilihkanku pada maskapai pengakuisisi Air Asia Jepang ini. Di kemudian hari, tiket seharga Rp. 800.000 itu menerbangkanku dari Kaohsiung di Taiwan menuju Tokyo.

Bahkan waktu-waktuku sebelum bertemu Maeda ini tak seindah yang kubayangkan. Aku memaksakan diri tidur semalaman di Kaohiung International Airport di sebuah selasar Departure Hall.

Bangun pagi….Bahkan masih terkantuk pun, karena terbawa obrolan dengan penumpang lain hingga lewat tengah malam, aku bersungut-sungut menuju meja check-in setelah menukarkan sisa New Taiwan Dollarku dengan Yen.  Konter check-in bernomor D18 dengan LCD bercantum nama maskapai menyelesaikan proses itu dengan cepat.

Gate 30, tempat menunggu Vanilla Air JW 130 datang.
Boarding yang membahagiakan.
Cari bangku bernomor 27D.

Masalah lain muncul,

Di meja imigrasi, terjadi agenda klarifikasi segala yang membuatku dipisahkan dari antrian dan di dudukkan pada sebuah bangku di ujung deretan konter.

Why do your visa look like this”, Visa Waiverku dicurigai.

It’s a new waiver visa for Indonesian e-passport holder,Mam”

Wait, let me check to my boss!”.

Wanita muda itu tergopoh meninggalkanku menuju sebuah ruangan. Aku masih tenang saja menantinya kembali, hingga 15 menit lamanya.

Ahh…Aku pasti lolos”, batinku.

Ok, sir, It’s valid”, celotehnya membuyarkan beku mukaku yang sedang mengamati sebuah pojok bangunan terminal.

Setelahnya, dia melepasku untuk memasuki sebuah koridor berplafon lengkung dangan pohon-pohon artifisial di sisi kiri menuju ke gate nomor tiga puluh.

Itu dia “Si Ayu” Maeda.
Disembarkation Card dan Customs Declaration untuk memasuki Jepang.

Lalu bagaimana dengan keluarga Tiongkok yang sedari tadi dibujuk “Si Ayu” Maeda?

Bersyukur, pimpinan pramugari turun tangan membantunya dan berhasil memisahkan keluarga kecil itu sesuai prosedur penerbangan.

Mengesankan! Vanilla Air menjadi maskapai  nomor empat belas dari dua puluh delapan jenis maskapai yang telah kunaiki. Bersyukur tentunya bisa menikmati jasa penerbangan milik anak perusahaan ANA (All Nippon Airways) ini.

Pagi itu pilot menjelaskan ada sedikit badai yang berasal dari Laut Filipina, tapi syukurlah, turbulensi itu tak berlangsung lama dalam perjalanan. Pernebangan menggunakan Airbus A320, sejauh 2.500 Km, berselang tiga jam dengan ketinggian 37.000 feet ini sungguh menyenangkan. Mungkin saja, karena ini adalah titik kulminasiku dalam menjelajah Asia. Siapa sih yang tak berhasrat mengunjungi Negeri Matahari Terbit itu.

Pukul sebelas lebih beberapa menit akhirnya aku tiba Narita International Airport.

Yuk berpetualang di Tokyo!

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

Kisah Setelahnya—->

Kuwait Airways KU 621 dari Kuwait (KWI) ke Doha (DOH)

<—-Kisah Sebelumnya

Rute Kuwait Airways KU 621 (Sumber: https://www.radarbox.com/).

Dini hari….Masih jam 03:14….Suasana di Kuwait International Airport begitu damai dengan alunan musik instrumental yang mendayu-dayu. Sepintas aku merasa berada di suatu sisi Changi International Airport yang kerap memainkan musik yang sama.

Tiket yang kudapat sejak di Bahrain International Airport.

Aku mengambil duduk di kursi tunggu paling ujung, merasakan pengar hidung yang masih menyisakan flu. Flu teraneh yang pernah kualami seumur hidup. Kala itu pertengahan Januari, sedangkan COVID-19 mulai merebak sebulan sebelum aku berada di Kuwait….Bahkan aku berinteraksi akrab dengan warga Tiongkok Daratan yang sedang berangkat kerja menuju Oman beberapa hari sebelumnya di Dubai International Airport….Ah entahlah!

Aku dan 12Go….Partner sejati.

Pengeras suara mulai memanggil nomor penerbanganku. “Terlambat setengah jam”, batinku merespon. Aku mulai mengantri untuk memasuki maskapai “Burung Biru” itu. Ini adalah penerbangan keduaku bersamanya setelah sehari sebelumnya aku menungganginya di rute Bahrain-Kuwait.

Melintasi aerobridge.
Business Class.
Economy Class.

Aku terus mengintip ke arah bangunan Terminal 4. Yang terbayang adalah betapa dinginnya di luar sana ketika melihat embun melapisi setiap inchi badan pesawat. Sementara di sebelah kanan tampak Airbus A330 sedang melakukan proses yang sama.

Bangku 13K, penamaan bangku yang aneh (ABC-HJK).
Alburaq inflight magazine menemaniku terbang sejauh 568 kilometer.

Setelah melalui 30 menit proses boarding, akhirnya perlahan aku meninggalkan Kuwait dan menyisakan keindahannya dari udara. Kuwait Airways terbang meninggalkan mainhub nya.

Pagi yang cerah dengan indahnya lampu kota.
Selamat tinggal Kuwait.

Inilah penerbangan Kuwait Airways yang ku reschedule pada kisah sebelumnya.  Tiket seharga Rp. 957.500 yang sudah kupersiapkan sejak 9 bulan sebelum penerbangan. Satu hal lain yang menjadi keisenganku saat memesan tiket pesawat adalah mencoba berbagai jenis makanan. Kali ini aku memesan Diabetic Meal (DBML),  makanan rendah gula dengan sedikit garam beserta buah dan sayur kaya serat.

Aku bukan penderita diabetes tetapi penasaran ingin merasakannya saja….Hahaha.
Menonton Gemini Man selama terbang.
Suasana kabin selama 1 jam 40 menit penerbangan.

Pagi yang cerah di sepanjang Teluk Persia memberikan penerbangan yang nyaman hingga memasuki wilayah udara Qatar. Kuwait Airways mulai merendah dan menyibak muka Doha yang terang dengan warna-warni cahaya bumi.

Bersiap menapak di Doha.

Aku tiba di Hamad International Airport tepat pukul 04:45. Pahatan Teddy Bear raksasa berwarna kuning yang tertancap di tiang listrik adalah hal pertama yang kurekam tentang bandara ini. Aku ingin segera melihatnya.

Merapat di parking lot.

Di pagi yang dingin, para ground crew tidak menyediakan aerobridge untuk penerbangan ini. Penumpang harus turun ke apron bandara dan bergiliran menaiki apron shuttle bus. Begitu keluar pintu pesawat, badan terasa ditusuk udara dingin tanpa ampun. Apalagi aku harus menunggu bus berikutnya demi menuju arrival hall.

Airbus A320-214.
Tiba di arrival hall dalam 12 menit.

Aku terus melangkah mencari Teddy Bear kuning itu ketika sebagian besar penumpang mengantri di toilet atau berebut bagasi di conveyor belt. Akhirnya aku menemukannya, walaupun tidak bisa mendekat karena boneka itu berada di area departure hall.

Tak mengapa, aku akan berfoto dengannya saat pulang nanti.

Selamat Datang Doha!

Kisah Selanjutnya—->

Kuwait Airways KU 614 dari Bahrain Ke Kuwait

<—-Kisah Sebelumnya

Rute penerbangan KU 614 (sumber: https://www.radarbox.com/)

Tepat jam lima pagi aku mulai mengguyur badan di kamar mandi Bahrain Plaza Hotel. Hari itu juga, aku akan meninggalkan Bahrain dan menuju ke Kuwait. Setelah memastikan segenap perlengkapan tak tertinggal, aku turun ke lantai satu untuk menyerahkan kunci dan menuju ke shelter bus terdekat. Tak jauh, cuma tiga ratus meter di selatan hotel, tepat di depan Manama Cemetery.

Sepuluh menit kemudian Bus asal pabrikan MAN bernomor A1 tiba. Masuk dari pintu depan dan men-tap Go Card untuk membayar tarif senilai Rp 12.000, aku meluncur menuju Bahrain International Airport selama satu jam ke depan.

Tiba di airport pada jam 07:45, aku langsung menuju ke lantai 1. Area check-in yang tak lebih elok dari konter yang sama milik Halim Perdanakusuma Airport. Nomor penerbangan yang tak kunjung muncul di LCD Departure Hall, membuatku memiliki waktu untuk menukar Bahraini Dinar (BHD) tersisa. Rupanya money changer di lantai 1 tak mau menerima Dinar dalam jumlah kecil, beruntung Bahrain Financing Company (BFC) di lantai 0 masih mau menerimanya.

Jam 9:30, konter check-in untuk penerbangan Kuwait Airways KU 614 mulai dibuka. Kujelaskan singkat bahwa aku akan menuju Qatar dengan dua non-connecting flight dan akan transit di Kuwait. Staff pria muda itu hanya sekali bertanya kepadaku perihal Visa Qatar. “Qatar visa is free for Indonesian, Sir”, jawabku mengakhiri percakapan dan dia memberikan dua tiket berlogo burung biru sekaligus. Tiker sendiri aku pesan 9 bulan sebelum keberangkatan.

Kuwait Airways adalah maskapai ke-27 yang kunaiki.

Melewati konter imigrasi dengan mulus, aku segera menuju ke Gate 15 yang berlokasi di pojok ruangan dengan selasar sempit yang terhubung ke jalur aerobridge. Menunggu waktu boarding, aku terus mengamati lalu-lalang Gulf Air, maskapai kenamaan milik Kerajaan Bahrain.

Ruang tunggu keberangkatan.

Sedikit terlambat, aku mulai boarding pada jam 11:51. Rasa tak sabar menggelayuti hati untuk merasakan pertama kalinya penerbangan Kuwait Airways, maskapai milik Kerajaan Kuwait.

Satu jam terlambat.
Business Class.
Economy Class.

Segera mengambil tempat duduk sesuai yang tertera di boarding pass dan mempersiapkan diri untuk penerbangan pendek sejauh 420 km yang akan ditempuh dalam waktu  1 jam 10 menit.

Bangku nomor 17A yang kududuki.
Terima kasih 12Go sudah menjadi Affiliate Parner untuk travelingpersecond.com.
Alburaq inflight magazine.

Tampak bahwa beberapa aircrew maskapai ini berkebangsaan Philippines dan beberapa dari kawasan Afrika. Selama penerbangan, kuperhatikan botol-botol minuman beralkohol tak nampak pada food trolley, sepertinya penerbangan Kuwait Airways adalah penerbangan bebas alkohol….. Keren.

Menonton “The Martian”.
Menu Low Fat Meal (LFML) yang kupesan bebarengan dengan pemesanan tiket.

Siang itu udara di tepian barat daya Teluk Persia tampak cerah. Hal ini menjadikan penerbanganku terasa sangat mulus, tanpa turbulensi sama sekali. Penerbangan yang menyenangkan.

Cuaca cerah di awal Januari.
Berasa gimana gitu, terbang bersama warga Timur Tengah.

Di seperempat terakhir mengudara, pesawat mulai merendah dan menampakkan daratan Kuwait yang tampak gersang dan panas. Aku sendiri tak sabar ingin segera mengenal Kuwait International Airport yang menjadi mainhub Kuwait Airways.

Daratan Timur tengah yang khas coklat berpasir.
Kesibukan di Terminal 2 Expansion Project.
Penampakan kota Kuwait.

Waktu menunjukkan jam 13:35. Selepas pesawat berhenti sempurna, aku segera meninggalkan badan pesawat menuju ke Transit Hall Kuwait International Airport. Aku akan bersabar menunggu hingga pukul empat pagi di keesokan harinya untuk menuju Qatar.

Airbus generasi Neo A320-251N

Kisah Selanjutnya—->