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!.

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…….

Karwa Bus No. 727….Menuju Distrik Nuaija dari Hamad International Airport

Pagi itu hasratku menuju pusat kota begitu terburu. Aku sudah tak sabar untuk melihat Doha lebih dekat. Tetapi keterburuanku tertahan sejenak, aku terus menghitung dengan detail budget transportasi yang kubutuhkan selama lima hari di Qatar. Supaya aku tak begitu banyak meninggalkan sisa saldo sia-sia di Karwa Smartcard nanti.

Sarapan sejenak dengan roti tawar kupas di airport bus terminal.

Perhitunganku memutuskan untuk menyuntikkan dana sebesar Rp. 118.000 untuk seluruh perjalanan yang mayoritas akan menggunakan bus kota. Besaran itu belum termasuk harga kartu Karwa Smartcard sebesar Rp. 39.000.

Ticketing Vending Machine.
Karwa Smartcard adalah satu-satunya akses untuk menikmati jasa Karwa Bus.

Avsec: “Hi, No No No….Sir, Sorry, you can’t capture the building”, petugas berwajah Asia Selatan mendekat dan melarangku ketika mengarahkan kamera ke salah satu sisi Hamad International Airport dari platform airport bus.

Aku: “Oh, I’m sorry Sir….I don’t capture yet, I’m sorry”, aku segera memasukkan Canon EOS M10 ke folding bag.

Avsec: “Nice….Nice”, tersenyum sambil menggelengkan kepalanya. “Where will you go?

Aku: “I’m waiting for bus no. 727 to Nuaija. Do you know, When it will come?

Avsec: “Oh, you better ask to Karwa Officer….Him (dia menunjuk ke petugas tambun yang sibuk dengan clip boardnya)”.

Aku beranjak menujunya dan menanyakan status Karwa Bus No 727, lalu dia memintaku untuk menunggu sekitar sepuluh menit.

Tepat waktu, bus itu tiba.

Nervous, pertama kalinya aku menaiki bus kota Qatar. Jika Dubai, Bahrain dan Oman lebih memilih warna merah untuk bus kotanya, maka Qatar memutuskan menggunakan warna hijau untuk itu.

Akulah penumpang pertama pada bus yang baru saja terparkir itu. Beberapa menit kemudian, satu persatu pekerja Hamad International Airport memasuki bus yang sama.

Bersiap menuju Distrik Nuaija.

Walau aku dilarang mengabadikan salah satu sisi bandara oleh aviation security tadi….Namun pada akhirnya, aku tetap mencuri gambarnya dari dalam bus….Dasar backpacker ngeyel….Hahaha.

Cekrek….Itulah bangunan bandara yang kuincar sejak tadi.

Selama menaikinya, Karwa Bus berjalan pelan nan santai saat membelah jalanan kota. Layaknya moda transportasi umum di kota-kota beradab lainnya yang memastikan setiap penumpang merasa aman.

Pembayaran dilakukan dengan men-tap Karwa Smartcard di tap machine sebelah sopir. Perlu kamu ketahui bahwa kemudi kendaraan di Qatar ditempatkan di sisi kiri. Sedangkan selama di sana, aku memasuki dan menuruni bus selalu dari pintu depan. Tentu sebelum menuruni bus, aku wajib mengecek saldo Karwa Smartcard yang tersisa di tap machine yang sama.

Menunggang bus selama tiga puluh menit, mataku terus lekat memandangi segala cetak arsitektur kota yang terlalui, juga dengan beragam aktivitas warga yang teramati.

Diturunkan di Nuaija intersection.

Begitu turun dari bus, angin meniup tubuhku dengan kencangnya, membawa partikel-partikel lembut pasir bersamanya. “Inikah rasa angin gurun? “, hati bergumam seketika. Mata telanjangku terpaksa terkorbankan untuk berkali-kali diterjang pasir-pasir lembut itu. Aku tak sanggup lagi mencari kacamata rayban yang entah kutaruh di sebelah mana dalam backpack. Suhu dua belas derajat celcius memaksaku untuk segera mencapai Casper Hotel, tempatku menginap.

Al Emadi Hospital yang kulewati di pinggiran D Ring Road.
Bunga segar yang tumbuh dengan teknik hidroponik.

Setelah berjalan sejauh satu setengah kilometer dan dalam waktu dua puluh menit, akhirnya aku tiba di hotel yang tampak sebagai hasil menyulap kompleks perumahan menjadi sebuah penginapan sederhana.

Casper Hotel.

Nanti kuceritakan bagaimana nyamannya dormitory sederhana itu….

Heroic Story behind Putri Kaca Mayang Park

Bambu Runcing Monument.

A roundabout in southeast of An-Nur Great Mosque is decorated with a yellow pointed bamboo monument with background of University of Riau right behind it. I continued to direct my Canon EOS M10 towards the monument until an online motorcycle taxi driver came to call me.

Looked like I would spend the afternoon with local residents to enjoy city atmosphere in a Green Open Space on edge of the protocol road. From An-Nur Great Mosque, I headed south for 4 kilometers with a 15-minute motor driving.

Ten minutes to four I arrived. Dozens of people have drifted into quiet atmosphere of park even though roar of vehicle exhausts adorned sound color around it.

A park with background of The Premiere Hotel.

Unique, this park is divided by a shortcut which connects Jenderal Sudirman Street in east of park and Sumatera Street in its west. It is pinned a name as RTH Kaca Mayang Steet, it is short splitting along a hundred meter.

Three-legged concrete seating, three categories of modern trash can, mushroom shaped concrete canopy with green roof, a pair of sand playful area with up-down stairs which flank a theater area, small diameter trees as a sign that they are recently embedded, jogging track with continuous pattern of two halves of park and two small bridges over a fairly clean water flow are types of facility which are seated in this one hectare park. That is a brief description of Putri Kaca Mayang park that I can catch.

Putri Kacang Mayang park is one of eight Green Open Spaces in Pekanbaru which is known as the most child-friendly park. Regional government has to spend USD 45,000 to build this park.

Park naming itself is taken from a local fairytale which is believed to be the origin of Pekanbaru city. Putri Kaca Mayang is said to be described as a beautiful princess who was later kidnapped by a king from Atjeh who was hurt because his marriage proposal was rejected.

Commander Gimpam who is the strongest figure in Gisab Kingdom feels his pride was trampled by princess kidnapping, because King from Atjeh with a help from a traitor had managed to fool him who was preparing to wait for battle at city borderline, while his enemy managed to enter the kingdom through another very path secret.

Without long thinking, King Atjeh was chased alone by him. With his power, Commander Gimpam destroyed the entire enemy kingdom alone and finally princess was returned to him. But unfortunately, Princess didn’t survive returning to Gisab Kingdom because of falling ill on the way.

That is a story piece of Putri Kaca Mayang Park naming. Apparently, there is a classic story behind beauty of this city park.

Tracing Shah Jahan, Enjoying Taj Mahal at Mehtab Bagh

After tired in taking care of Mughal government, I usually head to Taj Mahal to monitor progress of its construction. In afternoon, I invited some Taj Mahal workers to cross Yamuna river and I continued to take shelter under trees in a field to enjoy Taj Mahal which stood majestically doused by orange-red sunset….So beautiful, I imagined it. Imagine?….Yes, because I’m not Shah Jahan. Only he who can do that activity in the past. Who am I ?….Haha.

Taj Mahal was captured from Mehtab Bagh.

I arrived after 10 minutes earlier still exploring Itimad ud Daulah in Northwest Mehtab Bagh. The beautiful and spacious garden hadn’t stolen yet my attention, because I was more interested in old man action who flipping through his fried food so that it gave off aroma of arouse my appetite. No wonder, many people were willing to queue to taste it. I paid for USD 0.75 to redeem and devour it, hot french fries with a faint aroma of curry became my snack menu before entering Mehtab Bagh.

Buying a ticket first before entering.

I immediately headed to gate and buying a ticket for USD 3. Suddenly amazed by park condition. Neatly arranged pathway is embellished with an elongated flower column in the middle. Also facilitated by benches in several spots. All benches were almost all occupied by many Indian young couple who were infected by romance. I couldn’t dismiss it, because the park was very romantic, as its name mean. You know the meaning of “Mehtab Bagh”words?….Mehtab Bagh has same meaning as Moonlight Garden….Wouw..

Really neat right?….

When many young people looked at each other’s interests, I was more interested in going to right of park. Because from distance, appearance of Taj Mahal was so eye-catching. Now I just found out, why Shah Jahan often spends his afternoon to just look at his project here. He even intended to make a black twin Taj Mahal in Mehtab Bagh. But his intention was canceled because he was caught and be a house arrest at Agra Fort after coup by his own son. His son was worried about their kingdom finances which his father was prone to spend it for realizing his intention to build black Taj mahal.

Look at that foundation!….Forerunner of Black Taj Mahal which failed.

All visitors exactly feel safe when in park, because two young armed soldiers patrolled around park to secure its situation.

Soldier: “Where are you come from?”, asked with smile.

Me: “Indonesia, Sir”, answered with simle too.

Soldier: “How about Taj Mahal?. It’s good. Are you happy?”

Me: “Yes, Sir. It’s beautiful. I Love it”, answered.

Soldier: “Enjoy

Me: “Thanks Sir”.

Shady trees in the park.
Other side of park.

I couldn’t really head to Yamuna river bank because It was restricted with iron wires. I saw an european tourist look professional when taking out long binocular DSLR and capturing lots of Taj Mahal pictures from various sides which he liked, right in front of wire fence. I just imagined that one day I could have a camera like that and travel around the world then taking great pictures for you to see. By the way, finally 3 months later I had a Canon EOS M10 mirrorles camera. Not as good as his, but enough for me who have small salary to capture better pictures….Hahaha.

It was enough to imitate Shah Jahan actions at Mehtab Bagh. Now I would see Agra Fort where Shah Jahan is imprisoned….Sad ending.

Merunut Shah Jahan, Menikmati Taj Mahal di Mehtab Bagh

Selepas penat mengurus pemerintahan Mughal, aku terbiasa menuju Taj Mahal untuk memantau progress pembangunannya. Kala sore menjelang, kuajak beberapa buruh Taj Mahal untuk menyeberangi sungai Yamuna dan kusambung dengan berteduh di sebuah tanah lapang untuk menikmati Taj Mahal yang berdiri megah tersiram oleh sinar senja merah jingga….Begitu indah, aku membayangkan itu. Membayangkan?….Ya, karena aku bukan Shah Jahan. Hanya dialah yang bisa melakukan aktivitas itu di masa lampau. Siapalah aku….Hahaha.

Taj Mahal tertangkap dari Mehtab Bagh

Aku tiba setelah 10 menit sebelumnya masih mengeksplore Itimad ud Daulah di Barat Laut Mehtab Bagh. Taman indah nan luas itu belum juga mencuri perhatianku, karena aku lebih tertarik dengan aksi seorang bapak setengah tua membolak-balik gorengannya sehingga menebarkan aroma harum penggugah selera. Pantaslah banyak orang bersedia mengantri untuk mencicipinya. Kurelakan Rp. 10.000 untuk menebus dan melahapnya, french fries panas beraroma samar kari menjadi menu cemilanku sebelum mamasuki Mehtab Bagh.

Beli tiket dulu lah sebelum masuk.

Aku segera menuju gerbang disertai membeli tiket seharga Rp. 40.000. Sontak terkagum dengan kondisi taman. Jalur yang tertata rapi itu diperindah dengan kolom bunga yang memanjang di tengahnya. Difasilitasi pula oleh bangku di beberapa spot. Bangku yang hampir semua terduduki oleh pasangan muda-mudi India yang sedang terjangkit asmara. Aku tak bisa menampiknya, karena memang taman itu sangatlah romantic, sesuai namanya. Kamu tahu kan arti kata Mehtab Bagh?….Mehtab Bagh memiliki makna yang sama dengan Moonlight Garden. Beuh….Gimana ga indehoy tuh.

Rapi banget kan?…

Ketika muda-mudi itu saling berpandang dalam ketertarikan masing-masing maku aku lebih tertarik menuju ke sebelah kanan taman karena dari kejauhan penampakan Taj Mahal itu begitu mempesona mata. Kini aku baru tahu, kenapa Shah Jahan sering meluangkan waktu sorenya untuk sekedar bersimpuh memandangi karyanya disini. Bahkan dia pernah berniat membuat Taj Mahal kembar berwarna hitam di Mehtab Bagh. Namun niat itu urung karena dia keburu menjadi tahanan rumah di Agra Fort pasca dikudeta anak laki-lakinya sendiri. Si anak khawatir terhadap keuangan kerajaan yang rawan dihabiskan ayahnya untuk merealisasikan niatnya itu.

Lihatlah fondasi itu!….Cikal Bakal Black Taj Mahal yang gagal.

Semua pengunjung pasti merasa aman ketika berada di taman, karena dua serdadu muda bersenjata lengkap berkeliling taman untuk mengamankan situasi.

Serdadu: “Where are you come from?”, seloroh beriring senyum.

Aku: “Indonesia, Sir”, timpal membalas senyum.

Serdadu: “How about Taj Mahal?. It’s good. Are you happy?”

Aku: “Yes, Sir. It’s beautiful. I Love it”, imbuhku.

Serdadu: “Enjoy

Aku: “Thanks Sir”.

Pepohonan nan rindang di taman.
Sisi lain taman.

Aku tak bisa benar-benar menuju ke tepian sungai Yamuna karena pengelola taman membatasi taman dengan kawat besi. Kulihat seorang turis Eropa terkesan professional ketika mengeluarkan DSLR berteropong panjang dan mengambil banyak sekali gambar Taj Mahal dari berbagai sisi yang dia suka tepat di depan pagar kawat itu. Aku hanya membayangkan jika suatu saat bisa memiliki kamera seperti itu dan berkeliling dunia mengambil gambar-gambar ciamik untuk kalian lihat. Alhamdulillah, Akhirnya 3 bulan kemudian aku memiliki kamera mirrorles Canon EOS M10. Tak sebaik miliknya, tetapi cukup bagiku yang berpenghasilan pas-pasan untuk menangkap gambar lebih baik….Hahaha #curcol

Cukup rasanya meniru aksi Shah Jahan di Mehtab Bagh. Kini aku akan melihat Agra Fort, tempat Shah Jahan dipenjara….Kesian. #sedih

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He: “Where will you go?

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

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

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

He: smile again and patted my shoulder.

I also found some Indians praying at some airport corridors.

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

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

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

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

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

My plane just arrived and was unloading

1 hour later boarding process started.…

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

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

boarding process before I really fell asleep.

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

this is Jet Airways’ inflight magazine.

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

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

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

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

View along the famous Galle Face beach.

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

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

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

Jet Airways was in unloading process at Bandaranaike International Airport

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dia: “Where will you go?

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

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

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

Dia: Kembali senyum dan menepuk-nepuk pundakku.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pesawatku baru sampai dan sedang proses unloading

1 jam kemudian boarding process pun dimulai…..

melalui aviobridge akhirnya Aku menangkap penerbangan ketigaku bersama Jet Airways.

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

boarding process sebelum Aku benar-benar terlelap tidur.

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

inilah infligt magazine nya Jet Airways.

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

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

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

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

View sepanjang pantai Galle Face yang sangat terkenal itu.

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

Bandaranaike International Airport terlihat dari jendela pesawat.

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

Jet Airways sedang unloading process di Bandaranaike International Airport

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