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…….

Black Stone Story Behind the Architecture of Grand Mosque of West Sumatra

My trip was briefly thrown from time lane. I, the lone traveler, must succumb to interest of all Maestro Travel passengers who were in a hurry to catch their respective flights. I just enjoyed in spending one hour to stay in travel car which took them to Minangkabau International Airport and afterwards I headed to Padang downtown.

Driver: “Where do you want to drop, Uda (Uda is designation for brother in West Sumatra)?“.

Me: “Drop me off at Grand Mosque of West Sumatra, Uda!

I preferred to get off at a destination which I want to go rather than having to follow travel path which would take new passengers from their office. Economical and effective of course.

Got off on Khatib Sulaiman Street, right at bus stop of Great Mosque of West Sumatra, I was confronted directly towards the grandest mosque in West Sumatra. I quickly entered its area through West Sumatra Malay Park which is also part of this “Thousand Wind Doors Mosque” courtyard.

Under renovation, it wasn’t possible to enter….Sad.

In the park, I was alone with a middle age man from Makassar City who also deliberately stopped by to look at this “mosque without dome“. His standing distance which was too close made it difficult to put the entire form of mosque in his selfie box. Seeing me who was busy capturing some picture, he seemed brave to approach me. As I guessed, I would have been asked to take his picture with this mosque as its background….Haha.

I managed to command him at will to get the best picture….Finally we were selfie together in his wide tab. See you Mr. Upe, had a nice trip for going back to Makassar.

Is a brilliant architect who managed to double meaning of unique roof as dome replacement. Physically visible, it is an “Gonjong (Gonjong is a typical roof from West Sumatra)” roof consisting of four tops which were placed on each side. But in fact, Its form holds a historical meaning. That is a fabric shape which was used by leaders of Quraysh four tribes when moving the Black Stone (Hajar Al-Aswad) in the Kaaba.

The path to the top floor directly.

Honestly, I myself never thought this mosque shape which is very grand and unique. I’ve never seen its form throug internet surfing or tried to find out before visiting it. So you can imagine how I was amazed when standing right in front of this iconic religious building.

Able to accommodate twenty thousand worshipers.

Occupying four hectares area, Grand Mosque of West Sumatra in addition to being the largest place of worship in region, it has also become a city landmark, a religious tourism destination, and even has a reserve function as a disaster relief, that is as an evacuation shelter if tsunami happens…. Understandably, Padang was ever haunted by tsunami due to a large earthquake in 2009….Luckily, tsunami didn’t really come.

The first extraordinary impression which I got when I stopped by for a moment in Padang.

Beautiful Padang……

Maestro Travel from Bukittinggi to Padang

It’s so easy to order travel and bus services in Sumatra Island. Pick up the phone, mention the destination, convey the departure time then ask what time to get ready at travel or bus office!….No need to pay in advance….Then you will arrive at your destination if you aren’t late to come to their office.

INTRA Bus from Pematang Siantar to Pekanbaru….

Travel Annanta from Pekanbaru to Bukittinggi….

Now, an easy procedure was repeated for Maestro Travel from Bukittinggi to Padang….

—-****—-

The last day in Bukittinggi or if calculated from the beginning of my journey is my sixth day in Sumatra land, I recounted my journey with Maestro Travel when I began to phone call a woman front office staff at eight in the morning on departure day.

You will sit in the back seat and please come half an hour before departure time, Uda (Uda is designation for brother in West Sumatra). Prepare a fare for about USD 3! “, She simply said.

—-****—-

I rushed to De Kock Hotel after my last visitation in Panorama Park. No time to took a shower again, I thought only one, tonight I would arrive in Jakarta and would soak with warm water in my bucket at home ….As long as I want….Hahaha.

Black Vixion (Vixion is brand name of Yamaha motorbike in Indonesia) picked me up on hotel terrace then drove fast through density of Sudirman Street to Maestro Travel office, three kilometers away. In fifteen minutes I arrived. Entering the office, I was greeted by a veiled young woman, I handed over the fare and held a ticket to Padang.

There were still twenty minutes left before travel car arrived. According to the front office staff, travel car were still driving around to picking up passengers at their respective homes. I just decided to go to a small restaurant around the office and order a serving of “Pecel Ayam” (Pecel Ayam is rice with fried chicken and chili sauce) and a glass of water. This time I ate it very quickly, like a snake swallowing a hedgehog….Uppsss.

I arrived back at travel office in situation that travel car was ready and all passengers seemed to be looking towards me. Apparently I was awaited by all the passengers, I hope they weren’t upset.

Middle seat and next to the driver were occupied by a small family package. Husband and wife, their little daughter and husband’s mother-in-law. While I sat in back seat with a Slovak named Boris. A young postman, bald-headed, thin-bodied and a hobby looking for silence.

In back seat we talked all the way. The story began with impression of his journey in Kazakhstan where no one bothered him when he went up the mountain alone. Then it continues on to his habit that he will feel dizzy when working in an office, therefore he chose to be a postman in Slovakia.

Why is this car passing a small road like this? Can we arrive at the airport on time?”, he said to me.

I think that driver is trying to get through the faster road, Boris …. Hahaha”, I answered.

If he fails, It’s not funny….Not funny”, he was panicked. Indeed, his flight schedule was only one hour from estimated time of arrival which was said by Google Maps on my smartphone.

I tried to distract by continuing to talk. I didn’t know how the begining theme, so we could talk about Indonesian 0 km point in Sabang, Ijen Crater, Probolinggo, Lazada e-commerce, and secondhand iPhones which he thought it was cheap if purchased in Indonesia. One more thing, we discussed about direct flights from Manado to Manila. Until family head who sat next to the driver explained to Boris that that flight didn’t exist.

I passed a waterfall at the edge of road, I knew it was “Lembah Anai” Waterfall. That means I was forty kilometers from Padang City. Boris asked me to stopping the driver and allowed him to buy some mineral water, expensive if he had to buy it at airport. I thought it didn’t need to stop, I have some supply of bottled mineral water. It was result of collected it from Sri Indrayani Hotel in Pekanbaru, Annanta Travel and De Kock Hotel in Bukittinggi. I gave him two bottles. “I really appreciate you, Donny … very much appreciate,” he said while patting my arm.

That was my farewell to him, he must get off at Minangkabau International Airport and heading to Malang. That family package would go to Bandung. While I would head to Padang downtown to explore it for four hours, considering I would back to Jakarta at eight o’clock at night.