Philippines Airlines PR 535 from Manila (MNL) to Jakarta (CGK)

In front of Gate 11 waiting to fly.
Philippine Airlines PR 535 had arrived.
Came on in!

“Ms, sorry I sit at No. 38K”, I greeted a tired looking young woman who leaning her head against the window.

“Excuse me, can I exchange it or not?”, began to guess that she was Javanese because of her typical accent.

“Sorry, Ms. It’s better to sit according to seat number which be shown in boarding pass. Let it be in accordance with the manifest. Anticipating that something might happen while flying, I happened to need to take some pictures from the window seat,” I quietly said. Although I understoodd that this plane wouldn’t be completely full.

Slightly swayed, she came out of the row of seat and let me take the seat and she was still pouting in the aisle seat.

“Hmmh, she’s cute when pouting, maybe more beautiful when she smile”, my mind said, I mischief started to relapse.

Every passenger’s face twisted, perhaps because the flight was delayed for up to five hours. I thought that a compensation for a piece of bread only happened in Indonesia. It turned out that a compensation for a meat burger for the delay also happened in Manila….I wryly smiled, because I had lost my appetite. How could, I just got on the plane at twelve o’clock at night, then a short message was sent from my manager, He was hoping that I could attend the inauguration of the new office building at nine o’clock on the morning in Jakarta.

Yess, I got the right for my seat.
The NAIA apron area as seen from the window.
Bustle around the apron.

Even though I was already happy by arriving on time at Ninoy Aquino International Airport at 15:30 hours to welcoming Philippine Airlines flight PR 535 at nine o’clock in the evening. I understood the wrong date in my passport and the missing flight number on airport’s LCD screen. But I was so excited when I heard the news that I would still go to fly in the middle of night due to the impact of Mount Taal eruption in the Tagatay area.

I knew the magnitude of this eruption impact after three weeks of my returning to my hometown. My client, a Filipino national, was flying with Cebu Pacific when the eruption occurred. She said that The “Yellow White Blue” plane seemed to be sucked down and then dived upwards with an incoherent announcement from flight captain. Only after landing, the Cebu Pacific captain apologized for the incident in air due to volcanic eruption.

That night I was very tired, after taking some necessary pictures, I automatically felt asleep. Extreme exhaustion and missed for my home food made this flight was been the most comfortable flight since I left home three weeks earlier.

Being on the Manila sky.
Goodbye Manila, see you soon Philippines!.
Do you know the meaning of Mabuhay? ….”Life or long life”
FPML (Fruit Platter Meal)….Let’s had dinner before sleeping.

The 2,800 km flight with an average speed of 700 km per hour lasts in 3 hours 55 minutes. That night I closed the windoe tightly and hoped that when I opened my eyes, I would be in Jakarta.

There wasn’t special story that I got from this flight. It was just in that night I felt very relieved because during my journey to Malaysia, India and the Middle East region went very smoothly without the slightest problem. This trip added to my courage and calm to dream of welcoming Russia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhtan, Turkmenistan and their neighbors in the future.

But who knows, I didn’t even know that the pandemic would come, even it happened whem I wasn’t in my country but when I was in Dubai. A dream that had definitely been delayed for soe times.

Ancol coast in the early morning.
Getting ready to landing.
Smoothly touchdown.

Then why did I choose Philippine Airlines? Wasn’t is that an expensive airline for you, Donny?

I never even dreamed of riding that flag carrier, maybe God had blessed me by showing me the cheapest ticket in my search button on a ticket reservation application. A coincidence that made me happy. This was the tenth wide body plane I’ve boarded after

Air Asia Korea to Kuala Lumpur…

Thai Airways Jakarta Bangkok, Bangkok-Kathmandu, New Delhi-Bangkok and Bangkok-Jakarta….

Srilankan Airlines Mumbai-Colombo, Kochi-Colombo, Colombo-Dubai ….and

Swiss Air Dubai-Muscat.

Thank God for safely landing me.
Oh, Kampung Rambutan….I love you.

Alternatives to finding flight tickets from Manila to Jakarta can be found on 12Go or the following link :


Public Bus from EDSA LRT Station to NAIA

If you heed the existence of taxis, then leaving Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) to downtown isn’t an easy matter. On the other hand, returning to NAIA from downtown turned out to be the same. I hope that the airport train at NAIA is immediately built.

I asked a young man at a 7-Eleven minimarket, there was no bus and a Jeepney to NAIA, “Will be better if you use a taxi to the airport, Sir”, was his short answer. Likewise bus timers, “No…No…No”, he briefly answered without looking at my face at all, maybe they didn’t understand English or I didn’t know myself because I didn’t understand Tagalog.

I saw two police officers in blue uniforms controlling traffic under the LRT line, not far from EDSA LRT Station. I hurried across Epifano de los Santos Avenue to facing the two of them.

“Can you help me, Sir? I want to go to airport. Which bus should I take?” I asked as politely as possible, I didn’t want to cause any trouble at the end of my trip back home.

“Use that bus, it will stop at that pole”, he pointed to a bus which a second ago drove in front of three of us. Then pointed to a pole near 7-Eleven minimarket where I had lunch earlier.

“Thank you, Sir,” I happily said because I had just found my way home.

15 minutes later, the bus came and without hesitation I boarded it after the conductor confirmed that he could drop me off at NAIA Terminal 1. A coincidence that made me happy, because I had to take my backpack first at Terminal 1 before leaving for Jakarta from Terminal 2.

Getting in through its front door and out from back door.

Paying the fare with 30 Peso, I headed to NAIA via streets of Manila. Didn’t imagine about how like to driving in Manila. Never mind, just likes Jakarta. Manila, which is the busiest city in Asia, had made the bus I was riding choked up along the road towards airport. “Luckily for me, I didn’t insist on going to Manila Baywalk. I can’t imagine, I might arrive when it’s dark at NAIA”, I thought with relief.

Choking in a straight road, fulfilling the road, being stuck at every intersection, stopping at every red light made that afternoon so boring and exciting at the same time. Boring because of often experienced like it in Jakarta, exciting because I was getting the same thing in other country.

Kept closer…..
Honda Click, Yamaha Aerox, Suzuki Raider….Several motorcycle brands on the streets of Manila.

The all-red bus which I was riding then replaced the boredom I experienced along the way by parking itself at a giant bus terminal. Titled as PITX, it acts as a transportation hub for every bus, jeepney and any public transportation which will go to south of Manila. This transportation integration building looks dashing and still looks new. Understandably, just two years i operation.

Paranaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX).
Getting closer to NAIA….Almost arrived.

The clock almost pointed to number fifteen, I arrived at NAIA Terminal 1, bus conductor dropped me off right at a small bus stop where I left NAIA that morning. My face couldn’t hide the joy because Jakarta seemed to be in my eyes. Twenty-one days wasn’t a short time to leaving home to foreign places which separated by wide ocean.

I took a backpack and went home.

Hunting for souvenirs on Metro Point, Manila

I still enjoyed nostalgia by enjoying a serving of Busog Meal Tuna Omelette in one of 7-Eleven outlets at Epiphanio de Los Santos Avenue side, packaging rice which became my daily food when visiting Manila four years ago. Cheap, only 32 Peso I could enjoy lunch amid the hustle and bustle of Manila.

At later, I began to climb the nearest crossing bridge. Citizen steps so quickly passed the crossing bridge, most of them didn’t escape to pay attention to me who preferred to be stop in the middle of bridge and looked at road congestion of one of its fence.

That afternoon I canceled myself to visiting Manila Baywalk, I didn’t dare to take the risk of stuck in traffic jam and left behind the plane to return to Jakarta. In an hour in the future I would only struggle around EDSA LTR station and immediately return to NAIA.

My trip on four years ago didn’t bring souvenirs, on that time Manila became my first destination before heading to Hong Kong, Macao and Shenzen. Everywhere, people usually would look for souvenirs at the end of traveling. And now Manila was my final destination of my adventure, then I decided to looking for it.

Busog Meal Tuna Omelette.
The crossing bridge towards EDSA LRT station.
Enjoying congestion in Manila.
Metro point sightings from crossing bridge.

Now my attention was fixed on a shopping centre which is right adjacent and directly connected to EDSA LRT station. I slightly stopped to watching the station, remembering when I was searched before entering that station four years ago because I was too focus in photographing each side thus raised suspicion of security. Manila was indeed a little tight in security of every important public access.

I just passed the station gate and walked into the connector towards Metro Point. The shopping centre which isn’t large enough. What I remembered that it only consisted of five floors. On the second floor there is a row of stores which are neater than counters at downstairs. Downstairs is the floor which allows me to finding souvenirs. I couldn’t explore the top floor, because there was a large outlet guarded by Security. Maybe the third floor is used for businesses which are more private and targeting certain customers.

Practically I just went around downstairs and looked for some souvenirs, fridge magnets and key chains which I would share for my friends in Jakarta.

The situation at Metro Point.
Time Zone.
The tip of floor which looked quiet.

It didn’t take long to spend every side of ground floor. Trading on ground floor was more similar to the same activity in Pasar Baru, Jakarta. Very crowded. After finding some souvenirs I finally decided to get out of shopping center and prepared to get back to NAIA and then flied to Jakarta.

Crowded counters on ground floor.
Ground floor.

I thought that my time in Manila that time had become a nostalgic transit even though it only for three hours in the middle of the city’s busy life.

Public Transportation from NAIA to Downtown Manila

Like in my first visitation to Manila on 2016, this time my transit visitation would go to the same first place, EDSA LRT Station.

For some reason, EDSA LRT Station was always the first place I pointed to when looking at the city’s transportation map. As if that place is the easiest way to reach from Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). Then from the station, I can go wherever I want to explore Manila.

EDSA stands for Epifanio de los Santos Avenue, the name of street which passes under the station. While Epifano de los Santos is the name of a famous Filipino historian and journalist.

Alright…Let’s went to EDSA LRT Station and got to know it better.

Outside the terminal building, a white uniformed security guard with high-powered firearms called out to me. They apparently noticed that I was hesitant to choose a direction. As I recall, to ride a Jeepney to downtown, I had to turn left from terminal exit gate liked during my 2016 visitation to Manila. Or maybe I got off at a different terminal.

Security : “Hello Sir, come here, please!”, he said with a firm and fierce expression.

Me: “Yes, Sir”, I approached slowly, rather than causing a bigger problem.

Security : “Show your passport to me!”, he sharply looked at me.

Me: “This”, I handed it over firmly and boldly.

Security : “Where do you go in Manila?”, he asked while handing me my passport

Me : “Can you show me, Where should I stop a bus or a jeepney to Manila Baywalk?”.

Security : “It will be better if you go to EDSA station, then you can go to Manila Baywalk from there”, he pointed to a street to the right of terminal building.

Me: “Thanks, Sir”

Security : “In Manila, if you don’t know Tagalog language, It will be better if you ask to the bus driver about their destination”

Me: “Oh okay I see”.

I exited the NAIA Terminal 1 building.
It was at this small bus stop which I waited for the city bus to go to EDSA LRT Station.

I kept watching every city bus which passed, I kept looking for EDSA writing on every bus windshield. Fifteen minutes without finding it, I ventured to start asking every bus which stopped to picking up passengers.

Me: “EDSA Station, sir?”.

Conductor : “No No No”,

The question and answer kept repeating until some city buses didn’t care about me because I wasn’t the passenger. Until finally, a cream colored bus with a combination of blue arrived with the nameplates for Boni, Ortigas, Cubao and finally EDSA hanging in a row down on its windshield. It seemed that those were the names of LRT/MRT stations which the bus passed through.

Me: “EDSA?”

Conductor: “Come in!”

I entered the bus and sat in the middle seat on the right. On the dashboard above was clearly written Jayross Lucky Seven, the name of bus company. Fairly comfortable city bus, air-conditioned and LCD TV at the front. Shortly after sitting down, liked most buses in Indonesia, the conductor approached me and charged me 30 Peso.

Finally found a bus to EDSA LRT Station.
Sat and got ready to enjoying the streets of Manila.

Ah, I would be skipping the Jeepney trip this time. “It’s okay, I’ll take a Jeepney to NAIA when I get back later,” my mind won over. But somehow, I suddenly got up from my seat when the conductor shouted “EDSA….EDSA….EDSA”. I received information that I had arrived and I had to get off, the conductor certainly didn’t know the destination of the passengers one by one, so he let me walked down from front door.

The bus left me. There was no sign of the existence of LRT line which was clearly memorized in my memory from my first visitation. “It’s not here yet,” I thought with a wry smile, until a Jeepney approached. “EDSA?” I shouted at the driver. “Come on!”, he simply answered. I went up through back door. I didn’t know street’s number of Epifanio de los Santos Avenue when got on to Jeepney. Finally, I got to ride again the most popular mode of transportation among Filipino people. Now I paid less because the distance was close to destination, only 10 Peso. Five minutes later I arrived at EDSA LRT Station.

Riding the Jeepney again.
Jeepney interior, looks like an angkot (public tranportation in Jakarta), right?
Where the Jeepney stops and departs.

I was just amazed by tbusy activities of Manila citizens that afternoon. Similar to streets around Pasar Senen, Jakarta. For a long time I stood in an open stall  which selling fresh fruit. Paying attention to traffic jams, Jeepneys which the middle and lower class people were scrambling for and LRT Line 1 going back and forth above my head.

Ah, the beautiful and short transit time I have and enjoyed……

This was the EDSA LRT Station….What did it look like? Good or usual?

Wrong Date at Ninoy Aquino International Airport

Serving 47 million passengers every year.

Philippine Airlines flight number PR 685 smoothly landed on one of Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA)’s runways. This large-bodied aircraft gallantly taxied to the apron at Terminal 1. This plane should have landed at Terminal 2, because it was in the process of being renovated, the terminal was diverted. Terminal 1 itself is the mainhub of Cebu Pacific airline, while the mainhub of Philippine Airlines is in Terminal 2.

This wasn’t my first landing in Philippines because I had visited this country four years ago. Now I have landed at NAIA again, not for a visitation but only for transit before actually arriving in Jakarta. And this is Donny who didn’t want his transit only used to staying at the airport….Yes, I would go to downtown within 7 hours of the transit time.

The name Ninoy Aquino International Airport itself is dedicated to Ninoy Aquino Jr who was killed in Terminal 1 after returning from exile in United States on 1983.

The atmosphere of Christmas celebrations still felt at conveyor belt area.
Tourist Information Center.
Arrival Hall.

PR 685 slowly passed through the hangar belonging to Lufthansa Technik Philippines, Inc. which is an aircraft maintenance service company at this airport, then passed a row of yellow airlines “Cebu Pacific” which is the Low Cost Carrier (LCC) of the pride of Duterte’s country, through Terminal 2 Domestic Departure and finally stopped at Terminal 1.

The beautiful Philippine Airlines staff carried a small sign that said “transfer” and stood in the middle of corridor to collect passengers who would continue their flight to their next destination. They would be taken by Airport Shuttle Transfer Service to Terminal 2. I who stated that I wanted to go to downtown during transit was given a piece of paper which must be filled out and would be attached with a ticket to Jakarta to be submitted to immigration counter.

Immigration Staff : “Where will you go in transit time?”.

Me : “Manila Baywalk, S”

Immigration Staff : “What for?”

Me : “Just sightseeing, Sir”.

A brief conversation at immigration counter which got me through with Philippines immigration stamp on my green passport. I had to ask an Aviation Security officer to find a luggage storage location to put my backpack to make my steps easier to get to downtown. I handed over 20 Peso to Baggage Assistance Counter and they put my backpack on its shelf.

Hunting Peso in money changer.
Baggage Assistance Counter.
Luggage storage racks belonging to Orbit Air Systems (The ground handling company at NAIA).

Passing the exit gate, I headed to a counter belonging to PLTD Enterprise which offered free SIM cards with “Smart 5G” brand for travelers. I politely declined the data package they offered because I only needed GPS service from this prepaid SIM card.


After finishing a short tour of the city, I was dropped off by city bus driver at Terminal 1. Saving time, I headed to luggage storage area and grabbed my backpack. Then go to Airport Shuttle Transfer Service waiting room to moving to Terminal 2, the terminal where I would fly to Jakarta.

Terminal 2 itself was completed in 1998 and was nicknamed Centennial Terminal because its completion coincided with the centennial anniversary of Philippines’ declaration of independence from Spanish colonial rule. This terminal was originally designed by Aéroports de Paris.

In front of Terminal 2, I was dropped off. Many location points were covered by project boards, indicating that this terminal was being renovated. The remaining pesos which failed to be exchanged at Terminal 1 money changer on reason that money which I exchanged was in small denominations, was finally able to be exchanged at a money changer outside Terminal 2 building. Now Peso has turned into US Dollars.

A little incident happened at immigration counter, an immigration officer of Spanish descent was a little confused and asked other immigration staff. It turned out that the date stamped on my passport when I entered Manila this morning was still tomorrow’s date.

ArDirections to Airport Shuttle Transfer Service Terminal 1.
Airport Shuttle Transfer Service @Terminal 1.
Drop off zone in Terminal 2.

Immigration Staff : “When do you entering Manila? “.

Me: “Last morning, Sir”.

Immigration Staff : “Why don’t you check the date?”

Me: “What’s wrong, Sir”.

Immigration Staff : “The date in your free visa is tomorrow”.

Me: “Oh I’m sorry, I don’t aware about it”

Immigration Staff : “Can you show your arrival and departure boarding pass?”

Me: “These are, sir”

Immigration Staff : “Okay, It’s no problem. You can go”.

Finally I was allowed to leaving Manila and preparing to return to my hometown. I felt very calm, having arrived three hours before boarding time. But for hours sitting in the waiting room, I didn’t immediately find my flight number PR 535 on the LCD information screen. I ventured into the Mabuhay Lounge to inquire about the official schedule of my flight to a Philippine Airlines staff on duty at reception lounge. She said that my flight had a delay which couldn’t be announced until when, but I was shown the gate number where I had to wait which was Gate 11.

I just sat at Gate 11 for a while, when I heard an announcement that the flight was postponed until 23:00 hours due to flight traffic disruptions as a effect of the eruption of Mount Taal in Tagaytay area.

Check-in counter.
Departure Hall.
Laptop station.
Mabuhay Lounge.
Waiting room in front of Gate 11.

Exactly at 23:00 hours, I started boarding and left many impressions at Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Thank you NAIA, see you later.

Philippine Airlines PR 685 from Doha (DOH) to Manila (MNL)

PR 685 flight path (source:

If you want to feel the sensation of riding the first commercial airline in Asia, then take Philippine Airlines, then you will automatically be honored to have boarded the oldest airline in the Asian continent. And Philippine Airlines became the 28th airline which I boarded throughout my journey as a backpacker.

Starting with a small incident that was quite embarrassing. That afternoon, the area in front of check-in counter looked vacant, then after flight number PR 685 had the status “open”, I strolled through lane which was formed by boarder tape.

And suddenly there was a loud voice….

“Hi, please queue, Sir!” a ground staff reprimanded me who automatically braked my steps. He pointed to the queue of passengers from Philippines that started from a building pole. They all laughed at me and lowered my face in shame. Trying to smile but still unable to hide the frown on my face, I passed the passengers who were almost the entire queue laughing at me. Until finally, I was standing in the queue, far behind.

Check-in counter.
The 11th ticket in my year-end adventure.

Leaving the check-in area and finishing my business at the immigration counter, my steps were halted for a moment.

“Where are you from, Sir?”, I said in Indonesia language to two middle-aged men who had been holding a green passport with a picture of an eagle. “Oh, there are Indonesians here, brother,” said one of them to his friend. I just smiled to warm the situation.

“Is you taking Qatar Airways flight too, right?”, the question that may wish that three of us could fly in one plane. “I stopped by in Manila, Sir, I take Philippine Airlines flight, my final destination is Jakarta. Where are you going? “, I briefly asked before parting. They seemed busy in putting their immigration document, passport and ticket into their bag. “We are from Surabaya, Sir”, his warm smile made me feel not far from home.

According to them, they were on an assignment to Doha from their company. Whereas, I confidently replied that I had just finished backpacking alone in Middle East. “Wow, that’s great, Sir, traveling alone”, they said closing-sentence before we parted towards our respective gates.

Then I went down the escalator and passed the duty free zone around the “Lamp Bear” mascot. Continued again by taking the escalator to take the skytrain to concourse D. Finding the gate I was referring to, then I sat down while munching remaining parathas for dinner while waiting for Philippine Airlines to pick up me.

Exactly on 20:45 hours, I started boarding through aerobridge. I entered the plane from left cabin corridor. Once seated in 39K window seat, my dream of the grandeur of plane cabin that from the beginning when I was buying ticket finally disappeared. It turned out that this plane wasn’t equipped with LCD screens on each seat. You could imagine, this long flight of 7,277 km will definitely be boring. But finally I said okay to myself, “Just enjoying your flight with happiness, Donny”.

Airbus 330-300.
Wings which flaunt valor.
Started to looking for a seat.
Well here it is, my seat for 9 hours 35 minutes.

I sat next to a big woman on the left, while at the end of the row, have sat a middle-aged man of opposite stature, tall and thin. Ninety percent of passengers were of course Filipino nationals. Because this was their country’s plane.

I kept an eye on a stewardess with bob hair, purple lipstick and slender body. Who doubts the beauty of pinays, Philippines is indeed a producer of beautiful women in the world…. Hmhh.

Befora demonstrating the flight safety procedures, flight attendants  distributed amenities in the form of blankets, towels, brushes and toothpaste. I started reading some of the safety procedures on this Airbus plane. Read the fight magazine and prepared for the second dinner after take-off.

Thanks 12Go.
Goodbye Hamad International Airport.
Blanket for each passenger.
Mabuhay….Inflight magazine owned by Philippine Airlines.

“Sir, I have ordered the menu. My menu should be a Jain Meal, not Seafood Meal, Sir”, I asked to a flight attendant. “Dinner menu must be ordered 3 hours before flight, Have you ordered it?”, he answered. “Oh okay, Sir, It’s my wrong”, I replied.

Dinner menu: rice and seafood.
It turned out that my order of Jean Meal came out in the morning with coffee…Oh my God.
Wasn’t it beautiful, the stretch of golden lines formed by Doha earth lamp? Look at the waters of Persian Gulf!.

After all passengers finished with their respective dinners, the cabin crew started asking every passenger who sitting in the window seat to close the window. Ah, I didn’t listen to orders, instead I noticed the pretty face of flight attendant who I had admired since the beginning of this flight. I just realized the order when a flight attendant continuously smiled and pointed at my window while raising and lowering her index finger as a signal for me to close it immediately…. The incident made the passenger next to me laugh….Was I messed up, hahaha?.

That night my flight was very smooth without turbulence. The pilot informed to all passengers that we was traveling in a plane at a speed of 800 km per hour. Extraordinary. That night I didn’t sleep well, and was anxiously waiting to arrive in Manila. On a time,  I didn’t know where I was next, but flight attendants went back around cabin corridor and asked every passenger in window seat to open the window again.

This was a natural drama that I have experienced for first time. I closed the window in complete darkness and suddenly opened it in the bright light. Like a magic game in the sky, looked like that the sun seemed to appear sooner than normal.

Good morning….I didn’t know where I was?.
The mountain which stood out in the crowd of clouds….Amazing.

The queue at each toilet were so long. With a stutter, I began to queue. I had to brush my teeth and wipe my face with warm water before landing. This was brushing teeth on an airplane for the first time in my life.

Shortly after sitting back down, the pilot informed that the Philippines’ flag carrier would soon land at its main hub, Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). The airline with the logo of two blue and red sails symbolizing the nation’s flag and an eight-ray yellow sunburst would land at Terminal 1 as planned.

Preparing to landing in Manila.

The plane smoothly landed on the runway and then taxied with a quick view of the hustle and bustle of airport. I deserved to thank for the services of this 79 year old airline.

Miss Cebu Pacific….Remember riding it four years ago..
Thank you Philippine Airlines “The Heart of the Filipino”.

Time to transited and exploring Manila in short time.

Came on….. Traveling again!

Alternatives for flight tickets from Doha to Manila can be found on 12Go or the following link:

Philippines Airlines PR 535 dari Manila (MNL) ke Jakarta (CGK)

<—-Kisah Sebelumnya

Di depan Gate 11 menunggu terbang.
Philippine Airlines PR 535 tiba.
Yuk, masuk!

Mbak, maaf saya duduk di No. 38K”, sapaku pada seorang wanita muda yang tampak lelah menyandarkan kepalanya di jendela.

Maaf boleh tukar saja ndak?”, mulai tertebak dia orang Jawa karena cengkok medoknya.

Maaf, mbak. Lebih baik duduk sesuai dengan bangku. Biar sesuai dengan manifest. Takut terjadi apa-apa selama terbang, saya kebetulan ada perlu untuk ambil beberapa gambar dari window seat”, ucapku pelan. Walau aku faham bahwa pesawat ini tak bakal penuh seutuhnya.

Sedikit manyun, si mbak keluar dari deretan bangku dan membiarkanku mengakuisisi bangku dan dia masih cemberut saja di aisle seat.

Duh, manyun aja manis, apalagi senyum”, batin menyeru, aku mulai kumat.

Tertekuk raut muka setiap penumpang, mungkin karena tertundanya penerbangan hingga lima jam lamanya. Kufikir kompensasi pecel lele atau sepotong roti itu hanya terjadi di Indonesia. Ternyata sogokan sepotong meat burger atas keterlambatan itu terjadi pula di Manila….Aku tersenyum kecut, karena telah hilang nafsu makan. Bagaimana tidak, baru juga naik pesawat pukul dua belas malam, terkirimlah pesan singkat dari atasan untuk hadir di acara peresmian bangunan baru milik kantor pukul sembilan pagi nanti….Bukankah seharusnya aku menikmati masa-masa jetlag dahulu setelah 21 hari tak menginjak tanah air.

Yess, kudapatkan hak atas bangkuku.
Area apron NAIA tampak dari jendela.
Kesibukan di sekitar apron.

Padahal aku sudah merasa sumringah dengan datang tepat waktu di Ninoy Aquino International Airport pada pukul 15:30 untuk menyambut penerbangan Philippine Airlines PR 535 pada pukul sembilan malam. Kejadian salah tanggal di passport dan hilangnya nomor penerbangan pada layar LCD sudah kumaklumi. Tapi begitu senewennya diriku ketika terdengar info bahwa aku baru akan terbang di tengah malam akibat dampak muntahan abu gunung Taal di daerah Tagatay yang meletus.

Besarnya dampak letusan ini kuketahui setelah tiga minggu kepulanganku di tanah air. Seorang klienku berkebangsaan Philippina, terbang tepat di atas udara bersama Cebu Pacific ketika letusan itu terjadi. Pesawat “Kuning Putih Biru” rasanya terhisap ke bawah lalu menukik ke atas dengan aba-aba yang tak jelas dari kapten penerbangan.  Baru setelah mendarat, kapten Cebu Pacific itu meminta maaf atas insiden di udara karena adanya letusan gunung tersebut.

Malam itu aku sangat lelah, setelah mengambil gambar seperlunya, aku otomatis tertidur. Kelelahan yang teramat sangat dan kerinduan akan makanan rumah menjadikan penerbangan itu menjadi penerbangan paling nyaman semenjak aku meninggalkan rumah 3 minggu sebelumnya.

Berada di langit Manila.
Selamat tinggal Manila, sampai jumpa lagi Philippina!.
Tahu arti Mabuhay? ….”Hidup atau umur panjang atau long life
FPML (Fruit Platter Meal)….Yuk makan malam sebelum tidur.

Penerbangan sejauh 2.800 km dengan kecepatan rerata 700 km per jam ini berlangsung selama 3 jam 55 menit. Malam itu aku menutup jendela rapat-rapat dan berharap ketika mataku terbuka nanti, aku sudah berada di Jakarta.

Tak ada cerita spesial yang kudapat dari penerbangan ini. Hanya saja malam itu aku merasa sangat lega karena selama pengembaraanku ke Malaysia, India dan kawasan Timur Tengah berlangsung dengan sangat lancar sekali tanpa kendala sedikitpun. Perjalanan ini semakin menambah keberanian dan ketenanganku untuk mimpi menyambut Russia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhtan, Turkmenistan dan negara tetangganya di masa-masa selanjutnya.

Namun siapa yang tahu, aku pun tak tahu bahwa pandemi itu akan datang, bahkan sudah terjadi di negara asalnya ketika aku sedang berada di Dubai. Sebuah mimpi yang sudah pasti tertunda entah kapan.

Pesisir Ancol menjelang pagi hari.
Bersiap mendarat.
Touchdown dengan mulusnya.

Lalu kenapa Philippine Airlines? Bukankah itu maskapai mahal untukmu, Donny?.

Aku pun tak pernah bermimpi menunggang flag carrier itu, mungkin Tuhan yang menganugerahkanku dengan memperlihatkan tiket paling murah dalam pencarianku di sebuah aplikasi reservasi tiket.  Suatu kebetulan yang membuatku bahagia. Inilah pesawat berbadan lebar kesepuluh yang kunaiki setelah

Air Asia Korea ke Kuala Lumpur…

Thai Airways Jakarta Bangkok, Bangkok-Kathmandu, New Delhi-Bangkok dan Bangkok-Jakarta….

Srilankan Airlines Mumbai-Colombo, Kochi-Colombo, Colombo-Dubai ….dan

Swiss Air Dubai-Muscat.

Terimakasih Tuhan sudah mendaratkanku dengan selamat.
Oh, Kampung Rambutan….I love you.

Alternatif untuk mencari tiket pesawat dari Manila ke Jakarta bisa dicari di 12Go atau link berikut:


Bus Umum dari Stasiun LRT EDSA ke NAIA

<—-Kisah Sebelumnya

Jika kamu mengindahkan keberadaan taksi, maka meninggalkan Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) menuju ke pusat kota bukan perkara yang mudah. Sebaliknya, kembali ke NAIA dari pusat kota ternyata pun demikian. Akan begitu seterusnya jika airport train di NAIA tak segera dibangun.

Aku bertanya kepada pemuda si sebuah gerai 7-Eleven, tak ada bus dan Jeepney menuju NAIA, “Will be better if you use taxi to airport, Sir”, begitu solusi singkat darinya. Begitupun para timer bus, “No…No…No”, jawabnya singkat tanpa melihat mukaku sama sekali, mungkin mereka tak mengerti bahasa Inggris atau aku yang tak tahu diri karena tak faham Tagalog.

Kulihat dua opsir polisi berseragam biru, sedang mengatur lalu lintas di sebuah kolong jalur LRT, tak jauh dari Stasiun LRT EDSA. Aku tergopoh menyeberangi Epifano de los Santos Avenue untuk menghadap ke mereka berdua.

Can you help me, Sir?. I want go to airport. Which bus should I take?”, pertanyaan kulempar sesopan mungkin, aku tak mau membuat masalah di ujung perjalanan balik rumah.

Use that bus, it will stop at that pole”, dia menunjuk sebuah bus yang sedetik lalu melaju di depan kami bertiga. Kemudian menunjuk sebuah tiang di dekat 7-Eleven tempatku bersantap siang tadi.

Thank you, Sir”, ucapku girang karena baru saja menemukan cara pulang.

15 menit kemudian, bus datang dan tanpa ragu aku menaikinya setelah sang kondektur mengkonfirmasi bahwa dia bisa menurunkanku di Terminal 1 NAIA. Suatu kebetulan yang membuatku bahagia, karena aku harus mengambil backpack terlebih dahulu di Terminal 1 sebelum berangkat ke Jakarta dari Terminal 2.

Menaikinya dari pintu depan dan keluar dari pintu tengah.

Membayar ongkos Rp. 9.000 aku menuju NAIA melalui jalanan Manila. Janganlah dibayangkan seperti apa berkendara di Manila. Sudahlah, mirip saja Jakarta. Manila sang penyandang kota termacet di Asia telah membuat bus yang kunaiki saling berimpit merangsek di sepanjang jalan menuju bandara.  “Beruntungnya diriku, tak jadi berkukuh diri menuju Manila Baywalk. Tak terbayang, bisa-bisa aku tiba saat gelap di NAIA”, batinku lega.

Merayap di jalur lurus, merapat memenuhi badan jalan, tertahan di setiap persimpangan, terhenti di setiap lampu merah membuat sore itu begitu membosankan sekaligus mengasyikkan. Bosan karena terbiasa dengan hal seperti itu di Jakarta, Asyik karena apa yang sedang kualami terjadi di negeri orang.

Nempel terusss…..
Honda Click, Yamaha Aerox, Suzuki Raider….Beberapa brand sepeda motor di jalanan Manila.

Bus serba merah yang kunaiki kemudian menukar kejenuhan yang kualami sepanjang jalan dengan memarkirkan diri di sebuah terminal bus raksasa. Bertajuk PITX, berperan sebagai transportation hub untuk setiap bus, jeepney dan transportasi publik apapun yang akan menuju ke selatan Manila. Bangunan pengintegrasi transportasi ini terlihat gagah dan masih tampak baru. Maklum, baru berusia operasional dua tahun.

Paranaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX).
Merapat ke NAIA….Hampir sampai.

Jam hampir menunjuk bilangan lima belas, aku tiba di Terminal 1 NAIA, kondektur menurunkanku tepat di sebuah halte kecil tempatku beranjak meninggalkan NAIA pagi tadi. Mukaku tak bisa menyembunyikan rasa senang karena Jakarta seolah sudah di pelupuk mata. Dua puluh satu hari bukan waktu yang pendek untuk meninggalkan rumah menuju tempat-tempat asing yang terpisahkan samudera.

Kita ambil backpack dan pulaaaaanggggg.

Kisah Selanjutnya—->

Berburu Souvenir di Metro Point, Manila

<—-Kisah Sebelumnya

Aku masih menikmati nostalgia dengan menikmati seporsi Busog Meal Tuna Omelette di salah satu gerai 7-Eleven di sisi Epifanio de los Santos Avenue, nasi kemasan yang menjadi makanan sehari-hariku saat menjelah Manila empat tahun silam. Murah, hanya Rp. 9.000 sudah bisa menikmati makan siang di tengah hiruk pikuk Manila.

Sewaktu kemudian, aku mulai menaiki jembatan penyeberangan terdekat. Arus manusia begitu cepat melewati jembatan penyeberangan itu, sebagian besarnya tak luput memperhatikanku yang lebih memilih diam di pertengahan jembatan dan memandangi kemacetan dari salah satu pagarnya.

Siang itu aku membatalkan diri mengunjungi Manila Baywalk, aku tak berani mengambil resiko terjebak kemacetan dan tertinggal pesawat untuk kembali ke Jakarta. Sejam ke depan aku hanya akan berkutat di sekitaran Stasiun LTR EDSA saja dan segera kembali ke NAIA.

Perjalanan empat tahun lalu tak berbuah souvenir, kala itu Manila menjadi pijakan pertama sebelum menuju ke Hong Kong, Macau dan Shenzen. Dimana-mana, orang akan mencari souvenir di bagian akhir. Kali ini Manila adalah bagian akhir dari petualangan, maka kuputuskan untuk mencarinya.

Busog Meal Tuna Omelette kesayangan.
Jembatan penyeberangan menuju Stasiun LRT EDSA.
Menikmati kemacetan di Manila.
Penampakan Metro Point dari jembatan penyeberangan.

Kini pandanganku tertuju pada sebuah pusat perbelanjaan yang tepat bersebelahan dan terkoneksi langsung dengan Stasiun LRT EDSA. Aku sedikit berhenti mengamati stasiun itu, teringat ketika aku di geledah sebelum memasuki stasiun itu empat tahun silam karena aku terlalu asyik memotret setiap sisinya sehingga menimbulkan kecurigaan para security . Manila memang sedikit ketat dalam hal keamanan di setiap akses penting publiknya.

Aku hanya melewati gerbang stasiun itu dan beringsut masuk menuju melalui connector ke arah Metro Point. Pusat perbelanjaan yang tak cukup besar, tak lebih bagus dari Grha Cijantung. Yang kuingat hanya terdiri dari lima lantai. Di lantai kedua tersedia deretan toko yang lebih rapi daripada konter-konter yang berada di lantai bawah. Lantai bawah adalah lantai yang paling memungkinkan bagiku untuk mencari souvenir. Aku tak bisa mengeksplorasi lantai teratas, karena tampak terdapat gerai besar yang dijaga oleh security. Mungkin lantai ketiga digunakan untuk bisnis yang lebih privat dan menyasar kalangan tertentu.

Praktis aku hanya berkeliling di lantai bawah dan mencari beberapa souvenir, fridge magnet dan gantungan kunci yang akan kubagikan untuk teman-temanku di Jakarta.

Suasana pertokan di Metro Point.
Time Zone.
Bagian ujung lantai tampak sepi.

Tak membutuhkan waktu lama untuk menghabiskan setiap sisi lantai dasar. Perdagangan di lantai dasar ini lebih mirip dengan aktivitas yang sama di Pasar Baru, Jakarta. Berisik dan padat. Setelah menemukan beberapa souvenir yang kucari akhirnya kuputuskan untuk keluar dari pusat perbelanjaan itu dan bersiap untuk menuju NAIA kembali dan terbang ke Jakarta.

Crowdednya kios di lantai dasar.
Lantai dasar.

Kufikir waktuku di Manila kali ini telah menjadi transit nostalgia walau hanya berlangsung selama tiga  jam saja di tengah kesibukan kota itu.

Kisah Selanjutnya—->

Transportasi Umum dari NAIA ke Pusat Kota Manila

<—-Kisah Sebelumnya

Seperti pada kunjungan pertamaku di Manila pada 2016 silam, kali ini kunjungan transitku akan menuju tempat pertama yang sama, Stasiun LRT EDSA.

Entah kenapa, Stasiun LRT EDSA selalu menjadi tempat pertama yang kutunjuk ketika memperhatikan peta transportasi kota itu. Seakan tempat itulah yang paling mudah dicapai dari Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). Kemudian dari stasiun tersebut, aku bisa menuju kemanapun sesuka hati menjelajah Manila.

EDSA adalah singkatan dari Epifanio de los Santos Avenue, nama jalan yang melintas di bawah stasiun LRT itu. Sedangkan Epifano de los Santos adalah nama sejarawan dan jurnalis terkenal Filipina.

Baiklah…Mari menuju Stasiun LRT EDSA dan mengenalnya lebih dekat.

Di luar bangunan terminal, security berseragam putih dengan high-powered firearms (senjata api bertenaga tinggi) memanggilku. Mereka rupanya memperhatikan aku yang sedang ragu memilih arah. Seingatku untuk menunggang Jeepney ke pusat kota, aku harus berbelok ke kiri dari exit gate terminal seperti saat kunjunganku ke Manila 2016 silam. Atau mungkin dulu turun di terminal yang berbeda kali ya?.

Security      :     “Hello Sir, come here, please!”, ucapnya dengan mimik tegas dan galak.

Aku              :     “Yes Sir”, perlahan aku mendekat, daripada menimbulkan masalah yang lebih besar.

Security      :     “Show your passport to me!”, dia menatapku tajam.

Aku              :     “This”, kuserahkan dengan tegas dan berani juga.

Security      :     “Where do you going in Manila?”, jawabnya sambil menyerahkan paspotku

Aku              :     “Can you show me, Where should I stop a bus or a  jeepney to Manila Baywalk?”.

Security      :     “It will better if you go to EDSA station, then you can go to Manila Baywalk from there”, dia menujuk ke sebuah jalan di kanan bangunan terminal.

Aku              :     “Thanks Sir

Security      :     “In Manila, if you don’t know Tagalog language, It will be better if you ask to the bus driver about their destination

Aku                    :  “Oh Okay I see”.

Aku keluar dari bangunan Terminal 1 NAIA.
Di halte kecil inilah aku menunggu bus kota menuju Stasiun LRT EDSA.

Aku terus memperhatikan setiap bus kota yang lewat, aku terus mencari tulisan EDSA di setiap kaca depan bus. Lima belas menit tak kunjung menemukannya, kuberanikan diri mulai bertanya pada setiap bus yang berhenti mengambil penumpang.

Aku                 :     “EDSA Station,Sir?”.

Kondektur    :     “No No No”,

Tanya jawab yang terulang-ulang terus hingga beberapa bus kota tak mempedulikanku karena aku bukanlah penumpangnya. Hingga akhirnya, merapatlah bus berwarnna krem kombinasi biru bertuliskan papan nama tujuan Boni, Ortigas, Cubao dan terakhir EDSA yang digantung berjajar ke bawah di kaca depannya. Tampaknya itu nama-nama stasiun LRT/MRT yang dilewati oleh bus itu.

Aku                 :     “EDSA ?”

Kondektur    :     “Come in!”

Aku memasuki bus itu dan duduk di bangku tengah sisi kanan. Di dashboard atas tertulis jelas Jayross Lucky Seven, nama perusahaan otobus itu. Bus kota yang lumayan nyaman, ber-AC dan LCD TV di bagian depan. Tak lama setelah duduk, seperti bus-bus umumnya di Indonesia, kondektur itu menghampiriku dan menarik ongkos perjalanan sebesar Rp. 9.000.

Akhirnya ketemu juga bus menuju Stasiun LRT EDSA.
Duduk dan bersiap menikmati jalanan kota Manila.

Ah, aku akan melewatkan untuk naik Jeepney kali ini. “Tak apalah, aku kan naik Jeepney ke NAIA saat pulang nanti”, batin memenangkanku. Tapi entah kenapa, tiba-tiba aku beranjak dari bangku ketika kondektur itu berteriak “EDSA….EDSA….EDSA”. Aku menangkap informasi bahwa aku telah sampai dan aku harus turun, kondektur itu tentu tak hafal satu per satu tujuan penumpangnya, sehingga membiarkanku melenggang turun dari pintu depan.

Bus itu pergi meninggalkanku. Tak tampak pertanda keberadaan jalur LRT yang terhafal jelas bentuknya di memori kepalaku dari kunjungan pertamaku dulu. “Ini belum sampai”, batinku tersenyum kecut, hingga sebuah Jeepney datang mendekat. “EDSA?” teriakku pada sopirnya. “Come on!”, jawabnya singkat. Aku naik dari pintu belakang. Entah aku masih di bilangan ke berapa dari Epifanio de los Santos Avenue. Akhirnya kesampaian lagi menaiki moda transportasi terpopuler di kalangan rakyat Filipina itu. Kini aku membayar lebih murah karena memang jaraknya sudah dekat dengan tujuan, hanya Rp. 3.000. Lima menit kemudian aku tiba di Stasiun LRT EDSA.

Naik Jeepney lagi.
Interior Jeepney, mirip angkot kan?.
Tempat Jeepney berhenti dan berangkat.

Aku hanya takjub dengan kesibukan aktivitas masyarakat Manila siang itu. Mirip jalanan di sekitaran Pasar Senen, Jakarta. Lama aku berdiri di sebuah lapak terbuka penjual buah-buahan segar. Memperhatikan kemacetan, lalu lalang Jeepney yang diperebutkan masyarakat kelas menengah ke bawah serta hilir mudik LRT Line 1 di atas kepalaku.

Ah waktu transit indah dan singkat yang kumiliki dan kunikmati……

Ini dia Stasiun LRT EDSA….Gimana bentuknya? Elok atau biasakah?

Kisah Selanjutnya—->