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.

Departure

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: https://www.radarbox.com).

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: https://12go.asia/?z=3283832

Doha Metro Red Line from Downtown to Hamad International Airport

My flight was still in the afternoon. 7 pm to be exact. So I was going to relax first until my staying time at Casper Hotel ended at noon. Since the Shubuh prayer, I rolled up again with dormitory blanket, it was very comfortable to close my eyes in a warm blanket in the midst of freezing morning. Until the alarm was jealous and shouted at me….It was nine o’clock. I have to get up, have breakfast and got ready.

After taking a shower I folded my clothesline which was still damp, I would definitely place it in a separate plastic bag in my backpack later. I properly separated every piece of equipment which had been dismantled five days ago. Toiletries, t-shirts, camera, tripod, snacks and trousers were packed in each plastic bag.

Followed by chewing parathas made by GRANDMA Bakery and Sweets along with two pieces of my own hand-made beef eye eggs.

Exactly 12:30 hours, I was ready to go…..

I hugged and shook hands with three of my new Pakistani friends and family who worked at hotel. After saying hello, I went back to hometown.

Thank you friend.

As usual I was standing at the bus shelter just to the left of hotel gate.

“It’s time to try Free Doha Metrolink Shuttle Services, coincidentally, my Karwa Smart Card has already run out of balance,” I thought to myself. But the Metrolink bus never stopped when I tried to stop it. When stopping the third bus, the Metrolink driver pointed to a sign pole at the end of block. He pointed to himself then pointed to me then pointed to sign pole. I quickly interpreted the signal: “Run there, I’m waiting for you!”. I spontaneously ran, when the bus overtook me and stopped at the pole.

“Good morning, friends. You must stop this Metrolink in its shelter, Okay!. Tommorow if you want to use it, you must wait at this pole”, he said as he quickly stepped on Metrolink pedal.

“Oh okay, Sir”, I said understanding, he didn’t seem to know that I was going to my hometown and the next day I was no longer in Doha.

“Where will this metrolink stop?” I asked the Nigerian driver.

“It will stop in Oqba Ibn Nafie Station, It’s free, if you want back to hotel just wait this bus in Oqba Ibn Nafie Station again, okay!”, he answered in detail, apparently he knew I was a free seeker traveler….Hahaha.

Ten minutes later, I arrived at Oqba Ibn Nafie Station…..

I no longer have change and I also knew that the ticketing vending machine didn’t accept large denominations. I went straight to customer service which was occupied by Filipino staff. I meant to exchange money, lucky they provide small denominations. I was willing to convert the Riyal into small denominations which would certainly affect its exchange rate to US Dollars at the airport, more smaller the denomination, more cheaper the price. But that was okay, there wasn’t other option.

I started taking the Doha Metro Red Line to Hamad International Airport T1 Station. Traveling in a distance of 10 km, not passing by a single station, I arrived in twenty minutes.

Arriving at Hamad International Airport T1 Station platform.
 Looking at the interior….Cool right?
Very artistic.

Hamad International Airport T1 Station is a transportation shelter which is connected to Hamad International Airport by a luxurious pedestrian bridge. This refrigerated and roof-covered pedestrian bridge has glass walls and features with travelator. Straddling the main routes of vehicles around Hamad International Airport. Also passing by iconic venues such as the HIA Mosque with its fantastic minaret.

Vehicle lanes traversed by pedestrian bridges.
HIA Mosque minaret.

Had time to leave the connector for a moment, I was passed on to the airport parking lot which was quite large, then I was going back into a connector to the main terminal building.

Airport parking slots.
Travelator on the connecting bridge.

Walking for ten minutes I finally arrived at Departure Gate. It was still 14:05 hours, I still needed to wait about two and a half hours for the check-in counter to open. I went straight to the check-in area to find a comfortable waiting area and at the same time to rest.

In front of the Departure Hall.
Check-in area.
Waiting for PR 685 to Manila.

You know Philippine Airlines?……

Salah Tanggal di Ninoy Aquino International Airport

<—-Kisah Sebelumnya

Melayani 47 juta penumpang setiap tahun.

Philippine Airlines bernomor terbang PR 685 mendarat dengan mulus di salah satu runway Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). Pesawat berbadan besar itu dengan gagahnya melakukan taxiing menuju apron di Terminal 1. Seharusnya pesawat ini mendarat di Terminal 2, karena sedang proses renovasi maka terminal pun dialihkan. Terminal 1 sendiri adalah mainhub dari maskapai Cebu Pacific, sedangkan mainhub Philippine Airlines berada di Terminal 2.

Ini bukan pendaratan pertamaku di Philippines karena aku telah menjajah negeri itu empat tahun silam. Kini aku kembali mendarat di NAIA, bukan untuk berkunjung tetapi hanya untuk transit saja sebelum benar-benar tiba di Jakarta. Bukan Donny namanya kalau transit hanya digunakan untuk berdiam diri di bandara….Yes, aku akan menuju pusat kota dalam rentang waktu 7 jam masa transit.

Pemberian nama Ninoy Aquino International Airport sendiri didedikasikan untul Almarhum Ninoy Aquino Jr yang terbunuh di Terminal 1 selepas pulang dari pengasingannya di Amerika Serikat pada tahun 1983.

Aroma perayaan natal masih terasa @conveyor belt.
Tourist Information Center.
Arrival Hall.

PR 685 perlahan melewati hanggar milik Lufthansa Technik Philippines, Inc. yang merupakan perusahaan jasa maintenance pesawat di bandara itu, berpapasan dengan deretan maskapai kuning “Cebu Pacific” yang merupakan Low Cost Carrier (LCC) kebanggaan Negeri Duterte, melalui Terminal 2 Domestic Departure dan akhirnya berhenti di Terminal 1.

Staff cantik Philippine Airlines membawa papan kecil bertulis “transfer” dan berdiri di tengah koridor untuk mengumpulkan para penumpang yang akan meneruskan penerbangan ke destinasi berikutnya. Mereka akan dibawa oleh Airport Shuttle Transfer Service menuju ke Terminal 2. Aku yang menyatakan hendak menuju ke pusat kota semasa transit diberikan secarik kertas yang harus diisi dan akan dilampirkan bersama tiket menuju Jakarta untuk diserahkan ke konter imigrasi.

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

Aku : “Manila Baywalk, Sir

Staff Imigrasi : “What for?

Aku : “Just sightseeing, Sir”.

Percakapan singkat di konter imigrasi yang meloloskanku dengan stempel imigrasi Philippines di paspor hijauku. Aku harus bertanya kepada petugas Aviation Security demi menemukan lokasi penitipan bagasi untuk menaruh backpack supaya membuat langkahku menjadi lebih ringan menuju pusat kota. Aku menyerahkan Rp. 60.000 kepada petugas Baggage Assistance Counter dan dia menaruh backpackku pada sebuah rak.

Berburu Peso di money changer.
Baggage Assistance Counter.
Rak-rak penyimpanan bagasi milik Orbit Air Systems (Perusahaan ground handling di NAIA).

Melewari exit gate, aku menuju ke sebuah konter milik PLTD Enterprise yang menawarkan free SIM Card dengan brand “Smart 5G” untuk para traveler. Paket data yang mereka tawarkan kutolak dengan halus karena aku hanya membutuhkan layanan GPS saja dari prepaid SIM Card itu.

Departure

Setelah selesai dalam jelajah singkat kota, aku diturunkan sopir bus kota di Terminal 1. Menghemat waktu, aku menuju ke tempat penitipan bagasi dan mengambil backpack. Lalu menuju ruang tunggu Airport Shuttle Transfer Service untuk berpindah ke Terminal 2, terminal dimana aku akan terbang menuju Jakarta.

Terminal 2 sendiri selesai dibangun pada tahun 1998 dan dijuluki Terminal Centennial karena penyelesaiannya bertepatan dengan peringatan seratus tahun deklarasi kemerdekaan Philippines dari penjajahan Spanyol. Terminal ini awalnya dirancang oleh Aéroports de Paris.

Di depan Terminal 2, aku diturunkan. Banyak titik lokasi tertutup oleh papan proyek, menunjukkan bahwa terminal ini sedang direnovasi. Peso tersisa yang gagal tertukar di money changer Terminal 1 dengan alasan uang yang kutukar adalah adalah pecahan kecil, akhirnya bisa kutukarkan di sebuah money changer di luar bangunan Terminal 2. Kini Peso sudah berubah menjadi Dolar Amerika.

Sedikit insiden terjadi di konter imigrasi, seorang petugas imigrasi keturunan Spanyol sedikit bingung dan bertanya kepada staf imigrasi lainnya. Ternyata tanggal yang yang terstempel di pasporku saat memasuki Manila tadi pagi adalah masih tanggal esok hari.

Arah ke Airport Shuttle Transfer Service Terminal 1.
Airport Shuttle Transfer Service @Terminal 1.
Drop off zone Terminal 2.

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

Aku                        :     “Last morning, Sir”.

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

Aku                        :     “What’s wrong, Sir”.

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

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

Staff Imigrasi     :     “Can you show you arrival and departure boarding pass?

Aku                        :     “These are, Sir

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

Akhirnya aku diizinkan keluar Manila dan bersiap pulang ke tanah air. Aku merasa sangat tenang, karena telah tiba tiga jam sebelum boarding time. Tapi berjam-jam duduk di ruang tunggu, aku tak segera menenukan nomor penerbanganku PR 535 di layar informasi LCD. Aku memberanikan diri memasuki Mabuhay Lounge untuk menanyakan jadwal resmi penerbanganganku kepada staf Philippine Airlines yang bertugas di lounge reception. Dia mengatakan bahwa penerbangan mengalamai delay yang belum bisa diinformasikan hingga kapan, tetapi aku ditunjukkan nomor gate dimana aku harus menunggu yaitu Gate 11.

Baru sebentar aku duduk di Gate 11, terdengarlah pengumuman bahwa penerbangan ditunda hingga pukul 23:00 dikarenakan gangguan lalu lintas penerbangan sebagai dampak meletusnya gunung Taal di daerah Tagaytay.

Check-in counter.
Departure Hall.
Laptop station.
Mabuhay Lounge.
Waiting room di depan Gate 11.

Tepat pukul 23:00, aku mulai boarding dan meninggalkan banyak kesan di Ninoy Aquino International Airport.  Terimakasih NAIA, sampai jumpa lagi.

Kisah Selanjutnya—->

Philippine Airlines PR 685 dari Doha (DOH) ke Manila (MNL)

<—-Kisah Sebelumnya

Jalur penerbangan PR 685 (sumber: https://www.radarbox.com).

Jika ingin merasakan sensasi menunggang airline komersial pertama di Asia maka naiklah Philippine Airlines, maka secara otomatis kamu akan tertasbih telah menaiki maskapai tertua di Benua Asia. Dan Philippine Airlines menjadi maskapai ke-28 yang kunaiki sepanjang perjalananku menjadi seorang backpacker.

Dimulai dengan insiden kecil  yang cukup membuat malu. Sore itu area depan konter check-in tampak melompong, kontan setelah nomor pernerbangan PR 685 berstatus “open”, aku melenggang kangkung menelusuri liukan alur yang dibentuk oleh boarder tape.

Dan tiba-tiba terdengar suara lantang….

Hi, please queue, Sir!” tegur ground staff yang otomatis mengerem langkahku. Dia menunjuk antrian penumpang asal Philippines yang bermula dari sebuah tiang bangunan. Mereka semua menertawakanku dan menyungkurkan mukaku dalam rasa malu. Berusaha tersenyum tetapi tetap saja tak bisa menyembunyikan kecut muka, aku melewati para penumpang itu yang hampir sepanjang antrian tertawa memandangiku. Hingga akhirnya, aku sudah berdiri di antrian, jauh di belakang.

Check-in counter.
Tiket ke-11 dalam petualangan akhir tahunku.

Meninggalkan area check-in dan menyelesaikan urusan di konter imigrasi, langkahku tertahan sekejap.

Asal mana pak?“, sapaku pada dua lelaki paruh baya yang sedari tadi memegangi paspor hijau bergambar garuda. “Loh, ada orang Indonesia nih, cak“, tegas seorang darinya kepada teman sebelahnya. Aku hanya tersenyum untuk menghangatkan suasana.

Naik Qatar Airways juga ya mas?“, pertanyaan yang mungkin berharap kita bertiga bisa terbang sepesawat. “Saya mampir Manila dulu pak, naik Philippine Airlines, tujuan akhir saya Jakarta. Bapak berdua mau kemana? “, tanyaku singkat sebelum berpisah. Kedua lelaki itu tampak berbenah memasukkan setiap berkas imigrasi, paspor dan tiketnya ke dalam tas. “Kami dari Surabaya, mas“, senyumnya hangatnya membuatku merasa tak jauh dari rumah.

Menurut tuturnya, kedua lelaki itu sedang ada tugas dari perusahaannya di Doha. Sedangkan aku menjawab dengan percaya diri bahwa aku baru saja selesai backpackeran sendirian di Timur Tengah. “Wah hebat si mas, keliling sendirian“, ucapan penutupnya sebelum kami berpisah menuju gate masing-masing.

Kemudian aku menuruni escalator dan melewati duty free zone di sekitar maskot “Lamp Bear”. Berlanjut lagi dengan menaiki escalator untuk menaiki skytrain menuju concourse D. Menemukan gate yang kumaksud, maka terduduklah aku sembari mengunyah paratha tersisa untuk makan malam sambil menunggu Philippine Airlines tiba menjemput.

Tepat pukul 20:45, aku mulai boarding melalui aerobridge. Aku memasuki pesawat dari koridor kabin sebelah kiri. Begitu terduduk di window seat berbilangan 39K, impian kemegahan kabin yang sedari semula saat membeli tiket akhirnya sirna.  Ternyata pesawat ini tak dilengkapi LCD screen di setiap bangkunya. Terbayang sudah, penerbangan panjang sejauh 7.277 Km ini pasti akan membosankan.

Airbus 330-300.
Sayap yang memamerkan kegagahan.
Mulai mencari tempat duduk.
Nah ini dia, tempat dudukku selama 9 jam 35 menit.

Aku duduk bersebelahan dengan wanita tambun di sisi kiri sedangkan di ujung baris terduduk lelaki paruh baya berpostur sebaliknya, jangkung dan kurus. Sembilan puluh persen penumpang tentu berkebangsaan Philippines. Karena ini pesawat negara mereka.

Aku terus memperhatikan pramugari berpotongan rambut bob, berlipstik ungu dan berpostur semampai. Siapa yang meragukan kecantikan para pinay, Philippines memang penghasil para wanita cantik di dunia….Hahaha.

Setelah mendemokan prosedur keselamatan terbang, pramugari dan pramugara itu membagikan amenities berupa selimut, handuk, sikat dan pasta gigi. Aku mulai membaca beberapa prosedur keamanan pesawat Airbus ini. Membaca infight magazinenya dan bersiap untuk santap malam kedua kali setelah take-off.

Thanks 12Go.
Selamat tinggal Hamad International Airport.
Selimut untuk setiap penumpang.
Mabuhay….Inflight magazine milik Philippine Airlines.

Sir, I have ordered the menu. My menu should  a Jain Meal, not Seafood Meal, Sir”, tanyaku pada seorang pramugara. “Dinner menu must be ordered 3 hours before flight, Have you order it?”, jawabnya sedikit tegas. Daripada menimbulkan keributan yang tak mengenakkan, aku mengalah saja. Begitulah aku, selalu menghindari gesekan dan cenderung mengalah pada setiap perselisihan….Hebat ya guwe, mulia banget….Hahaha.

Menu makan malam: nasi dan ikan laut.
Ternyata Jean Meal pesananku keluar di pagi hari bersama kopi…Oalah, ndeso tenan.
Indah sekali bukan, rentangan garis-garis emas bentukan pelita bumi Doha?. Lihat perairan Teluk Persia itu!.

Setelah semua penumpang selesai dengan dinnernya masing-masing, awak kabin mulai meminta setiap penumpang yang duduk di window seat untuk menutup jendela. Ah, aku tak mendengarkan perintah, malahan memperhatikan wajah ayu pramugari yang kukagumi sedari tadi. Aku baru tersadar akan perintah ketika pramugari itu tersenyum terus dan menunjuk jendelaku sembari menaik turunkan telunjuknya sebagai isyarat bagiku untuk segera menutupnya….”Iya mbak, aku ngerti kok, cuma sedang terpesona denganmu saja”, batinku menjawab senyumannya. Kejadian itu membuat penumpang di sebelahku tertawa….Kacau kan guwe?.

Malam itu penerbanganku sangat mulus tanpa turbulensi. Pilot menginformasikan bahwa aku sedang melaju di dalam selongsong terbang dengan kecepatan 800 Km per jam. Luar biasa. Malam itu aku tak tidur nyenyak, terus gelisah menunggu tiba di Manila. Entah sampai dimana, pramugari itu kembali berkeliling di koridor kabin dan meminta setiap penumpang di window seat untuk membuka kembali jendelanya.

Inilah drama alam yang baru pertama kali ku alami. Aku menutup jendela dalam gulita dan tiba-tiba membukanya dalam kondisi terang benderang. Bak permianan sulap di angkasa, matahari sepertinya lebih cepat muncul dari waktu normalnya.

Selamat pagi….Entah aku berada dimana?.
Gunung yang menyembul di kerumunan awan….Menakjubkan.

Antrian di setiap toilet begitu panjang. Dengan gagapnya, aku pun mulai mengantri. Aku harus bergosok gigi dan menyeka  muka dengan air hangat sebelum mendarat.  Inilah kegiatan sikat gigi di pesawat terbang untuk pertama kalinya dalam hidupku.

Tak lama setelah duduk kembali, pilot memberitahukan bahwa flag carrier milik Philippines ini akan segera mendarat di mainhubnya, yaitu Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). Maskapai berlogo dua layar biru dan merah yang melambangkan bendera kebesaran negara dan sunburst kuning delapan sinar ini akan mendarat di Terminal 1 sesuai rencana.

Bersiap mendarat di Manila.

Pesawat mendarat dengan mulusnya di runway dan kemudian taxiing dengan menampilkan pemandangan cepat tentang hiruk pikuknya suasana bandara. Aku pantas berterimakasih pada jasa maskapain berusia 79 tahun ini.

Rindu Cebu Pacific….Teringat menunggangnya empat tahun silam.
Thank you Philippine Airlines “The Heart of the Filipino”.

Saatnya transit dan menjelajah Manila dalam waktu singkat.

Yuksss…..Berkelana lagi!

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

Kisah Selanjutnya—->

Doha Metro Red Line dari Doha ke Hamad International Airport

<—-Kisah Sebelumnya

Penerbanganku masih sore nanti. Jam 19:00 tepatnya. Jadi aku akan bersantai dahulu hingga masa inapku di Casper Hotel habis tepat di tengah hari. Sedari Shalat Subuh, aku kembali menggulung badan dengan selimut dormitory, nyaman sekali memejamkan mata dalam hangat selimut di tengah bekunya pagi. Hingga alarm iri dan meneriakiku….Sudah pukul sembilan. Aku harus bangun, sarapan dan bersiap diri.

Selepas mandi kulipat jemuran yang masih lembab, sudah pasti akan kutempatkan di kantong plastik tersendiri di backpackku nanti. Kupisahkan dengan baik setiap peralatan yang sudah terbongkar sejak lima hari lalu. Toiletries, t-shirt, kamera, tripod, snack dan celana panjang kupacking pada kantong plastik masing-masing.

Berlanjut kemudian dengan mengunyah paratha buatan GRANDMA Bakery and Sweets beserta dua lembar telur mata sapi karya tanganku sendiri.

Tepat 12:30, aku undur diri…..

Aku berpelukan dan berjabat tangan dengan tiga sahabat sekaligus keluarga baruku asal Pakistan yang bekerja mengurusi penginapan itu. Seusai mengucap salam, aku pulang.

Terimakasih kawan.

Seperti biasa aku berdiri di shelter bus tepat di sebelah kiri gerbang penginapan.

“Saatnya mencoba Free Doha Metrolink Shuttle Services, kebetulan Karwa Smart Cardku memang sudah menipis saldonya”, batinku beride. Tapi bus Metrolink itu tak pernah berhenti ketika aku stop. Saat menyetop bus ketiga, sopir Metrolink itu menunjuk sebuah tiang di ujung sana. Dia menunjuk dirinya lalu menunjukku lalu menunjuk tiang itu. Aku cepat memaknai isyarat itu: “Larilah kesana, aku menunggumu!”. Aku spontan berlari, ketika bus mendahuliku dan berhenti di tiang itu.

Good morning, friend. You must stop this Metrolink in its shelter, Okay!. Tommorow if you want to use it, you must wait at this pole”, ucapnya sembari menginjak Metrolink itu cepat-cepat.

Oh Okay, Sir”, ucapku memahami, dia tak tahu rupanya bahwa aku akan pulang dan esok hari sudah tak berada lagi di Doha.

Where will this metrolink stop?”, tanyaku pada pengemudi berkebangsaan Nigeria itu.

It will stop in Oqba Ibn Nafie Station, It’s free, if you want back to home just wait this bus in Oqba Ibn Nafie Station again, okay!”, jawabnya detail, rupanya dia tahu aku pengelana pencari gratisan….Hahaha.

Sepuluh menit kemudian, aku tiba di Stasiun Oqba Ibn Nafie…..

Aku sudah tak punya receh dan aku juga tahu bahwa ticketing vending machine itu tak menerima pecahan besar. Aku langsung menuju customer service yang diduduki oleh para staf berkebangsaan Philippines. Aku bermaksud menukarkan uang, beruntung mereka menyediakan uang pecahan kecil. Aku rela menukarkan Riyal menjadi pecahan kecil yang tentu akan berpengaruh terhadap nilai tukarnya ke Dolar Amerika di bandara nanti, semakin kecil pecahan tentu harganya akan semakin murah. Tapi tak apalah, tak ada opsi lain.

Aku mulai menaiki Doha Metro Red Line menuju Stasiun Hamad International Airport T1. Menempuh jarak 10 Km, tak berselang dengan satu stasiun pun, aku tiba dalam dua puluh menit.

Tiba di platform Stasiun Hamad International Airport T1.
Lihat interiornya….Keren kan?
Artistik banget.

Stasiun Hamad International Aiport T1 adalah sebuah shelter transportasi yang terhubung dengan Hamad International Airport oleh sebuah jembatan penyeberangan mewah. Jembatan penyeberangan bernaung atap dan berpendingin ini berdindingkan kaca dan berfasilitaskan travelator. Mengangkangi jalur-jalur utama kendaraan di sekitaran Hamad International Airport. Juga melewati venue ikonik sepeti HIA Mosque dengan minaretnya yang aduhai.

Jalur kendaraan yang dilewati oleh jembatan penyeberangan.
HIA Mosque minaret.

Sempat keluar sejenak dari connector itu, aku dilewatkan pada lahan parkir bandara yang cukup luas, kemudian aku dimasukkan lagi ke dalam sebuah connector menuju bangunan utama terminal.

Parking slot bandara.
Travelator di jembatan penghubung.

Berjalan selama sepuluh menit akhirnya aku tiba di Departure Gate. Masih jam 14:05, aku masih perlu menunggu sekitar dua setengah jam hingga konter check-in dibuka. Aku langsung menuju check-in area untuk mencari tempat tunggu yang nyaman dan sekaligus beristirahat.

Di depan Departure Hall.
Check-in area.
Menunggu PR 685 menuju Manila.

Tau kan Philippine Airlines?……

Kisah Selanjutnya—->