Kualanamu Airport Bus and Amplas Terminal which is Getting Old

Even a week before flying, I made a choice. Not “The fast train from Woojin“, let alone the “blue bird” that often passed in Kualanamu International Airport. My choice was on cheap transportation which is friendly to my wallet. It is none other than DAMRI Bus.

Sitting sleepily in waiting room of airport train station then observing executives people who dragging their suitcase, chasing train’s departure time. Or conversely, quick steps of dapper passengers who had just gotten off the airport train to catch up on their flight times. I became a relaxed man that morning at Kualanamu International Airport. Yes….I was on backpacking, not on business trip.

They who were busy.

15 minutes watching the “The Blue Sky train” which passing by, I exited the train station and carrying my blue backpack which I got through a famous e-commerce a year ago.

Chief Sergeant’s smile welcomed when he helped to crossing me across airport car lane and then I directed my steps towards airport bus platform.

DAMRI Bus hide at the side of red minibus.

Turning to right end of airport exit gate, DAMRI ticket sales counter is very easily seen and found. Can be clearly read “Amplas, Siantar or Binjai“, as several public transportation destinations at outer of Kualanamu. I have studied it well and clearly stated in my itinerary, Amplas is my next destination.

Redeeming a ticket for USD 1.1, I was accessing to taste government-owned transportation which is already legendary in all people heart.

Very cheap.

Brother, just look at destination direction board!. Over there”, ticket staff in uniform said, with his forefinger and his eyes headed in the same direction.

Ok, Sir” I curtly replied.

24 passenger bus in medium size which was never full.

Entering its single door, I sat right next to the door, less than a minute I was in back seat, even a moment later I was in middle seat. AC ventilator was uncovered, rear window was dull so that my camera also lost its clarity, in the middle, reclining seats didn’t function properly.

Air conditioner was super cold which made me shiver along journey.

 “Where’s your ticket?“, The conductor loudly said that surprised me.

Ah, this is Medan, apparently“, I thought that finally made me naturally behave and not be surprised.

Amplas Terminal, Sir“, I handed him the ticket. It turned out that behind the ferocious conductor’s face, there was a faint smile which automatically released on his lips. I began to fall in love with Medan.

Drive and stay away from Kualanamu.

I was very busy in moving to other seats in order to create the best shots (though failed ultimately….Haha), because this DAMRI bus carried 5 passengers only. I knew that the driver keep watching me through rearview mirror. In order to made it natural, I gave him a thumbs up and, uniquely, he also raised his thumbs high. All passengers laughed at me.

Alley situation of a village.
Wide gardens owned by residents.

DAMRI bus had already been quickly speeding on Medan-Kualanamu-Tebing Tinggi toll road.

Preparing to enter the fast lane.

In thirty minutes, DAMRI run towards west until it finally arrived at Amplas Integrated Terminal which is very famous in Sumatera. The terminal isn’t as frightening as I imagined. Nobody bothered me when I spent 20 minutes to exploring entire terminal.

Amplas Terminal which is 29 years old.

Even I took time to talk to Department of Transportation officer about how to go to Toba Lake from this terminal. Also conversing with a “Sejahtera” bus conductor to asked about bus first departure to the world’s largest volcanic lake.

Blue stall where I talk with local residents.

Very happy to hear that Amplas Terminal will be revitalized by Minister of Transportation, and will become an terminal which is integrated with malls and hotels. So cool.

Come on, didn’t stay long at terminal !. Let me show you about Medan.

See the way towards Amplas Terminal here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-iv6lQjoYmQ&t=15s

Let’s explore Medan!

Breaking a Record with SJ 010

Yessss….Finally I flew to Medan via that route.

Was SJ 010, Sriwijaya Air’s morning flight using BOEING 737-900ER which took me to “Kota Melayu Deli” (other name of Medan). Amazing journey which was actually unplanned. It is different from my habits when traveling abroad with making detail itinerary since a year before the trip is executed.

At 3:58 am, I have arrived Terminal 2 Soetta.

Starting from a taunting every morning in my beloved office, who is always me as victim. “Achh….you don’t love our country and always go abroad. Our country is beautiful, why do you have to go abroad?“. Even though they who spoke it also rarely went on picnics everywhere….Hahaha.

Upon arrival at airport, I went straight to check-in counter.

This trip was also obsessed because of another tickling event. Starting from planning to go with marketing friends to Toba Lake, which is always planned at the end of every year. Even three years have passed or arguably until I have explored more than ten nations, it was never realized.

Install your own cabin baggage tag, Donny!

Yes, such it, sometimes friends have passion just on their lips. So if I don’t do the action by myself, I will never go to outside of Jakarta.

Preparing to passed x-ray security screening at gate F.

The end of October is time when I get an additional 5 days leave. This is a benefit which I got since I was become a supervisor in my office. Somehow, the discussion about Toba Lake at Thursday morning briefing made me curious to open a ticket search site.

05:46 am….Let’s boarding!

Following my fingers which kept dancing on keypad, I was anesthetized because I suddenly had ended the payment gate session on website and then bringing a Cengkareng-Kualanamu e-ticket for USD 40.8. Damn, travel maniac….I had to get ready for next 18 days to explore Sumatra island.

The dashing of Sriwijaya Air SJ 010.

Now I would be the first marketer in my office who would see beauty of Toba Lake. No need to plan a lot, didn’t need to say much….Just go whatever you want, Donny!

Not only in highway….Wanted to fly through Soetta runway also had to queue.

I hope that after returning from Sumatra expedition, my friends wouldn’t say that I don’t love my own country.

At 6:41 am I floated above Jakarta.
And having breakfast with Sriwijaya Air menu.

And you need to know, this trip started from Medan and would end in Padang. After returning home, I would be dubbed as a crazy traveler for the first time by all friends in office….Wow.

Why did Sriwijaya Air always make strange noises like rickety while flying.

I didn’t deliberately land in Silangit because my strong desire felt exploration of North Sumatra mainland to see its nature and mingled with unique local people from the various stories which I heard.

The view outside was able to forget strange noises in the cabin.
Flight with zero turbulence.
The sparkling Malacca straits is doused by dawn.
The awesome North Sumatra coastline.

My furthest exploration on Sumatra island so far only reached the edge of Martapura city, South Sumatra. But that wasn’t in traveling, but only to fulfill my duty when I was a freshwater fish sales many years ago.

I was arrived….Come on down!
That’s the main building of Kualanamu International Airport.

There was one interesting comment on my social media when I just landed in Kualanamu. “Bro Donny, He always work hard and travel harder“….Looked like I have to accept that jargon from my friend.

Waiting for apron shuttle bus.
The bus was coming.

Just like a dream, finally being able to visit North Sumatra. One thing that was never thought of before. It must be like that to explore the beauty of Indonesia. No need to think a long, just go….If lost, it won’t far from home….Hahaha.

Exploring Medan started from this door….Let’s go!

You can see its video here: https://youtu.be/3Bwjm3VULPc

By the way, you can search for flight ticket from Jakarta to Medan in 12go Asia. Try to search the route here: https://12go.asia/?z=3283832

Bus INTRA from Pematang Siantar to Pekanbaru

I left Lake Toba by a taxi (in Jakarta, it may be called “omprengan”.…(using minibus to transport passengers) for USD 3 with 1 hour 50 minutes travel time. It finally led me to visit a new city … yes, Pematang Siantar. The city that I never think to visit it.

The taxi dropped me off in Parluasan area, an area which famous as hoodlums producer in Indonesia. Horrific, but for me this was an extraordinary mental experience.

The driver drove me right across INTRA bus office on Sisingamangaraja street. A INTRA bus parked to upload passengers makes it was easy for me to make sure that I didn’t get it wrong.

INTRA office

Hurrying up and heading to ticket sales counter then paid for my ticket which was ordered by phone call a day before. Fearing if my order didn’t recorded and I could miss Pekanbaru in next day.

Buy a ticket here !….You better order at least a day before departing

Thank to God, my name was in list and I gave USD 17,5 to exchange with a sheet of ticket to Pekanbaru … Yes, welcome Pekanbaru.

Sitting in a waiting room, my gaze was fixed on my watch and INTRA office yard … Never seen when He arrived, from right end of bus office yard He shouted for me. Happy, meet old friend.

His name is Andy Erwin, we met on Hop On Hop Off (HoHo) bus in Kuala Lumpur in 2013. Since it, we have been friend and I never thought that I could stop by to his home….an umpteenth surprise on my journey.

waiting room at INTRA bus office

Waiting for four hours wasn’t a pleasant thing, it would be nice to go around city. Incidentally, Erwin was ready to take me around by his motorbike. I won’t discuss what I got for 4 hours journey in the city, I’d better tell it in another article.

After returning from my exploration in city which famous for its “war veteran bentor” (bentor is public transportation in Pematang Siantar which using old Harley Davidson) , I went back to INTRA bus office and was ready for departing to Pekanbaru. Thanks Erwin for brought me to sightseeing Pematang Siantar.

Slowly I started to get in INTRA Bus. It is embedded in my mindset that I must ready to ride this land roller coaster all night. There is a lot of info which I have gotten in internet that this “running box” will run very fast through roads towards Riau. Indeed, drivers from Sumatra are very well known for their high adrenaline in driving cars or buses. I’ll also tell you later when I couldn’t sleep when riding ANNANTA travel from Pekanbaru to Bukittinggi which is just as crazy in its speed.

That soft seats that I will occupy for 14 hours to travel about 600 km towards Pekanbaru.

I said that this bus is very comfortable, as comfortable as Jakarta to Solo buses (Jakarta is capital city of Indonesia, Solo is my hometown in Central Java) that I often ride when going to my hometown.…Well, you just know my origin.

It will become perfect if a socket under my seat is functioning, so I can just write on laptop or just charge my camera which is low battery. Unfortunately, all socket on all seats didn’t work.

Of course, I can’t enjoy night views out there because condition was really dark. I can only enjoy speed of bus in preceding every vehicle in front of it. This driver is amazing.

On next day, I could see real views from suburb of Trans Sumatra Highway.

Gardens belonging to residents

Or economic growth was seen from appearance of these shop houses.

Only 1 or 2 traffic jams which I encountered along the way because there was a road renovation, so all vehicles had to queue with other side to get through half of road.

Entering Pekanbaru city, bus began to slow down because urban traffic would certainly be more dense.

It wasn’t a terminal like I imagined where I will be taken down. But it was only a non-permanent building which is the final destination of INTRA bus:


A restaurant with a row of clean toilets.

After cleaning my body then I was exiting the building, I was offered by motorbike and taxi drivers to head to downtown. But to avoided a high price, I prefered to use online transportation services to go to Hotel.

I put my backpack and started exploring “Madani City” (madani city is another name of Pekanbaru city)