March 10, 2012
This is the saddest part of this journey…leaving a place that has become dear to me after a short period of time. This travel proved the truthfulness the wise King Solomon’s words at Proverbs 10:22…I was teary-eyed when the plane took off from Jakarta.
I am compelled to create a memoir travel report with the hope that soon…I will again see this place and its people.
Upon arrival, I was given this as my “welcome” fruit. I am still trying to remember what the name is.
I was booked to a hotel by the beach. Perfect location. Unfortunately, it’s still quite far from site. We have to travel over an hour to get there. There should be no problem if the travel was a smooth ride. But in this mountainous region of Sumatra, that seems impossible. We have plenty of near-misses while traveling along the Trans-Sumatran highway. After a week, I requested that I be moved to a house nearby. There was no hot shower, no comfy bed and all the comforts that a decent hotel can provide. But I opted for safety over comfort this time.
I have to fly out of Sibolga to Medan then onward to Jakarta. I still have to complete some tasks at work before heading to the airport. I had to say goodbye to the trees and the mountains! They will soon be a goner.
This part of the mountain is also host not only to wild animals but also to several wild flora such as these orchids. These photos won’t give justice to the real beauty of these flowers.
I have no idea if I will have the chance to set foot on this part of the earth again in the future. I have plenty of good memories in this place. Good example was the travel from Martabe to Padang Sidimpuan, which to me was like forever. It sent my head to a spin. The travel was necessary just to book a ticket online! It’s the most difficult ride of my life.
Then there’s the meeting attendance at the Kingdom Hall in Pinang Sori. I hardly understood a thing said during the meeting. But it was the meekness and kindness of the brothers that left an impression on me. The van ride along the Trans-Sumatran highway was also not a thing to marvel at. But it gave me some opportunity to hand over magazines in Bahasa to passengers. One lady rejected at first, but asked for one afterwards after realizing how colourful the contents are.
One Sunday, after the meeting, I am overdue for a haircut. Went to Batang Toru. I had to wait for 15 minutes beside the street while the barber takes his lunch. Feeling hungry, I decided to get some refreshment instead. The store owner was an English teacher. We had such a good conversation about his beliefs. He invited me over for lunch afterwards. I decided to visit his family during my last night in Martabe. We started studying the Bh book. Everything went well and we have to bid goodbye. Unknown to the family, I have been anxious how will I ever get home that night. My only resort seems to be to walk 5 kilometers in pitch black darkness of the night. After walking the first hundred meters of it, I chanced upon one of the two company drivers along the road with his motorbike. Jehovah certainly have answered in due time. Astonished, perhaps wondering what on earth brought me to that place, he quickly offered to bring me back to the apartment. What a relief!
Saturday, it was time to leave. There’s one final travel along the trans-Sumatran highway. I remain that traveling this highway is more dangerous than taking a Cessna plane. Lol….
There are blind curves…
…and crowded villages. But there’s no stopping a Bataknese driver from stepping at the gas to a full 100kph speed!!! I learned more of this when I arrived in Jakarta where most of the bus drivers are from this place.
Getting to the airport seemed to me like forever. I was relieved to have arrived in one piece.
Sibolga airport was neat and new. Departure area provides a nice view of the runway and of the tropical rainforest mountain on the backdrop.
The ATR 72-500 Wings Air arrives from Medan
Then it’s time to board…
I was on the same flight as some Australians from site.
This flight will once again give me plenty of time for reckoning….
We arrived in Medan just in time to catch my onward flight to Jakarta. I have been weighing my travel options for the past few days. The options were:
1. Status quo. I have to fly to Medan then onward to Singapore for an overnight stay before flying to Manila. The more comfortable option as the company will have to pay for any cost incurred.
2. Fly from Medan to Jakarta to visit some friends. I will have to book my own Medan-Jakarta ticket and pay for the rerouting of my SQ flight to depart from Jakarta instead of Medan. I will also have to mind my own accommodations in Jakarta.
Though it’s a strain on the pocket, I opted for the second choice. I think (I hope) I made the right choice. I booked a ticket with Lion Air. I had to travel all the way to Padang Sidimpuan to book online.
I have to transfer to the other part of the terminal to get to my flight. It was on a brand new Boeing 737-900ER. I was compelled to write something about my Lion Air experience here.
After the safety demonstration, we’re ready to fly. There was no inflight entertainment. No complains on this low cost carrier.
I was asked by this lady FA to not use my cam. She spoke in Bahasa, but that’s how I understood it. I complied willingly.
Everything went well and I arrived in Jakarta after a two-hour short hop. We hit the tarmac once again. So I had the chance to snap some more shots.
Indonesia’s aviation industry has been marred with safety issues in the past. But it looks like its back to its feet.
Still, some passengers and companies decide to stick with airlines with good safety record (ex. Garuda).
I was checked in at Amaris Hotel (I hope I got the name right). It’s a budget hotel. I was fortunate to have booked at that time when they’re on promotional rate. I only have to pay about $75 for 2 nights.
Looking good and new!
Gives me a good view of the city
I can’t help myself and ordered for this spicy goreng!!! (Though it took some time before the room service figured out what exactly did I want). But all’s well that ends well for the hungry soul.
Come midnight, friends came in…invited me out for a joyride and gave me a treat at 7-11 for this…
Which is the Bahasa word for “beer.”
Come morning, I had to meet a friend of a friend. Somebody I have never met before. Another dignitary. We went out for a coffee and shopping. Then in the afternoon, visited the seaside for lunch! Pretty much similar to our local “dampa.”
We attended the Bahasa meeting afterwards
And dinner thereafter
Went around the city…and time to get some rest for the early morning flight the next day…
I decided to snap one more shot from the hotel
Taking a cab from hotel early in the morning was easy. The driver was kind and understood some English. I tried to converse using few Bahasa words I learned.
The airport looked old, but still functional and elegant!
Glad to see Turkish Airlines flies to Jakarta
Check-in with Singapore Airlines was a breeze. I was told max luggage allowance is 25kg. I was expecting a bit lower than that.
I still had plenty of time to check the duty free items
Some nice looking orchids
The aging terminal still exudes elegance
Starbucks shop provides a nice view of the tarmac and apron actions. The Lion Air B744, though I have read about this on its inflight mag, still came as a big surprise to me
The gates are like separate “houses.” Interesting concept, I think.
Something like a courtyard in between departure gates
A very clever idea for the restrooms
More on planespotting
Garuda Boeing B737-800. Garuda, which is Skytrax’s most improved airline, will have its new 77Ws next year!
Cathay Pacific’s 100th aircraft (an Airbus 330)
Then comes my flight…SQ B772
Then it’s time for pushback…
One last shot…then I had to say “goodbye” to Jakarta and to Indonesia. I was teary eyed when the plane took off from Jakarta. (Hence my introduction for this post)
We barely finished up our lunch and we had to say “hello” to Singapore
And its prolific orchids
And chanced upon a PAL baby preparing to depart for Manila
She departs for Manila
The SQ Airbus 330-300 that will fly us to Manila. It’s not usual for SQ to send its newer 330s to Manila. It’s usually the older B772s. This is a welcome change. Eventually, SQ reverted to the all-772 product for its Manila route.
There was a generous legroom on this product. And IFE was not the usual old one I have seen on previous flights with SQ. There’s also provision for USB charging.
We prepared to depart…
Trailing behind this Air Asia baby bound for Kuala Lumpur
And in no time we’re hovering over at the southern China seas onward to Manila
During the last sectors of my flight, I usually try to recoil and be on my own. I think I made a lot of talking in the past days. First few minutes of the flight was bumpy. The captain (Davenport, if my memory serves me right) made this flight a little lighter by his jolly and sunny disposition. A weary passenger would certainly want this captain on his flight. He even said “beautiful Manila” when delivering the weather report of our destination. Although I’m taking that with a grain of salt, especially flying out from a country like Singapore, I smiled at the description and got ready to rest my back against my seat.
Once again, I have the moment to ponder upon how this travel went overall. Or more specifically how I fared during this journey. The huge challenges and small wins, the ordinary that turned out to become extraordinary. The laughs and cries. And how, in many special ways, Jehovah blessed every effort that I put forth (Proverbs 10:22). All of these will encourage me to once again get up and keep going, and face the future. This time, hopefully, with more confidence and certainty.
Until my next journey….