Sunday, December 28, 2008

Bukittinggi, I'm coming (again)!!

Finally, after long discussion with my family, we decide to have vacation at West Sumatra!! Horeee!!! :-)

At Day 1, with flight of GA 160, we took-off on time, and arrived at Bandara International Minangkabaru. Using rental car from Dhilla Auto Rental, we directly went to Bukittinggi. We stop by a very beautiful Lembah Anai Waterfall (& very suprising, since it is very near to the main road!) to take some photograph. After that, we stop by at Pandai Sikek store.

After travelling for 2 hours, we arrived at Bukittinggi, and directly went to Gran Malindo hotel. Just the same as before, the hotel is without aircon. But don't worry, you won't need the aircon at Bukittinggi! After lunch at a Kapau restaurant (which is far than our expectation :-( ), the rental car driver suggested that we go to Lake Maninjau via Kelok 44, so tomorrow we can go around Bukittinggi town. Okay....

After arriving at Embun Pagi, we continued to move to Lake Maninjau. Wow.... what a 'kelok'! (kelok = turning). We rarely found the similar contour at Java, the keloks sometimes very steep and the turning degree is almost 180 degree, maybe more (sometimes we called it "the nose of Petruk", since Petruk, one of the Punakawan Member in wayang story, has a very long nose). I think it's exagerating, but if you're not sure you have a very excellent driving skill, please don't ever try to driving at the keloks, it's very dangerous... Fortunately, the driver has excellent driving skill and he understand the road very well, so we have no problem. Every kelok is numbered, and I took photograph at Kelok 43 to prove that I was there, hehehe.

At little town of Maninjau, we didn't come to the lakeside, just watch from the distance. Althought it wasn't like the Toba Lake, but I was surprised to find some motels and guesthouse at the lake side, similar like ones at Poppy Lane, Kuta. We also bought some siluak fish, the specific small fish from the Maninjau Lake. Returning to Bukittinggi, the driver took us throught a different route, and suddenly we were at the base of Ngarai Sianok! Wowowow...

At dinner time, we go to Family Restaurant at Benteng area (near the Fort de Kock gate). When we paid the bill, surprisingly the Mamak who own the restaurant asked us, are we from near area? Wowowow.... how come he thought we were Minang-ers? We never speak Minang language! :-)

On Day 2, our first itinerary was to Fort de Kock and Budaya Kinantan mini zoo at Taman Bundo Kanduang. FYI, the real name of the Fort de Kock building was Sterreschans, which mean guardian star, and "Fort de Kock" actually was to mention the surrounding area of Sterreschans fort. General Baron Hendrik Markus De Kock, whose name was immortalized as the fort's name, was Dutch general who lead the troops who battle with Paderi people at 1825 (and actually the Dutch always called Bukittinggi town as Fort de Kock town, but the Dutch name finally dissapeared on Japan colonalism era). When we entered the gate, another surprise, where was the fort??? I expected we will found a big strong building, or at least the remain of that. But no, we didn't found one. We only found a kind of water reservoir, some canons, and trenchs. But the water reservoir was at the top of the hill (the hill's name was Bukit Jirek), so we assume that the fort maybe not a big building, but the Dutch just using the contour of the hill as fort to defend from the attack of Imam Bonjol, one of our great hero from West Sumatra. After that, crossing the street via Jembatan Limpapeh, we continued our tour to mini zoo, and the rental car picked us at the zoo gate.

Next destination : Jam Gadang! Last time I went to Bukittinggi (just click here), I only got chance to take photograph at Jam Gadang at night, since I was working for the gas station training. But now, we got plenty of time to take photograph of Jam Gadang, and I can make sure that we got the picture much better than before, since I can "trust" the person who take my picture this time!

After having lunch, we go to Taman Panorama. First destination : Lubang Jepang. It was a net of tunnels built and used by Japanese soldier as headquarter at Bukittinggi. The tunnel was made at 1942, but abandoned at 1945 when Japan surrendered to Allied at WW II. Before found at 1946 by the local villager, nobody ever guess that there was a man-made cave under the town! Bukittinggi district government already renovated the cave and added some additional facilities (such as stairs, lamps and also licensed guides) so we could enter the cave and go around it comfortably, and also can find out the history of the cave at the same time.

After the cave, we took some photograph of Ngarai Sianok. Once again, since this time I can trust the person who took my photo, the photograph is much much better than before. Have a look!

Satisfied from the scene of Ngarai Sianok, our driver suggested that if we still had some energy, we could go to Lembah Harau. Why not? So we continued our trip to Lembah Harau, via Payakumbuh (another big town of West Sumatra). According to some survey, Lembah Harau is a "hidden paradise" of West Sumatra. Well, they're not exagerrating. It was really a hidden paradise... the rock wall, the cascading waterfall, and the vegetation is so natural... and fortunately, we got a chance to see a rainbow at the waterfall!

Night was falling, and we're hungry. We decided to go to Kubang restaurant, who sell Martabak Mesir (Egyptian Martabak) and Roti Cane (Cane Bread). Kubang is the name of village at Payakumbuh, and famous for the martabak (and I still can't figured out, why it is call Martabak Mesir, since it didn't come from Egypt). And yes, the taste of martabak was much better than martabak Kubang I bought near my grandma's house at Bandung... and also the roti cane, it was great, just missing the curry...

Day 3, we check-out from the Gran Malindo Hotel, with our next itinerary to Sawahlunto via Solok. The driver suggested we go via Singkarak lake, so the scene will be beautiful. The lake is a very long long one, as far as the eyes see, it was lake, lake and lake. We also pass the Tanah Datar (=flat land) area, which is not flat at all... At Tanah Datar, we took photograph of an antique old mosque, which has gonjong roof (the bull's-horn-like roof specific to Minang traditional house). Nowaday, only a few mosque at West Sumatra who had gonjong roof, mostly they had rounded roof as influence of Middle East or Turkey culture. But we got information, West Sumatra has plan to build great central mosque (mesjid raya) at Padang who has gonjong roof. I guess it's a good plan, since it preserved the real culture of Minangkabau.

Arriving at Sawahlunto, we were a little bit confuse. We couldn't ask anyone where are the tourist destination, cause it was time of Shalat Jum'at. At last, we found the tourist destination : Lubang Mbah Soero. At first, we thought it was kind of cave for meditation or kind of that, but later we found out that Lubang Mbah Soero is one of the main attraction of Sawahlunto : coal mining! The mining was built at 1889, and abandoned at 1932 for many reason. At 2007, the mining was opened for tourism. Entering the Lubang Mbah Soero was not as comfort as entering the Lubang Jepang, since it was built for mining, and there were lot of water flowing thought the mining. But we also got a guide who was the former worker of PT Bukit Asam, the state company who owned the coal mining at Sawahlunto. There are complete information at Inbox Building about the Lubang Mbah Soero, or about the history of coal mining at Sawahlunto itself.

After Lubang Mbah Soero, we went to Musem Goedang Ransoem, which we saw old (and very big) kithen utensils used to cook for the mining worker, and it was continued as Dapur Umum (public kithen) at the independence war of Indonesia. We also took photograph of Mak Itam (Mr. Black), the locomotive sent from Train Museum Ambarawa to Train Museum Sawahlunto, to be used as tourist train from Sawahlunto to Muara Kelaban vv. They even put the flyer on Minang language 'Mak Itam, Salamaik Datang di Ranah Minang, Akhirnyo Pulang Kampuang Juo, Ambo Lah Taragak Bana Andak Basuo', which can be translated as : 'Mr. Black, welcome to Ranah Minang, finally you're back home, we were longing to see you'. I give two thumbs and salute for Sawahlunto government, they had prepared the town for the tourist seriously, one thing they still have to do is to promote them to the world!

At the evening, we arrived at Hotel Ambacang, Padang. The hotel was at renovation, but the renovation wasn't disturbing the guests. They had antique atmosphere, the building was old one, and the staff wearing uniform as if it was at colonialism era. The hotel was good enough, and you can find more information here.

Day 4, after took the breakfast, our first destination is rock of Malin Kundang. According to legend, Malin Kundang is a rebellious son, and his mother cursed him to become rock. Long long time ago, some people said the rock of Malin Kundang was stand still, as if he was really cursed by his mother. But right now, the rock is very low, some people said that Malin Kundang already repent and prostrated, ask for appologize and forgiveness from his mother.

Leaving pantai Air Manis where the rock of Malin Kundang stood, we went to Teluk Bayur. Remember the famous song from Erni Johan, "nantikanlah aku di Teluk Bayur..."? Well, since nowaday is the era of airlines, the passenger's ships from Padang to other port of Indonesia is very rare. But we can still watch the port's activities, since it was lot of ship waiting for docking at the port.

After watching the scene of Teluk Bayur, we were back to hotel for check-out. After having lunch at small restaurant Talago Surya at Jl. Taman Siswa (but the food's taste is much better than a big one!), we went to Adityawarman Museum. It was a cultural museum, as the collection showed the history, tradition and culture of West Sumatra people.

And then, at 18.00, with GA 165, we have to leave West Sumatra, the beautiful country and full of cultural attraction. See you, West Sumatra, can't wait to be back there soon...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Fenomena Aneh Pelanggan Airline

Sebulan terakhir ini saya mengamati fenomena aneh dalam perjalanan menggunakan pesawat udara. Selama ini kita tahu (dan dalam logika kita) bahwa low cost airline seharusnya lebih laku dibandingkan full service airline (walaupun kita tahu juga, di antara perusahaan penerbangan yang mengaku "low cost", sebenernya ada perusahaan yang ngasih tarif nggak jauh beda dengan full service airline, cuman layanannya low cost... ironis bo...).

Tapi kurang lebih sebulan yang lalu, saya mencari tiket untuk Ibu saya yang mendadak harus mengunjungi kerabatnya di Jawa Tengah. Yang pertama kami lakukan adalah menelfon call center full service airline, yang konon memasang tarif tiket paling mahal, dengan asumsi mestinya tiketnya lebih mudah dicari, karena harganya lebih mahal dibandingkan tiket airline lain. Guess what? Tiket untuk hari itu hampir semua jadwal full booked, bahkan sampai kelas bisnis! Rasanya pengen nyeletuk, busyet... hari gini ternyata banyak juga yang naik pesawat mahal ya? (padahal airline itu punya banyak jadwal, dan hampir semuanya penuh, baru available di jadwal sore). Terus kita mampir ke loket airline yang (katanya) low cost carrier dengan harga premium, ehh... penuh juga! Akhirnya kita ke loket airline lain yang harganya lebih miring dibandingkan 2 airline sebelumnya, baru deh dapat tiket...

Kejadian serupa juga saya alami baru-baru ini saat memesan tiket untuk ke Surabaya, hampir semua penerbangan full booked/harus waiting list, padahal harga tiketnya juga nggak lagi murah. Baru saya sadar, tingkat kemahalan tiket pesawat sebuah airline ternyata tidak memiliki korelasi tertentu dengan tingkat occupancy pesawatnya... mau harganya mahal, tetep aja pesawatnya penuh, malah beberapa low cost carrier ternyata tidak selalu terisi penuh walaupun harganya 'agak' miring... kenapa ya?

Difference Between American & Japanese Crochet Pattern

I just bought 3 books of crocheted bouquet pattern, one in American style pattern (by narration/description) and two in Japanese style (by picture/graphic). I just realized, b'coz I'm used to read description crochet pattern since 1997, it's a little bit confusing for me to follow the Japanese/graphic style pattern, although I was using graphic style pattern when I learned to crochet for the 1st time in 1987. Once when I started to learn reading description pattern at 1997, I thought it would be difficult, coz at that time I'm not used to imagine the final result of the crocheted things (even with the photograph of the final result, it still hard to imagine how the crochet process will be done!). But after years of practice, once I got any description crochet pattern, mostly I can imagine form, the process, and the final result of the crochet work. And now, since I bought two Japanese crochet pattern books (which has graphic style pattern, and notes in Japanese font, hiks...), I have to recover my ability to read the graphic pattern, since I already (almost) forgot it years ago...

But anyway, it was a great challenge, and I'm happy with the result. For the bouquet I made from the books, please visit my masterpiece gallery here.