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Sunday, March 29, 2020

The Europe Trip: Liverpool

It took me four years since my first and only visit to Liverpool to finally write about the city. The truth is I did try before, but it just didn't work out. Unlike many places I'd been before, Liverpool was unique because the city was overwhelmed by the popularity of the Beatles and Liverpool F.C. (try googling Liverpool and you'd get the football club instead on the first page). If you took these big names out, it was unlikely one would visit Liverpool. I don't think the fact that Titanic was registered in Liverpool would draw tourists to the city.

I had told you about the Fab Four Taxi Tour when I began Roadblog101 in January 2017. After that, my wife wrote about her experience of visiting the city with a hardcore Beatles fan, namely her husband. Now let's see the city as itself to understand how charming it was and what it could offer. I'd try to minimize the mention of the Beatles so you'd have a better idea of how the city looked like.

At the Livepool John Lennon Airport.
Photo by Evelyn Nuryani.

The Liverpool John Lennon Airport, my first impression of the city, was neither a modern nor big airport. What made it slightly different than other same sized airports was the fact that it was named after Liverpool's favorite son. That man happened to be one of the most beloved people on this planet, so his name, his self-portrait drawing and the lyrics of Imagine would sure invoke certain memories of those fans who landed there. 

The immigration officer was chatty and friendly, behaving exactly the same as what I read about Liverpudlians. I remember eating Subway (had a craze for sandwiches at that time) while waiting for the bus to the city. Then, on our way to Liverpool ONE, I saw children playing football and I remember thinking, "no wonder they are good at this. That's because they already practiced since young." Looking back, probably I just got carried away simply by being in Liverpool, the homeground of the Reds, haha.

Checking-in at Hard Days Night Hotel.
Photo by Evelyn Nuryani. 

Liverpool ONE is some sort of business district. Hard Days Night Hotel, our destination, is not very far from the bus station. The problem was the weather. Liverpool was the northernmost city I ever visited and in April, it was still very cold! As a result, even though it was just a short distance, it felt far as it was quite torturous. 

Because the room wasn't ready yet, we dropped our luggage at the concierge and went for lunch at the Lobster Pot. We had fish and chips there. Saw the Beatles eating this before, so it must be a local delicacy that we must try, haha. We went back to hotel for a much needed nap after that. Oh yes, we woke up quite early to catch the first flight from Paris!

Enjoying fish and chips at the Lobster Pot!

Late in the afternoon, we explored Liverpool ONE. It has the typical retailers you'd find in London such as Mark & Spencer and Primark. The shops that sell official merchandise of Liverpool and Everton are located side by side. How interesting! I remember visiting Gap Store because I brought only one pair of jeans to Europe so after one week, I desperately needed another pair, haha.

As we walked around, it was quite apparent that Liverpool was quite proud with its musical heritage. While the Beatles' presence was strongly felt, let's not forget other acts such as Cilla Black or Gerry and the Pacemakers. We bumped into street musicians playing guitar everywhere we went. When the night came, people were coming to Mathew Street for live music. That's where the Cavern Club is. In case you don't know it's significance, the Beatles and many others used to play there.

Visiting the Cavern Club. The band was right at the end of the cellar!

The Cavern Club is kind of unique, because visitors  have to go down to the basement for the music and beers. I had my first Strongbow there. It was also there that I first heard the infamous Scouse accent. It was surely different and took some time to get used to. Another memorable experience would be the encounter with a local whom insisted that I came from Belgium. To this day, I still had no idea which part of me that looked Belgian to him. 

The next day, we went to Albert Dock, a walking distance from Liverpool ONE. As the name would imply, it was meant to be a dock, but it houses a couple of museums there these days. We were there because of the Beatles Story Museum and British Music Experience. Yes, it was all about music, not the sport, so no Anfield for me, haha.

Heading to Albert Dock. 

Up to our second day in Liverpool, we were only roaming around the hotel. The third day, when we took the taxi tour, was the first time we actually saw the other parts of Liverpool such as Allerton and Woolton. These places of interest, including Penny Lane, turned out to be quite far from Liverpool ONE. But then again, they also didn't seem like places one would visit if the person wasn't a Beatles fan.

That experience made me wonder why there was no metro or subway in this city. I ended up thinking that perhaps they didn't need one. There were land tours organizing trips to such tourist destinations, so the existing public transport should be sufficient for locals. Like I said earlier, without the football and the music, Liverpool would have been a quiet city not many would come and visit.

Overall, I had a good time there. Food was alright (try Chilli Pot if you missed Asian food) and the music scene was unlike any other places I'd been before. My only regret? I should have visited Manchester, which is just an hour away! I spent plenty of time in Liverpool ONE and I should have hopped into the bus and went there!

The fried rice at the Chilli Pot was good!


Perjalanan Ke Eropa: Liverpool

Butuh waktu empat tahun terhitung sejak kunjungan yang pertama dan satu-satunya bagi saya untuk menulis tentang Liverpool. Saya pernah coba sebelum ini, tapi tidak sukses. Berbeda dengan kota-kota lain yang pernah saya kunjungi, Liverpool terasa sulit untuk ditulis karena daya tariknya yang mengandalkan the Beatles dan Liverpool F.C. (coba anda cari Liverpool di Google dan akan anda lihat bahwa yang muncul di halaman pertama adalah klub sepakbolanya). Jika anda coret dua pesona ini, rasanya turis tidak akan berkunjung ke Liverpool. Saya tidak yakin kalau fakta sejarah bahwa Liverpool adalah tempat kapal Titanic didaftarkan bisa menarik kunjungan wisata. 

Saya telah bercerita tentang the Fab Four Taxi Tour saat saya memulai Roadblog101 di bulan Januari 2017. Setelah itu, istri saya berbagi pengalaman tentang kunjungan ke Liverpool bersama suaminya yang merupakan penggemar berat the Beatles. Sekarang mari kita lihat kota ini apa adanya untuk melihat seperti apa daya tariknya. Saya akan coba meminimalisir nama Beatles sehingga anda memiliki gambaran seperti apa kota ini sebenarnya.

Di Pret a Manger, Liverpool ONE.

Bandaranya yang bernama Liverpool John Lennon Airport merupakan kesan pertama saya tentang kota ini. Lapangan terbang ini tidak besar dan tidak juga modern. Apa yang membuatnya berbeda dengan lapangan terbang lain yang seukuran adalah namanya yang berasal dari putra kebanggaan kota Liverpool. Orang ini kebetulan adalah salah satu orang terkenal yang dicintai banyak orang di muka bumi ini, jadi namanya, lukisan dirinya dan lirik lagu Imagine tentu memiliki kesan yang mendalam bagi para penggemarnya yang baru saja mendarat di bandara. 

Petugas imigrasi yang melayani saya ramah dan bersahabat, persis seperti apa yang baca tentang orang Liverpool. Saya ingat Subway yang saya santap sewaktu menunggu bis. Saat itu saya sedang tergila-gila dengan sandwich, haha. Kemudian, ketika bis sedang bergerak menuju Liverpool ONE, saya melihat anak-anak bule yang sedang bermain sepak bola. Saat itu saya sempat berpikir, pantas saja mereka jago bermain bola. Ternyata sudah berlatih dari sejak dini. Kalau saya kenang kembali, seperti saya hanya terbawa perasaan karena sedang berada di Liverpool, tempat asal the Reds. Bisa saja mereka cuma murid-murid sekolah yang kebetulan sedang bermain sepak bola, haha.

Evelyn Nuryani bersantai di Hard Days Night Hotel.

Liverpool ONE adalah semacam kawasan perbelanjaan. Hard Days Night Hotel, tempat tujuan kita, terletak tidak jauh dari stasiun bis distrik ini. Yang menjadi masalah ada cuacanya. Liverpool adalah kota paling utara yang pernah saya kunjungi dan di bulan April, iklimnya masih sangat dingin! Alhasil, meski dekat jaraknya, tapi jauh rasanya karena hembusan angin dingin yang menyiksa. 

Karena kamar kita belum siap, kita menitipkan koper di hotel dan keluar lagi untuk makan siang di Lobster Pot. Menu kita adalah ikan dan kentang goreng. Oh ya, saya pernah lihat the Beatles menikmati makanan ini, jadi layak dicoba, haha. Setelah itu barulah kita kembali ke hotel untuk tidur siang. Di hari itu kita bangun sebelum matahari terbit karena kita menaiki pesawat pertama dari Paris.

Jam 7.08 malam di Liverpool ONE. Langitnya masih terang.

Menjelang senja, kita menjajaki Liverpool ONE. Kawasan ini memiliki toko-toko ritel yang sering ditemukan di London, misalnya Mark & Spencer dan Primark. Di sana juga ada dua toko yang bersebelahan dan menjual pernak-pernik resmi untuk klub sepakbola Liverpool dan Everton. Satu merah, satu biru tokonya, sungguh menarik! Saya ingat betul bahwa saya akhirnya berbelanja di Gap karena saya hanya membawa satu celana jeans. Sesudah dipakai seminggu di Eropa, saya butuh celana baru, haha. 

Saat kita berkeliling ke sana kemari, tampak bahwa Liverpool adalah kota yang bangga dengan peninggalan budaya musiknya. Pengaruh the Beatles bisa terlihat di mana-mana, namun perlu diingat pula bahwa dari kota inilah Cilla Black, Gerry and the Pacemakers dan musisi lainnya berasal. Kita melihat musisi jalanan yang bernyanyi sambil bermain gitar di setiap sudut jalan. Ketika malam tiba, orang-orang pun berkumpul di Mathew Street untuk mendengarkan musik. Cavern Club berada di jalan ini. Bagi anda yang belum tahu, the Beatles dan grup lain dulunya bermain di klub malam ini.

Foto sejenak sebelum masuk ke Cavern Club.

Cavern Club ini unik tempatnya karena pengunjung harus ke lantai bawah tanah untuk menikmati musik dan alkohol. Saya menyeruput gelas Strongbow saya yang pertama di sana. Ketika pemusik di pentas berhenti untuk mengumumkan lagu berikutnya, saya pun mendengar aksen Scouse secara langsung. Logat khas Liverpool ini agak berbeda lafalnya dengan bahasa Inggris biasa dan saya butuh waktu untuk menyesuaikan dan memahami apa sebenarnya yang sedang diucapkan. Satu hal lagi yang patut dikenang adalah perjumpaan dengan seorang lokal yang ngotot bahwa saya berasal dari Belgia. Sampai hari ini saya tidak mengerti, dari sudut pandang mana saya mirip dengan orang Belgia. 

Di hari berikutnya, kita pergi Albert Dock yang berada di dekat Liverpool ONE. Dari namanya bisa diketahui bahwa tempat ini dulunya adalah tempat kapal berlabuh, namun sekarang dipakai sebagai museum. Saya ke sana karena Beatles Story Museum dan British Music Experience. Ya, minat saya adalah musik, bukan olahraga, jadi tidak ada Anfield dalam daftar saya, haha.

Saat menuju ke Albert Dock.

Sejauh ini kita hanya berjalan-jalan di dekat hotel. Di hari ketiga, saat kita naik tur taksi, barulah kita melihat sisi lain dari kota Liverpool, beberapa di antaranya adalah Allerton dan Woolton. Tempat-tempat ini, termasuk Penny Lane, cukup jauh jaraknya dari Liverpool ONE. Selain itu, yang berminat ke sini turis yang menggemari Beatles. 

Persinggahan ini membuat saya jadi berpikir, kenapa tidak ada metro atau MRT di kota ini. Mungkin mereka tidak butuh. Tempat-tempat ini merupakan rute bagi mereka yang ikut tur, jadi mungkin transportasi yang ada sudah mungkin memadai bagi penduduk lokal. Seperti yang saya katakan di awal cerita, tanpa sepakbola dan musik, Liverpool adalah kota yang tenang dan bukan merupakan tujuan wisata.

Di Penny Lane.

Secara keseluruhan, saya cukup menikmati liburan di sana. Makanannya lumayan dan di kala saya ingin makanan Asia, saya mampir ke Chilli Pot yang ada di seberang hotel. Jika ada rasa sesal di hati, maka itu adalah keputusan saya untuk bersantai-ria di Liverpool ONE dari siang hingga malam, padahal saya bisa ke Manchester yang hanya berdurasi satu jam dari Liverpool. Seharusnya saya langsung naik bis ke sana dan pulang pada malam hari!

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Why You Should Travel Now

When my friend Endrico logged into Blogger and saw the title of this article, he jokingly said to me that the timing couldn't be worse. Encouraging people to travel in the midst of COVID-19, when the whole world is locking down? Seriously? Haha, while it might look that way, let's humor me and hear me out. 

When I said why you should travel now, it was more of a figure of speech. It had to do with my upbringing in Pontianak which, I believe, should be more or less the same for the people of my generation in our hometown. Being Chinese, the recurring advice I got from my parents since my childhood days is I have to work hard now, while I'm able-bodied. Save money as much as I can, then enjoy my life and travel the world when I retire. 

I used to believe that wholeheartedly, but not anymore. Not that it is a bad advice because obviously it means well, but there are some problems with it. In fact, it sounds more like a wishful thinking than an advice these days. Let's have a look to understand why.

First of all, the question is, how many of us will live to a ripe old age? This is something we don't know, but what I do know is, people my age die. When I was a small boy, I felt that growing up was a very slow process. It literally took years to become a young man. These days, every day is a blessing because I'd seen death and the fact that we could "go" any time. Living life to the fullest suddenly made sense. 

Secondly, and this is assuming that we live a long life, who's to say that we will be healthy and wealthy enough to travel? I'd seen examples that most of the time, it didn't happen that way. I remember saying to my auntie, the one I stayed with when I was in high school, that only she lived up to the legendary advice. Now in her 60s, she spends time travelling the world with her husband.

Many weren't that lucky. Some were wealthy but too frail to travel. Some were healthy, but didn't have the means to travel. Others, I'm sorry to say, were neither wealthy nor healthy enough to travel. 

As good as that piece of advice ever was, life could suddenly took a wrong turn that ruined it all. This is why you should travel now. Always seize the moments, for what comes next is never within your control...

The passport stamps and visas.



Kenapa Anda Mesti Jalan-Jalan Sekarang

Ketika teman saya Endrico masuk ke Blogger dan melihat judul artikel ini, dia langsung berkata bahwa sepertinya artikel ini ditulis pada waktu yang salah. Serius mau mengajak orang berlibur di tengah-tengah COVID-19, tatkala seluruh dunia sedang sibuk menutup diri?  Haha, secara sekilas memang terlihat seperti itu, tapi mari disimak dulu. 

Sewaktu saya mengatakan bahwa anda mesti jalan-jalan sekarang, kalimat ini lebih merupakan kata kiasan. Apa yang hendak saya katakan ini berhubungan erat dengan cara saya dididik di Pontianak. Apa yang saya lalui rasanya kurang-lebih sama dengan pengalaman teman-teman seangkatan. Sebagai orang berdarah Tionghoa, salah satu nasehat yang sering saya dengar dari sejak kecil adalah saya harus bekerja keras di kala muda, menabung sebanyak mungkin supaya saya bisa menikmati hidup dan berlibur sesuka hati di usia tua. 

Saya dulu percaya dengan nasehat ini, namun sekarang rasanya tidak lagi relevan. Ini bukan karena nasehat ini tidak bagus. Justru sebaliknya, niat di balik nasehat ini sungguh baik. Kendati begitu, di usia menjelang 40 ini, nasehat itu terdengar lebih mirip seperti angan-angan. Mari kita lihat kenapa demikian.

Pertama-tama, berapa banyak di antara kita yang bisa hidup sampai usia tua? Ini adalah sesuatu yang tidak kita ketahui. Di saat saya masih kecil, saya merasa tumbuh dewasa adalah proses yang teramat sangat pelan. Butuh waktu bertahun-tahun untuk tumbuh menjadi seorang pemuda. Sekarang ini, setiap hari adalah berkat. Saya lihat sendiri bahwa orang-orang yang seusia, atau bahkan lebih muda, meninggal dunia. Adalah fakta bahwa kita bisa "pergi" setiap saat. Tiba-tiba yang namanya menikmati hidup sepenuhnya terasa masuk akal. 

Yang kedua, kalau kita bisa berumur panjang, siapa yang bisa menjamin bahwa kita akan cukup sehat dan berada untuk bisa keliling dunia? Saya sudah melihat cukup banyak contoh bahwa nasehat yang sering saya dengarkan dulu itu tidak terjadi pada banyak orang. Saya ingat saya pernah berkata pada tante saya yang dulu menampung saya pada waktu SMA, bahwa hanya dia yang bisa membuktikan nasehat legendaris itu. Di usia 60an, dia masih sehat dan berkecukupan untuk berlibur. 

Banyak yang tidak bernasib seperti itu. Ada yang cukup kaya tapi terlalu lemah fisiknya untuk jalan-jalan. Ada yang sehat, tapi tidak punya uang. Yang lebih parah lagi, ada yang tidak sehat dan tidak punya cukup tabungan untuk berlibur. 

Nasehat dari masa kecil ini memang baik maksudnya, namun terkadang hidup berbelok ke arah yang tidak kita inginkan dan rencana kita pun buyar sudah. Inilah alasannya kenapa anda mesti berlibur sekarang, selagi masih ada kesempatan, sebab apa yang terjadi nanti bukanlah di dalam kuasa dan kendali anda...

Monday, March 16, 2020

The Lockdown

Yesterday, the stay-home notice for all travellers entering Singapore from ASEAN countries news reached my WhatsApp around 18.30. The boarding announcement came minutes after. I took the 19.15 flight to Jakarta.

Inside the eerie, empty plane.

I cursed a bit, never anticipating such notice would happen. This must be tough, at the same time brave decisions to be made. The gov of Singapore must have thought this thru. It was definitely not a decision that could be made in a blink of an eye. The repercussions were huge! This basically stopped ASEAN tourists from coming in. No one would come just to be quarantined for 14 days. And this worsened the situation of the airlines and tourism industry. Both were already hit hard earlier. For Singapore, it would further dampen the economical situation. This is the statistics from 2019, taken from Singapore Tourism Board. The numbers alone were significant, not to mention their spending yet.


So back to the news, many would get impacted. Beside tourists, people who planned to visit Singapore for medical or business trips would be affected. In fact, two passengers from the same flight I took immediately decided to cancelled their trip to Jakarta.

I would also like to share an article which is quite logical to me. The essence of it was, outside China, during the initial outbreak, many countries were too ignorant of COVID 19 issues. When it finally hit, it hit really hard. I could almost relate with what the article was saying: our working environment, our communities, our surrounding, our family. 

The timeline of Coronavirus, part 1.
From: Time magazine. 

I used to be the one who thought, "come on, I won't be so unlucky to caught the COVID-19." But let's pause here and think:
Think of the what if.
Think of the risk.
Think of your loved ones.
Think of the time you might spent if one of your family members caught the virus.
Think of the money you might spent.
Finally think of how you might cause the loss of lives, be it direct or indirect.


The timeline of Coronavirus, part 2.
From: Time magazine.

Stay vigilant, avoid mass gathering, ensure your hygiene, and stay healthy. I'm not saying this will keep you safe, but at least we do our best...

Friday, March 13, 2020

The Holy Land

When I interviewed Eday and wrote about his journey to the Middle East and Africa, I felt like there was something missing. I mean, he travelled to Jordan and Egypt, yet he never entered Israel. If you looked at the map, Israel is located between the two countries. This is why I immediately contacted Cicilia when I heard about her recent trip to Israel. It was like finding the missing jigsaw puzzle!

Cicilia's journey began with her auntie asking if she would like to go to the Holy Land with her. This auntie of hers had been there before and was now longing to return. That sounded promising! Cicilia knew nothing about Israel and she didn't do any research about the destination either. She simply had faith. And US dollars. And credit cards.

The trip costed her IDR 33,000K, inclusive of return tickets, travel insurance, hotels, meals, tour guide and land transport. It started with a flight from Jakarta to Abu Dhabi and the flight duration was 8.5 hours. After the transit, Cicilia took a 3.5-hour flight to Amman. From the capital city of Jordan, she continued the journey by coach, passing by Mount Nebo. 

The Sea of Galilee. 

That's when the Holy Land tour began. For those of you who didn't know, Mount Nebo was the last stop for Moses. Around 3,426 years ago, he climbed the mountain to have one good look at the promised land of Canaan and he died afterwards. Back to present day, Cicilia crossed the Sheikh Hussein Bridge (also known as Jordan River Crossing) and when the night came, she eventually arrived in Tiberias, the city on the west side of the Sea of Galilee.

It was also in this city that Cicilia first experienced a kosher meal. The word kosher can be roughly translated as halal according to Jewish dietary law. No outside food is allowed. Cicilia noticed that whenever cheese was served, there wasn't any meat and vice versa. The menu was enjoyable and she liked the kosher meals, alright, but being an Indonesian who loves the burning sensation of chilli, how she wished the food there was spicy!

Mount Hermon.

The next morning, the coach brought her to Mount Hermon that is situated nearby Lebanon and Syria. I asked her about the internet connection and it turned out that even the coach provided Wi-Fi, too. Yes, the connection was spotty, but it was better than nothing. According to Cicilia, throughout her trip, the internet was quite accessible.

And Mount Hermon was snowy! There was this initial anxiety when she saw soldiers with weapons guarding the area, but the fun of playing snow soon took over! Coming a tropical country, seeing snow for the first time was surely an entirely new experience!

The view on Mount Hermon. 

From Mount Hermon, Cicilia returned to the Sea of Galilee for lunch. The main course? Of course it had to be St. Peter's fish! Simon Peter of the 12 Apostles was originally a fisherman. The fish he caught turned out to be somewhat similar with gurame fish in Indonesia. 

The next stop was Mount Tabor, a 35-minute car ride from Tiberias. This is where the transfiguration of Jesus took place. By the way, if you ever thought that the phrase transfiguration of Jesus sounded complicated, that's because it was. You can check the internet for more details, but it's basically about Jesus meeting Moses and Elijah, the two prophets that came long before Jesus was born, so they were like in the spirit form when they appeared on the mountain.

Visiting Caesarea.

After that, Cicilia went back to the Sea of Galilee to join the the Catholic Mass on a boat. The next day, she visited towns, cities and even the Dead Sea. Most of them, such as Capernaum, Jericho, Jerusalem, Cana or Nazareth, are related to Jesus. Others like Haifa and Caesarea aren't that biblical. 

Bethlehem was specifically mentioned by her. The place where Jesus was born is actually located in Palestine, not in Israel. It was also where the pilgrimage began. What she saw brought her back to the time when Jesus walked the earth. When I asked her about Cavalry, the crucifixion site, she said the atmosphere was so overwhelming there that she suddenly broke down and cried.

In front of the Wailing Wall.

Since the tour she had was pretty much based on places Jesus had been to, I asked from a different angle, i.e. how's the country in general? Cicilia told me that it was alright. Admittedly, it is an arid place and must be dusty during summer, so best visited during winter. The cold weather would definitely help, especially when there are a lot of things to be done outdoor and one will explore the alleyway on foot. 

Cicilia also couldn't help noticing the Orthodox Jews that looked strikingly different than others. They always wore black and, thanks to the beard, the men looked like Dumbledore from Harry Potter. And of course, as the country used to be part of the Roman Empire, one could still see its influence from old buildings. Oh, then there were olive trees everywhere, too!

Mount Sinai.

By the way, the tour didn't end in Israel. Cicilia left the country and crossed to Taba in Egypt. From there, she headed to the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula, passing by the Red Sea as she made her way to Sharm El Sheikh. It was during the stay there that she climbed Mount Sinai. For your information, this is where Moses received the Ten Commandments. Cicilia also said that climbing up to the summit was not for the unfit, so beware! You'd been warned!

The last city she visited was Cairo. Pyramid was the main attraction, but she also visited the Cave Church and boarded on a cruise ship for Nile River sightseeing. From Cairo, she flew to Abu Dhabi for a short period of transit and eventually headed back to Jakarta. 

Verdict? Highly recommended, even for the non-Christian!

In Cairo.



Tanah Suci

Ketika saya mewawancarai Eday dan menulis tentang liburannya ke Timur Tengah dan Afrika, saya merasa seperti ada yang hilang. Perjalanannya terasa tidak lengkap karena dia pergi ke Yordania dan Mesir, namun dia tidak pernah memasuki Israel. Jika anda lihat di peta, Israel terletak di tengah dua negara ini. Inilah alasan kenapa saya langsung menghubungi Cicilia saat saya mendengar bahwa dia baru kembali dari Israel. Rasanya seperti menemukan kepingan jigsaw yang hilang! 

Petualangan Cicilia bermula dari ajakan tantenya untuk berziarah ke Tanah Suci orang Katolik. Tante ini sudah pernah ke Israel dan ingin kembali lagi ke sana. Kesannya menarik juga. Cicilia tidak tahu-menahu tentang kondisi di Israel dan juga tidak mencari tahu. Apa yang ia perlukan hanya iman. Dan dolar Amerika. Dan kartu kredit.

Waktu transit di Abu Dhabi. 

Biaya perjalanan seharga 33 juta rupiah, sudah termasuk tiket, asuransi perjalanan, hotel, makan, pemandu dan transportasi di sana. Penerbangan dimulai dari Jakarta ke Abu Dhabi dan berdurasi 8,5 jam. Setelah transit, Cicilia terbang lagi selama 3,5 jam ke Amman. Dari ibukota Yordania ini, perjalanan dilanjutkan dengan bis yang melewati Gunung Nebo. 

Dan tur Tanah Suci pun dimulai! Bagi anda yang tidak tahu, Gunung Nebo adalah pemberhentian terakhir bagi Musa. Sekitar 3.426 tahun yang lalu, Musa mendaki Gunung Nebo untuk melihat Tanah Perjanjian Kanaan, lalu dia pun meninggal setelah itu. Kembali ke Cicilia, dia lantas menyeberang masuk ke Israel lewat Jembatan Sheikh Hussein yang juga dikenal dengan sebutan Jordan River Crossing. Ketika malam tiba, Cicilia pun sampai di Tiberias yang berada di sebelah barat Danau Galilea.

Di Gunung Nebo.

Di kota ini Cicilia mencoba apa yang namanya makanan kosher. Secara harafiah, kosher bisa diartikan sebagai halal menurut aturan Yahudi. Di tempat ini, makanan dari luar tidak diperbolehkan. Cicilia mengamati bahwa bilamana ada makanan berbasis keju, maka lauk dari daging tidak akan disajikan dan begitu juga sebaliknya. Menunya ternyata enak, namun tidak pedas rasanya. 

Keesokan paginya, bis membawa rombongan turis ke Gunung Hermon yang berada di dekat Libanon dan Suriah. Saya bertanya tentang koneksi internet selama di sana dan di luar dugaan, ternyata jaringannya sudah cukup memadai. Bahkan di bis pun ada Wi-Fi. Ya, memang kadang jelek koneksinya, tapi lebih baik daripada tidak ada sama sekali.

Di Gunung Hermon.

Dan Gunung Hermon sedang bersalju! Pada mulanya ada rasa risau saat melihat para tentara yang berjaga di sekitar sambil membawa senjata, namun serunya bermain salju pun membuat Cicilia lupa dengan keberadaan mereka. Bagi yang datang dari negara tropis, melihat salju untuk pertama kalinya tentu merupakan pengalaman tersendiri!  

Dari Gunung Hermon, Cicilia kembali ke Danau Galilea untuk makan siang. Menu utamanya tentu saja ikan Petrus. Ya, Simon Petrus dari 12 Rasul dulunya adalah seorang nelayan yang menjala ikan di danau tersebut. Ikan yang ia tangkap itu mirip ikan gurami yang ada di Indonesia.

Ikan Petrus. 

Tujuan berikutnya adalah Gunung Tabor yang berdurasi 35 menit dari Tiberias. Gunung ini adalah tempat terjadinya transfigurasi Yesus. Jika anda merasa bingung dengan makna frase transfigurasi Yesus, ini wajar karena memang rumit peristiwanya. Anda bisa cek di internet untuk keterangan lebih lanjut, namun secara singkat bisa dijelaskan bahwa transfigurasi ini adalah mukjizat yang terjadi pada Yesus sendiri dan dia berbincang-bincang dengan Musa dan Elia, dua nabi yang diutus jauh sebelum Yesus lahir. 

Setelah itu, Cicilia kembali lagi ke Danau Galilea untuk mengikuti misa Katolik di atas kapal. Di hari berikutnya, dia mengunjungi berbagai kota dan juga ke Laut Mati. Beberapa kota seperti Kapernaum, Jericho, Yerusalem, Kana atau Nazaret memiliki kaitan erat dengan perjalanan hidup Yesus, namun kota lainnya seperti Haifa dan Caesarea boleh dikatakan kurang dikenal dalam kitab suci.

Di Kapernaum. 

Bethlehem memiliki kesan tersendiri bagi Cicilia. Kota kelahiran Yesus ini bukan termasuk wilayah Israel, melainkan berada di Palestina. Ziarah semakin terasa intensif sejak ia menginjakkan kaki di Bethlehem. Apa yang ia lihat membawanya kembali ke masa-masa Yesus. Ketika saya bertanya apa yang ia rasakan saat melihat Golgota, tempat Yesus disalibkan, dia bercerita bahwa suasana di sana tiba-tiba membuatnya menangis tersedu-sedu. 

Karena tur ini dirancang khusus untuk ziarah, saya kemudian bertanya, seperti apa negara Israel ini bila dilihat dari sudut pandang orang non-Kristen. Cicilia merasa negara ini tetap layak dikunjungi. Ya, memang tempatnya gersang dan pasti berdebu di musim panas, jadi lebih nyaman jika kita ke sana di saat musim dingin. Cuaca dingin terasa mendukung aktivitas dan eksplorasi di tempat terbuka.

Berpose di depan Yahudi Ortodoks. 

Cicilia juga memiliki kesan tersendiri dengan orang-orang Yahudi Ortodoks yang sering dijumpainya. Mereka terlihat berbeda, senantiasa berpakaian hitam dan berjanggut sehingga terlihat mirip Dumbledore di kisah Harry Potter. Dan tentu saja sebagai bekas jajahan bangsa Romawi, budaya dan pengaruhnya masih terlihat di setiap sudut kota. Satu hal lagi yang unik adalah pohon zaitun yang ada di mana-mana. 

Oh ya, perjalanan Cicilia tidak berakhir di Israel. Dia masih lanjut ke Mesir dan masuk lewat kota Taba. Dari sini, bis melewati pesisir Laut Merah, membawanya ke Sharm El Sheikh yang berada di selatan Peninsula Sinai. Selama berada di sini, Cicilia pun mengunjungi Gunung Sinai. Sebagai informasi, di gunung inilah Musa menerima Sepuluh Perintah Allah. Bagi yang berminat ke sana, Cicilia berbagi cerita bahwa perjalanan ke puncak sangat menguras stamina. Yang tidak sehat dianjurkan untuk tidak mendaki! Bagusnya naik unta, hehe.

Taman Timna di Israel, tak jauh dari kota Taba di Mesir.

Kota terakhir yang dikunjunginya adalah Kairo. Piramida menjadi atraksi utama di sini, namun dia juga mengunjungi Gereja Sampah dan menaiki kapal untuk menyusuri Sungai Nil. Dari Kairo, dia terbang ke Abu Dhabi dan akhirnya kembali ke Jakarta. 

Kesimpulannya? Sangat direkomendasikan untuk mengunjungi Israel, bahkan bagi non-Kristen sekalipun! 

Friday, March 6, 2020

Midlife Crisis

This is year 2020 and this is my first blog in 2020. My life is half f*cked, man. Why did I say that? well, I already turned 41 years old, but I'm still like the old me, so what have I accomplished? I have a familly for sure. I become a father of a two daughters for sure. My mother and father are still healty and alive, thank God. But for me as their son, I'm still helping my Mum at her shop. I still cannot make them proud by becoming a successful son. To think that all this while they always said good stuff about other kids that are successful and how they make their parents proud.

Despite my unsuccessful life, I continuously made it enjoyable. I'd lived a life with no worries. It was all started during school days. I stayed at home playing games, reading comics and watching movies. Those activities were repeated on and on from high school till college. That was crazy. While others already thought of having a decent job, good sallary and what they were going to do when they graduated, I was still finding my true identity. I always liked to think that it was time for me to find a job so I wouldn't be a burden for my family. I barely thought that my parents would be proud of me earning money and having decent job, haha. That was beyond my abilities. 

After high school, I just went with the flow. I went to college and spent three years there, studied nothing before I earned the diploma. My passion of getting a decent job was burning bright then, so I looked for jobs, from Jakarta to Brunei. But the effort didn't last. I thought of my parents. I also missed reading comics and those old habits in my hometown. After two years, I decided to go home and this time was for good. 

I tried applying for jobs again, but nobody wanted to accept me. In the meantime, I couldn't resist my responsibility in helping my parents in the market place. As the daily work continued, my passion faded, especially after I started receiving weekly salary from my Mum. 

As time went by, I got married, too. That was one amazing story because people told me that I must have a house and a large sum of money first. I should have at least IDR 30 millions for the wedding party, haha. I had no idea how I could do that, but I eventually did it with my parent's money. Frankly speaking, I was embarrassed, but it happened and it turned that the hongbao was enough to pay for the banquet. Amazing! 

Last thing in my new life with my wife, we were blessed with a decent family life. Instead of finding a decent job and big salary that I'd been longing to, I got my own shop. But sadly, after 4 years, it was mismanaged and closed down, another proof that I was incapable of doing business. That's why I said life is half f*cked, Man. Now I'm still helping my mom at the other shop. To think that I'm still like this, not much I can do in my life while I'm getting older. Sometimes I wonder what I am going to do when my parents die. Can I handle the real world myself? Only God can answer my prayers. 

Thank you for reading, Guys!

After Grab, with Maxim!

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Kebahagiaan Dalam Keseimbangan

Hidup sederhana, tenang dan sabar membawa lebih banyak kebahagiaan daripada usaha mencapai sukses yang terus-menerus tanpa rehat, setingkat lalu setingkat lagi, yang tak ada habisnya, apabila mengikuti kemauan dan nafsu. Kebanyakan orang saat bekerja keras, bahkan teramat sangat keras untuk mencapai tujuan, berharap akan menemukan kebahagiaan setelah mencapai tujuan.

Sayangnya, setelah itu tercapai, kita kembali lagi ke titik nol. Lalu kita mencari lagi dan lagi apa yang membuat kita bahagia atau lebih bahagia selanjutnya. Ini akan berlangsung terus-menerus sampai suatu saat kita sadar bahwa...

Sebenarnya...

Apakah yang kita cari?

Bangun pagi-pagi, sebelum matahari terbit sudah berangkat kerja cari uang. Sampai matahari terbenam barulah pulang dalam keadaan cape. Kadang sampai terlambat makan, lupa makan, tidak ada waktu untuk menemani anak dan istri, apalagi waktu untuk orang tua kita. Yang lebih parah lagi kalau pada akhirnya uang yang diperoleh juga tidak seberapa dan sudah habis sebelum akhir bulan atau pas akhir bulan.

Ini sebenarnya kerja apa dikerjain???

Wahai anak manusia. Sebenarnya apakah yang Kita cari?

Izinkanlah saya mengatakan bahwa yang kita cari sebenar-benarnya adalah...

Kebahagiaan.
Kebahagiaan dalam keseimbangan.


Oleh:
Jimmy Suliandono Ali
Di suatu pagi yang indah tanggal 1 Januari 2018

Berlibur dan berdiskusi.