Malaysia-Vietnam Trip 2017: Kuala Lumpur

So in the beginning of this year, I got invited by my friend Jens from Denmark to a birding trip in Malaysia and Vietnam. Some of you may have know who he is: a facebook friend who suddenly become my best buddy in birding. He is the one who invited me to a birding trip to his country 4 years ago, and that was also the last time we met each other.

Some months ago, he suddenly told me that he need a buddy for a birding trip aboard–an offer that I cant resist. We actually planned to go to Cambodia, but we found out that independent birders would not be accepted there. Since the guided tour seems to be too expensive for two, we decided to change the plan and go to this two country instead. This will be Jens’ second time in both country, while for me that it will be the first. We narrowed down the trip to four main sites: Fraser Hill, Taman Negara, Cat Tien National Park and Da Lat mountain area. Those sites are quiet famous for its birdlife, and we are hoping to find some endemics there.

So, to make things short I would start this story straight from the Kuala Lumpur Internatonal Airport. I was using AirAsia from Yogyakarta to KLIA2, which took about 2 hours. There, I took KL Transit to KLIA1 to meet Jens. As soon as I step off the plane, I spotted my first bird: House Crows, which were perching on the lamp posts. There were also some Barn Swallow and Glossy Swiflet flying over the airports. On the 5 minutes trav with the train, I saw more birds in airport area such as Common Myna and Cattle Egret. I was surprised to see the Milky Stork on some grassy waterhole next to the airport building.

Arrived at KLIA2
Station at KLIA2

It took me a while to find Jens in KLIA1. We ordered a taxi to Hotel Geo in Chinatown, when we have booked a room for a night. We used airport taxi which is a little bit expensive, but Jens said it is OK since he is too tired to use bus or train. It took us almost 2 hour to get in the town, and we didnt see many birds apart that Myna and Egret due to rain.When we arrived in the hotel lobby, I heard an Asian Koel singing but I couldnt find where it was.

From the hotel room, we could see a bunch of House Crow were roosting on the top of some building adjacent to the hotel, getting ready to sleep. As soon as its getting darker a group of swift were seen flying into the top of an old building. I was able to pick up some House Swift on it, but the others should be Glossy Swiflet.

House Crow’s roosting site

At the night, I just realized that Malaysia has different electricity outlet than the one we have in Indonesia. I was thinking about it but didn’t really do a proper research. I tried to find some adapter at a market across the road, but couldnt find any. Since it was already late, the are no shop open, so I borrowed an adapter from the hotel. I kinda afraid I couldn’t charge my gadget tomorrow since we planned to go early to Fraser Hill.

Morning at Chinatown

Next morning, I ordered a Grab Car to Fraser Hill. For you who didnt know, Grab Car is an Uber-like app company native to Malaysia and also operates in Indonesia. They used a fixed fare per kilometer (unlike Uber ) and we could see how much will it cost before we order a driver. The apps said it costs 126 MYR from our hotel to Fraser Hill, which is very low compared to regular taxi, but we decided that we should give more to the driver since it was a long way to go (and the extra money goes straight to the poor driver, instead of their company). The driver was very kind and he drove quiet fast. At the end Jens gave him 200 MYR since it was worth for the service.

There are not so many birds to see on the trip. Some Javan Myna was seen in front of the hotel when we were going to meet the drive. On the city border we saw all the common bird and some flock of Asian Glossy Starling. Some small pigeon were seen perching on the tree-top but we weren’t sure what they are. Eurasian tree sparrow were seen on a small suburb area outside of Kuala Lumpur. I finally spotted an Asian Koel on the highway, and there were some White-throated Kingfisher too perching on the lamppost. On the hilly road to the gap I spotted a lot Crested Serpent Eagle perching very close to the road, but the car couldnt stop for me to take its picture.

It took almost 2 hour for us to get into Fraser Hill, but it was so comfortable with our good driver. I would write more about our first impression of Fraser Hill at the next post.

List of Birds seen (bold for lifer):

1. House Crow

2. Glossy Swiflet

3. Common Myna

4. Milky Stork

5. Cattle Egret

6. House Swift

7. Javan Myna

8. Asian Glossy Starling

9. Eurasian Tree Sparrow

10. Asian Koel

11. White-throated Kingfisher

12. Crested Serpent Eagle

I Amsterdam Trip 2015: Immigration Rush

Setiap kali ke luar negeri, masalah imigrasi selalu bikin pusing. Ya, setelah banyaknya kasus terorisme, penyelundupan dan pemalsuan paspor yang semakin terekspos dari hari ke hari, kebanyakan negara mulai menaruh curiga yang berlebihan kepada WNA yang datang. Negara adidaya seperti Amerika menjadi salah satu yang paling paranoid tentang hal ini, dengan berbagai sistem keamanan yang secara latah juga diterapkan di negara-negara sahabatnya. Tidak jarang kita mendengar cerita-cerita seram dari orang Indonesia (kebanyakan dengan penekanan ‘muslim’) yang sering diperlakukan tidak adil di imigrasi, seperti diletakan di antrian khusus, diinterogasi berjam-jam, sampai bahkan ditahan atau dideportasi. Hmm.. nggak tahu deh kenapa harus ditekankan kata muslim, padahal di paspor juga nggak ada keterangan agama yang dianut.

Sebenarnya sih saya gak tahu cerita ini benar, atau hanya ulah segelintir orang sial yang selalu berpandangan muslim itu umat yang ‘teraniaya’. Alhamdulillah sih sampai saat ini saya nggak pernah dapat kesialan macam itu, jadi saya nggak merasa ‘terdzolimi oleh bangsa barat’ seperti yang sering diceritakan itu. Memang muka saya nggak arab-arab banget plus nggak punya jenggot gondrong, tapi kan nama saya tetap ada unsur islaminya (nama belakang saya Akbar). Prinsip saya, selama kita jujur, santai dan memenuhi persyaratan legal, kita nggak bakal diapa-apain kok! Just relax, karena kalau kelihatan tegang justru kita bisa dicurigain macem-macem—lagipula, apa yang harus ditakuti?

Nah, waktu ke Belanda kemarin, baru kali itu saya dapat sedikit masalah di imigrasi. Di bandara Schipol, saya baru saja pulih dari penerbangan 18 jam dari KL-Amsterdam yang super membosankan. Kebosanan saya langsung pulih ketika merasakan udara musim dingin pertama saya di Eropa, langsung menusuk tubuh begitu berdiri di depan pintu pesawat. Seperti penumpang lain, saya langsung bergegas menuju konter imigrasi di terminal kedatangan, tempat di mana Jan mungkin sudah menunggu. Tentu saja, saya masih sempat memotret beberapa bagian bandara yang lumayan bagus ini.

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Bandara Schipol yang penuh orang-orang ngantuk

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Denmark Trip 2013: Siksaan 26 Jam menuju Negeri Thumbellina

Sebenarnya saya sudah males-malesan buat nulis postingan tentang perjalanan saya ke Denmark. Sudah lewat berbulan-bulan sejak saya kesana, lalu langsung dibantai sama tugas-tugas kuliah yang bikin semrawut. Saya sempat berpikir untuk melupakan saja postingan yang sudah saya siapkan draft-nya itu, cukup saya yang tahu gimana cerita saya selama berada di negeri londoitu. Tapi kok ya rasanya sayang kalau draft saya ndak dilanjutin, ditambah lagi saya sudah hutang sama banyak teman bahwa saya bakal memposting pengalaman saya di negeri orang dan sudah banyak juga yang nagih. Huuffff..

Packing, done!
Packing, done!
Beberapa menit sebelum berangkat :D
Beberapa menit sebelum berangkat 😀

Minggu, 18 Agustus 2013

Antri di Qatar, angkot, dll

“ASSS*** antrinee cuuuk”, pisuh saya dalam hati melihat antrian di meja check in yang.. duh, nggak ngerti dah harus bilang apa.

Saya sudah datang 3 jam sebelum waktu boarding, lalu dengan sumringah masuk ke bandara Soekarno Hatta dengan pede-nya karena yakin nggak akan ada antrian panjang di meja check in. Saya bahkan sempat melempar senyum pada orang-orang di meja check in maskapai lain yang sedang ngantri puaanjaaaaaaang banget, sementara saya membayangkan meja check in saya nggak terlalu lamai, lenggang, luang, pokoke garek teko rampung wis… wah ternyata saya kualat.

Setelah mengantri lama (yang terasa cepat berkat sms-an sama si Nona) saya lansung menuju meja imigrasi—yang alhamdulillah ngantrinya nggak panjang-panjang amat, dan nggak perlu bawa-bawa tas gede yang sudah disetor di bagasi. Sedikit masalah terjadi di security check, karena saya harus melepas sepatu Caterpillar asli Klithikan saya gara-gara ada komponen metal di dalamnya. Wuah alamat buruk nih, nanti kan saya harus transit, melewati security check berkali-kali, jadi harus buka sepatu berkali-kali!

Setelah beberapa lama menunggu di ruang tunggu, akhirnya boarding time! Seperti yang biasa terjadi di Indonesi, begitu pintu dibuka, orang-orang lansung berdesakan seperti ingin berebut tempat duduk! Saya cuman bisa duduk kalem di belakang, menunggu ajang desak-desakan ala terminal bus itu usai sambil ngobrol bareng seorang traveller asal Eropa (lupa daerah mana hehehe) yang baru mau pulang habis jalan-jalan keliling Asia Tenggara.

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