I secured my nationalism.
23.12.2012 - 07.01.2013
From Jakarta to Beijing,
December 23-24th 2012
"So you have used your visa once?" confirmed the check-in staff at Soekarno Hatta International Airport.
"Yes, I did."
She turned my passport from horizontal to vertical, paused a moment, and then asked again, "Where had you been before?"
I didn't like that. That's not your business, I thought. But I am no good actress. I never can disguise a dislike from my face. She noticed.
"Here," she pointed on the stamps my passport. "You exited China August 26, but returned to Indonesia September 2nd. Where did you go?"
"Oh!" I felt a little embarrassed. She wasn't trying to be nosy after all. For an unknown reason, the immigration officer in Istanbul had stamped my passport in the middle pages skipping several empty pages. "I went to Istanbul after that." I turned the pages for the officer and pointed on the Turkish stamps.
"What?? You went to Turkey??"
"Yes, I did."
That was the second time I unintentionally surprised an officer at Soekarno Hatta International Airport by mentioning 'Turkey'. Is it weird to go to Turkey from China? Or does 'Turkey' sound like 'Saudi Arabia' or even 'Mekkah'?
Whatsoever, this is the route of my second winter-adventure sequel: Beijing --> Turpan --> Urumqi --> Guang Zhou --> Hong Kong. Purple line was taken by train, blue line by car, and green line by plane. Yes, there's a blue line, between Turpan and Urumqi.
I didn't want to waste time stopping over in KL, so I didn't take Air Asia. I didn't want to be rushed unreasonably in Guang Zhou like the previous time, so I didn't take China Southern Airlines. Instead of spending the night at the airport, I preferred to catch a more qualified sleep on Garuda Indonesia.
The moment I stepped into the aircraft, my heart stopped. Ibu Soed's "Tanah Airku" filled in the air. It was like a reminder telling me that although I'm traveling to the land of my ancestors, I must not forget where home actually is.
tanah airku tidak kulupakan
'kan terkenang selama hidupku
biarpun saya pergi jauh
tidak 'kan hilang dari kalbu
tanahku yang kucintai
walaupun banyak negri yang kujalani
yang mashur permai dikata orang
tetapi kampung dan rumahku
di sanalah kurasa senang
tanahku tak kulupakan
Let me try translate it into English.
my homeland I forget not
will be cherished my whole life
even far away I go
it will never vanish from my mind
my beloved land
I honor you
even to many countries I've been
which people say famous and gorgeous
but my town and my home
is where I feel glad
my land I will never forget
you are my pride
This is a moving song, really.
Welcome drink, midnight snack, breakfast... slurp!
The passengers sitting around me were native Chinese. Some of them were traveling in a group. When a flight attendant gave an announcement in Mandarin, a lady passenger from that group laughed real loud. I noticed also that it wasn't a perfect Mandarin intonation. However, this is not a Chinese flight. They should be grateful that there is an attendant that speaks Mandarin, besides English. I had been on China Southern Airlines several times, and the flight attendants' English was way queerer than this Garuda Indonesia flight attendant's Mandarin. And yet, English is the international language. Mandarin is not.
When our plane was about to touch down on Beijing, the Chinese lady called her friend / brother. "Listen, listen! There will be another one."
After the English announcement proceeded the Indonesian announcement, the Mandarin version began.
"Huahahaha!! That's funny! Huahahahaha!! Did you hear that? Huahahahaha!!"
How I felt like asking her, "Have you been on China Southern Airlines? Do you know how their English is?"
The Chinese, arrogant, still. They think they are still 中国, the center of the world. Or will they be, again?