North America Trip · The Caribbean · Vacation

#1833 – Side Stories From My September 2016 Sabbatical Trip: The Caribbean

ENGLISH

Posts in the September 2016 Sabbatical Trip: The Caribbean series:
1. Introduction
2. Part I: Getting to Sint Maarten
3. Part II: Sint Maarten
4. Part III: The Maho Beach
5. Part IV: Saint Martin
6. Part V: Back to the Netherlands

***

This following are two side stories from the Caribbean Part of my September 2016 Sabbatical Month Trip 🙂 .

Exchange Rate

Being part of France, the official currency of the French-side of Saint Martin was Euro. However, throughout the island, US Dollar was widely used. I would go as further as the US Dollar appeared to be the unofficial currency of the entire island, both in the Dutch- and French-side (The Dutch-side had their own official currency, though, which was the “Netherlands Antillean Guilder”).

Consequently, obviously business in the French-side should also be willing to accept US Dollar. What they needed to calculate was just the exchange rate between the currencies. And I noticed a lot of businesses in the French-side used this very simplistic exchange formula:

€1 = $1 in Marigot
€1 = $1 in Marigot

Yes people, €1 = $1!

It was not difficult to immediately see that Euro was being undervalued here, or US Dollar was being overvalued, depending on your point of view. But whichever it was, the bottom line was that paying with US Dollar was much profitable for the consumers! So that was what we did throughout our entire stay in the island.

However, what surprised me was that I noticed a lot of people using Euro to pay for their stuffs 😅.

Food-Poisoned

For dinner in Marigot, once I ordered this lamb dish from a French restaurant:

The troublesome lamb dish
The troublesome lamb dish

Later on that evening, I had quite a bad stomachace and I felt so weak. At one point, my tummy could not take it anymore and decided that it would be necessary to get rid of the poisonous stuff asap. Read: I threw it out, lol 😆 , and what came out was this piece of already half-digested lamb. I felt a little bit better afterwards; and luckily it was already late into the day anyway so I could just immediately go to bed to recover. The next day, I was completely healed already, haha 😆 .

BAHASA INDONESIA

Posting-posting dalam seri September 2016 Sabbatical Trip: The Caribbean:
1. Introduction
2. Part I: Getting to Sint Maarten
3. Part II: Sint Maarten
4. Part III: The Maho Beach
5. Part IV: Saint Martin
6. Part V: Back to the Netherlands

***

Berikut ini dua cerita sampingan dari bagian Karibia dari perjalanan di bulan sabatikal September 2016ku 🙂 .

Nilai Tukar Mata Uang

Sebagai bagian dari Prancis, mata uang resmi di sisi Prancis Saint Martin adalah Euro. Namun, di seluruh pulau, Dollar Amerika juga banyak digunakan. Bahkan aku bilang sepertinya Dollar Amerika adalah mata uang tidak resmi di pulau ini deh, baik itu di sisi Belanda maupun Prancis (Sisi Belanda memiliki mata uangnya sendiri sih, btw, yang bernama “Netherlands Antillean Guilder”).

Sebagai konsekuensinya, jelas dong bisnis-bisnis di sisi Prancis mesti mau menerima Dollar Amerika juga. Yang perlu mereka perhitungkan hanyalah nilai tukar mata uangnya saja. Dan kuperhatikan, banyak bisnis di sisi Prancis yang menggunakan rumus yang super sederhana ini:

€1 = $1 in Marigot
€1 = $1 di Marigot

Iya dong, €1 = $1!

Tidak sulit untuk langsung melihat bahwa Euro dinilai terlalu mahal dengan ini, atau Dollar Amerika yang dinilai terlalu murah, tergantung dari sudut pandang kita. Intinya, jauh lebih menguntungkan untuk melakukan transaksi dengan Dollar Amerika kan ya bagi pengunjung! Jadilah itu yang kami lakukan sepanjang masa tinggal kami di sana.

Tapiiii, yang mengherankan aku adalah aku perhatikan banyak lho orang-orang yang masih membayar dengan menggunakan Euro 😅.

Keracunan makanan

Untuk makan malam di Marigot, aku memesan menu domba berikut ini dari sebuah restoran Prancis:

The troublesome lamb dish
Masakan domba yang bermasalah

Malamnya, aku sakit perut luar biasa dan aku merasa amat lemah. Di satu waktu, badanku tidak mampu lagi menahannya dan memutuskan bahwa penting baginya untuk mengenyahkan sesuatu yang beracun itu segera. Baca: aku muntahkan semuanya, haha 😆 , dan yang keluar adalah potongan daging domba yang telah separuh tercerna itu. Aku merasa lebih baik setelahnya; dan untungnya waktu itu sudah malam juga sehingga aku bisa langsung tidur untuk memulihkan-diri. Keesokan harinya, kesehatanku sudah kembali seperti biasa, haha 😆 .

Aviation · North America Trip · The Caribbean · Trip Report · Vacation

#1826 – September 2016 Sabbatical Trip: The Caribbean (Part V: Back to the Netherlands)

ENGLISH

Posts in the September 2016 Sabbatical Trip: The Caribbean series:
1. Introduction
2. Part I: Getting to Sint Maarten
3. Part II: Sint Maarten
4. Part III: The Maho Beach
5. Part IV: Saint Martin
6. Part V: Back to the Netherlands

***

As I said in the Introduction, I enjoyed my time in Sint Maarten so much and was a little bit sad that one week went by really fast just like that, haha 😆 . It was already time to go back home to the Netherlands.

Princess Juliana International Airport
Princess Juliana International Airport. One week went by so fast.

We were also flying KLM to go back to the Netherlands. Of course, we needed to maximize our time flying the 747s, right? Haha 😆 . While KLM’s flight from Amsterdam was non-stop, the returning flight to Amsterdam was not. KL 785 was a triangular flight and so from Sint Maarten we had to make one stop in Curaçao. Well, I was not complaining at all obviously, as this meant I had more time flying 😊.

Flight map of today. Created with gcmap.com
Flight map of today. Created with gcmap.com

KL 785 (Sint Maarten – Curaçao)

KL Logo
Flight: KLM Royal Dutch Airlines KL 785
Equipment: Boeing 747-400 reg PH-BFN named “City of Nairobi”
ATD: 12:06 AST (Runway 10 of SXM)
ATA: 13:17 AST (Runway 11 of CUR)

After returning our rental car, we were taken by a shuttle to the airport. We were a little bit too early this morning so the check-in counter had not yet been open. Long story short, we checked-in, upon which all our luggages werre given the priority tags and the check-in lady issued three lounge invitation cards (instead of two, yeay!) for us. We passed the security check, cleared immigration, and then waited at the lounge.

A KLM's Boeing 747-400 reg PH-BFN
A KLM’s Boeing 747-400 reg PH-BFN

Anyway, at about 10:45, our ride landed at runway 10. Today, the flight was going to be operated with KLM’s Boeing 747-400 reg PH-BFN named “City of Nairobi”. The transit passengers from Amsterdam to Curaçao were asked to remain in the plane and I doubt they did any (significant) cleaning on the seats that were occupied by the Sint-Maarten-bound passengers. Anyway, after boarding at 11:30, I settled on my 22K seat. Luckily the seat still looked clean and seat 22J was empty! Yeay! 😀

At about 11:50, the pushback began and so the flight departed. We taxied on the runway towards the end of runway 10 for take-off. And when we made the final 180° turn, I could see Maho Beach was full of jet-blast chasers! Haha 😆 .

Jet blast chasers
Jet blast chasers

At 12:06, we took off from runway 10 of SXM. We were taking off towards the east and, as I said in Part III post, there was a small mountain range in this direction. So quickly after take-off, the plane had to make a right turn to avoid the mountain. Consequently, the take-off was super cool!! 😀 Here is the departure and take-off video:

So, see you, Sint Maarten!

See you, Sint Maarten!
See you, Sint Maarten!

Sint Maarten – Curaçao was just a short segment. The AVOD was, however, fully functional 😀 . There was a snack service provided in this short-haul flight; and the standard was pretty much like other KLM’s intra-European flights: a sandwich and a selection of drinks. There were two options for the sandwich, though: chicken or cheese. I chose the chicken one, which was quite good.

Complimentary snack
Complimentary snack

The flight to Curaçao was smooth all the way. About one hour after departure, we started the decent and at 13:17, we landed at runway 11 of Curaçao International Airport, here is the landing video:

Transitting in Curaçao

The crew change took place in Curaçao, so all passengers were asked to disembarked the plane as the plane was going to get cleaned as well. So here I was, technically (though not officially) in Curaçao, the closest I have ever been to South America! Haha 😆 .

The small lounge at Curaçao International Airport
The small lounge at Curaçao International Airport

We went to the lounge at the airport, and the receptionist was strict that I could only guest one other passenger. So we decided that my dad would stay at the lounge while my mom would window-shop. It was not a long transfer anyway. The lounge at Curaçao International Airport, though, was small yet very busy at the time. We did not find any two adjacent seats that were unoccupied, haha 😆 .

KL 785 (Curaçao – Amsterdam)

KL Logo
Flight: KLM Royal Dutch Airlines KL 785
Equipment: Boeing 747-400 reg PH-BFN named “City of Nairobi”
ATD: 15:40 AST (Runway 11 of CUR)
ATA: 06:10 CET (Runway 18R of AMS)

There was a small problem while boarding where Sky Priority passengers (including me 😛 ) had been allowed to enter the air bridge. But there, we were made to wait as it turned out that there was a small technical problem with the plane’s door and they were busy repairing it. So we were asked to go back to the lounge. Luckily it did not take too long and in less than ten minutes, the boarding was reopened.

Long story short, I got back to my 22K seat and settled there. Unfortunately the two seats next to me were taken. Anyway, at about 15:20 the flight departed and we took off from runway 11 of Curaçao International Airport.

Taking-off from runway 11
Taking-off from runway 11

Just after take-off, a small snack service (a bag of peanuts) and a selection of drinks were provided. Anyway, as visible in the map above, the route from Curaçao to Amsterdam actually passed Sint Maarten. So about one hour into the flight, I was able to see the island from above! It was beautiful!! 😀

Hello again, Sint Maarten!
Hello again, Sint Maarten!

Just before sunset, the dinner service was provided. The options were beef meatballs or penne pasta. Obviously I chose the beef meatballs, which turned out to be good!

Dinner service on board flight KL 785 to Amsterdam (beef meatball)
Dinner service on board flight KL 785 to Amsterdam (beef meatball)

Just after dinner, we were already in the area where the sun had started to set. I looked out the window, and I got this magnificent view:

A glorious golden window view somewhere above the Atlantic!
A glorious golden window view somewhere above the Atlantic!

Very beautiful, isn’t it? The wing and engines of the Queen of the Skies, flying above the golden cloud! 😍

As we were flying eastward, we would have a very short night time. So I would actually prefer to sleep if I could and, I think, ideally they should try to maximize the sleeping time of the passengers. However, one negative aspect about this flight was that the cabin light was not dimmed for quite a long-ish period of time. They eventually did but it was already just four hours before landing. Maybe in a way it was my mistake too that I did not prepare myself with an eyepad, though.

The not-dimmed cabin
The not-dimmed cabin

As I could not sleep, I decided to just be on warrior-mode (which contributed to the jetlag 😆 ) and watched Pitch Perfect, The Big Short, and an episode of How I Met Your Mother at the AVOD screen. As I mentioned in the Part I post, the KLM’s AVOD system in their Boeing 747s was actually good!

Snacks in the galley :D
Snacks in the galley 😀

About 1.5 hours before landing, the breakfast service was distributed. There was no option for breakfast, but it was nonetheless okay: a serving of omelette with cuts of fruits and yoghurt; and a selection of drinks, of course.

Breakfast service on board flight KL 785 to Amsterdam
Breakfast service on board flight KL 785 to Amsterdam

Overall, the flight was smooth so we were approaching Schiphol ahead of schedule. At 06:10 Dutch time, we landed at Polderbaan. Again, this time I did not really complain for landing there as this meant I could enjoy riding the Boeing 747 a little bit longer! 😉 Then we got off the plane, cleared immigration and the custom checkS, and decided to combat the jetlag by going to Amsterdam. And here, the Caribbean part of my September 2016 Sabbatical Trip officially ended.

BAHASA INDONESIA

Posting-posting dalam seri September 2016 Sabbatical Trip: The Caribbean:
1. Introduction
2. Part I: Getting to Sint Maarten
3. Part II: Sint Maarten
4. Part III: The Maho Beach
5. Part IV: Saint Martin
6. Part V: Back to the Netherlands

***

Seperti yang aku bilang di Pendahuluan, aku sungguh menikmati waktuku di Sint Maarten dan sedikit sedih juga satu minggu di sana kok berlalu begitu cepat ya, haha 😆 . Sekarang sudah saatnya untuk pulang ke Belanda.

Princess Juliana International Airport
Princess Juliana International Airport. Seminggu berlalu begitu cepat

Kami kembali ke Belanda juga dengan KLM. Tentu saja, untuk memaksimalkan waktu kami terbang dengan Boeing 747 doong, haha 😆 . Jika penerbangannya KLM dari Amsterdam itu non-stop, penerbangan kembalinya ke Amsterdam tidak. KL 785 adalah penerbangan rute segitiga sehingga dari Sint Maarten kami harus berhenti satu kali di Curaçao. Yah, aku sih tidak komplain lah ya, karena ini artinya kan terbangnya lebih lama 😊.

Flight map of today. Created with gcmap.com
Peta rute penerbangan hari ini. Dibuat dengan gcmap.com

KL 785 (Sint Maarten – Curaçao)

KL Logo
Penerbangan: KLM Royal Dutch Airlines KL 785
Pesawat: Boeing 747-400 reg PH-BFN bernama “City of Nairobi”
ATD: 12:06 AST (Runway 10 of SXM)
ATA: 13:17 AST (Runway 11 of CUR)

Setelah mengembalikan mobil sewaan kami, kami diantar dengan mobil shuttle ke bandara. Kami agak terlalu awal pagi itu sehingga konter check-in-nya belum buka. Singkat cerita, kami check-in, yang mana ketika itu semua bagasi kami dilabeli prioritas dan petugas check-in-nya mengeluarkan tiga kartu undangan masuk ke lounge (bukannya dua, hore!) untuk kami. Kami melewati pemeriksaan sekuriti, imigrasi, dan menunggu di lounge-nya.

A KLM's Boeing 747-400 reg PH-BFN
Sebuah Boeing 747-400nya KLM dengan registrasi PH-BFN

Anyway, sekitar jam 10:45, tumpangan kami mendarat di landasan pacu 10. Hari ini, penerbangannya dioperasikan dengan Boeing 747-400nya KLM dengan registrasi PH-BFN yang dinamai “City of Nairobi”. Penumpang transit dari Amsterdam tujuan Curaçao diminta untuk menunggu di pesawat dan aku kira kursi-kursi kosong yang ditinggalkan penumpang tujuan Sint Maarten tidak dibersihkan (secara signifikan). Setelah boarding yang dibuka jam 11:30, aku duduk di kursi 22K. Untungnya kursinya masih bersih dan kursi 22J kosong! Hore! 😀

Sekitar jam 11:50, pesawat didorong mundur dan penerbangannya berangkat. Kami taxiing di landasan pacunya menuju ujung landasan pacu 10 untuk lepas landas. Ketika kami berputar-balik di ujung landasan pacu itu, aku bisa lihat Pantai Maho sudah dipenuhi oleh para pengejar jet blast! Haha 😆 .

Jet blast chasers
Para pengejar jet blast di Pantai Maho

Jam 12:06, pesawat lepas landas dari landasan pacu 10. Arah lepas landas adalah ke arah timur dan, seperti yang kusebutkan di Bagian III, ada pegunungan kecil di arah ini. Jadilah ketika lepas landas pesawatnya juga harus segera berbelok ke arah kanan untuk menghindari pegunungan ini. Akibatnya, lepas landasnya kereeeen bangeet!! 😀 Berikut ini video keberangkatan dan lepas-landasnya:

Sampai ketemu lagi, Sint Maarten!

See you, Sint Maarten!
Sampai ketemu, Sint Maarten!

Sint Maarten – Curaçao adalah penerbangan jarak dekat. Toh walau begitu, AVODnya masih dinyalakan kok 😀 . Ada layanan snack di penerbangan ini; dan standarnya kurang lebih sama lah seperti layanan intra-Eropanya KLM: sandwich dan minuman. Ada dua pilihan sih untuk sandwich-nya: isi ayam atau isi keju. Aku memilih yang berisi ayam dan rasanya enak juga.

Complimentary snack
Layanan snack

Penerbangan ke Curaçao berlangsung mulus di sepanjang jalan. Sekitar satu jam setelah keberangkatan, pesawat mulai turun dan jam 1:17 siang, pesawat mendarat di landasan pacu 11 Bandara Internasional Curaçao, berikut ini video pendaratannya:

Transit di Curaçao

Pergantian kru pesawat dilakukan di Curaçao, jadilah semua penumpang dipersilakan turun karena pesawatnya juga sekalian mau dibersihkan. Jadi, di sini lah aku, secara teknis (walaupun tidak secara resmi) berada di Curaçao, ini adalah posisiku yang paling dekat ke Amerika Selatan selama ini loh! Haha 😆 .

The small lounge at Curaçao International Airport
Lounge kecil di Bandara Internasional Curaçao

Kami kemudian berjalan ke lounge di bandaranya, dan resepsionisnya cukup ketat dengan peraturan sehingga aku hanya boleh membawa satu orang tamu saja. Ya sudah jadilah kami memutuskan bahwa papaku akan menunggu di lounge sementara mamaku melihat-lihat toko-toko di luar. Toh transitnya juga sebentar saja sih. Lounge-nya sendiri berukuran kecil dan ramai sekali waktu itu. Sampai-sampai kami tidak menemukan kursi berdekatan yang kosong, haha 😆 .

KL 785 (Curaçao – Amsterdam)

KL Logo
Penerbangan: KLM Royal Dutch Airlines KL 785
Pesawat: Boeing 747-400 reg PH-BFN bernama “City of Nairobi”
ATD: 15:40 AST (Runway 11 of CUR)
ATA: 06:10 CET (Runway 18R of AMS)

Ada sedikit masalah kecil ketika boarding dimana penumpang Sky Priority (termasuk aku 😛 ) sudah diizinkan masuk ke gabarata. Tetapi di sana, kami diminta menunggu karena ternyata ada sedikit masalah teknis kecil dengan pintu pesawatnya sehingga mereka sedang sibuk memperbaikinya. Jadilah kami diminta untuk kembali ke lounge. Untungnya, perbaikan tidak memakan waktu lama dan kurang dari sepuluh menit kemudian, boarding kembali dibuka.

Singkat cerita, aku kembali di kursi 22K-ku dan duduk pewe di sana. Sayangnya, dua kursi di sebelahku terisi nih. Sekitar jam 3:20 sore, penerbangan berangkat dan tak lama kemudian lepas landas dari landasan pacu 11 Bandara Internasional Curaçao.

Taking-off from runway 11
Lepas landas dari landasan pacu 11

Tak lama setelah lepas-landas, layanan snack kecil (sebungkus kacang-kacangan) dan minuman dibagikan. Ngomong-ngomong, seperti yang nampak di peta di atas, rute Curaçao ke Amsterdam sebenarnya melewati Sint Maarten. Jadilah kira-kira satu jam setelah berangkat, aku bisa melihat Sint Maarten dari atas! Keren banget deh!! 😀

Hello again, Sint Maarten!
Halo lagi, Sint Maarten!

Sebelum matahari terbenam, layanan makan malam dibagikan. Pilihannya adalah bakso daging sapi atau pasta penne. Jelas aku memilih bakso daging sapinya, yang mana ternyata enak!

Dinner service on board flight KL 785 to Amsterdam (beef meatball)
Layanan makan malam di penerbangan KL 785 ke Amsterdam (bakso daging sapi)

Setelah makan malam, kami sudah berada di area dimana matahari mulai terbenam. Ketika aku menengok ke luar jendela, aku mendapatkan pemandangan luar biasa ini:

A glorious golden window view somewhere above the Atlantic!
Pemandangan jendela keemasan yang keren banget, di suatu tempat di atas Samudra Atlantik!

Indah banget kaan? Sayap dan mesinnya Queen of the Skies, terbang di atas awan-awan yang berwarna keemasan! 😍

Karena kami terbang ke arah timur, kami akan mengalami malam yang amat singkat. Jadi sebenarnya kalau bisa sih aku maunya tidur dan, aku rasa, idealnya seharusnya mereka juga berusaha untuk memaksimalkan waktu tidur penumpang. Namun, satu aspek negatif penerbangan ini adalah lampu kabinnya tidak dimatikan dalam periode yang cukup lama. Akhirnya dimatikan semua sih memang, tetapi itu dilakukan kira-kira empat jam sebelum mendarat. Mungkin salahku juga sih ya tidak membawa penutup mata.

The not-dimmed cabin
Kabin yang belum digelapkan

Karena aku tidak bisa tidur, ya sudah sekalian aja aku memutuskan untuk tidak tidur sama sekali (yang berkontribusi terhadap jetlag-ku, haha 😆 ) dan menonton Pitch Perfect, The Big Short, dan satu episodenya How I Met Your Mother melalui layar AVOD. Sudah kusebutkan di Bagian I bahwa AVODnya KLM di pesawat Boeing 747-400 ternyata bagus!

Snacks in the galley :D
Snack yang bebas tersedia di galley 😀

Sekitar 1,5 jam sebelum mendarat, layanan sarapan dibagikan. Tidak ada pilihan untuk sarapan, tetapi rasanya toh oke-oke saja kok: seporsi omelet dengan potongan buat dan yoghurt; dan beberapa pilihan minuman, tentu saja.

Breakfast service on board flight KL 785 to Amsterdam
Layanan sarapan di penerbangan KL 785 ke Amsterdam

Secara umum, penerbangan ini amat lancar sehingga kami sudah dekat dengan Schiphol lebih cepat daripada jadwal. Jam 6:10 pagi waktu Belanda, kami mendarat di Polderbaan. Lagi, kali ini aku sih tidak komplain karena mendarat disana karena ini artinya aku jadi bisa menikmati duduk-duduk di dalam Boeing 747 lebih lama kan! 😉 Lalu, kami turun dari pesawat, melewati pemeriksaan imigrasi dan beberapa pemeriksaan bea cukai, dan kemudian memutuskan untuk melawan jetlag dengan pergi ke Amsterdam. Dan di sini, bagian Karibia dari bulan sabatikal September 2016ku berakhir.

North America Trip · The Caribbean · Vacation

#1823 – September 2016 Sabbatical Trip: The Caribbean (Part IV: Saint Martin)

ENGLISH

Posts in the September 2016 Sabbatical Trip: The Caribbean series:
1. Introduction
2. Part I: Getting to Sint Maarten
3. Part II: Sint Maarten
4. Part III: The Maho Beach
5. Part IV: Saint Martin
6. Part V: Back to the Netherlands

***

Dutch-French border in the Caribbean
Dutch-French border in the Caribbean
As I mentioned in the Introduction, the island of St.Martin is governed by two countries: the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the south (the Sint Maarten area) and France in the north (the Saint Martin area). There is a free-movement right between the two parts and so obviously we explored both parts with our rental car. In Part II, I focused on the Dutch side. In this post, I focus on the French side.

***

If the Dutch side appeared more developed, the French side was, in general, more scenic to me. Hills, fields, coastlines (obviously) with beautiful view were there to enjoy.

A coastal road in the French side
A coastal road in the French side
Speaking of the coastline, we went to a few beaches and once drove on a coastal road in the eastern part of the island. The beaches were, of course, beautiful even though not that much different from the Dutch-side beaches (It was a small island anyway so why would we expect the two parts to be so different in nature? Lol 😆 ). However, I found that the beaches in the French part were slightly less clean than the Dutch counterpart. No, no, not like there was a lot of (human) trash nor the water was polluted, it was just that seaweed remain (I think?) that had turned dark lied there on the beaches.

The Orient Bay in the French side
The Orient Bay in the French side, the dark stuff I mention above is visible here.
Generally, the French side was less busy that the Dutch side. It appeared to me that the island’s economy center was the Dutch side, with more factories and, thus, trade. The French side was, probably, more for living as it felt much calmer. This was reflected by the location of some of the resorts, which were rather “secluded” and probably aimed to blend in more with the nature.

The capital of the French side was a town called Marigot, that was smaller than the Dutch’s Philipsburg (for the obvious reason). I liked Marigot; and, actually, I liked it more than Philipsburg. While in general the town was less busy than Philipsburg, at certain times traffic jams could occur too though. This was mainly due to the narrow streets 😛 .

Marigot
Marigot
Speaking of Marigot and the French side, the best food we had during our entire stay in Sint Maarten was found in Marigot! Well, come to think about it, it was not surprising at all, given that I love French food, haha 😆 . There were a lot of French restaurants, run by French people, in Marigot (and in the French side overall).

A delicious French meal in the French side
A serving of escargot, bavette with pasta, and cappuccino at L’Arhawak
Once we had lunch at L’Arhawak, a family restaurant run by a super friendly French family in Marigot. The guy thought I spoke French because apparently I pronounced “bonjour” perfectly, lol 😆 . Well, those frequent trips to France and flights with Air France paid off, I guess, lol 😆 . Anyway, I had a bavette for lunch and we shared a serving of escargot as a side dish. It was my second time ever eating escargot (my first time was this May in Rennes), and this escargot in Marigot was much better! 🙂

BAHASA INDONESIA

Posting-posting dalam seri September 2016 Sabbatical Trip: The Caribbean:
1. Introduction
2. Part I: Getting to Sint Maarten
3. Part II: Sint Maarten
4. Part III: The Maho Beach
5. Part IV: Saint Martin
6. Part V: Back to the Netherlands

***

Dutch-French border in the Caribbean
Perbatasan Belanda dan Prancis di Karibia
Seperti yang kusebutkan di posting Pendahuluan, pulau St. Martin diperintah oleh dua negara: Kerajaan Belanda di selatan (area Sint Maarten) dan Prancis di utara (area Saint Martin). Ada hak untuk bebas berpindah di antara dua bagian ini sehingga jelas dong kami memanfaatkannya untuk menjelajahi pulau dengan mobil sewaan kami. Di posting Bagian II, aku fokus di bagian Belandanya. Nah, di posting ini, aku akan menceritakan bagian Prancisnya.

***

Jika bagian Belanda nampak lebih maju, bagian Prancis, secara umum, nampak lebih permai bagiku. Ada bukit-bukit, padang-padang, dan (kelas) pantai-pantai yang pemandangannya kece untu dinikmati.

A coastal road in the French side
Sebuah jalan tepi pantai di sisi Prancis
Ngomongin garis pantai, kami mengunjungi beberapa pantai di sana dan sempat juga sekali menyusuri jalan tepian pantai di sisi timur pulaunya. Pantai-pantainya, jelas, cakep-cakep deh walaupun memang mirip-mirip sih dengan yang di sisi Belanda (Namanya aja pulau kecil, nggak mengherankan juga kan dua bagiannya mirip-mirip alamnya? Haha 😆 ). Namun, aku merasa pantai-pantai di sisi Prancis itu sedikit lebih kotor dibandingkan yang di sisi Belanda. Bukan, bukan kotor karena sampah (manusia) atau air lautnya terpolusi, tetapi kotor karena sisa-sisa rumput laut (kayaknya?) yang sudah menghitam yang banyak terlihat di pasir pantainya.

The Orient Bay in the French side
Pantai Orient di sisi Prancis, yang hitam-hitam yang kusebutkan di atas terlihat kan di foto ini.
Secara umum, sisi Prancis lebih tidak sibuk dibandingkan sisi Belanda. Nampaknya memang pusat perekonomian pulau ini tersentralisasi di sisi Belanda deh, dimana di sana juga banyak terdapat pabrik dan, akibatnya, perdagangan. Mungkin sisi Prancis lebih digunakan untuk hidup ya karena memang lebih tenang. Ini terefleksikan juga sih dari beberapa lokasi hotel-hotel resort yang mana cukup “terisolasi”; mungkin memang tujuannya adalah agar lebih menyatu dengan alam.

Ibukota sisi Prancis adalah kota Marigot, yang berukuran lebih kecil daripada Philipsburg di sisi Belanda (ya iya lah ya). Aku suka Marigot; dan, bahkan, aku lebih menyukainya daripada Philipsburg loh. Walaupun secara umum kotanya juga lebih tidak sibuk dibandingkan Philipsburg, tetapi di waktu-waktu tertentu di kotanya bisa ada kemacetan lalu-lintas juga, haha. Ini disebabkan jalanannya yang sempit-sempit 😛 .

Marigot
Marigot
Ngomongin Marigot dan sisi Prancis, makanan terenak yang kami makan sepanjang waktu kami di Sint Maarten kami temukan di Marigot! Yah, dipikir-pikir lagi mah memang tidak mengherankan sama sekali ya, apalagi aku kan memang suka makanan Prancis, haha 😆 . Ada banyak sekali restoran Prancis, yang dikelola oleh orang Prancis loh, di Marigot (dan juga di keseluruhan sisi Prancis secara umum).

A delicious French meal in the French side
Seporsi escargot, bavette dengan pasta, dan cappuccino di L’Arhawak
Suatu ketika kami makan siang di restoran L’Arhawak, sebuah restoran keluarga yang dikelola oleh sekeluarga Prancis yang super ramah banget. Bapak-bapaknya awalnya mengira aku bisa berbahasa Prancis karena ternyata aku mengucapkan “bonjour” dengan sempurna, huahaha 😆 . Yah, sering jalan-jalan ke Prancis dan terbang dengan Air France ternyata ada buahnya juga ya, haha 😆 . Anyway, aku memesan bavette untuk makan siang dan kami berbagi seporsi escargot untuk makanan sampingan. Ini adalah kali kedua seumur-hidup aku makan escargot (kali pertama adalah Mei ini di Rennes) dan escargot di Marigot ini rasanya lebih enak loh! 🙂

Aviation · North America Trip · The Caribbean · Vacation

#1821 – September 2016 Sabbatical Trip: The Caribbean (Part III: The Maho Beach)

ENGLISH

Posts in the September 2016 Sabbatical Trip: The Caribbean series:
1. Introduction
2. Part I: Getting to Sint Maarten
3. Part II: Sint Maarten
4. Part III: The Maho Beach
5. Part IV: Saint Martin
6. Part V: Back to the Netherlands

***

To me, Maho Beach is the most beautiful beach in the world. Why? Well, the water looked like this:

Maho Beach
Maho Beach

It looked beautiful, didn’t it? It was crystal clear, trash-free, and turquoise in color. Okay. There are many other beaches in the world with water that looks like that, some of you might say. Okay, at Maho Beach there are bars and restaurants nearby with umbrellas so we can enjoy the view in comfort:

Maho Beach and a burger
Maho Beach and a burger

Well, some of those other beaches also have bars and restaurants as well, some of you might say. Well, at Maho Beach, you get this view every now and then:

An Air Caraibes' Airbus A330-300 landing at SXM
An Air Caraibes’ Airbus A330-300 landing at SXM

Yes, the tip of Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM)’s runway 10 is less than 50 meter away from the beach. Consequently, approaching planes are already flying really really low above the beach when landing here. To make things “better”, there is a small mountain range to the east of the runway, meaning that most (bigger) airplanes would land at runway 10! This means that a view like pictured above is not a rare daily occurrence!

As a self-proclaimed avgeek, it is very obvious why this beach is, now, my most favorite beach in the entire world 😆 .

***

It would not be surprising at all if I say that we spent most of our time in Sint Maarten on this beach, haha 😆 . And we spent most of those time at the very famous Sunset Bar and Grill (You see, the bar is so famous they have their own Wikipedia page! 😆 ). Of course we spent those time enjoying the view and taking a lot of pictures of airplanes! 😍😍😍 Well, while trying to bear the temperature which, at one point, the real feel was 40°C 😱.

40°C
40°C

Sunset Grill and Bar was, indeed, a nice place to hang out on its own. The food and drink selection was quite good too, even though the options were all Western (pizzas, burgers, nachos, etc). Funnily, though, they named their pizzas after airlines and aviation-related matters, haha 😆 . More importantly, their music selection was SOOO great!! On Sunday, they invited a live DJ to perform the whole day, making the atmosphere really fun!

A KLM Pizza at Sunset Bar and Grill
A KLM Pizza at Sunset Bar and Grill

***

Anyway, coming to this trip, there were two activities which I really, really wanted to do in Maho Beach (aside from taking pictures and enjoying the view, of course). Here they were:

Taking a selfie underneath a landing plane

But not just any plane. I wanted the plane, a KLM’s Boeing 747-400.

A KLM's Boeing 747-406 reg PH-BFB landing at Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM), in Sint Marteen. Photo credit: HGabor/Airliners.net
A KLM’s Boeing 747-406 reg PH-BFB landing at Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM), in Sint Marteen. Photo credit: HGabor/Airliners.net

I mentioned in the Introduction post that KLM, the last operator of Boeing 747 at SXM, will change their operation at the end of October (read: by the end of this week). While on one hand this meant that I was lucky with going to Sint Maarten in September, on the other hand this actually created some pressure.

This trip was the time. If I wanted the photo, I MUST do it now. There would be no second chance. Even when (not “if” 😛 ) I come back in the future, I would not be able to get it. While technically still unknown, I believe the likelihood that a Boeing 747 would make a regular comeback to Sint Maarten is rather slim.

You see, it was quite stressful! Haha 😆 .

On top of that, the not-so-ideal situation was KLM’s only three weekly services to Sint Maarten. With a week of stay there, this meant I had only TWO chances to get the photo. The better news was that because I stayed there for a week, there were plenty of other opportunities to practise! (Seriously, I practised taking selfies with other landing planes, to know the spot, angle, timing, etc). And I could tell you that putting all those variables together was no easy task. In case you haven’t realized, a landing plane still moves really fast. So basically there was only less than one second time window to get a picture with the plane! Otherwise it would be too early (the plane was still too small) or too late (the plane was already at the airport).

Friday was the first chance for me to get the photo. KLM sent their PH-BFL to Sint Maarten that day. The result? Well, technically I got the photo, however, being under enormous pressure, it was reflected on my face, lol 😆 . I looked SO tense!! Lol 😆 Damn, I considered all those variables and, somehow, forgot the important one: myself, lol 😆 .

Look at how tense my face was! Lol
Look at how tense my face was! Lol. Btw, my dad took this photo.

I told myself that it was okay, as I still had one more chance. However, this was literally the last chance, ever!!

After a few more practice, I got my second, and final, chance on Sunday. That day, KLM sent their PH-BFY to Sint Maarten. I saw the plane coming from the north, then making a sharp left turn towards runway 10. She was getting closer, and closer, and closer, and … I got it!! Yeay!!

The ultimate plane selfie!!!
The ultimate plane selfie!!!

I got it! The ultimate plane selfie!! And I LOVE the result!! Hahaha 😆

You know what, I felt SOOO relieved afterwards. It was like the whole trip was a success (yeah, so much pressure on a vacation 😛 ). And so I was really happy! Hahaha 😆

Jet Blast

The famous jet blast warning at SXM
The famous jet blast warning at SXM

The second activity I would want to do was to, well, enjoy the jet blast. But not just any jet blast, but the jet blast, i.e. the jet blast of a taking-off Boeing 747-400 at SXM.

*** Warning ***

The danger sign pictured above is no joke. The jet blast can, indeed, be very dangerous especially if you underestimate the power of the engines. And I can tell you that airplanes engines are extremely powerful. Heck they can fly heavy pieces of metals up in the sky for thousands of kilometers!!

The jet blast of a McDonnell Douglas MD83
The jet blast of a McDonnell Douglas MD83

So, if you plan to do the same in Sint Maarten, please be aware of the risk!!

*** Warning ends here ***

And so on Friday, this happened:

Yeay!! 🙂

I can tell you now that the jet blast was SUPER strong! 😆 Well, it was kinda obvious from the video anyway 😛 .

BAHASA INDONESIA

Posting-posting dalam seri September 2016 Sabbatical Trip: The Caribbean:
1. Introduction
2. Part I: Getting to Sint Maarten
3. Part II: Sint Maarten
4. Part III: The Maho Beach
5. Part IV: Saint Martin
6. Part V: Back to the Netherlands

***

Untukku, Pantai Maho adalah pantai terindah di dunia. Mengapa? Yah, pantainya sendiri berpenampakan seperti ini:

Maho Beach
Pantai Maho

Indah kan ya? Air lautnya sungguh amat jernih, bebas sampah, dan warnanya pun biru turquoise. Oke. Ada banyak pantai lain di dunia yang toh penampakannya kayak gitu juga, begitu mungkin komentar sebagian orang. Hmm, di Pantai Maho terdapat restoran dan barnya juga loh dengan payung-payung begitu sehingga pemandangannya bisa kita nikmati sambil duduk-duduk nyaman:

Maho Beach and a burger
Pantai Maho dan satu porsi burger

Hmm, di beberapa pantai indah lainnya juga ada restoran dan bar kok, begitu mungkin komentar sebagian orang lagi. Yah, oke deh, di Pantai Maho, kita mendapatkan pemandangan beginian juga:

An Air Caraibes' Airbus A330-300 landing at SXM
Sebuah Airbus A330-300nya Air Caraibes mendarat di SXM

Iya, ujung landasan pacu 10 Bandara Internasional Princess Juliana (SXM) berjarak kurang dari 50 meter saja dari pantainya. Sebagai akibatnya, pesawat yang akan mendarat sudah harus terbang sangat amat rendah di atas pantainya ketika mendarat di sana. Yang membuat lebih “keren” lagi, ada pegunungan kecil di arah timur landasan pacunya, yang mana artinya kebanyakan pesawat-pesawat (besar) mendarat di landasan pacu 10! Ini artinya pemandangan seperti di foto terakhir di atas itu bukan lah pemandangan yang jarang!

Nah, sebagai seorang yang mengaku-aku avgeek, jelas lah ya mengapa sekarang pantai ini adalah pantai terfavoritku di seluruh dunia 😆 .

***

Tentu tidak mengherankan jika kusebutkan bahwa sebagian besar waktu kami di Sint Maarten dihabiskan di pantai ini, haha 😆 . Sebagian besar waktu tersebut kami habiskan di Sunset Bar and Grill yang terkenal itu (Nah kan, saking terkenalnya barnya memiliki halaman Wikipedia sendiri loh! 😆 ). Tentu saja kami menikmati pemandangan dan foto-foto pesawatnya dari sana! 😍😍😍 Yah, itu semua sambil menahan-nahan cuaca yang panasnya warbyasahh deh, yang mana di satu waktu, real feel-nya 40°C dong 😱. Suhu udara macam apa ini!! 😱

40°C
40°C

Sunset Grill and Bar sendiri adalah tempat yang memang nyaman untuk hang out. Pilihan makanan dan minumannya cukup oke, walaupun semua pilihannya adalah makanan ala Barat sih (pizza, burger, nachos, dll). Lucunya, pizza-nya dinamai berdasarkan nama maskapai penerbangan dan hal-hal yang berkaitan dengan dunia penerbangan loh, haha 😆 . Dan yang lebih penting lagi, pemilihan musiknya ASYIK BANGETTT!!! Bahkan di hari Minggu ada DJnya loh yang tampil live sepanjang hari, sehingga atmosfernya seru abis!

A KLM Pizza at Sunset Bar and Grill
Pizza KLM di Sunset Bar and Grill

***

Anyway, ketika berangkat dalam perjalanan ini, ada dua aktivitas yang ingin, ingin banget aku lakukan di Pantai Maho (selain foto-foto pesawat dan menikmati pemandangannya, tentu saja). Keduanya adalah:

Foto selfie dengan sebuah pesawat yang sedang mendarat

Tetapi bukan dengan sembarang pesawat tentunya dong ya. Aku maunya dengan pesawat yang paling keren deh, yaitu Boeing 747-400nya KLM.

A KLM's Boeing 747-406 reg PH-BFB landing at Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM), in Sint Marteen. Photo credit: HGabor/Airliners.net
Sebuah Boeing 747-406nya KLM rego PH-BFB sedang mendarati di Bandara Internasional Princess Juliana (SXM), di Sint Marteen. Photo credit: HGabor/Airliners.net

Sudah kuceritakan di posting Pendahuluan bahwa KLM, operator terakhir pesawat Boeing 747 di SXM, akan mengubah operasi mereka di akhir bulan Oktober (baca: akhir minggu ini). Walaupun di satu sisi ini berita baik karena artinya aku beruntung aku pergi ke Sint Maarten-nya di bulan September, di sisi lain ini justru menimbulkan tekanan batin loh.

Hanya perjalanan ini lah waktunya. Jika aku mau mendapatkan foto itu, aku HARUS dan MESTI mendapatkannya sekarang. Tidak akan ada lagi kesempatan kedua. Bahkan ketika (bukan “jika” yah 😛 ) aku kembali kesana nantinya, aku tidak akan bisa mendapatkannya. Memang sih belum pasti, tetapi intuisiku mengatakan bahwa kemungkinan Boeing 747 akan kembali ke Sint Maarten dalam layanan reguler kok kecil ya.

Nah, stressfull banget kan! Haha 😆 .

Apalagi, ada situasi kurang ideal dimana KLM hanya beroperasi tiga kali seminggu ke Sint Maarten. Karena aku di sana hanya satu minggu, artinya aku hanya memiliki DUA kesempatan untuk foto. Berita baiknya adalah karena aku berada di sana seminggu, ada banyak kesempatan lainnya untukku latihan! (Beneran deh, aku latihan selfie beberapa kali dengan pesawat-pesawat lain yang mendarat loh, untuk mengetahui lokasinya, sudutnya, timing-nya, dsb). Dan bagiku, mengatur semua variabel itu dalam waktu bersamaan itu tidak lah mudah. Jika ada yang belum sadar juga, yang namanya pesawat yang sedang mendarat itu masih bergerak dengan amat cepat. Ini artinya, jendela waktu untuk mengambil fotonya hanya lah kurang dari satu detik! Kalau tidak, ya terlalu awal (pesawatnya masih kekecilan) atau terlambat (pesawatnya sudah mendarat di bandaranya).

Hari Jumat adalah kesempatan pertamaku untuk mendapatkan fotonya. Kali itu, KLM mengirimkan PH-BFL ke Sint Maarten. Hasilnya? Yah, secara teknis fotonya kudapatkan sih; tetapi, saking serius dan tegangnya, ini tercerminkan di mukaku dong, huahaha 😆 . Aku kelihatan tegang BANGET!! Huahaha 😆 Sial, aku memperhitungkan semua variabel-variabel itu dan malah melupakan faktor yang juga penting: diriku sendiri di dalam foto, haha 😆 .

Look at how tense my face was! Lol
Lihat deh, tegang banget kan mukaku! Hahaha. Btw, foto ini diambil papaku.

Aku menghibur diriku sendiri dan berkata, toh masih ada satu kesempatan lagi. Namun, ini adalah kesempatan terakhir, selama-lamanya!!

Setelah beberapa kali latihan lagi, aku mendapatkan kesempatan kedua, dan terakhir, di hari Minggu. KLM mengirimkan PH-BFY ke Sint Maarten hari itu. Aku melihat pesawatnya datang dari arah utara, dan kemudian berbelok kiri mengarah ke landasan pacu 10. Pesawatnya semakin mendekat, semakin mendekat, semakin mendekat, dan … akhirnya aku mendapatkan fotonya!! Hore!!

The ultimate plane selfie!!!
The ultimate plane selfie!!!

Hore aku mendapatkannya! The ultimate plane selfie!! Dan aku SUKA dengan hasilnya!! Hahaha 😆

Tahu nggak, aku merasa lega BANGETT lho setelahnya. Rasanya seluruh perjalanan ini berakhir dengan sukses (iya, banyak banget ya tekanan yang kubuat ke diriku sendiri padahal sedang liburan 😛 ). Dan aku merasa senaang! Hahaha 😆

Jet Blast

The famous jet blast warning at SXM
Papan peringatan jet blast yang terkenal itu di SXM

Aktivitas kedua yang ingin kulakukan juga adalah, hmm, menikmati semburan mesin jet (jet blast) pesawat. Tetapi juga bukan sembarang jet blast, aku maunya jet blast paling mantap yaitu yang dihasilkan oleh Boeing 747-400nya KLM yang akan lepas landas dari SXM.

*** Peringatan ***

Papan peringatan di atas itu bukan lucu-lucuan doang lho ya. Jet blast memang bisa sangat amat membahayakan terutama ketika kalian meremehkan kekuatan semburan mesin jet pesawat. Dan bisa kubilang bahwa mesin jet pesawat itu kuat sekali lho. Bayangin aja, mesinnya bisa membuat struktur metal begitu terbang di langit sejauh ribuan kilometer kan!!

The jet blast of a McDonnell Douglas MD83
Jet-blast-nya sebuah McDonnell Douglas MD83

Jadi, jika kalian berencana melakukan hal yang sama di Sint Maarten, tolong banget paham akan risikonya!!

*** Peringatan selesai di sini ***

Dan di hari Jumat, ini terjadi:

Horeee!! 🙂

Beneran lho jet blast-nya KUAT BANGET! 😆 Eh, kelihatan sih ya memang di videonya 😛 .

 

North America Trip · The Caribbean · Vacation

#1819 – September 2016 Sabbatical Trip: The Caribbean (Part II: Sint Maarten)

ENGLISH

Posts in the September 2016 Sabbatical Trip: The Caribbean series:
1. Introduction
2. Part I: Getting to Sint Maarten
3. Part II: Sint Maarten
4. Part III: The Maho Beach
5. Part IV: Saint Martin
6. Part V: Back to the Netherlands

***

Dutch-French border in the Caribbean
Dutch-French border in the Caribbean

As I mentioned in the Introduction, the island of St.Martin is governed by two countries: the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the south (the Sint Maarten area) and France in the north (the Saint Martin area). There is a free-movement right between the two parts and so obviously we explored both parts with our rental car. In this post, I focus on the Dutch part except for the Maho Beach, which deserves its own self-standing post 😉 .

***

The Causeway Bridge in Sint Maarten
The Causeway Bridge in Sint Maarten

To me, the Dutch part felt more developed than the French part, as I deduced from the infrastructure in general. The road in the Dutch side tend to be in a better condition and there were fancy bridges as well 😛 . This was probably because the Dutch side might be the richer region of the two? This would not be very surprising given that the main airport (Princess Juliana International Airport) and the main harbour (be for cruise or freight) were located in this side.

Speaking of the Dutch side, I guess it was not surprising at all that we encountered this view a few times there:

Open bridge
Open bridge

Lol 😆 . Yes, just like the daily occurrence in continental Europe Netherlands, the bridge was also open for some ships! Haha 😆 .

Aside from the amazing Maho Beach, we only went to two other beaches in the Dutch side: the Mullet Bay and the Philipsburg Beach in the capital. The Mullet Bay was, indeed, very beautiful and serene (probably because we went there in the morning). The water was so clear and blue and turquoise and beautiful and it matched the sky! 😍 The Philipsburg Beach, on the other hand, was just like a typical city-side beach with a lot of buildings along the coastline.

The Mullet Bay in Sint Maarten
The Mullet Bay in Sint Maarten

Speaking of the capital, it was called Philipsburg. It was a small-sized city with one main road and two smaller roads flocked with shops on both sides; pretty much like the roads in Kuta and Legian in Bali, Indonesia. Some of the stores were branded stores, btw; and we guessed those stores caterred the (rich) tourists who were there on cruise. There was a board walk along the coastline as well, which was only accessible by foot.

In Sint Maarten!!
In Sint Maarten!!

If Philipsburg Beach came out pale compared to the other beaches in the island, the city of Philipsburg itself was not. I found the architecture alongside the roads of the city to be very interesting and refreshing. So I actually recommend walking down the roads around the city if you happen to be there 🙂 .

Philipsburg
Philipsburg

While vacationing during low-season has many perks, there are downsides as well. Most of the stores in Philipsburg that we saw were closed; probably due to the low number of tourists. Moreover, some restaurants (in the entire island) were also closed for the whole month. In general, aside from the super touristic area (like the Maho Beach), we found not so many people in the island. Even there were only few people in the mall!

The KFC in Sint Maarten
The KFC in Sint Maarten

Speaking of the food, to be honest we did not get the chance to try any local food. This might be our fault that we were being too picky (I was concerned about the hygiene while my parents were more concerned about the type of the food). Once we had dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe in Philipsburg where I had a very delicious fajitas. Many times we ended up eating Chinese food which turned out to be quite popular throughout the island, haha 😆 . And I was super glad that we managed to try a KFC as well! And I loved the KFC there!! It was good (though still did not beat the Indonesian KFC)!!

BAHASA INDONESIA

Posting-posting dalam seri September 2016 Sabbatical Trip: The Caribbean:
1. Introduction
2. Part I: Getting to Sint Maarten
3. Part II: Sint Maarten
4. Part III: The Maho Beach
5. Part IV: Saint Martin
6. Part V: Back to the Netherlands

***

Dutch-French border in the Caribbean
Perbatasan Belanda dan Prancis di Karibia

Seperti yang kusebutkan di posting Pendahuluan, pulau St. Martin diperintah oleh dua negara: Kerajaan Belanda di selatan (area Sint Maarten) dan Prancis di utara (area Saint Martin). Ada kebebasan berpindah di antara dua bagian ini sehingga jelas dong kami memanfaatkannya untuk menjelajahi pulau ini dengan mobil sewaan kami. Di posting ini, aku akan fokus di bagian Belanda kecuali Pantai Maho-nya, yang mana layak untuk dijadikan satu posting tersendiri 😉 .

***

The Causeway Bridge in Sint Maarten
Jembatan Causeway di Sint Maarten

Untukku, bagian Belanda terasa lebih maju daripada bagian Prancis, dan ini kusimpulkan secara umum dari infrastrukturnya. Jalanan di sisi Belanda berada dalam kondisi yang umumnya lebih baik dan ada jembatan-jembatan keren segala 😛 . Ini mungkin karena sisi Belanda lebih kaya? Ini tidak mengherankan karena bandara utama (Bandara Internasional Princess Juliana) dan pelabuhan utama (untuk cruise maupun kargo) berlokasi di sisi ini.

Ngomongin sisi Belanda, aku rasa tidak mengherankan juga sih ya bahwa kami mendapatkan pemandangan begini ini beberapa kali ketika di sana:

Open bridge
Jembatannya dibuka

Huahahaha 😆 . Iyaa, sama ternyata dengan pemandangan sehari-hari di Belanda Eropa daratan, jembatannya dibuka karena ada kapal yang mau lewat! Haha 😆 .

Selain Pantai Maho yang memang keren abis, kami hanya pergi ke dua pantai lainnya saja di sisi ini: Pantai Mullet dan Pantai Philipsburg di ibukota. Pantai Mullet memang beneran indah dan tenang sekali (mungkin karena kami kesana di pagi hari). Airnya sungguh jernih dan biru dan turquoise dan warnanya cocok dengan warna langitnya! 😍 Tetapi Pantai Philipsburg terasa biasa saja sih yaitu tipikal pantai yang berada di pinggir kota dengan banyak gedung-gedung di sampingnya.

The Mullet Bay in Sint Maarten
Pantai Mullet di Sint Maarten

Ngomongin ibukota, ibukota dari Sint Maarten adalah Philipsburg. Kota ini adalah kota kecil dengan satu jalan utama dan dua jalan lebih kecil yang dipenuhi oleh pertokoan di kedua sisinya; kurang lebih mirip lah seperti Kuta dan Legian di Bali. Walaupun begitu, beberapa tokonya adalah toko barang-barang branded loh, btw; dan kami duga sih pangsa pasarnya adalah turis (kaya) yang sedang berlibur dengan cruise, haha. Ada juga jalanan di tepian pantai yang hanya bisa diakses pejalan-kaki.

In Sint Maarten!!
Di Sint Maarten!!

Jika Pantai Philipsburg terasa biasa saja jika dibandingkan pantai-pantai lain di pulau ini, justru kota Philipsburgnya sendiri yang menurutku menarik. Aku merasa arsitektur bangunan di sepanjang jalan di kota ini amat unik. Jadi aku menyarankan untuk berjalan-jalan santai di sana deh 🙂 .

Philipsburg
Philipsburg

Jika berlibur di musim sepi itu banyak keuntungannya, tetapi ternyata ada juga kekurangannya loh. Kebanyakan toko di Philipsburg sedang tutup waktu itu; mungkin karena jumlah turis yang sedikit. Lebih jauh lagi, banyak restoran (di seluruh pulau) yang tutup sepanjang bulan. Secara umum, selain area-area yang super turistik (misalnya Pantai Maho), kami tidak melihat begitu banyak keramaian di pulau ini. Bahkan mall-nya pun sepi pengunjung!

The KFC in Sint Maarten
KFCnya Sint Maarten

Ngomongin makanan, sejujurnya nih kami tidak berkesempatan untuk banyak mencoba makanan lokal. Ini mungkin karena kami pemilih sekali disana (aku khawatir dengan tingkat kebersihan makanannya). Sekali kami makan di Hard Rock Cafe di Philipsburg dimana aku makan fajitas yang enak banget. Kami juga makan beberapa kali di rumah makan Chinese food yang mana ternyata ada banyak tersebar di seluruh penjuru pulaunya, haha 😆 . Dan aku sungguh lega kami sempat mencoba KFCnya juga! Dan aku suka deh KFCnya!! Rasanya enak (walaupun masih belum mengalahkan KFCnya Indoneesia sih)!!

Aviation · North America Trip · The Caribbean · Trip Report · Vacation

#1818 – September 2016 Sabbatical Trip: The Caribbean (Part I: Getting to Sint Maarten)

ENGLISH

Posts in the September 2016 Sabbatical Trip: The Caribbean series:
1. Introduction
2. Part I: Getting to Sint Maarten
3. Part II: Sint Maarten
4. Part III: The Maho Beach
5. Part IV: Saint Martin
6. Part V: Back to the Netherlands

***

KL Logo
Flight: KLM Royal Dutch Airlines KL 785
Equipment: Boeing 747-400 reg PH-BFG named “City of Guayaquil”
ATD: 08:15 CET (Runway 36L of AMS)
ATA: 10:48 AST (Runway 10 of SXM)

Amsterdam to Sint Maarten. Created with gcmap.com
Amsterdam to Sint Maarten. Created with gcmap.com

Since the flight was scheduled to depart at 8:15, we left Rotterdam Centraal Station at 5:00. This allowed us to arrive at Schiphol at around 6:00. We checked-in at KLM’s priority check-in area; where the check-in lady had quite a hard time understanding our destination. I guess not a lot of people checking-in there were going to Sint Maarten, or that my pronunciation of “Sint Maarten” was not standard so the message got lost somewhere, haha 😆 . Long story short, after passing security and clearing immigration, my dad and I went to the KLM Crown Lounge while my mom window-shopped at the stores (I could only guest one passenger at the lounge for free 😦 ).

A KLM's Boeing 747-400 reg PH-BFG
A KLM’s Boeing 747-400 reg PH-BFG

Aside from finally being about to land at Princess Juliana International Airport, another aspect which excited me a lot about today’s flight was flying with a Boeing 747! Yeah, finally I was flying one of the Queen of the Skies! So I was super excited when boarding finally commenced at around 7:30! The flight today was operated with KLM’s 26 year-old PH-BFG, which they named “City of Guayaquil”.  Even though PH-BFG was 26 year-old, the plane certainly did not look old especially in the inside. The cabin appeared very well-maintained and the seats were quite modern, even though not the newest generation for the obvious reason (KLM is phasing out the 747s).

A double-decker, yeay!
A double-decker, yeay!

After boarding completed (the flight was pretty much full today, I estimated the load factor in economy at about 95%), the flight departed. The safety demo was played via the personal AVOD screen; and it was the newest version with the animated Delft blue ceramics. The take-off would be at the Polderbaan. But today I did not mind the 15+ minutes taxiing as this meant I got to enjoy the ride on the 747 longer! Haha 😆 The take-off was very smooth; typical take-off with a jumbo-jet where the angle of climb was not steep at all thus (in my opinion) very comfortable for the majority of passengers.

Taking-off from runway 36L of Schiphol (the Polderbaan)
Taking-off from runway 36L of Schiphol (the Polderbaan)

About 45 minutes into the flight, the breakfast service was distributed. There was no option for breakfast, which consisted of an egg dish with potato, fruit, and yoghurt. It was a typical economy class breakfast service. The flight attendant in-charge of my row was very attentive and active as well, where she kept going around offering drinks throughout the flight.

Breakfast service on board flight KL 785
Breakfast service on board flight KL 785

To pass the time, obviously I used the AVOD system. To my delight, the content of the system has improved dramatically since the last time I flew long-haul on board a KLM flight (KL 868 from Osaka to Amsterdam); heck it has even improved from the last time I flew a KLM’s wide-body (the fifth-freedom segment of KL 810 from Jakarta to Kuala Lumpur). The music selection is much better now (it even included a long list of BBC 1 Lounge covers! 😍). The movies selection is quite up-to-date and the TV-shows selection is sufficient, in my opinion. I decided to watch Me Before You (which turned out to be a good movie!) and two episodes of The Big Bang Theory 🙂 .

Me Before You
Me Before You

Somewhere above the Atlantic, the flight attendants distributed cups of ice cream. Then about 2 to 3 hours before landing, a lunch service was distributed. The options were chicken or pasta; and obviously I opted for the chicken one. As usual on board a KLM flight, the meal was delicious! It came with a salad, a dessert, and crackers and cheese.

The chicken option for the lunch service
The chicken option for lunch

About eight hours into the flight, we left the cruising altitude and started our descent as we were approaching Sint Maarten. I started to get all excited, haha 😆 . And then, in the distance I was able to spot the island. And then the super famous airport! 😍 Oh wow, this was happening!!

Hello, Sint Maarten! 😍
Hello, Sint Maarten! 😍

If up to this point I have mentioned here that the view upon landing at Innsbruck Airport is the most beautiful, this statement is (finally) no longer true now. For me, landing at Sint Maarten’s Princess Juliana International Airport provides the best view, ever! Here is the landing video:

😍😍😍 You just see how beautiful it was? 😍😍😍

Despite the short runway, the 747 landed smoothly at runway 10 of SXM. Not long after, the plane docked at the terminal. As the Curacao-bound passengers were asked to stay on board (KL 785 is a triangular Amsterdam – Sint Maarten – Curacao – Amsterdam flight), I noticed that only less than half of the passengers were travelling to Sint Maarten, hmm. Long story short, we passed the immigration with no problem and took our luggages afterwards.

Thanks for the ride, PH-BFG!
Thanks for the ride, PH-BFG!

And here, ladies and gentlemen, finally I was standing in the island of Sint Maarten!! 😍 And yes, my dream just came true!!

BAHASA INDONESIA

Posting-posting dalam seri September 2016 Sabbatical Trip: The Caribbean:
1. Introduction
2. Part I: Getting to Sint Maarten
3. Part II: Sint Maarten
4. Part III: The Maho Beach
5. Part IV: Saint Martin
6. Part V: Back to the Netherlands

***

KL Logo
Penerbangan: KLM Royal Dutch Airlines KL 785
Pesawat: Boeing 747-400 reg PH-BFG bernama “City of Guayaquil”
ATD: 08:15 CET (Runway 36L of AMS)
ATA: 10:48 AST (Runway 10 of SXM)

Amsterdam to Sint Maarten. Created with gcmap.com
Amsterdam ke Sint Maarten. Dibuat dengan gcmap.com

Karena penerbangannya dijadwalkan jam 8:15 pagi, kami berangkat dari stasiun Rotterdam Centraal sekitar jam 5 pagi. Ini memungkinkan kami untuk tiba di Schiphol sekitar jam 6. Kami check-in di area check-in prioritasnya KLM; dimana petugas check-in-nya kesulitan menangkap nama tempat tujuan kami. Aku duga mungkin nggak banyak ya yang pergi ke Sint Maarten, atau mungkin pengucapan “Sint Maarten”-ku nggak mainstream sehingga malah jadi membingungkan, haha 😆 . Singkat cerita, setelah melewati pemeriksaan sekuriti dan imigrasi, aku dan papaku menunggu di Crown Lounge-nya KLM sementara mamaku cuci mata di pertokoannya Schiphol (Aku hanya bisa membawa satu tamu ke lounge-nya dengan tanpa biaya nih 😦 ).

A KLM's Boeing 747-400 reg PH-BFG
Sebuah Boeing 747-400 milik KLM dengan rego PH-BFG

Selain akhirnya sudah hampir kesampaian juga impianku untuk mendarat di Bandara Internasional Princess Juliana, satu aspek lain yang membuatku bersemangat sekali hari ini adalah akhirnya aku akan terbang dengan pesawat Boeing 747 juga! Iyaa, akhirnya aku akan terbang dengan salah satu Queen of the Skies ituu! Jadi jelas dong ya aku bersemangat sekali ketika boarding akhirnya dimulai sekitar jam 7:30! Hari ini, penerbangan dioperasikan dengan PH-BFGnya KLM yang berumur 26 tahun, yang diberi nama “City of Guayaquil”. Walaupun PH-BFG berumur 26 tahun, pesawatnya sendiri tidak menunjukkan tanda-tanda umur yang sudah uzur loh. Kabinnya nampak terawat dengan sangat baik dan kursinya juga cukup modern, walaupun memang bukan kursi generasi tipe terbaru sih karena alasan yang jelas (KLM telah mulai memensiunkan armada Boeing 747nya).

A double-decker, yeay!
Hore, pesawatnya tingkat!

Setelah semua penumpang naik (penerbangan hari ini penuh juga loh, aku perkirakan load factor-nya sekitar 95% deh), kami berangkat. Pemeragaan keselamatan dilakukan melalui layar AVOD personalnya; dan videonya adalah versi terbaru dengan animasi keramik birunya Delft. Lepas landas akan dilakukan di Polderbaan. Namun, khusus hari ini aku tidak keberatan dengan taxiing 15+ menit yang lama ini karena ini berarti aku jadi bisa menikmati penerbangan dengan Boeing 747 lebih lama! Haha 😆 . Lepas-landasnya mulus sekali hari ini; tipikal lepas-landas dengan pesawat berbadan jumbo dimana sudut kenaikannya tidak terjal sama sekali sehingga (menurutku) sangat amat nyaman bagi kebanyakan penumpang.

Taking-off from runway 36L of Schiphol (the Polderbaan)
Lepas-landas dari landasan pacu 36L Bandara Schiphol (Polderbaan)

Sekitar 45 menit setelah lepas-landas, layanan sarapan dibagikan. Tidak ada pilihan untuk layanan ini, yang mana terdiri dari masakan telur dengan kentang, buah-buahan, dan yoghurt. Yaa, standar layanan sarapan di kelas ekonomi lah. Pramugari yang bertugas di bagianku juga sangat perhatian dan aktif, dimana ia rajin berkeliling untuk menawarkan minuman sepanjang penerbangan.

Breakfast service on board flight KL 785
Layanan sarapan di penerbangan KL 785

Untuk menghabiskan waktu, jelas aku menggunakan sistem AVODnya. Yang membuatku senang adalah isi dari sistemnya kini sudah jauh lebih baik daripada ketika terakhir kali aku terbang jarak jauh dengan pesawatnya KLM (KL 868 dari Osaka ke Amsterdam); ah, bahkan sudah lebih baik daripada terakhir kali aku terbang dengan pesawat berbadan-lebarnya KLM (segmen kebebasan-kelima penerbangan KL 810 dari Jakarta ke Kuala Lumpur). Pilihan musiknya kini jauh lebih oke (bahkan ada satu daftar panjang BBC 1 Lounge covers loh! 😍). Pilihan filmnya juga cukup up-to-date dan pilihan acara TVnya cukup lah, menurutku. Aku memutuskan untuk menonton Me Before You (yang mana ternyata bagus yaa!) dan dua episode The Big Bang Theory 🙂 .

Me Before You
Me Before You

Di suatu tempat di atas Samudra Atlantik, pramugarinya membagikan layanan es krim. Lalu, sekitar 2 atau 3 jam sebelum mendarat, layanan makan siang dibagikan. Pilihannya adalah ayam atau pasta; dan jelas dong aku memilih ayam, haha. Seperti biasa, makanan utama di penerbangannya KLM itu enak-enak! Pilihan ini juga dilengkapi dengan salad, pencuci mulut, dan roti crackers dan keju.

The chicken option for the lunch service
Pilihan ayam untuk makan siang

Setelah terbang selama sekitar delapan jam, pesawat mulai meninggalkan ketinggian jelajah karena kami sudah mendekati Sint Maarten. Mulai deh aku merasa bersemangat lagi, haha 😆 . Dan tak lama kemudian, dari kejauhan aku mulai bisa melihat pulau Sint Maarten! Lalu bandaranya yang super terkenal banget itu! 😍 Oh wow, ini benar-benar menjadi kenyataan!!

Hello, Sint Maarten! 😍
Halo, Sint Maarten! 😍

Jika sampai saat ini kusebutkan bahwa ketika mendarat di Bandara Innsbruck kita disajikan pemandangan yang paling indah, pernyataan ini (akhirnya) tidak lagi benar. Untukku, pemandangan paling keren didapatkan ketika kita mendarat di Bandara Internasional Princess Juliana! Berikut ini video pendaratannya:

😍😍😍 Kereeen banget kaan? 😍😍😍

Walaupun landasan pacunya pendek, Boeing 747nya mendarat dengan amat mulus di landasan pacu 10 Bandara SXM. Tak lama kemudian, pesawat tiba di gedung terminal. Penumpang tujuan Curacao dipersilakan untuk tetap menunggu di pesawat (KL 785 adalah penerbangan rute segitiga Amsterdam – Sint Maarten – Curacao – Amsterdam) sehingga aku bisa memperhatikan bahwa hanya kurang dari setengahnya saja yang bertujuan Sint Maarten, hmm. Singkat cerita, kami melewati pemeriksaan imigrasi tanpa masalah dan mengambil bagasi kami.

Thanks for the ride, PH-BFG!
Terima kasih, PH-BFG!

Dan di sini, saudara dan saudari sekalian, akhirnya aku menginjakkan kaki juga di pulau Sint Maarten!! 😍 Yap, salah satu impianku menjadi kenyataan!!

North America Trip · The Caribbean · Vacation

#1806– September 2016 Sabbatical Trip: The Caribbean (Introduction)

ENGLISH

Posts in the September 2016 Sabbatical Trip: The Caribbean series:
1. Introduction
2. Part I: Getting to Sint Maarten
3. Part II: Sint Maarten
4. Part III: The Maho Beach
5. Part IV: Saint Martin
6. Part V: Back to the Netherlands

Hello all!! On Wednessday I was back from the Caribbean part of my sabbatical month trip; which caused me to develop some jetlag, lol 😆 .

Anyway, how was the trip? Well, it was SUPER amazing!!

I have mentioned here a few times that Sint Maarten has been a dream place to visit for me for years; due to its exotic Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM). On top of that, I got to fly KLM’s Queen of the Skies (Boeing 747-400) to get there too. As the icing on the cake, it turned out I was super lucky in this department because KLM is going to switch their SXM operation from Boeing 747 to Airbus A330-200 per 30 October 2016. So my decision to go to Sint Maarten this September allowed me to still witness and experience this at the famous Maho Bay:

A KLM's Boeing 747-406 reg PH-BFB landing at Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM), in Sint Marteen. Photo credit: HGabor/Airliners.net
A KLM’s Boeing 747-406 reg PH-BFB landing at Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM), in Sint Marteen. Photo credit: HGabor/Airliners.net

While Maho Bay was definitely the best beach in Sint Maarten (and the world, to me 😛 ), Sint Maarten was more than that. The small island is actually governed by the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the south (Sint Maarten area) and France in the north (Saint Martin area). So, uniquely while the Netherlands and France do not share borders in continental Europe, they do thousands of kilometer away in the Caribbean 🙂 . As we rent a car, we were able to visit and explore both sides of the small island during the one week duration of our stay there.

Dutch-French border in the Caribbean
Dutch-French border in the Caribbean

To sum up the week, I LOVED Sint Maarten! Seriously!! It was one of few destinations which I truly enjoyed pretty much everything (well, except for the heat which at some point felt like 40°C). Even though it was a small island and we had one week to spend there, the time passed by super fast! Not to mention that we did not visit any of the nearby islands (Anguilla, Saint Barthelmy, or Saba). I knew at one point I will be back in Sint Maarten, and I want it too! 🙂

Indeed! I ❤️ SXM
Indeed! I ❤️ SXM

As usual, here are some teasers from this trip:

BAHASA INDONESIA

Posting-posting dalam seri September 2016 Sabbatical Trip: The Caribbean:
1. Introduction
2. Part I: Getting to Sint Maarten
3. Part II: Sint Maarten
4. Part III: The Maho Beach
5. Part IV: Saint Martin
6. Part V: Back to the Netherlands

Halo semua!! Hari Rabu yang lalu aku kembali dari bagian Karibia dari perjalanan bulan sabatikalku; yang menyebabkanku terkena jetlag, haha 😆 .

Anyway, bagaimanakah perjalanannya? Hmm, perjalanannya ini seru BANGET!!

Sudah kusebutkan beberapa kali di sini bahwa Sint Maarten adalah satu tempat yang sudah lama banget kuimpikan untuk kukunjungi; terutama karena keberadaan Bandara Internasional Princess Juliana (SXM). Selain itu, aku juga berkesempatan terbang dengan pesawat Queen of the Skies-nya KLM (Boeing 747-400) untuk pergi kesana. Dan puncaknya lagi, ternyata aku beruntung sekali di sisi ini karena KLM akan mengubah operasi SXM mereka dari Boeing 747 menjadi Airbus A330-200 per 30 Oktober 2016. Ini berarti keputusanku untuk pergi ke Sint Maarten September ini membuatku masih bisa menyaksikan dan menikmati pemandangan super keren di Pantai Maho seperti ini:

A KLM's Boeing 747-406 reg PH-BFB landing at Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM), in Sint Marteen. Photo credit: HGabor/Airliners.net
Sebuah Boeing 747-406 milik KLM rego PH-BFB mendarat di Bandara Internasional Princess Juliana (SXM), di Sint Marteen. Photo credit: HGabor/Airliners.net

Walaupun Pantai Maho jelas adalah pantai paling keren di Sint Maarten (dan di dunia sih, untukku 😛 ), Sint Maarten memiliki lebih banyak daripada itu. Pulau kecil ini sebenarnya diperintah oleh Belanda di sisi selatan (area Sint Maarten) dan Prancis di sisi utara (area Saint Martin). Jadi, walaupun Belanda dan Prancis tidak berbatasan di Eropa daratan, uniknya mereka berbatasan langsung ribuan kilometer jauhnya di Karibia 🙂 . Karena kami menyewa mobil di sana, kami bisa mengunjungi dan menjelajahi kedua sisi pulau kecil ini selama waktu satu minggu itu.

Dutch-French border in the Caribbean
Perbatasan Belanda dan Prancis di Karibia.

Untuk merangkum satu minggu ini, aku SUKA BANGET dengan Sint Maarten! Tempat ini adalah satu dari sedikit destinasi yang mana semuanya benar-benar aku nikmati (eh, kecuali suhu udaranya yang pernah terasa sampai 40°C di kulit sih). Walaupun ini adalah pulau kecil dan kami memiliki waktu satu minggu disana, waktu berlalu sungguh dengan cepat! Ini pun bahkan kami tidak mengunjungi pulau-pulau kecil di sekitarnya loh (Anguilla, Saint Barthelmy, atau Saba). Aku tahu suatu saat aku akan kembali lagi ke Sint Maarten; dan aku memang ingin! 🙂

Indeed! I ❤️ SXM
Betul sekali! I ❤️ SXM.

Seperti biasa, di atas aku unggah beberapa teasers dari perjalanan ini.