The Stunning Iran

When first I told a friend that I was going to Iran, his first reaction was: “Are you nuts? Don’t you know that country will get bombed? I hope you’ll stay far away from any nuclear facility then won’t get killed when war starts in the country!”

Well, not much good news recently on media about Iran and it’s nuclear power “conflict” with US and UK. Mostly people thought that being a woman would be hard in the Islamic Republic (must wear headscarf and no sexy outfit). But those opinions were wrong, I could hang out with Iranian girls until late at night at coffee shops, walking with Iranian guys along the street, etc. And it’s safe, just like any other country, to roam around places. There were threats (pickpockets, robbery, tourist touts, etc) but not that scary at all.

SHIRAZ

It was a very romantic city. City of love. City of flower. Perfect for honeymooners. There were two very famous poet, Hafez (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hafez) and Saadi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saadi_(poet), their tombs were major tourist destination in the city other than beautiful Eram Garden (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eram_garden), Shah Cheragh (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shah_Cheragh), The Arg of Karim Khan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arg_of_Karim_Khan), Qur’an Gate (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qur%27an_Gate).

Shiraz means “city of mystery” in accordance to a story about some jewels those hidden somewhere in the city, long long time ago. It also means “grapes” (Shirazi wine were very famous until all winery closed down following Islamic Revolution in 1979). Could mean “a kind of music instrument” too.

An hour trip from the city, there was Persepolis, Necropolis (Naghsh-e Rostam), Naghsh-e Radjab, Passargad. I stayed there for only 2 days then sadly must say that it was far from enough to enjoy the beautiful scenery and peaceful environment in Shiraz.

Tomb of Hafez.

With my host, Masoud, in front of king’s palace at Eram Garden.

Shirazi kalam polo is a must-taste cuisine in Shiraz.

Enjoyed the famous Shirazi palodeh with Masoud and Salman, in front of The Arg of Karim Khan.

Persepolis is important part in Christianity history. It was written that at one time then 24 years old then Jesus reached Persepolis, the city where the kings of Persia were entombed; the city of the Three Kings from The East (Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar) who, four-and-twenty years before, had seen the star of promise rise above Jerusalem, and who had journeyed to the West to find the new-born king. They were the first to honour Jesus as the master of the age, and gave him gifts of gold, gum-thus and myrrh. They knew, by ways that masters always know, when Jesus neared Persepolis; and then they girt themselves, and went to meet him on the way. And when they met, a light much brighter than the light of day, surrounded them, and men who saw the four stand in the way declared they were transfigured; seeming more like gods than men. Jesus also attended a feast in Persepolis. Spoke to the people, reviewed the magian philosophy, explained the origin of evil, spent his night in prayer. References: http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/agjc/agjc041.htm and http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/agjc/agjc042.htm.

Persepolis was awesome!

This two headed lion must be very famous, the photo seems familiar, right?

Ka’ba-ye Zartosht (Ka’bah of Zoroaster), a 5th century B.C.E. Achaemenid-era tower-like construction at Naghsh-e Rustam, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ka’ba-ye_Zartosht.

Inside Vakil Mosque near Vakil Bazaar.

Sunrise view from the rooftop of Niayesh Hotel.

ISFAHAN

This city had different vibe than Shiraz. Isfahan is a place about history, culture, education (like Jogjakarta, “the city of student” of Indonesia). Naghsh-e Jahan Square was must-visit place (there were Ali Qapu Palace, beautiful mosques, amazing pool with beautiful water spring, arrays of shops and restaurants which offered traditional Iranian cuisines, snacks and handicraft).

And anyone who visits Isfahan must come to the beautiful bridges at nights! Khajou Bridge, Si-o-Se Pol were just two of them.

Lunch at Bastani traditional restaurants with my hosts: Mahsa and Sama, and other CouchSurfers: Rene and Rike from Germany.

Super delicious beryani.

Imam Mosque in Naghsh-e Jahan Square.

Afternoon at the front of Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque in Naghsh-e Jahan Square.

Night light under the beautiful Khajou Bridge.

TEHRAN

The capital. It’s city of business and politics. I smelt money when I was there. People always moved in fast pace, such a hurry in crowds of 14 million people in the town. Traffic jam from dawn until night. I was hosted by Sifa, an Indonesian student who was studying for PhD on politic studies, accompanied when going around the city by Arul, an Indonesian student who was studying for master degree on microbiology.

Sifa and I, shopped for very tasty dried fruit in Tajrish Bazaar.

The view in the city. That was the snowy mountains of Tochal behind me.

The metro subway in Tehran. Very modern and always fully packed with passengers in the very busy city.

Moon and star above The Azadi Tower.

The Azadi Tower is part of Azadi (Freedom) cultural complex which is located in Tehran’s Azadi square in an area of some 5 Acres. It is the symbol of Tehran, Iran, and marks the entrance to the city. Built in 1971 in commemoration of the 2,500th anniversary of the Persian Empire, this “Gateway into Iran” was named the Shahyad Tower (Literally: Remembrance of the Shahs) but dubbed Azadi after the Iranian Revolution of 1979. It is the symbol of the country’s revival, and intended to remind coming generations of the achievements of modern Iran under the Pahlavi Dynasty. It is 50 metres (148 feet) tall and is completely clad in cut marble.

Built with white marble stone from the Isfahan region, there are eight thousand blocks of stone used in Azadi Tower. The stones were all located and supplied by Ghanbar Rahimi, whose knowledge of the quarries was second to none and who was known as “Iran’s Master of stone”. The shape of each of the blocks was calculated by a computer programmed to include all the instructions for the building work. The actual construction of the tower was carried out and supervised by Iran’s finest master stonemason, Ghaffar Davarpanah Varnosfaderani. The main financing was provided by a group of five hundred Iranian industrialists. The inauguration took place on October 16, 1971.

The architect, Hossein Amanat, won a competition to design the monument. Azadi Tower combines Sassanid and Islamic architecture styles.

References: http://www.homedit.com/azadi-tower-in-tehran-iran/ and http://wikimapia.org/4758973/Azadi-Tower

MASHHAD

This city is the most sacred for Muslim Shia, millions people come from all over the world, spiritual trip to Holly Shrine of Imam Reza. The minarets were made from real gold, the inside interior of the mosque was awesome glittering with mirror works.

In December 2011, I hosted an Iranian girl from Mashhad, her name was Mahdieh. When I visited her hometown, then I stayed at her mom’s house.

My host in Mashhad, Mahdieh’s mom, Mrs.Toussi.

Holly Shrine of Imam Reza, the minarets were made from real solid gold.

Advertisements

Catatan Perjalanan ke India, Iran, Afghanistan (20 Januari 2012 – 5 Februari 2012)

Dipublikasikan pertama kali dalam milis http://www.indobackpacker.com/.

INDIA

Delhi: Tempat menginap paling enak buat emak-emak demen belanja seperti saya ya di area Karol Bagh, waktu itu di Western Palace (800 rupee per malam, kamar doang untungnya ada air panas sehingga nggak malas mandi walaupun winter, hehehe…). Keliling-keliling mah standar aja (Jama’ Masjid dll), sayang juga nggak sempet nyobain bis HoHo Delhi (http://www.hohodelhi.com/). Sistem transportasi metronya cukup rapi, bahkan bisa naik kereta dari stasiun dekat hotel hingga ke bandara (jelas jauh lebih murah dan cepat daripada taksi).

Agra: Kereta sleeper train dari Delhi mesti booking jauh-jauh hari via internet (http://www.makemytrip.com atau http://www.cleartrip.com) supaya dapet yang enak. Waktu itu saya beli tiket yang beruntung banget dapet sekamar cuma berdua, penumpang lain sekamar tempat tidurnya ada empat. Kalau mau ikut tur keliling yang diselenggarakan pemerintah Uttar Pradesh (http://www.up-tourism.com/agra_darshan.htm, 1700 rupee per orang), mesti sampai di stasiun Agra Cantt sebelum pukul 10:00 pagi. Waktu itu keretanya telat sehingga kami sampai sana udah lewat jamnya, ya udah sewa taksi aja (850 rupee seharian) keliling Taj Mahal (karcis masuk 750 rupee) dan mejeng sebentar di depan Agra Fort sebelum lanjut ke Jaipur naik bis malam karena memang nggak ada rencana menginap di kota ini.

Jaipur: Kota kecil yang asyik banget, recommended hotel-nya Kalyan (melalui http://www.booking.com) karena bersih, nyaman, lokasi strategis, WiFi gratis, restorannya menyediakan makanan enak dan nggak terlalu mahal, laundry-nya murah. City Palace dll asyik juga.

Ajmer: Di sini ada dargah yang terkenal banget, tapi ya cuma itu jadi nggak usah nginep (day trip aja dari Jaipur naik bis, isinya waktu itu kebanyakan turis-turis dari mancanegara lho). Menarik sekali memperhatikan bahwa sebenarnya Dargah Ajmer itu dibangun oleh pemuka agama Islam tapi penduduk India dari segala macam agama juga berdatangan ke sana (serasa naik haji deh).

IRAN

Shiraz: Kota kecil yang indah banget, bisa dibilang “city of love”. Suasananya romantis, mirip Solo atau Melbourne yang bawaannya slow, klangenan gitu. Saya menginap di Niayesh Hotel, lokasinya di tengah kota (bisa jalan kaki ke Shahceragh, Vakil Bazaar, dll), US$ 30 per malam (mahal sih) termasuk sarapan dan WiFi gratis. Baiknya ikut tur US$ 25 (untuk 5 jam perjalanan pulang pergi, bisa booking melalui hotel) ke Persepolis dan Naghsh-e Rostam jika waktunya terbatas. Kalau tinggal beberapa hari di sini sih bisa jalan sendiri dengan bis dan taksi supaya sekaligus ke Naghsh-e Radjab dan Passargad.

Isfahan: Kota pendidikan dan budaya, seperti Jogja kali ya? Ada Chehel Sotoon, dll. Naghsh-e Jahan Square harus dikunjungi, ada dua masjid indah dan Ali Qapu Palace yang dulu jadi tempat tinggal keluarga raja. Usahakan agak sorean ke sini supaya sempat lihat air mancur mulai dinyalakan. Oh ya, kota ini terkenal dengan jembatan-jembatan indahnya, Khajou Bridge, Si-O-Se Pol.

Tehran: Kota bisnis, pusat kegiatan politik negara ini, seperti Jakarta-nya kita lah. Ada beberapa museum dan istana raja yang konon bagus-bagus tapi saya nggak punya waktu untuk masuk (karena keliling-keliling di dalam lokasi-lokasi itu bisa makan waktu seharian, padahal saya di Tehran hanya 24 jam). Kalau datangnya pas winter (Januari-Februari), maka bisa main ski di Dizin atau Shemshak yang kondang sebagai best location of powder snow. Belanja oleh-oleh di Taleghani aja, dekat ex-Kedubes USA yang sekarang ada grafiti berupa Miss Liberty bermuka tengkorak. Keliling-keliling kota enaknya naik metro subway dan bus a la TransJakarta busway aja.

Mashhad: Kota suci bagi Muslim Shia karena ada Holly Shrine of Imam Reza. Setiap kali ketemu orang Iran lalu ngobrol punya ngobrol mereka tahu saya akan ke kota ini, ujung-ujungnya selalu ada permintaan “doakan saya selama di sana yaaaa…” sehingga saya pun berdoa untuk Yahya, Somayeh, Hasan, dll sewaktu berziarah ke Imam Reza itu. Oh ya, di semua kota di Iran yang saya kunjungi, nggak berlaku jam malam. Gadis-gadis bisa kok nongkrong sama temen di coffee shop hingga larut malam. Selama saya bepergian dengan bis/kereta antar kota (berangkat tengah malam, tiba dini hari di kota tujuan), banyak juga solo female travelers, orang lokal maupun turis asing. Iran masih terhitung negara aman.

AFGHANISTAN

Herat: Kota kecil ini hanya 5 jam perjalanan dari Mashhad. Ongkosnya 400,000 rials naik taksi, berbagi dengan 3 penumpang lain. Berangkat pukul 6:40 pagi, tiba di Herat diantar sampai ke alamat hotel/rumah tujuan (bukan seperti travel Jakarta-Bandung yang point-to-point). Perempuan mendingan pakai chador deh, aman nggak jadi pusat perhatian di kota yang rada tradisional ini. Harus berkunjung ke Mausoleum of Queen Goharshad yang dikelilingi the famous minarets (UNESCO World Heritage). Sempatkan juga ke The Arg, ex-markas militer yang dijadikan Herat National Museum. Masjid Jama’ di sini juga indah banget, nggak kalah dengan masjid-masjid indah di Iran, hanya kurang terawat akibat perang yang sudah 30 tahun berkepanjangan.

Kabul: Ibukota Afghanistan yang menyebalkan, hehehe…soalnya pas di sana lagi salju yang gila-gilaan. Nyaris semua toko dan tempat wisata tutup, banyak jalan harus disekop dulu (karena tumpukan salju tingginya sampai lebih dari 1.5 meter hanya dalam semalaman) sebelum bisa dilalui orang atau kendaraan. Tapi sepenuhnya aman dan nyaman kok, perempuan sama seperti di Iran, harus pakai kerudung tapi nggak perlu ber-chador. Naik bis atau taksi agak mahal, makan di restoran sekitar 200-300 afghani per orang. Yang jelas, usahakan di atas pukul 7 malam sudah balik ke rumah masing-masing.

BIAYA POKOK UNTUK TRANSPORTASI DAN VISA

Tiket Air Asia pulang pergi dari Jakarta ke Delhi (transit di Kuala Lumpur) = Rp.2,333,000 (nggak termasuk checked-in baggage dan tanpa makan/minum) plus airport tax di Soekarno Hatta = Rp.150,000.

Tiket Air Arabia dari Jaipur (India) ke Shiraz (Iran) dengan transit di Sharjah (UAE) = 1,114 dirham (plus beli makan 2x, tarif sudah termasuk free baggage allowance 30 kg) atau sekitar Rp.2,8 juta.

Tiket domestik dari Herat ke Kabul (KAM Air) = US$ 127. Dari Kabul ke Delhi (Safi Airways) = US$ 186.

Antar kota di India cukup murah, hanya 200-500 rupee untuk perjalanan panjang 3-5 jam. Di Iran juga begitu, hanya 125,000-150,000 rial untuk bus VIP (bangku 1-2, reclining seat, mendapat snack box, bisa ambil mineral water sepuasnya). Dari Mashhad ke Herat ongkos taksinya US$ 30 (400,000 rials, saya bayar dengan 150,000 rials ditambah US$ 20 karena waktu itu sudah nyaris habis mata uang lokalnya). Di Afghanistan tidak direkomendasikan jalan darat, mendingan naik pesawat kecuali di daerah antara Mazar-e Sharif dengan Kabul yang terhitung aman.

Visa India (double entry, sama aja sebenarnya dengan tarif single entry visa atau multiple entry visa) = Rp.492,000 (bayar di tempat), apply di The Embassy of India, JL HR Rasuna Said, Kav S-1, Kuningan, Jakarta Selatan 12950. Proses hanya satu hari kerja.

Visa Iran (single entry, valid for 30 days) = 30 euro, apply di The Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Jl. HOS Cokroaminoto 110, Menteng, Jakarta Pusat 10310 (phone: +62-21-31931378, 31931391, fax: +62-21-3107860, e-mail: irembjkt@indo.net.id), bayar di BRI Menteng (seberang Adorama). Proses sekitar seminggu.

Visa Afghanistan = US$ 100, apply di The Embassy of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Jl. Dr. Kusumaatmaja SH No. 15 Menteng, Jakarta Pusat 10310 (phone: +62-21 314-3169, fax: +62-21 335-390),  bayar di Bank Permata dekat Bundaran HI. Proses hanya satu hari kerja.

MENGENAI HIDUP SEHARI-HARI

US$ 1 nilainya sama di India dan Afghanistan, 50 rupee atau 50 afghani kurang dikit. Di Iran, harganya naik turun, setiap hari ganti, pas sial saya tukar cuma dapat 13,750 rials tapi sewaktu belanja di Taleghani yang punya toko menghitung 17,000 rials.

India: Hotel (bukan hostel atau guesthouse lho) murah di negara ini, hanya 800 rupee (kurang dari 160,000 rupiah) per malam udah lumayan, bintang dua. Sekali makan sekitar 100-200 rupee per orang kalau menunya standar. Pernah dikemplang di Indiana Restaurant, Agra (mungkin karena major tourist destination) berdua makan siang kena 1,450 rupee hanya nasi, roti, dan lauk gitu doang. Kalau mau naik rickshaw, mesti ngotot nawarnya (tarif awal 400 rupee padahal kita tahu seharusnya cuma 80 rupee doang).

Sebelum berangkat, pastikan mengenai tanggal-tangal hari libur atau perayaan setempat. Jangan sampai membuat rencana jalan-jalan sewaktu hari saat kendaraan umum nggak boleh lewat karena jalan ditutup dengan alasan keamanan (seperti saat kami di Delhi tanggal 26 Januari, it was Republic Day) sehingga terpaksa jalan kaki jauuuuuuhhh banget.

Iran: Saya hanya sekali nginep di hotel, sewaktu di Shiraz, selebihnya sama temen melalui http://www.couchsurfing.org/people/desrinda/. Saya tinggal di rumah keluarga Iran selama di Isfahan maupun Mashhad, serta tinggal di mess-nya Sifa (alumni UI yang sedang PhD) dan ditemenin keliling kota oleh Syahrul (junior di FMIPA UI) selama di Tehran. Sekali makan per orang menu standar harganya 30,000-50,000 rials. Kalau restoran mewah sekitar 70,000-100,000 rials. Bis murah banget, dari ujung ke ujung cuma 2,000 rials. Tapi seringkali mesti naik taksi “mustakim” (sharing dengan penumpang lain), sekitar 5,000-10,000 per orang untuk perjalanan jarak dekat di rute-rute yang nggak ada busnya.

Gadis-gadis di Iran itu cantik-cantik (sebagian berkat operasi plastik yang marak di sana) dan berbusana trendy, para lelaki Persia beneran melek fashion dan ganteng-ganteng (sebagian mirip Latino, sebagian lagi Middle Eastern looking guys).

Afghanistan: Saya tinggal bersama keluarga Afghan etnis Tajik di Herat, keluarga Afghan etnis Hazara di Kabul, jadi nggak punya pengalaman pribadi mengenai hotel di sana. Makan-minum terhitung mahal, bertiga cuma kabuli polo uzbeki (semacam nasi briyani dengan potongan daging dan sedikit acar), softdrink, plus shisha, kena 700 afghani (rumah makan jelek, akan mahal banget kayaknya kalau di tempat mewah). Angkutan umumnya mahal, jarak dekat naik angkot sekitar 15-20 afghani, kalau taksi malah 50 afghani. Dari Kabul Airport ke rumah temen di dekat Mazari Square dikemplang 1000 afghani (dengan alasan “udah malam”), padahal dari rumah ke bandaranya cuma 500 afghani (karena santai cari taksinya). Siap-siap aja ketemu pengemis, pengasong, pemalak di mana-mana. Just keep smiling, politely say “no thank you, sorry I don’t understand” dan gelengkan kepala berlagak nggak ngerti bahwa mereka minta duit atau maksa kita beli permen karet, pulsa telpon, dll.

Hati-hati aja mengenai sentimen antar etnis. Beberapa kali saya bawaannya pengen nampol Afghan Pasthun yang nyolot karena saya (sebagai orang asing berbahasa Inggris) jalan dengan orang lokal yang beretnis Tajik/Hazara. Pokoknya jangan pernah terlihat takut dan percaya diri aja selama di Afghanistan, tapi tetap ramah dan jangan sombong petantang petenteng yaaaa…

LAIN-LAIN

Toilet umum di India sebaiknya dihindari karena jorok banget walaupun harus bayar di beberapa lokasi, 10 rupee (kalau kebelet banget mendingan balik ke hotel deh, hehehe…). Paling menyebalkan, sebagian besar orang sono nggak punya kebiasaan “nyirem”, kayaknya. Abis buang air kecil/besar (maaf) ya udah pergi aja, biarpun di masjid (pernah karena toiletnya bau banget dan tempat wudhu berupa kolam yang warna airnya udah gelap banget, saya pun tayammum – bersuci dengan debu – sebelum sholat). Jadi, jangan pergi-pergi tanpa bawa tisu kering dan tisu basah yaaa…

Di Iran, tanya aja “dashvi kojast?” akan mudah menemukan toilet umum, rata-rata bersih dan gratis.

Di Afghanistan, lebih parah dari India, selain kotor, toilet umum hanya ada untuk pria kecuali di bandara, mungkin asumsi umum di sananya nggak ada perempuan keluyuran sampai butuh buang air kecil/besar (maaf) di tempat umum kali ya?

Usahakan memiliki cash cukup selama di negara-negara itu, kartu kredit sama sekali nggak berguna. Di India, daripada tuker rupee di Jakarta, mendingan tarik tunai di ATM bertanda jaringan Visa atau MasterCard dengan kartu tabungan kita karena nilai tukarnya lebih bagus daripada money exchanger (ambil sebanyaknya kebutuhan kita karena ada biaya Rp.30,000 per transaksi). Di Iran, bawalah dollar amerika atau euro sesuai kebutuhan selama di negara ini karena kalaupun nggak punya rial maka semua penyedia jasa/barang dengan senang hati menerima mata uang asing kita. Di Afghanistan, harus pegang afghani.

India cukup gampang dikelilingi sendiri, asal mau agak rajin tanya sana sini (beware of tourist touts yang banyak banget kayak di Bali). Di Iran mungkin agak ribet, sebaiknya punya temen orang sono atau temen Indonesia yang udah lama di sono, kecuali kalau ke mana-mana mau ikut arranged group tour yang mahal itu. Di Afghanistan, beneran harus punya temen orang lokal karena segala sesuatu di negara itu rasanya abstrak, penuh aturan nggak tertulis yang nggak tercantum di Lonely Planet travel guides atau website manapun.

Tapi memang paling asyik kalau kita bisa bergaul dengan orang lokal, bukan datang a la fancy tourist yang semuanya sudah diatur sama travel agent. Sangat mencerahkan mendengarkan their hope and fear, share the laugh and the tears, make friends not just hubungan tamu dengan pelayan (seperti kalau kita tinggal di hotel). Feel the vibe.

Paling mengesankan waktu di Afghanistan dan tinggal dengan keluarga lokal adalah ketulusan dan keramahan mereka. Masih inget rumor mengapa Osama Bin Laden bisa bertahan sembunyi di negara ini? Karena sebagai tamu, maka dia wajib dilindungi jika memang datang meminta perlindungan, Afghan people would give their lives to protect their guests.

Beneran saya nggak enak hati karena makanan dan minuman mengalir terus-terusan, ketulusan dan keramahan yang luar biasa. Pernah baca “Three Cups of Tea” by Greg Mortenson yang membangun sekolah untuk anak perempuan di Afghanistan (karena education is best way to fight terrorism)? His quoted Balti proverb was right, “The first time you share tea with a Balti, you are a stranger. The second time you take tea, you are an honored guest. The third time you share a cup of tea, you become family…”

Keluarga Tajik di Herat itu kaya dan highly educated, ibunya mengajar ilmu pertanian di universitas (and spoke good English), temen saya (Zahra) sedang ambil master hukum, dan adiknya (Zohreh) sedang kuliah kedokteran. Abang-abang mereka dokter atau punya toko (seperti sang ayah). Salah satu kakak ipar mereka, Somayeh, kurang beruntung karena masa kecilnya dalam era pemerintahan Taliban saat perempuan tidak boleh bersekolah. So, at age 28 as mother of 2 growing up kids, dia kembali ke sekolah untuk memperoleh ijazah SMP-SMA supaya bisa melanjutkan kuliah, what a spirit!

Di keluarga Hazara yang menjadi tuan rumah saya di Kabul, sang bapak adalah ulama (shaikh, dalam bahasa setempat) but he has that awesome spirit to get bachelor degree on law studies. Istrinya berusia hanya setahun lebih tua dari saya, she said (really broke my heart), “Desi, you look so young because you live a happy life in beautiful country.”

They also treated me like a princess. Asli jadi nggak enak hati, they always did everything best for me and said, “You are our guest…”

CUACA

– Desember, Januari, Februari = winter (ya ampun dinginnyaaaaa…)
– Maret, April, Mei = spring
– Juni, Juli, Agustus = summer (sepertinya panas banget deh)
– September, Oktober, November = autumn

Kecuali pengen lihat salju (seperti saya, akhirnya nemu di Kabul setelah gagal di Tehran), waktu terbaik ke wilayah ini adalah di pertengahan musim semi. Antara Maret hingga pertengahan April, cuaca akan bagus dan banyak perayaan Nowruz (tahun baru mereka, konon kota jadi penuh sesak dan agak nggak nyaman juga sih), di pertengahan Mei biasanya cuaca akan mulai terik. Yang menarik, selama winter maka sekolah-sekolah diliburkan tapi guru/dosen tetap mendapatkan gaji penuh walaupun tidak bekerja.

Negara-negara di Asia Tengah itu udaranya kering (jangan lupa bawa pelembab kulit), nggak seperti humid air on this tropical Indonesia yang bikin kulit kita plumpy dan awet muda (geer sendiri dot com). Along my trip, people always guessed that I wasn’t older than 27 (lumayan khan dikira 10 tahun lebih muda), hehehe…

Oh I wish that I can go back to these amazing countries again…

Journey to The Heart of Asia – WEATHER FORECAST

Some of my foreigners might say that Indonesia has a very good weather, always spring means green all year. Well, a kind of boring for me because no snow (unless at unreachable Puncak Jaya in Papua), also never can never see yelow leaves like autumn in subcontinent countries.

I hadn’t known how cold winter would be (coldest weather for me was Hong Kong in December 2010 – never less than 10oC) then certainly it was very important for me to read weather forecast then I could prepare myself with correct outfit (jackets, gloves, etc) before my trip to India, Iran, Afghanistan in January-February 2012.

Based on http://www.accuweather.com/:

Delhi (January 20, 2012) = sunny day (21°C), starry night (6°C)

Agra (January 21, 2012) = sunny day (25°C), clear night (3°C)

Jaipur (January 22, 2012) = sunny day (22°C), clear night (5°C)

Shiraz (January 23/24, 2012) = occasional rain or sunny with some cloud (9/11°C), clear and cold night (-3/-2°C)

Isfahan (January 25, 2012) = rather cloudy day with periods of snow in the morning followed by a shower in the afternoon (6°C), partly cloudy and cold night (-7°C)

Tehran (January 26/27, 2012) = times of clouds and sun, partly sunny (8°C/9°C), mostly cloudy night (3°C/2°C)

Mashhad (January 28, 2012) = increasing cloudiness (5°C), mostly cloudy night (-1°C)

http://www.mapsofworld.com/afghanistan/weather-in-afghanistan.html

Kabul Weather: Kabul is situated at a height of 5900 feet above sea level. Kabul weather is characterized by summer temperatures varying from 16°C at sunrise to 38°C at noon. The average temperature in January is 0°C. Kabul has recorded the lowest temperature of -31°C. Summers are accompanied with bright sunshine. The average rainfall varies from 25 cm to 30 cm. Mostly the precipitation occurs in the form of snow in the winter and spring seasons. The snow stays for three months in Kabul forcing the people to stay indoors and sleep nearer to the kitchen stoves.

Bagram Weather, Kandahar Weather, Herat Weather: At Kandahar, during summer the days are scorching hot and the nights are of no relief either. On the other hand Kabul is at least blessed with cool nights in summer. Herat experiences temperate summer temperatures with violent winds blowing from the northwest during May-September. The winters in Herat are not so severe with snow melting as it falls.

Seems like it will be freezing cold, then I must not leave without this winter coat that I’ve purchased from eBay last month: