Tiket Pesawat Murah dan Tiket Kereta Api Murah


Sunday, 12 December 2010

Dayak Kenyah - Samarinda, East Kalimantan (Borneo)

If you heard Dayak tribe, you may think that the tribe was deep in the middle of kalimantan jungle which is hard to reach. But not for Dayak Kenyah tribe, you just go to the north of Samarinda, East Kalimantan, the exact location was in the Pampang village.

Dayak Kenyah village is not too hard to reach. You don’t have to climb or hike mountain or even travel through the jungle. This village only about 20 km from Samarinda and you can use motorcycle or car because the road is smooth.
Actually, Dayak tribe who live in the Pampang village is Dayak Kenyah sub-ethnic. Long time ago, this area was a jungle, but after Dayak Kenyah people (35 people) from Long Us village, immigrated, this are began to develop until now. Now, Pampang’s citizen is about 1,000 persons. Even, they got modern culture form outside the village, the citizen still hold their tradition.

Dayak sub-tribe in all of Kalimantan are about 19 sub-tribe. Each sub-tribe has their own leader (chieftain) and has different culture. Dayak Kenyah People in Pampang still hold their ancestor tradition, such as weave, carve, and make some handicraft. There is also Lamin (long house, the Dayak’s house). For tourists who want to buy some souvenir, they can but it from the seller who sell beads, wood statue, or key hanger around it.
Every holiday, Dayak people celebrate many traditional dance in Lamin, like Kancet Lasan dance, Kancet Punan Lettu, Kancet Nyelama Sakai, Hudog, Manyam, Pamung Tawai, Burung Enggang, and Leleng dance.

Every year they celebrate traditional ceremony, they called it Pelas or Alaq Tau. You’ve got to be struck if you see it. Pelas is a ceremony to thank to God after harvest moon which is celebrate every June, but the date is always change depend on the good day.

The ceremony begins with greeting from the chieftain then continue with attraction show and Dayak Kenyah’s traditional dance. Those dancers were kids and elders and often invited to show their dance in Indonesian embassy such as Japan, China, USA, German, Switzerland, and other countries.
Dayak Kenyah life is just like other people. They knew technology and many of them work on non government company and government office. So, if you don’t have much time to see the original Dayak people, the Dayak tattoo, the Dayak long ear, Lamin and craved statue, you can go to Budaya Pampang village in Samarinda. To come to the Budaya Pampang village, you have to rent a taxi or you can use vehicle’s motor through Samarinda-Bontang high way. This culture village only 5 Km from the high way.

Here, you can see Lamin or Dayak tribe traditional house, traditional dance and Dayak Kenyah ceremony. Every Sunday you can see traditional ceremony. It starts from 2 pm. Try to be polite if you interact with them. If you take a picture of the Dayak Kenyah elders who have long ear, they will ask you to pay them about 20,000 – 50,000 rupiahs.


Krakatau- West Java-

Krakatau Mountain which located at the Sunda strait can be seen from the boat at the Merak-Banten to Bakauheni, Lampung. After take a rest for a while at the Travellers Krakatoa Nirwana Resort, my friend form Jakarta and me go to Krakatau. We use wood boat with 30 passengers, then we leave Krakatoa Nirwana Resort dock in the morning.

Yundi Nayadilaga, Activity Manager Travelers Krakatoa Nirwana Resort the tour guide said, morning wave and wind on the ocean is friendly now. "Usually the wind change on noon". Even it still quite, it is advisable to always wear the orange buoy.

The boat that we use, carry passengers from Canti dock, a small dock at the Kalianda city to Sebesi island. This way also become one of alternative way to go to Krakatau. From Sebesi island, we can continue the journey using rental wood boat. But don’t forget, you have to have simaksi (license to enter the Conservation Area from Badan Konservasi Sumber Daya Alam (BKSDA) Bandar Lampung).
If the wave and the wind calm, the journey from Krakatau Mountain takes about 3 hours from Travelers Krakatoa Nirwana Resort or 2 hours if you leave from Canti dock. The journey could be faster if we use speed boat which offered by the resort. The price is Rp 3.5 million for 10 persons. It takes 2 hours from resort or 1.5 hours from the Canti dock. This packet also offer 7 hours adventure, include visit the Sebesi Island and Umang-umang island. Those islands has beautiful beach and you can swim in there.

Our boat speed up through Merak Belantung strait and bamboos to catch fishes. This become a very unique scenery. Out form the small strait, our boat entering the Lampung strait which is bigger than the strait before. Entering the Sunda strait, our boat start to shake. The ocean water splashes the boat.

Yundi said our journey is still save. The wave and the west wind which predicted hold until the end of February from Kalianda-Anak Krakatau still more gentle than if we depart from Anyer or Carita, Banten. "We not use the straight way, but we take the back street through the Sebesi island and Sebuku island. We can hide at the back of these islands. Besides, the scenery is beautiful too", said Yundi.

When we arrived at the east side of the mountain, we found no other boat. Whereas, on Saturday usually there are at least five boats from Kalianda or from Anyer. Black sand and pumice stone is beautiful, many miners take it. That mountain is result of three island volcanic activity Rakata, Sertung, and Panjang, Krakatau giant eruption scrap on 27th April 1883. When it blow up, more than 3,500 people died, plus with the earthquake and darkness that cover up this planet because of the volcanic dust. This volcanic activity still grow until know about four centimeter each year.

The blowing wind flied dust to our nose and mouth. You can smell strong sulfur here. After 30 minutes hiking we arrive at the hill. It’s look like a bulwark, we pass sand and rocks which are made from lava and ocean pine. We can hear birding combine with the sound of the wave and the wind.


Unique Lagoon : Segara Anakan-Cilacap

Many regions in Indonesia have wide areas, but not all of them have many tourists object. Cilacap is one of the largest regency in Central Java Province. But, the name Nusa Kambangan Prison makes Cilacap has bad image as prisoner place whereas, there is an area called Segara Anakan, a wide mangrove forest, a place to take a marine biology adventure.

Segara Anakan is a lagoon with 40,000 Ha wide at South Java beach. Not only mangrove forest, but also the diversity of flora, fauna, caves, and the living place for mysterious creatures available and very attractive.
Sleko Port is the main gate to enter the Segara Anakan tourist area. Segara Anakan was located at the back of Nusa Kambangan Island. To reach this place, you can utilize small boat or compreng, only costs Rp 50,000 – 100,000/man.
It’s about three hours journey from upper course to lower course. You can see mangrove forest after entering the small river. Here you must slow the speed to avoid the crushing with the mangrove tree. Mangrove forest wide range is about 9000 Ha.

Fishermen often cross this area to bring their catch. The original Segara Anakan citizen is very hard to find fresh water and fuel. So, they bring many drums filled with fresh water and fuel which they bought in Cilacap.

In this area, the atmosphere is so alive with the kuntul’s birdling. There is a fruit which believe as a living place for mysterious creatures. Segara Anakan area still well protected against human kind even only small area (about 1200 Ha).

Slowly, the mangrove forest starts to ran out, whether naturally (coz by the shallow process) or human deed (chop the mangrove wood). We need hard work to safe this area.

It’s not describes since when fisherman settle exist. This was the settle for the aborigines. This area also well known as Kampung Laut, pretty hard to reach coz the location is quite cloistered.

We move closer to Kampung Laut, ujung Aru. It was like a remote place, so quite. There are 3 villages here. People here consider Segara Anakan like couple beloved which can not be separate with Kampung Laut. People here very depend on the lagoon coz there was their resource.

We met one of the citizen, her name is Yani. She lives with her son, Ujang. Their really depend on mangrove crab in this area. They start to collect in the morning then count it at night. They sell their catch to big city such as Semarang and Jakarta. It’s about Rp 40,000-50,000/kg. The prize will increase twice if we eat it at the restaurant.

Kampung Laut’s dead or life really depends on the mangrove crab. They wish the prize will raise up at the market. The problem is, they don’t know until when these crabs will whelped while Segara Anakan region getting threatened.

Kampung Laut is not the end of the Segara Anakan story. For some people who ever came to this place , part of this area was surrounded by magic and mysterious things. There is also a cave, called Masigitsela cave, located at the hillside Nusakambangan island.

Mount Rinjani - Lombok

The amount of Rinjani mountaineers increasing in this past 2 years. Facilities around Rinjani became the attractive power. Rinjani become more popular in world wide. The Rinjani management as tourist area got international award. The award was gave from National Geographic Society and Conservation International for Destination Stewardship category.
Since last couple years, Rinjani was managed by Badan Pengelola Rinjani Trek (BPRT) and a consultant from New Zealand. Ranjani area itself was part of the Taman Nasional (National Park). This mountain has 3,726 meter height and located at west, middle and south Lombok. Rinjani was managed together in this area.
Previously, there are many complains from tourists who climb Rinjani. They report that they have been robed or got unpleasant treatment. Of course this situation adverse not only the tourists but also people who live around Rinjani. People involvement has been proved can handle those problems.

For you who love adventure, Rinjani is quite challenging. There are several routes to get to the top of Rinjani, such as Senaru, Sembalun Lawang or Sesaot. Usually, you need three or four day trip from the last village to the top of the mountain. How long the trip was depends on the situation and condition in the field and the route you choose.

One of the favorite route is Senaru. Senaru is small city at North of Lombok island. The distance between Mataram and Senaru is about 89 kilometers or less than 2.5 hours journey. You can reach Senaru by using motor vehicle. The road is pretty good. Cross the mountain range and the shore side to Senaru made an impression on. For example, at Pusuk, you can find long tail monkeys at the side of the road. Those monkey become friendly if you give them food. There are lots of Hotels and villas in this area.
From Senaru, you walk to Babanan (next caldera at North), then go to Kokok Putih river. It’s one hour trip by walking. You can see telaga Segara Anak (a lake) before the summit. After that, you can choose which route you take to go to the top. The most route taken by tourist was through Senaru, coz this was the easiest way.

You can access another route such as route Sembalun Lawang. Sembalun Lawang is a small city at the east of Rinjani mountain. The distance between Sembalun Lawang and Mataram is about 110 kilometer or 4 hours trip by using motor vehicle. Continue the journey from Sembalun Lawang to the west, to Segara Anakan is about one day trip. Then go to Plawangan baru to the top of the mountain. Sometimes mountaineers go straight to Plawangan and go to the top. Sembalun Lawang Route is the hardest route.

Other alternative is Sesaot. Distance between Sesaot and Mataram is about 21 Km or a half hour trip using motor vehicle. From Sesaot we go to the Babanan then go to Kokok Putih. It’s two days trip, crossing mountain range and jungle. For those who love the nature scenery, the journey from Sesaot to Kokok Putih has the most beautiful view. After reach Kokok Putih, we go to Plawangan and then go to the top of Rinjani.

Beside those three routes, many mountaineers improve new route by themselves. People around Rinjani also often hike the mountain with different route. Although they choose different route, at the end they must be meet the same point, Plawangan. From Plawangan (also known as Plawangan Sembalun) we cross footpat and climb a steep hill. Mountainers call this area as 'Tanjakan Penyesalan', means regret steep. Guide or porter is available here.

Guide and porter can help you prepare your daily needs, such as food and beverage or keep your stuff when go leave the place for take a rest. At Senaru, there is place for you to rent tent and sleeping bag.

From Senaru, we can see culture trip, such as see the tradition of Sasak people which also known as Waktu Telu community. In this village, we can see their house that established orderly, and built with no nail at all. Not far from Senaru, there is other natural tourist object, a waterfall : Sindang Gile and Tiu Kelep.

Semarang Central Java

Semarang is one of important port in colonial time. Its range is 373.67 km2 and become the capital city of Central Java province. Now, Semarang become the biggest community for Chinese decline in Indonesia.

If you ask where does the name Semarang come from, you’ll two version which completely different, depends on who are you asking to. Java aborigines will tell you about the combination between asem (tamarind) and arang (charcoal). The combination of these two words become “Semarang”. While Chinese people in here will tell the story about an admiral from china who ever came to this city, Admiral Chen Ho.

Semarang journey in this modern area is like walking through the past. Old buildings still established through the street. This area was well known as Kota Lama (Outstadt), the Netherland colonial period. Gereja Blenduk (Blenduk church at St. Jend. Suprapto, PT. Perkebunan XV Persero building at st. Mpu Tantular and post office building not far from the Berok bridge are mute witness.

Merchantmen with their small kiosk through the canal Berok, also offer unique scenery from the past. Freeland massager, traditional Chinese treatment, kiosk, coffeshop kopi, voucher hand phone kiosk were found in here. Not far from the outstadt, you can visit another historical area. It’s called Kawasan Pecinan Semarang; crossed the KH. Wahid Hasyim street and then branching to small narrow street (called “gang”), such as Gang Pinggir, Gang Warung and Gang Lombok. There are also china temples between the Chinese eatery which spread the food smell and flirt your appetite. Food is become one of the high yield commodity in Semarang. Not only Chinese food, but also all kind of food exist in here. One of the center is Kawasan Simpang Lima. Simpang Lima is the hearth of Semarang city. It was full of shopping centers, office buildings and grand hotels. It never off from morning till night. On weekend this area was closed and made for market 'pasar kaget' which sell many things from very cheap scarce plant until dancing attraction.. You name it! You got it!
There are two luxurious buildings in Simpang Lima area, the legend Lawang Sewu (= means 1000 doors) and Raya Baiturrahman Mosque at the west side of the center park. These two building become the favorite place for architect, photographer and artist. Lawang Sewu itself was very well known as a place for test your guts, people say this building was hunted by ghost from the past.

Lawang Sewu has independence historical moment. In August 1945 14-19th, thousand young warriors as Angkatan Muda Kereta Api (AMKA) died in war against Netherland. Five of them be laid to rest in Lawang Sewu yard. This moment was known as 'pertempuran lima hari' (5 days fight).

Besides the historical buildings, center of Chinese religious place in Semarang also offers many interesting story. The most famous is Klenteng Sam Poo Kong (Sam Poo Kong temple) around the Gedung Batu (Stone building). It was one of the oldest religious complex in Indonesia and become the symbol of the glamour Chinese heritage in Semarang.

This place has already renovated and added several new buildings. Every year many people celebrate the Admiral Chen Ho arrival in Java land. In fact, at the 600th Admiral Chen Hoo arrival, last year, were celebrated regally. There are prayer together, Barongsay, Liong-Samsi, art show, China lantern party, firework, and bazaar.

There is another great place you should come, up the hill at the side os the main road to the Ungaran. Avalokitesvara Pagoda, also known as Metta Karuna Pagoda which mean loving kindness, were declared by the governor of Central Java, Mardiyanto recently.

This Pagoda has 7 level, and become the resident for about 30 lovely and gorgeous sacrifice statue. A giant statue exist in the middle of the Pagoda, around by so many fruits and flowers as tribute. Very unique! This 45 meters Pagoda is now become the newest landmark in Semarang.


Kupang - East Nusa Tenggara

Kupang, Capital city of East Nusa Tenggara Timur (NTT) province had lots of amazing tourist area. At least there are two tourists locations which always visited by domestic or foreign tourists, especially Australia. They are Oenesu waterfall (17 km from Kupang city) and Lasiana Beach (12 km from Kupang). Oenesu waterfall is the main tourist destination. At holiday or weekend, this place visited more than 1,500 people. You have to go along the trip about 17 km with flawless asphalt pavement. Then, before you enter the waterfall the street become a little bit damage, but you still can move on your trip with public transportation or private wheel. Even at rainy season, you can reach this place because the road not muddy and flood. All cars can park next to the waterfall. Many people came to this place to celebrate their anniversary, religious purpose or just looking around the scenery of the Oenesu waterfall, complete with the sound of wild animal near the jungle. This location is 0.7 hectare, located at subdistrict West Kupang. You can make this place as small adventure with your family, crossing small rivers and climbing small hill around the waterfall. Many protected animals live in here, if you dare you can make interaction with the wild animal.

According to Apeles Bangkoles (28 years old), Oenesu waterfall security guard, you have to pay Rp 1,500 for adult to enter this location and Rp 1,000 for children. The parking costs is Rp 2,000 for four wheels and Rp 1,000 for two wheels.

This waterfall has unique attractive power. Oenesu has four level, recreation facilities, camping, and jungle adventure. You can take a bath or swim in the lake, fell the falling water to your skin, it feels great. Fell the mountain air while hear the birdling, and the friction branch make a nature harmony. You can enjoy the scenery on summer or rainy season, because the waterfall never stop.
The other tourists location you must see in Kupang is Lasiana beach, 12 km from Kupang. Many people came in this beach at daybreak to see the sunshine and at afternoon to enjoy the beauty of the sunset shine. This place was well known since 1970. In the beginning 1980 many foreign tourists from German, Australia, England, and USA came by. Almost every Sunday they swim and surfing at the bay. Sometimes they lay down to be expose on the white sand.

In December 1990 to January 1991, Lariana beach crashed by 6 meters height wave, and overthrow Batu Nona (Lady Stone). Batu Nona is a coral stone, 15 meters height with lady with waving hand shape. Now, this “lady fall a sleep” and getting close over, buried under the sand.
Lasiana beach still become the most favorite place for Kupang citizen until now. Every Sunday, thousand people sight seeing this beach, especially on Sunday or national holiday. They bathe, swim, ate roasted corn, epeh banana, and coconut.

The sand surface is flat with declivity about 5-10%, suitable for play football. The san is white, clean and shining. The Bottom of the sea is sand, not mud as many other Timor beach. That why the water is clear.

What a very wonderful scenery.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Discovering Mount Bromo

Mount Bromo is one of the most famous and most beautiful volcanoes in Indonesia. It is located in Tengger, in East Java.

Mount Bromo is one of two volcanoes that were created following a massive eruption which created an enormous caldera in which are the active Mount Bromo and the non-active Mount Batok.

The caldera has seen been filled with grey sands, and is called Laut Pasir or Sand Sea. Trekkers walk through this expanse on their way to Mount Bromo. The scenery is reminiscent of earth in its primeval age or a moonscape. This is more so when a layer of mist carpets the caldera floor.

Standing at a height of 2392 meters, Mount Bromo isn't the tallest mountain in Java. That title goes to 3676 meter tall Mount Semeru, located to the south of Mount Bromo and within sight. Also called Mahameru, meaning "great mountain", Mount Semeru is one of the most active volcanoes in Indonesia constantly belching steam from its peak.

An undulating plateau interrupted by valleys and lakes reaches right to the foot of Mount Semeru. They are all located within the Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park.

Legend of Mount Bromo


There is legend related to Mount Bromo and the region of Tengger. According to this legend, there was a 15th century princess named Roro Anteng from Majapahit who started a principality with her husband Joko Seger. They named the principality Tengger, an amalgam of the last syllable of both their names.

Being childless for many years, the royal couple made a trip up Mount Bromo to seek the help of the mountain gods in granting them a child. The gods agreed to their request, telling them that they would have 25 children, but demanded that they sacrifice their final child. Together, the couple had 24 children.

When the last and final child was born, Roro Anteng refused to sacrifice it. The mountain gods sent fire and brimstone until she finally relented. After the child was thrown into the crater of the volcano, his voice was heard asking that an annual ceremony be performed to appease the gods. The ceremony was still being performed to this day. It takes place on the 14th day of the full moon Kesodo, according to the Tenggerese calendar. Rice, fruits, vegetables, flowers and livestock are offered to the mountain gods. 

Going to Mount Bromo


The nearest airport to Mount Bromo is Surabaya, about 3 hours away by bus. Most visitors to Mount Bromo access it from Cemoro Lawang, at the foot of the mountain. To go there from Surabaya's Juanda International Airport, take the Damri shuttle bus to the Bungurasih Bus Terminal. From there, take the Patas air-conditioned bus to Probolinggo. The journey takes about 2-3 hours.

At Probolinggo, it is another one hour to Ngadisari, a town about 6km northeast of Mount Bromo and the base camp for Mount Bromo trips.

Another base camp is Cemoro Lawang, about half an hour from Ngadisari. You can get accommodation at Ngadisari so that you start off a little after midnight for the trip to Mount Bromo.

Be sure to bring along warm clothing, and the temperature can drop to between zero and five degrees Celcius. From there, it is about half an hour to Cemoro Lawang.

The foot of Mount Bromo is a 3-km hike from Cemoro Lawang. You can hire a pony for 50,000 Rupiah or a seat in a jeep for 40,000 Rupiah to take you to Mount Bromo. Private cars are not allowed. 

What to see


The main sight is of course Mount Bromo. It is always bubbling, and its edges are tinged with sulphur. From Cemoro Lawang, take the path on the left fork. It leads to the Hindu temple at the foot of the mountain. From there, a steep 250-step path leads to the crater from which you can view the volcano.

Be forewarned that Mount Bromo is an active volcano. As recently as 2004, two tourists were killed when the volcano spit out molten lava, reaching as far as the Hindu temple. If the mountain appears to be acting up, stay away from it for your own safety.

Mount Batok (2440m) is a dormant volcano at the northern centre of the huge caldera. It is now growing with vegetation, mostly cemara trees that can thrive in the volcanic ash.

To the north of the caldera is Mount Penanjakan (2770m). As it has a paved road, it can be reached by jeeps and even tour buses. It is crowded with tourists at around 5:00am. If you are here at a later time, you probably get the place all to yourself.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Komodo Island

Komodo National Park lies in the Wallacea Region of Indonesia, identified by WWF and Conservation International as a global conservation priority area.  The Park is located between the islands of Sumbawa and Flores at the border of the Nusa Tenggara Timur (NTT) and Nusa Tenggara Barat (NTP) provinces. It includes three major islands, Komodo, Rinca and Padar, and numerous smaller islands together totaling 603 km2 of land.  The total size of Komodo National Park is presently 1,817 km2.  Proposed extensions of 25 km2 of land (Banta Island) and 479 km2 of marine waters would bring the total surface area up to 2,321 km2. (Click on the map to enlarge - 70kB)

Komodo National Park was established in 1980 and was declared a World Heritage Site and a Man and Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1986.  The park was initially established to conserve the  unique Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis), first discovered by the scientific world in 1911 by  J.K.H. Van Steyn.  Since then conservation goals have expanded to protecting its entire biodiversity, both marine and terrestrial.
The majority of the people in and around the Park are fishermen originally from Bima (Sumbawa), Manggarai, South Flores, and South Sulawesi.  Those from South Sulawesi are from the Suku Bajau or Bugis ethnic groups.  The Suku Bajau were originally nomadic and moved from location to location in the region of Sulawesi, Nusa Tenggara and Maluku, to make their livelihoods. Descendents of the original people of Komodo, the Ata Modo, still live in Komodo, but there are no pure blood people left and their culture and language is slowly being integrated with the recent migrants.
Little is known of the early history of the Komodo islanders. They were subjects of  the Sultanate of Bima, although the island’s remoteness from Bima meant its affairs were probably little troubled by the Sultanate other than by occasional demand for tribute.

There are presently almost 4,000 inhabitants living within the park spread out over four settlements (Komodo, Rinca, Kerora, and Papagaran). All villages existed prior to 1980 before the area was declared a national park.  In 1928 there were only 30 people living in Komodo Village, and approximately 250 people on Rinca Island in 1930. The population increased rapidly, and by 1999, there were 281 families numbering 1,169 people on Komodo, meaning that the local population had increased exponentially.  Komodo Village has had the highest population increase of the villages within the Park, mostly due to migration by people from Sape, Manggarai, Madura, and South Sulawesi. The number of buildings in Kampung Komodo has increased rapidly from 30 houses in 1958, to 194 houses in 1994, and 270 houses in 2000. Papagaran village is similar in size, with 258 families totaling 1,078 people. As of 1999, Rinca’s population was 835, and Kerora's population was 185 people. The total population currently living in the Park is 3,267 people, while 16,816 people live in the area immediately surrounding the Park.


The average level of education in the villages of Komodo National Park is grade four of elementary school. There is an elementary school located in each of the villages, but new students are not recruited each year. On average, each village has four classes and four teachers. Most of the children from the small islands in the Kecamatan Komodo (Komodo, Rinca, Kerora, Papagaran, Mesa) do not finish elementary school. Less than 10% of those which do graduate from elementary school will continue to high school since the major economic opportunity (fishing) does not require further education.  Children must be sent to Labuan Bajo to attend high school, but this is rarely done in fishermen’s families.   

Most of the villages located in and around the Park have few fresh water facilities available, if any, particularly during the dry season. Water quality declines during this time period and many people become ill. Malaria and diarrhea are rampant in the area. On Mesa island, with a population of around 1,500 people, there is no fresh water available. Fresh water is brought by boat in jerrycans from Labuan Bajo. Each family needs an average of Rp 100,000.- per month to buy fresh water (2000). Almost every village has a local medical facility with staff, and at least a paramedic. The quality of medical care facilities is low.


Traditional Customs: Traditional communities in Komodo, Flores and Sumbawa have been subjected to outside influences and the influence of traditional customs is dwindling. Television, radio, and increased mobility have all played a part in accelerating the rate of change. There has been a steady influx of migrants into the area. At the moment nearly all villages consist of more than one ethnic group.
Religion: The majority of fishermen living in the villages in the vicinity of the Park are Muslims.  Hajis have a strong influence in the dynamics of community development.  Fishermen hailing from South Sulawesi (Bajau, Bugis) and Bima are mostly Moslems.  The community from Manggarai are mostly Christians.
Anthropology and Language: There are several cultural sites within the Park, particularly on Komodo Island. These sites are not well documented, however, and there are many questions concerning the history of human inhabitance on the island. Outside the Park, in Warloka village on Flores, there is a Chinese trading post remnant of some interest. Archeological finds from this site have been looted in the recent past. Most communities in and around the Park can speak Bahasa Indonesia. Bajo language is the language used for daily communication in most communities.


Topography: The topography is varied, with slopes from 0 – 80%.  There is little flat ground, and that is generally located near the beach.  The altitude varies from sea level to 735 m above sea level. The highest peak is Gunung Satalibo on Komodo Island.
Geology: The islands in Komodo National Park are volcanic in origin. The area is at the juncture of two continental plates: Sahul and Sunda. The friction of these two plates has led to large volcanic eruptions and caused the up-thrusting of coral reefs.  Although there are no active volcanoes in the park, tremors from Gili Banta (last eruption 1957) and Gunung Sangeang Api (last eruption 1996) are common. West Komodo probably formed during the Jurasic era approximately 130 million years ago. East Komodo, Rinca, and Padar probably formed approximately 49 million years ago during the Eocene era.
Climate:  Komodo National Park has little or no rainfall for approximately 8 months of the year, and is strongly impacted by monsoonal rains. High humidity levels year round are only found in the quasi-cloud forests on mountain tops and ridges. Temperatures generally range from 170C to 340C, with an average humidity level of 36%. From November through March the wind is from the west and causes large waves that hit the entire length of Komodo island’s west beach.  From April through October the wind is dry and large waves hit the south beaches of Rinca and Komodo islands.


The terrestrial ecosystems are strongly affected by the climate: a lengthy dry season with high temperatures and low rainfall, and seasonal monsoon rains. The Park is situated in a transition zone between Australian and Asian flora and fauna.  Terrestrial ecosystems include open grass-woodland savanna, tropical deciduous (monsoon) forest, and quasi cloud forest.
Due to the dry climate, terrestrial plant species richness is relatively low. The majority of terrestrial species are xerophytic and have specific adaptations to help them obtain and retain water. Past fires have selected for species that are fire-adapted, such as some grass species and shrubs.   Terrestrial plants found in Komodo National Park include grasses, shrubs, orchids, and trees.  Important food tree species for the local fauna include Jatropha curkas, Zizyphus sp., Opuntia sp., Tamarindus indicus, Borassus flabellifer, Sterculia foetida, Ficus sp., Cicus sp., ‘Kedongdong hutan’ (Saruga floribunda), and ‘Kesambi’ (Schleichera oleosa).


The terrestrial fauna is of rather poor diversity in comparison to the marine fauna. The number of terrestrial animal species found in the Park is not high, but the area is important from a conservation perspective as some species are endemic.. Many of the mammals are Asiatic in origin (e.g., deer, pig, macaques, civet). Several of the reptiles and birds are Australian in origin. These include the orange-footed scrubfowl, the lesser sulpher-crested cockatoo and the nosy friarbird. 
Reptiles: The most famous of Komodo National Park's reptiles is the Komodo Dragon (Varanus komodoensis).  It is among the world's largest reptiles and can reach 3 meters or more in length and weigh over 70kg.  To find out more about this fascinating creature click here.
Other than the Komodo Dragon twelve terrestrial snake species are found on the island. including the cobra (Naja naja sputatrix), Russel’s pit viper (Vipera russeli), and the green tree vipers (Trimeresurus albolabris).   Lizards include 9 skink species (Scinidae), geckos (Gekkonidae), limbless lizards (Dibamidae), and, of course, the monitor lizards (Varanidae).  Frogs include the Asian Bullfrog (Kaloula baleata), Oreophyne jeffersoniana and Oreophyne darewskyi. They are typically found at higher, moister altitudes.
Mammals:  Mammals include the Timor deer (Cervus timorensis), the main prey of the Komodo dragon, horses (Equus sp.), water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis), wild boar (Sus scrofa vittatus), long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis), palm civets (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus lehmanni), the endemic Rinca rat (Rattus rintjanus), and fruit bats.  One can also find goats, dogs and domestic cats.  
Birds:  One of the main bird species is the orange-footed scrub fowl (Megapodius reinwardti), a ground dwelling bird.  In areas of savanna, 27 species were observed. Geopelia striata and Streptopelia chinensis were the most common species.  In mixed deciduous habitat, 28 bird species were observed, and Philemon buceroides, Ducula aenea, and Zosterops chloris were the most common.


The marine area constitutes 67% of  the Park. The open waters in the Park are between 100 and 200 m deep. The straits between Rinca and Flores and between Padar and Rinca, are relatively shallow (30 to 70 m deep), with strong tidal currents. The combination of strong currents, coral reefs and islets make navigation around the islands in Komodo National Park difficult and dangerous. Sheltered deep anchorage is available at the bay of Loh Liang on Komodo’s east coast, the South East coast of Padar, and the bays of Loh Kima and Loh Dasami on Rinca. 
In the North of the Park water temperature ranges between 25 – 29°C. In the middle, the temperature ranges between 24 and 28°C. The temperatures are lowest in the South, ranging from 22 – 28°C. Water salinity is about 34 ppt  and the water is quite clear, although the waters closer to the islands are relatively more turbid.


Indonesia is the only equatorial region in the world where there is an exchange of marine flora and fauna between the Indian and Pacific oceans.  Passages in Nusa Tenggara (formerly the Lesser Sunda Islands) between the Sunda and Sahul shelves allow movement between the Pacific and Indian oceans.  The three main ecosystems in Komodo National Park are seagrass beds, coral reefs, and mangrove forests.  The Park is probably a regular cetacean migration route.


The three major coastal marine plants are algae, seagrasses and mangrove trees.  Algae are  primitive plants, which do not have true roots, leaves or stems.  An important reef-building algae is the red coralline algae, which actually secretes a hard limestone skeleton that can encrust and cement dead coral together.  Seagrasses are modern plants that produce flowers, fruits and seeds for reproduction. As their name suggests, they generally look like large blades of grass growing underwater in sand near the shore. Thallasia sp. and Zastera spp. are the common species found in the Park. Mangroves trees can live in salty soil or water, and are found throughout the Park. An assessment of mangrove resources identified at least 19 species of true mangroves and several more species of mangrove associates within the Park's borders.


Komodo National Park includes one of the world's richest marine environments.  It consists of forams, cnidaria (includes over 260 species of reef building coral), sponges (70 species), ascidians, marine worms, mollusks, echinoderms, crustaceans, cartilaginous and bony  fishes (over 1,000 species), marine reptiles, and marine mammals (dolphins, whales, and dugongs).  Some notable species with high commercial value include sea cucumbers (Holothuria), Napoleon wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus), and groupers. 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION : http://www.komodonationalpark.org


Visitors to Gorontalo no longer have to travel overland. Regular flights now connect Gorontalo with the outside world. Daily flights are available from Jakarta via Makassar (Ujung Pandang) to Gorontalo with Lion Air and Sriwijaya Airlines. Many international flights arrive in Jakarta. Air Asia flies several times a week to Makassar, arriving from Kuala Lumpur late in the evening. Travelers can continue to Gorontalo the next morning. Flights from Gorontalo to Makassar easily connect with Air Asia’s return flight to KL. Travelers can also fly from Denpasar Bali in one day.

From Manado, Wings Air (a subsidiary of Lion Air) now flies every day, leaving in the evening for Gorontalo. This allows passengers arriving on Silk Air from Singapore to connect. The return flight to Manado is early in the morning, allowing travelers to connect with Silk Air or with flights to other parts of Indonesia. Better yet, tickets for the Manado/Gorontalo flight on Wings Air can be purchased on line at www2.lionair.co.id.

If you prefer to travel overland, private transport can be arranged in Manado with a driving time of about 9 hours. Alternatively, you could go by bus; Manado to Gorontalo takes about 10 hours; Fajar Indah is a recommended company. Roads are mostly in good condition, with a few small dirt and rock sections under repair. Your schedule shouldn't be too tight. Sometimes buses are delayed because of flat tires or engine troubles. Better spend at least one night in Gorontalo before moving on by bus or boat. The city is quite pretty, clean and very friendly with beautiful old colonial buildings.

Accommodation: Not only Backpackers will find the Hotel Melati comfortable enough and with more English (and Dutch) spoken (by Pak Alex, if he's around) than in most other hotels in Gorontalo. Address: Jl. Gajah Mada No. 33. Phone: (+62) 435 822934 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (+62) 435 822934      end_of_the_skype_highlighting. E-mail: avelberg@hotmail.com.
Newly renovated Hotel Yulia has air-conditioning, cable TV and hot water. Rates are a good value.
Next door is a much more luxurious option, Quality Hotel Gorontalo, where some staff speak English.


Gorontalo Oasis Hotel
Although nestled in the heart of Gorontalo City, Gorontalo Oasis Hotel is a world away. At its center is a grove of giant sago palms surrounding a pool of natural spring water. Light breezes from the mountains rustle the bamboo. Fragrant flowers perfume the night air. Rooms come with a single queen or two twin beds, air conditioning, hot water shower, international cable television, mini bar, and underwater photo print. The fastest Internet connection in Gorontalo is available throughout the Oasis. Miguel's Diving has its office here.
Address: Jl. Agus Salim No 29, Gorontalo City
Gorontalo Oasis Hotel Email: gorontalo.oasis@yahoo.com
Tel/Fax: (+62) 852 4004 2027

Scuba diving has been available for several years in Gorontalo with dive season being November to April. Miguel's Diving has its office at the new Gorontalo Oasis Hotel in Jl. Agus Salim No 29. With its new custom-built speedboat, seven dive sites are within only a ten-minute boat ride from town. With over 20 dive sites from which to choose, certified divers can enjoy dramatic coral walls, multiple pinnacles, caverns, muck, shallow coral gardens and two wrecks. One important feature of diving there is the continental wall of Sulawesi, which comes within a few meters of the coastline, bringing deep blue water right to shore. Having some of the most dense and diverse hard coral growth in the Indo-Pacific region, Gorontalo also has a growing list of new, undescribed or endemic species. The huge, surreal Salvador Dali sponge can only be found in Gorontalo. The provincial government has just published a top quality book of underwater photos taken there by three of Asia's best marine photojournalists. Information on the book Gorontalo: Hidden Paradise is available through the Miguel's Diving web site.

Exchanging foreign currency is difficult in Gorontalo. The notes have to be brandnew, clean and unfolded!

Going from Manado to Palu/Central Sulawesi by bus takes around 18 hours. Most travellers prefer the route through the Togian Islands.

The Togian (Togean) Islands

When crossing Sulawesi from South to North or North to South most travellers now choose for a stopover of at least several days at the Togian Islands. The Togians are a picturesque archipelago of 56 islands and inlets, located in the Tomini Bay. Formed by volcanic activity, the islands are covered by lush rainforest and surrounded by ancient coral reef formations. Both the terrestrial and marine ecosystems teem with exotic wildlife - much of which is extremely rare or endangered. The reefs and coastal areas provide habitat and breeding areas for hawksbill turtle, the green turtle and the dugong. Togian forests and skies are filled with exotic creatures such as the Togian Macaque, the babirusa, the Sulawesi Hornbill, and hanging parrots. Within this tropical paradise, 37 villages provide bright spots of gaiety and culture of several ethnicities, including the Bobongko, Togian, Suluan and the Bajau.

IMPORTANT: Be advised that Malaria is a big problem in most parts of the Togian Islands. Protect your skin with lots of mosquito repellent; anti malaria drugs are adviced! Dengue fever is also widespread.

How to get there:
  • (Updated February 2010)
    There are three weekly connections from Gorontalo to the Togians now. Here's the schedule:
    Gorontalo Wakai Ampana
    Dep Arr Dep Arr
    Tue 20:00 Wed 09:00 Wed 10:00 Wed 16:00
    Fri 20:00 Sat 09:00 Sat 10:00 Sat 16:00
    Wed 20:00 Thu 13:00 Thu 14:00 Thu 18:00

    Ampana Wakai Gorontalo
    Dep Arr Dep Arr
    Sun 10:00 Sun 16:00 Sun 17:00 Mon 06:00
    Thu 10:00 Thu 16:00 Thu 17:00 Fri 06:00
    Mon 10:00 Mon 14:00 Mon 15:00 Tue 08:00

    Ships: Car ferry - Wooden boat

    Price: Rp. 70,000 - 100,000 pp, depending on ship.
    Please note!!! Schedules are changing frequently, so no guarantees possible. Not even Pak Alex at Melati Hotel always knows the exact schedule, so better try to find out yourself.
  • There is a ferry from Gorontalo to Pagimana/Central Sulawesi every other evening. From Pagimana by bemo, car, bus or anything to Ampana (4 to 6 hours). Stay one night in Ampana and take one of the boats to the Togians the next morning (none on Fridays!). The Black Marlin Dive Centre can arrange charters from Bunta (half way from Pagiamana to Ampana) in about 2-3 hrs to Kadidiri.
  • Alternatively you can travel to Ampana via Luwuk: from Manado by plane (twice a week: Monday and Saturday) or Pelni ship to Luwuk, then by bus on to Pagimana and Ampana. If you travel this way you can stay for a couple of days at the Maleo Cottages near Luwuk. Yani and her French husband Jerome are great hosts who can arrange everything for you: from snorkeling, diving and trekking to sailing and trips to Banggai.
  • You can charter a boat from Marisa/North Sulawesi to the Togians or the other way round. Be aware that weather conditions can change very fast in this part of the world and that these small boats do not have any navigational equipment.
Accommodation and Diving
The Togian Islands offer the unique opportunity for both divers and snorkelers to explore all 3 types of coral reef: fringe, barrier and atoll. There is a wide selection of dive sites from gentle slope to dramatic drop offs, perfect for beginners and experienced alike with some deeper dives for the advanced diver. Highlights: Atolls (3 in all), Una-Una (active volcano), B24 World War II bomber wreck.

From simple cottage style homestays to quite luxurious dive resorts the Togian Islands offer a good variety of accommodation:

Most upmarket is the Italian run Walea Dive Resort with rates of US$ 60 per person and night (full board), or US$ 120 with two dives.

Another PADI Dive Centre is the Black Marlin Dive Centre at Wakai Cottages/Kadidiri. Rooms rates Rp. 135,000 (Standard) and Rp. 175,000 (Deluxe) with meals, plus 10% tax. €22,50/ daytime dive, €27.50/night dive. PADI dive courses. Discounts for longer stays. Black Marlin can accept traveller cheques (USD, Euro) and even credit cards (Master, VISA).

Mixed reports about the Kadidiri Paradise. A licensed dive instructor is only available for 6 months a year. It's a guy called Gonzag; if he's there it's actually recommended to dive with him. Few mosquitoes here.

Mostly very good comments about the Fadhila Cottages in Katupat: US$ 18 - 20 per day and person including 3 meals. A recent report (June 2010) says that the resort has a new dive instructor.

In Malenge try the friendly Malenge Indah.

Lestari Kadidiri is a real bargain at Rp 75.000 per night full board, including free boat trips to nearby islands for snorkeling trips. There are also some nice photos on Picasaweb.

The Togian Island Retreat in Bomba has recently got kind of mixed comments and I would be grateful for updates from people who have been there in the last few months. Prices are ranging from US$ 22 to US$ 30 per day and person (plus tax) with fullboard. One dive is US$ 25, with discounts for multiple dives. According to the latest information there is a Spanish dive instructor at the resort since October 2009. However, instructors and divemasters seem to come and go, so better enquire before, especially if you want to do a course.
Some people have reported that there are too many dogs and cats at the place. Hardly any mosquitoes, so malaria is not much of a problem here.

There is no possibility to exchange money/traveller cheques at the Togians, so take enough cash with you. Some of the dive centers might be able to accept tc's and even credit cards but please check with them before.

Bunaken - Indonesia

General Information
The Bunaken National Marine Park was formally established in 1991 and is among the first of Indonesia's growing system of marine parks. The park covers a total surface area of 89,065 hectares, 97% of which is overlain by sparkling clear, warm tropical water. The remaining 3% of the park is terrestrial, including the five islands of Bunaken, Manado Tua, Mantehage, Nain and Siladen. Although each of these islands has a special character, it is the aquatic ecosystem that attracts most naturalists.

The waters of Bunaken National Marine Park are extremely deep (1566 m in Manado Bay), clear (up to 35-40 m visibility), refreshing in temperature (27-29 C) and harbor some of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world. Pick any of group of interest - corals, fish, echinoderms or sponges - and the number of families, genera or species is bound to be astonishingly high. For example, 7 of the 8 species of giant clams that occur in the world, occur in Bunaken. The park has around 70 genera of corals; compare this to a mere 10 in Hawaii. Although the exact number of fish species is unknown, it may be slightly higher than in the Philippines, where 2,500 species, or nearly 70% of all fish species known to the Indo-western Pacific, are found.

Oceanic currents may explain, in part, why Bunaken National Marine Park is such a treasure trove of biodiversity. Northeasternly currents generally sweep through the park but abundant counter currents and gyros related to lunar cycles are believed to be a trap for free swimming larvae. This is particularly true on the south side of the crescent-shaped Bunaken Island, lying in the heart of the park. A snorkler or diver in the vicinity of Lekuan or Fukui may spot over 33 species of butterfly fish and numerous types of groupers, damsels, wrasses and gobies. The gobies, smallish fish with bulging eyes and modified fins that allow them to attach to hard surfaces, are the most diverse but least known group of fish in the park.
Biologists believe that the abundance of hard corals is crucial in maintaining the high levels of diversity in the park. Hard corals are the architects of the reefs, without them, numerous marine organisms would be homeless and hungry. Many species of fish are closely associated with particular types of corals (folious, branching, massives, etc.) for shelter and egg-laying. Others, like the enormous Bumphead Parrotfish, Balbometopon muricatum, are "coralivores" and depend on hard corals for their sustenance. Bony mouth parts fused into an impressive "beak" allow these gregarious fish to crunch corals like roasted peanuts.
Some 20,000 people live on the natural resources of Bunaken National Marine Park. Although there are inevitable conflicts between resource protection and use by people, the Indonesian government is taking a fairly unusual and pragmatic approach to park management. The idea is to promote wise resource use while preventing overexploitation. Local communities, government officials, dive resort operators, local nature groups, tourists and scientists have played an active role in developing exclusive zones for diving, wood collection, fishing and other forms of utilization. If successful, Bunaken Marine Park will stand as an important example of how Sulawesi, and the rest of Indonesia, can work to protect its natural resources.

Accommodation and Transfer
On the island you have the choice amongst a number of homestays, with rates starting at around Rp. 80 000 per day and person incl. fullboard. If you only go for the cheapest option don't complain afterwards if the water in your mandi (bathroom) doesn't get filled up regularly, or food isn't quite as nice as you had hoped for. Life in North Sulawesi in general isn't as cheap as in other regions of Indonesia, and most things on Bunaken have to be brought in from Manado. Depending on the season even fish can be pretty expensive. Better think twice before you try to bargain down prices which are already cheap; for the locals it could mean the difference between being able to eat 3 or only 2 meals a day, or buying school books for the children or not.
Some of the dive operations on Bunaken are offering more upmarket accommodation, even hot showers (Living Colours, Cha Cha Nature Resort).

Some guesthouses ("homestays") on Bunaken:
Pangalisang Beach: Lorenso's Homestay
Liang Beach: Panorama, Nelson's, Papa Boa
There are a lot more...

Bunaken's much smaller neighbour Siladen only offers few accommodations. Most popular among budget travelers seems to be Martha's Homestay.
The most upmarket resort within the boundaries of the Bunaken National Park is Siladen Resort & Spa which started operations in 2003. The eco-friendly luxury boutique resort places high emphasis on the protection of the Marine Park and the environment.

! The public boats from Manado to Bunaken are leaving daily around 2 p.m (depending on tide), except Sundays, from Pasar Jengki near Manado harbour. Back from Bunaken to Manado usually early in the morning, around 7-8 a.m. Even on Sundays there might be boats, just go to the harbour and ask people there. To charter a boat is about Rp. 150,000 - 200,000 OW. If you want to go to Siladen it is better to inquire first at the harbour, but usually there are several boats as well. The fare to Siladen is also Rp. 15 000. 

A growing number of dive centers is operating from the mainland around Manado and directly from Bunaken Island. Generally spoken you should rather pay a few dollars more and go for safe and experienced operators than just choose the cheapest option. Tank fillings can be a problem, and headaches after each dive give you a clear sign that your dive operator saves money on filters; better go somewhere else if you experience this.

North Sulawesi Watersports Association In general diving standards in North Sulawesi are high, as is environmental awareness among the dive operators, especially the ones who have formed the North Sulawesi Watersports Association, NSWA. The NSWA has made significant strides in improving the management and conservation of Bunaken National Park and surrounding marine ecosystems and in conferring concrete benefits of tourism to the villagers living within the park. Many of its members have spent a lot of their money and time for various ecological and social achievements within the park. This has not gone unnoticed; the Bunaken National Park has received the "Tourism for Tomorrow Award" and the "UN Equator Prize" (more on www.divenorthsulawesi.com).
Unfortunately some stupid backpackers still think that they know everything better than these international organisations and refuse to pay the entrance fee to the National Park. If you are planning to do this, please stay away. You are not welcome - the National Park needs support, not ignorance!

Manado - Indonesia

Manado, once described in guide books as one of Indonesia's cleanest cities, has changed a lot in recent years. After a period of neglect at the end of the 90's a huge building boom has started alongside the so-called "Manado Boulevard", the city's main road. Large areas have been gained by land reclamation projects along what used to be the city's coastline. New malls, shopping centers, department stores, hotels and restaurants have opened or are still being built. Especially the area around the Mega Mall, just a few hundred meters south of the city's landmark Ritzy Hotel, has become a new center of attraction and popular meeting point. The mall itself - apart from the usual Pizza Hut and Kentucky Fried Chicken - has some very reasonable shops and at present is one of Manado's few places where you can get a good cappuccino and other hot and cold coffee drinks.

Some other parts of the city are still in a less good shape but efforts are underway to prepare Manado for the "World Ocean Conference" (2009) and for "Manado: World Tourism City 2010". Yet garbage collection doesn't always work as it should, road conditions are sometimes poor, and power & tab water supply is often problematic. However, compared to a couple of years ago improvements are clearly visible.

In any case you are hopefully not visiting North Sulawesi with the expectation of everything being like at home. Be a bit open-minded and adventurous and a stay in Manado with its hospitable and fun-loving population will be a pleasant experience. However, in terms of typical tourist sites it doesn't have much to offer, so if you don't have lots of time better don't consider spending too much of it in the city. Rather go for some of the many attractions in the surroundings which are described on this site.

Budget accommodation: Since the demise of the Smiling Hostel there is no place anymore that can be described as a "backpacker's favourite". Try the friendly Bersehati Hotel with ok rooms, or Rex Hotel. The Celebes Hotel near the harbour has gone more upmarket but still has some cheaper rooms and is quite convenient if you want to take the public boat to Bunaken. The hotel has incorporated what used to be the Smiling Hostel building.

Middle class hotels: Most centrally located are Hotel Central, Hotel New Queen and Celebes Hotel (at harbour). The Hotel Formosa in the south of Manado (ocean side of Bahu Mall) has ok rooms but I found the glass wash basin in the bathroom quite dirty and a bit disgusting. Other options are Hotel Minahasa, Regina Hotel and Golden Dragon Hotel.

Luxury Resorts and Hotels: Without doubt the most convenient location right in the city center has the Ritzy Hotel Manado which is also the city's biggest hotel. Less centrally located is the Gran Puri. Still relatively new and with a good location at Boulevard Mall is the Quality Hotel, with nice rooms. Personally I found the restaurant there not very convincing though.
Outside of town there are for example the Tasik Ria Resort, Santika Hotel, Kima Bajo Resort and Hotel Sedona which is the only 5 Star hotel in the province (I can't really say that I understand a lot about these ratings but personally I wouldn't see Sedona as 5 Star hotel. Let's put it like this: Judging from my own experiences at this hotel there is quite a bit of room for improvement...).

More hotels and resorts are currently being built in and around Manado.

Dining out in Manado has come a long way in the last few years with more restaurants than ever offering a wide variety of dishes. A few examples:

  • Raja Sate Restaurant, Jalan Boulevard No. 39 (near Mega Mall) - My favourite in Manado. Satay and more satays. From beef, goat to seafood satays charcoal grilled to perfection with accompanying sides of local spicy sauce. The curries and other dishes are also worth trying, and they are reasonably priced.
  • Lesehan Malioboro - Javanese style restaurant which offers the choice of dining in the main room or outside in small houses seated on the floor at low tables. No visit is complete without an order of Ayam Malioboro which is crispy fried chicken. Other recommendations are the Sayur Urap (spicy coconut salad greens and bean sprouts) and Sayur Gudeg Yogya (slightly spicy jackfruit and tofu infused with tamarind and served as a savoury dish). Round this out with an order of Gado Gado and tempe and vegetarians won't be disappointed.
  • Peony - announces itself as the "only Halal Chinese" restaurant in town so we have to assume there's something to please everyone in this newly renovated venue. The largely Chinese/Asian menu is tasty and a couple of favourite dishes include Curry Thai Fried Rice and BBQ Chicken Taliwang. Dim Sum (Yum Cha) is being offered at lunchtime on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Sample dishes are brought out on a trolley for you to choose and then prepared while you wait.
  • Dolphin Donuts - Donuts and Western food
  • Green Garden - good seafood and Chinese cuisine at very affordable prices
  • Xanadu - good Chinese
  • Sky Dine & Lounge - quite "upperclass" place in Sario; good food and drinks, recommended hangout during the day
  • If your budget can handle it, try the restaurant at Ritzy Hotel Manado (former Novotel), it's worth it: "All you can eat" buffet on Saturday evening for 75,000 Rupiah - usually good salads. The American Breakfast Buffet for 50,000 Rupiah is also recommended.
! Fish lovers might try a short trip to Kalasey, just a few km south of Manado: dozens of fish restuarants, built on stilts over the beach, and extremely popular with locals. The barbecued fresh fish and other delicacies usually taste excellent. I'm not a big fan of these places though since I have seen that they are offering Napoleons and other species that you would rather like to see alive in the reefs than grilled on your plate!

North Sulawesi - General Info and Advice

For the majority of visitors to North Sulawesi the area's main attractions are the fantastic possibilities it offers to divers and snorkelers. The Bunaken National Park right in front of Manado has reached a status as one of the world's prime dive destinations. In recent years the Lembeh Strait, just a short drive away on the other side of the peninsula, has become equally popular and offers a completely different underwater world. And there is the Gangga/Bangka area at the top of the peninsula which in no way is inferior to the other two. So even if you spend all your time diving or snorkeling you will only see a small fraction of the more than 100 sites that are available.

However, North Sulawesi has more to offer. The Minahasa Highland, just 25 km away from Manado, with its cool climate, easy-to-climb active volcanos, hot springs, beautiful lakes and scenic markets is worth more than just a short visit. For animal and nature lovers there is the Tangkoko Nature Reserve near Bitung, about 40 km from Manado. You should consider a visit to these places in combination with your watersports activities. In any case, make sure that you bring enough time with you, or otherwise you might regret...

  • IMPORTANT: Check the visa regulations, valid since February 2004.
  • Make sure that your passport is still valid for at least six months, not only on arrival but on the day of your departure from Indonesia!
  • CHECK YOUR ENTRY STAMP! There have been occasional reports that Immigration officials in Indonesia put a very faint stamp when you enter (and don't notice), and then behave menacingly when you leave, saying you have entered the country illegaly. Having to get on a plane most people then think they have no other choice than to pay a fine, which of course goes right into the Immigration Officials' pockets. However, I would rather recommend to not let them scare you. Make some noise and they will let you go.
  • Exchange rates for cash and Traveler's Cheques in Manado are not as good as in Jakarta or Bali. You can get cash advance with VISA or Mastercard at several banks and ATM's in Manado, Tomohon and Gorontalo, at usually better rates. If you bring along cash, the best is US dollars or Euros. Be aware that larger denominations will get you better exchange rates. Makes sure that the notes are new, clean and not folded! Otherwise banks and moneychangers won't take them, or give you a bad rate.

    ATM Locators:   Master Card    VISA

  • At the airport you will be approached by "guides" working for various hotels, guesthouses and dive centers. Especially after a long flight it might make sense to use their services if you want to go directly to Bunaken, rather that having to find the public boat or charter a boat to the island.
    A better solution might be to make a reservation before coming to North Sulawesi. Most of the guesthouses, hotels and dive resorts by now have their own websites, so do a search and you will find what you need, from budget to luxury.
  • The taxi fare from the airport to the center of Manado is about 50,000 Rupiah. Sometimes people are trying to sell you tickets for a taxi to town in the arrival hall of the airport. Quite often these taxis don't deserve the name and rather look like they will fall apart after a few kilometers. Better check before you pay. The taxi company Diane has a large fleet of fairly modern taxis, so best is to use one of those. Many drivers don't like to use their meters in which case you have to negotiate a rate before the ride. A cheaper option are the blue mikrolets, which can take you just about anywhere within the city and around. You can also charter one for the whole day at a reasonable rate.
  • SUNBLOCK and SUNTAN LOTION are not readily available in North Sulawesi. Some limited brands are sold in the dive centres and at COCO Supermarket in Manado, however these are generally very expensive and may not provide the strength of sunprotection you require. We do recommend you bring one or two bottles to provide protection during your stay.
    For all female travellers planning a visit to North Sulawesi (and indeed most destinations in Indonesia outside of Jakarta and Bali), please be advised that tampons (tampax, carefree, libra etc) are NOT sold in any supermarkets or pharmacies (apotik). You will need to ensure that you have brought an ample supply of tampons for your visit. This is of course particularly essential for anyone wishing to swim or dive. Sanitary pads however, are readily available.

Prices for domestic flights have gone down a lot in recent years, due to increased competition. Therefore it hardly makes sense to use one of the Indonesian PELNI passenger ferries. The company's websites are either down or haven't been updated since the year 2000...

Sulawesi Island-Indonesia

Sulawesi, formerly known as Celebes, is a holiday destination that is becoming popular nowadays with those in search of the exotic. Most interesting to visitors are the more populated north and south regions while the central region is a little known area rarely visited ( through, of course, for some travelers  this is the most attractive regions . Such as ; Bada Valley ( Lore Lindu ) for its Megalithic Culture and Birding site, Togean Islands with its fantastic under-sea-garden and its coral reefs, and Morowali Nature Reserve.
North Sulawesi has an abundance and variety of accommodation and facilities available to meet the needs of travelers from backpackers and budget class to four-star resorts. The natural wonders of North Sulawesi make it well suited to both organized and adventure travel. The full spectrum of scuba diving activities is available in North Sulawesi. The diving ranges from the magnificent coral gardens of Bunaken Marine Park and Bangka Strait to the walls of fishes and underwater volcanoes of the Sangihe Islands to the unusual and rarely seen critters of Lembeh Strait. Land-based activities focus on rain forest hiking in Tangkoko Nature Reserve (home to the largest concentration of black crested macaques and the world's smallest primate, the tarsier) and Dumoga Bone National Park (home to the fabled babirusa pig deer), along with viewing scenic waterfalls, volcano climbing and river rafting and even golf. Exploring the Tomohon/Tondano highlands area, rice paddies, coconut plantations and flower gardens rounds out the activities.
South Sulawesi is a region of dramatic contrasts - of rugged volcanic peaks and glistering white beaches. So it's hardly surprising the region is home to two vastly different peoples - the seafaring Bugis and the mysterious highland Torajans.

You'll drive through spectacular mountain, steep terraced slopes and tall bamboo forests to arrive in a true paradise of un-spoilt natural beauty. (You'll have no trouble understanding why the Torajans believe their forefather were descended from heaven, for this is heaven on earth). Most visitors can't wait to see the Toraja tombs - man-made caves cut into sheer cliff faces with eerie effigies on suspended balconies staring out across the jungle. 
In Toraja Culture a funeral isa festive event and elaborate rites are performed to ensure that souls pass to the afterworld in an appropriate manner. Families spend much on these feasts and if you're fortunate to be here for a burial ceremony you should be sure to contribute something such as food, soap or perhaps even money to assist the family.
Be warned, though, some parts of the ceremony are not for the faint-hearted --- the slaughter by single sword stroke of a scared buffalo is common.

Funeral ceremony usually last about a week with the feasting , chanting and dancing continuing throughout the night. It is on the last day that the coffinis hauled carefully up the mountain side to the family gravesite amidst great shouting and excitement. The best known grave sites  are at Lemo and Londa. Here the effigies are those of noblemen and other high-ranking community leaders.
You'll also be struck by the unusual architecture of the traditional Toraja house,the "tongkonan".The roof rises at both ends like the bow and stern of a ship and legend has it that this was the shape of the vessels that carried their ancestors here.
For a different experience visitors drive up for the trip to North Sulawesi, home of the friendly Minahasan people. As a result of Portuguese, Spanish and Dutch missionaries this is one fo the most Christianised places in Indonesia. Another heaven on earth, complete with beautiful coral reefs, white sandy beaches and clear, clear water. In the highlands there are lakes and invigorating hotwater springs. For nature lovers there is plenty of wildlife and easy jungle walks nearby. If you're a scuba diver,you'll even find gear and boat available.
There are also a number of interesting towns around the delightful Lake Tondano that you will want to visit. And while in the area, be sure to see the ancient megalithic monument known as Watung Pinabetengan. It's a mysterious, huge, anvil-shaped stone covered in as yet undeciphered.
The Bugis-Makasarese communities are known for their rigid social codes already regulated in their customs within the concept of pangadereng (beliefs) - which underline their social dynamic. Inherited customary rules were inscribed on Lontar leafs, called Latoa, which emphases the essence that God is the pivotal point of human life and this philosophy begets honesty, justice and wisdom as the primary virtues
The Toraja land is situated amidst mountainous surrounding, the natural scenery is admirable, although the biggest appeal of Toraja is its traditional ceremonies.
While Islam is deeply rooted among Bugis-Makasar people, the Christian religions have replaced animism among the dwellers of Toraja highland. However old beliefs called Aluk Todolo still remain. Aluk Todolo in the Toraja language means ritual for the ancestor whom considered in contact with their descendants lives. The construction of their traditional houses is characterized by ritual. The shape of the roof, which is like the paws of a sail boat seems to retain the memory of big boats that carried their ancestor-presumably from Indochina arround 2,500 years B.C.A. Buffalo is not just an animal to help their ploughs in the rice field, but also assumes a symbolical existence. It is the form of life to sacrifice in honoring their genealogical roots, specially if the buffalo of big size with long horn. The most exclusive one is that with skin (albino), the Torajan believe in the continuance of life after death. This gives them the reason to work and accumulate wealth so as to avoid difficulties in the hereafter. The buffalo and pigs are sacrificed to accompanied them later.

 Dive the clear waters, steep walls and world-class coral gardens of Bunaken Marine Park. Visit Bangka Strait for an encounter with whales, manta rays and other pelagics. Sail to the Sangihe Islands and dive in search of a sunken city, through walls of fishes or on an underwater volcano. Explore Lembeh Strait and discover its rare and unusual marine life and WWII shipwrecks. Whether you are a novice or an expert, we have the diving for you.
Visit the highland towns of Tomohon and Tondano. Clove and coconut plantations, rice paddies and flower gardens fill our highlands with the same beauty and serenity found in our smiling people. Visit a small pottery village and a Chinese Buddhist Temple. Pack a lunch and hike to a mountain waterfall. Enjoy a soak in one of our hot springs. Overnight at a cottage on Lake Tondano. Relax in the peaceful atmosphere and cool mountain air, far from the hustle and bustle of everyday life

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