Sulawesi in September

Old Jun 18th, 2009, 10:56 PM
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susncrg, I'm glad that Kungkungan is still as wonderful as I remember it. When my son was in school in Indonesia we dived there several times but I haven't been back recently.

What I liked best was the understated aesthetic of the resort itself as well as the profound natural beauty. I'm a neophyte diver and still enjoy snorkling a lot. Being able to walk in from the beach in front of my bungalow for both snorkling and SCUBA was phenomenal. There are dive sites within a few minutes boatride at all levels of expertise and there were always marine specialists -- biologists, photographers, travel writers -- who gave slide shows in the evenings.

Tangkoko is a few hours drive from Kungkungan. It makes an easy day trip -- or an overnight adventure.

I've only been to Toraja in May and August so I'm not sure if there's a rainy season. Because most of the European tourists come through in northern hemisphere summer, they tend to save up the funeral ceremonies until August. I know this sounds odd, but some of the deceased are preserved for years while the family accumlulates the requisite buffalos and pigs.

As I remember Toraja (or the main town Ranpao) is several hours drive from Makassar. I would think that it would be much much farther from Manado, or maybe not even accessible by road. As inquest said, flights are sometimes available but very unreliable.
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Old Jun 19th, 2009, 06:34 AM
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Narrrow roads from Tondano town leads to the lake & it encompasses it.The lake itself was beautiful.Villages along the shore.Most of them into fish farming.Hunger distracted me.Indicated to my guide that I have to appease my tummy as all my senses were focused it.
'Gofis'?'gofis'very very goood'said my guide.'Goood restora,this'he said,pointing to one on the shores of the lake.I nodded to everything he said.Entered the restaurant.Ushered in by a hostess.He excitedly spoke to her.She led us to a dining area buily on stilts over the water.Absolutely fantastic it was.As we walked the ramp/pier towards the tables,I noticed on either side were fish nets hung by poles where fish were farmed.My man took me to one of them & as excited as before again said 'Gofis'??.Right below me were a school of massive Goldfish swimming aroung.Horror.Panic.'No'.'Nooo way'I said.
I could only perceive it as an ornamental fish gracefully gliding around in an aquarium & cetrain not in a grilled form on my plate!!
I could sense a lot of disappointment in him.He seemed crestfallen.Cheered him up and invited him to help me pick a fish from another net,what looked like pomfrets swimming around.Safe I said to myself.
One of the boys,grabbed a long pole with the fish net at the end of it & walked along the support structure,picked a big fish out for me.Turned to me for acknowledgement.I visualizesd it grilled on my plate.I nodded.
He grabbed the fish,with one quick swing,hit it against the pole,killing it instantly.
I went over to the kitchen,asked permission to witness their culinary skills.Sauted onions & tomatos,herbs and a liberal garnishing of red hot peppers,my dish served with cooked water spinach & rice, looked irresistible.Gorged on it.Thanked the hostess.Time to move on.
The Minahasa cuisine is a fantastic,spicy a hell,tasty-feel you've died and gone to heaven!The details of the culinary expertise shall be descibed in detail latter.On our way to Lake Linow....to follow..
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Old Jun 19th, 2009, 07:31 AM
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Nothing you have written is irrelevant or overly elaborate. I want all the details!
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Old Jun 19th, 2009, 01:04 PM
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I'm loving it all!
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Old Jun 19th, 2009, 03:28 PM
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Inquest, your descriptions are great! And Marmot (excuse me for hijacking this once again) thanks. I remembered that they saved up the funerals in Toraja, but couldn't remember for when. Since our Manado flight usually has a stop in Ujang Padang (Makassar) we'd go from there. And yes KBR is still great. As diving is my passion, once you've dived in Indonesia, it's pretty much all over. If you get the chance to go again, by all means do.
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Old Jun 19th, 2009, 08:26 PM
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Thanks everyoneAs kathie suggested,I'll complete my story here, cut & paste it,tag it under a new head.I've found some fliers which has the 'latest info' on food,eating out,culture & costs in N.Sulawesi.Will post it in the end with web links.
A rather busy weekend.Kindly bear with me.Will be back on Monday to continue.
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Old Jun 20th, 2009, 08:26 AM
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Great! I'll look forward to more on Monday.
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Old Jun 21st, 2009, 11:57 PM
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What a wonderful way to beat the Monday morning blues!!Recalling & reliving a holiday.Beleive me,its quite a de-stresser.
Lake Linow is on the way back to Tomohon,from Tondano.Driving pass terraced fields,villages, mountainous terrain,the aircon,had a lulling effect,especially after a meal like that.I was dozing off.Eventually did,I think,got 40 winks.A bumpy road woke me up.A narrow mud road led to a valley.As we arrived at the gates of what looked like a private property,got the first glimpse of a greenish-blue body of water.There is an entrance fee (Approx IRp 10,000/- per pax).This included a hot cup of Mocca.There is a small cafeteria with a sit-out overlooking the lake.We took our table.The cloud cover opened out.The rays of sun seemed to light up the lake.It suddenly changed color in patches.The perfectly turquoise blue lake seemed to change to a streak rust red towards the middle & the far end.Eerily strange.
Coffee with some cookies.Spent about an hr,wandering around the lake.Hot water bubbling on the shores.Could never seem understand this marvel of nature.
Next stop.Ranopaso Hot Springs.A short drive,we stopped by a gate on the roadside.A small kiosk,selling knick-knacks,also doubled up as a toll.IRp 5000/- per person.Steps bring you to bubbling springs.Pores in the earth seemed to spew hot water.Hot enough to scald.The air was thick with the smell of rotten eggs.My guide insisted that I take a bath,claimed it would be therapeutic.All I had was a small hand-towel.Big enough,it just wrapped aorund my waist.Walked into a a small bathroom.Inside was a spout where the water from the man-made pool behind,fed it.The water was hot.Though not to the point of burning.A soak for 5min a I was out.The rest of the evening I was smelling of sulphur.
On our way to the Waruga.Located in Airmadidi is an ancient pre-historic cemetery....
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Old Jun 22nd, 2009, 03:13 AM
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As we pass the village of Sawangan,a narrow mud road leads to a stone archway.As we walk in,on either side are the 'Warugas' or stone sarcophagi.Square stone hollow structures where the dead,of the megalithic age are buried in a foetal sitting position.Mysterious drawings,geometrical motifs,scripts & animal figures are engraved on the tombs Buried along with the dead are plates, bowls, and the types of other ceramics articles,bracelets, necklaces & knives.All these are on display in a small museum in the same premises.
The caretaker opened up the shelf full of these.Pulled out some of the articles,inviting us to handle & examine them closely.We politely declined.This made me wonder as to how much could have been lost/stolen.What was the Dept of archeology doing.Ancient incalculable wealth, in the hands of an ignorant man!!
It was getting dark.Quite an adverture for one day.Decided to get back to our resort...
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Old Jun 23rd, 2009, 12:33 AM
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Early supper,out came my single malt on the porch.Downloaded all the pictures(including the backlog)on to my laptop.A review & off to bed.
The following day,decided to go to the traditional(jungle ) market in Tomohon.Heard a lot about it.A 5min walk from the resort brings you to the main road,that runs thru town.Local trans port is the 'Microlet', a small van,with a sliding door on the side.Its a hop-on-hop-off.Will stop anywhere required.Approx IRP 5000/- for 2km or more ride.While waiting of one a horse cart came by.Colorfully decorated.Thought it would be interesting to ride one into the market,bargained heavy with the driver & hopped on.
Onto side roads & bylanes,arrived at the the market place.Sacks of rice,fresh vegetables,red hot chillies,spices,condiments,rows & rows of them.Wandering in,we came across the meat stalls.On display were dogs in cages,bats neatly displayed,large bamboo rats,snake & wild pig.Dog meat for RW Cooking,Bat meat for Paniki cooking.
Should be able to stomach all this or my advise is simply dont go.
More than 90% of the population are christians,their dietary habits & culture are very different from the rest of Indo.Quite religious.One can see churches practically every 200m in large towns.Weddings are a lavish affair.More like the ones back home.Elaborate bridal gowns,grooms in designer suits often posing for a wedding photo outside the church is a common sight.
Fun loving too.They need no reason to party.
Wandered around town,traditional Minahasa lunch (read-no bats,cats,dogs or rats)in a small restaurant.Washed it down with local beer.
Decided to head to the Alam Spa at the Highland resort.Treated my self to a Aromatherapy & Traditional Balinese Massage.Dont recall most of it because I seemed to have dozed off mid way.
Gently woken up.Made my way back to my resort.
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Old Jun 24th, 2009, 12:21 AM
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A good cup of coffee was invigorating.Decided to go for swim.The pool.Almost olympic size,is a reasonable walk from the residential area.A buggy on request would transport you.I choose to walk.The winding metalled road takes you thru lovely,landscaped undulating topography.Gushing streams,rock gardens makes up a large part of this property.Actually at the base of Mt Lokon is this enormous infinity pool.the view is breath taking.A hr into swimming,reluctant to leave.The setting sun & a long walk back,prompted me to get out.
An evening of leisure.Talking to locals,their folklore,customs & lifestyle-time flew by.
The next day,back into town,wandering the streets of Tomohon.
A discount offer in an opticians show-window got me interested.On display were branded eyewear.You name it-Dolce & Gabbana ,Prada ,Gucci ,Christian Dior ,Ray Ban
Oakley ,Smith ,Chanel ,Versace???Well..well it said upto 50% off.A free eye check thrown in(& why not if you were paying for the brands).Over a hr in front of the mirror,Did'nt leave a single pair of specs out of sight.Realized the salesman's patience wearing thin.You see, my face is'nt exactly cutout for over 95% of what was available.The few that I thought suited me were exhorbitant.Mind you.I'm just looking out for a pair of reading glasses.D&G-original price tag Irp 15,50,000.I could'nt haggle now.The man across looked tired,I threw a 'be compassionate with me' look.Seemed to work.The original 25% off was corrected to 30% off!!Deal! I thought.
Paid up.
What followed was 'post purchase anxiety'.A sense of guilt.Did I really need it?Is it worth it?That much spent for as much as for reading?
The solution was simple.A large single malt & an hr in front of the mirror,back in resort soon had me gloating over my 'taste' for finer things.Did'nt take it off the rest of the evening.
My stay in Lokon Boutique Resort wa scoming to an end.
http://www.lokonresort.com/about_us.html
Next day..a cab to Manado...
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Old Jun 24th, 2009, 05:34 AM
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lol about your glasses experience.

This report is just great.
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Old Jun 25th, 2009, 11:31 PM
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Thanks Kathie,your encouragement is egging me on.Apologies.My busy schedule at work has delayed my 'arrival'at manado.It was just a 45min drive from Tomohon,down-hill.
I had booked in Minahasa hotel as I had grown fond of the place,friendly staff.Small & comfortable,minus the formalness of many a big hotel/resort.This time it was an upgrade from the superior to the President Suite.As I had mentioned earlier,the whole property is on the hill-side,the President suite (2 of them)is right on top.Well appointed,luxurious bathroom with added pizazz,elegantly furnished bedroom & to top it all,curtains drawn,you wake up to a grand view of the Manado bay.In front,a patio and a small pool( can call it infinity) with a sunk in bar.Though this pool is not exclusive (open to all the guests),there were hardly anyone using it.The only drawback was the climb there from the cottages below.This would be the base to check out the city.
I'm not fond of cities at all.I would avoid them if possible or just use them as transit points.This time around it was the same.As I didnt have a fixed plan from the begining,nor was I on a conducted tour,with a lot of time on hand,decided to keep Manado to the end.
Its is picturisque.Surrounded by mountain on one side & the blue sea on the other,basically a transit point to other destinations.A main Boulevard has all the trappings of other cities-Malls,restaurants,hotels and so on.My only interest her was to explore the culinary delights of Sulawesi.
Manadonese food fits into any budget depending on the place.Breakfast is usually 'Nasi Kunning ' or 'yellow rice'.This is rice cooked in coconut milk,some chopped garlic ,baby onions,lemon grass & saffron.Sprinkled over it is a dry indo condiment called 'Ambon'whose main ingredient is tuna,scrambled eggs & brown baby onions.
Some local terminologyeef-'daging',chicken-'ayam',fish-'ikan',Shrimp/prawn-udang,crab-kepiting,pork-'babi'.These constitute the integral part of all cooking.
One will never run out of choice-Roasted pork (sate babi), tinoransak (pork with hot spice), redbean soup, chicken in coconut milk (santan)
Abundant in fresh seafood like squid,prawn,crab & fish, either cooked,grilled or batter fried.It is served with raw chilly garnish called dabu dabu,made of little red chilly peppers,little red tomatoes,small purple onions & tangy,green skin fruit called 'Belimbing'& some white rice.
Some of the places I tried were Raja Satay on Jalan Pierre Tendean,down town Manado,on the boulevard.A choice of grilled meat or seafood served on small table top barbeques.A tastefully decorated with natural meterial like bamboo palm leaf & small fish ponds.Superb.
Sweet Basil,a bit out of town was good.Thai,Indo & Chinese was enjoyable.
Wander around,you'll find one every corner,one better than the other.Only requirement-Must be able to stomach the spice.
coming up....Spas & Resorts...
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Old Jun 26th, 2009, 12:08 PM
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The Presidential Suite, huh? Very good!
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Old Jul 10th, 2009, 12:45 AM
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There are a host of resorts.Some of these highend ones are out of town.One better than the other.You're spoilt for choice.
The few listed in the broucher-
Santika a sea-side resort.Tasik Ria-South of Manado is fantastic.Though did'nt stay,did do lunch there one day.
Kima Bajo Spa & Resort in Wori Bay.Fantastic.Upscale boutique property.An hrs drive,north of Manado.Dined there only. http://www.kimabajo.com/
Minahasa Lagoon Resort:http://www.minahasalagoon.com/
Sedona Hotel:http://www.siladen.com/main_uk.asp

The island resorts are-
Gangga Island resort;http://www.ganggaisland.com/
Siladen Island Resort & Spa,on the island of Siladen,in Bunaken National Marine Park :http://www.siladen.com/main_uk.asp

If one wishes to stay in town-
Minahasa Hotel,
Hotel Gran Puri:http://www.granpuri.com/
Ritzy Hotel: http://www.ritzymanado.com/
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Old Jul 22nd, 2009, 12:09 PM
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I've spent quite a bit of time in northern Sulawesi (flying in and out of Manado) and highly recommend the area. This is a relatively safe part of Indonesia, and very beautiful.

The most direct way there is the Silk Air flight from Singapore to Manado, though it doesn't fly every day.

If you want to get out of the heat, head up into the mountains to the town of Tomohon, which is absolutely beautiful, and quite cool.

Lokon Boutique Resort is a nice place to stay, overlooking the beautiful Lokon volcano. For those interested, here's a short video showing steam coming out of this volcano & the short hike to get there: http://vimeo.com/3968104

There's also Mahawu Crater, which is an even easier hike. Here's a panorama photo I took there: http://focus.tracinglight.com/photos/51/Mahawu_Crater/
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Old Aug 8th, 2015, 09:47 PM
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Just found this TR, and can only say thank you thank you THANK YOU! Great info and great fun to read.
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Old Aug 9th, 2015, 09:05 AM
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I think @inquest cut and pasted info on his/her visit into another thread to give us a separate trip report, but a thorough search didn't find it. So I have asked the mods to mark this as a trip report, as I want all of this valuable information to be readily available.

I still think about trying to get to Sulawesi one day...
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Old Aug 9th, 2015, 09:52 AM
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Thanks, Kathie -- it does sound wonderful, doesn't it?
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