Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Jesus Bless Monument

You might think that since the majority of Indonesians are Muslims, other religions don’t have the chance to express their faith in art or in any other forms. Manado is one of the special case in Indonesia where the majority of its population are Christians, and instead of seeing mosques or musholla in every 5 meters you walk in the street, you will see mostly churches.

The Jesus Bless Monument (Monumen Yesus Memberkati) was built by Ciputra, a prominent real estate developer in Indonesia. The Jesus statue itself is modeled after the “Jesus Christ the Redeemer” in Corcovado in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, with 30 meters in height, and 20 meters for the statue’s pedestal. It is located 242 meters above sea level, overseeing Manado and the surrounding area.

According to my tour guide, it is the second largest Jesus statue in the world and the largest in Asia.

Boat in Bunaken

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Snorkeling in Liang Beach, Bunaken

As I mentioned earlier before, one of the main reasons for me to come to Manado was to visit the Bunaken National Marine Park. I wanted to get my diving license, but for one other reason I decided not to and traveled around North Sulawesi instead.

I did manage to have a day trip to Bunaken and snorkeled around Liang Beach area. The corals were white (I assume it's dead due to ocean acidification), but there were many fishes swimming around the area and you can feed them while you snorkel. The better looking corals were deep down, and you can basically see a wall filled with corals and other marine life ~ which actually prompted me to really get my diving license soon.

Sunset over Manado Bay

Tantalizing Treats in Manado

I've had the opportunity to travel around Manado and its surrounding area in North Sulawesi during the early week of May 2010 (after my quick trip to Wakatobi). The main reason for my trip to Manado was of course Bunaken, and the food. Oh, the glory of Manado/Minahasa food. Here's some that I ate at the Bumi Beringin restaurant in Manado, a colonial setting restaurant (almost Peranakan style I assume) which is located in a hill overlooking Manado Bay.

This is the Goropa Woku-woku, which is Goropa Fish cooked in a spicy sauce, and the Nasi Tustus, which is a kind of almost-burnt rice (Indonesians call it kerak nasi) with Cakalang Fish. Yum.

Bumi Beringin Restaurant
Location: Jl. Sam Ratulangi II No.9, Manado, Indonesia. Phone: (62) 431 853535/854747. Opening hours: Mon - Sun, 11:00 - 23:00.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sunshine and Rainy Day

Both pictures are taken on the beach of Patuno Resort. You can clearly see the difference between a sunny and a rainy day in the atmosphere.

Patuno Resort, Wakatobi

Would’ve loved to get around Wakatobi, but since I was only there for a day, I only made my trip to Patuno Resort, a relatively new four-star resort located in Wangi-wangi Island, approximately 5 km from Matahora Airport.

Three types of rooms: Standard (IDR 500,000/night), Deluxe (IDR 750,000/night) and Executive (IDR 1,000,000/night). The rooms are clean and fully air-conditioned, bathrooms are supposed to have hot water but apparently it didn’t work, but it’s clean nevertheless. Expect power outages to happen, because the island is having electrical problems as a whole.

Food is great. They have a select of local and western food, but don’t expect the western food too much, because they have a hard time with the ingredients stock - must be due to difficult logistics. I tried the Nasi Goreng Tomia and the Kakap Merah Goreng/Bakar. Price is mid-range.

The resort offers a range of recreational activities, i.e. diving, snorkeling, sightseeing, etc. A word of advice, don’t snorkel right away after you have lunch. An idiot tried to do that and gave the food that she ate to the fishes due to seasick. Yes, that idiot would be me.

Too bad the weather was very cloudy and rainy, otherwise the visibility of the corals would be perfect. Maybe next time I should prepare my visit by looking at the weather predictions beforehand. Well, I know it might not work - nobody can predict the weather nowadays but it’s worth a try.

The Patuno Resort is indeed expensive, since it is targeted for the mid-upper class range anyway. I was lucky that I stayed there for free, and if I do come to Wakatobi I’d rather go the budget range (read: my range). But the place is perfect for those of you who do want leisure and relaxation - plus, they have honeymoon packages! The area also doesn’t have any cellphone coverage - perfect for those of you who are indeed having their getaway (but not for those who needs to be on call 24/7).

Info: contact for resevation - Patapulo Makassar: (0411) 442021/440409, Patapulo Kendari: (0401) 330883/331082/3131883, Patapulo Wakatobi: 08114002221/085241806574 (with Ani).

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Getting to Wakatobi

Wakatobi is an acronym of the four main islands that consists it, which are Wangi-wangi, Kaledupa, Tomia and Binongko. Initially it was named Tukangbesi Islands, because of the people who lived in Binongko Island who are mainly blacksmiths (tukang besi in Bahasa Indonesia) by profession. Nowadays Wakatobi is famous for their underwater national park.

When I went to Wakatobi, I flew from Jakarta to Kendari (the capital city of Southeast Sulawesi province), arrived at Haluoleo Airport and then took a smaller plane to Matahora Airport (Wangi-wangi Island). Garuda Indonesia flies to Kendari daily from Jakarta with a stop in Makassar. Other airplanes fly to Kendari also, such as Merpati, Lion Air, Batavia Air, Sriwijaya Air, and Express Air. As of now, only Express Air flies to Wakatobi. You can also go by speed boat from Kendari with a transit to Bau-bau (5 hrs), travel by car to Lasalimu (2 hrs), then speed boat from Lasalimu to Wanci in Wangi-wangi (1 hr).

I was very excited when I flew over Wangi-wangi, and no longer than 30 minutes, I already arrived in Matahora Airport. Don’t be surprised by the very minimum facilities in the Airport, such as the manual labor baggage claim. Would love to go to Wakatobi again, because I only spent one night there. Maybe next time I’ll go by boat, for the added adventure. :)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Kendari-Wakatobi Trip, May 2010

I had the opportunity to accompany my college friend to do some work on local elections in South Konawe, Southeast Sulawesi in early May for three days. Since it was a short trip (and was on a very tight work-related schedule), I only went around to several places but managed to do some "scouting" if I were to visit Kendari and Wakatobi next time around.

Getting to Kendari: Garuda Indonesia flies to Kendari daily from Jakarta with a stop in Makassar. Other airplanes fly to Kendari also, such as Merpati, Lion Air, Batavia Air, Sriwijaya Air, and Express Air. You will arrive at Haluoleo Airport (which was then Wolter Monginsidi Airport), located in South Konawe regency (and apparently also in the air force compound), and it is approximately 30 minutes to Kendari. I'm not sure about the public transportation or taxi from the airport to the city, so better to arrange your airport pickup beforehand.

Where to stay: we were fortunate to stay in the better hotels in Kendari, which was Hotel Horison Kendari. It was relatively new, with clean and bright rooms with hot showers, and breakfast included with a choice of Western/Indonesian food. The only thing I find odd was that it was located near a shop-house compound (ruko) which was not common for a hotel location as far as I know. Also, if you are a non-smoker, the lobby doesn't have a strict no-smoking policy so be prepared to share the air with those nicotine addicts. When we went there, recently Swiss Belhotel also opened a hotel in Kendari, with a better location facing the mangroves of Kendari Bay. I assume the price range would be for middle class and up-market if not targeted for business purposes. There are cheaper options for accommodation but you need to look around for more.

Where to eat: Alamo seafood restaurant in Jl. Sultan Hasanuddin. President SBY, during his campaign for the 2009 Indonesian elections, ate at the restaurant (along with his Democrat entourage) so I assume it is pretty famous among the locals (or local politicians). Try the grilled kakap merah (red snapper), squid, and shrimps. They have the make-your-own sambal with fresh tomatoes, chilis, limes and peanut sauce (yes, peanut sauce!) to tantalize your grilled seafood. If you are very hungry then please be patient - they take quite a while so don't expect the service to be snappy.