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.

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