Places of Interest on Pulau Wangiwangi
The island of Wangiwangi is actally quite nice for a little cycling. There are flat, hilly and mountainous areas and a good mix of roads. It's not a big island, so one can go around in a day. This is what I do. There's some nice beaches along the way and the occasional cave with a fresh water spring inside. In various places on the island new roads are being built, so by the time you read this, you should have some more road cycling options.
- Pasar Sentral (GPS PASWAN), the Wanci central market
- Wanci's main harbour (GPS WANCI), boats to Bau Bau depart here
- Mola Utara (GPS MOLAUT, about 1 km south of the main harbour)
The "northern jetty". Boats to Pulau Kaledupa depart at 9:00 am, the fare is Rp 30,000
- Taman Rekreasi Umum (TAMREK)
A public picnic site about 8 km north of Wanci. Some dilapidated wooden structures, access to the sea, lots of rubbish there.
- Junction somewhere on the island's east cost (GPS JUNC01)
This is the start of a new (two-lane) road across the island. It will connect the planned airport to Wanci
- Caves with freshwater springs inside (GPS MANDI3, MANDI4)
The Wangiwangi people have an above-average sense of business. I was told that they traded island produce (not necessarily that of their own island) directly with Singapore. The availability of used clothes and bicycle imports on Wanci markets is one obvious result of this trade. Then the amount of hotels and the plan of building an airport on the island point into the same direction. As you would expect, cell phones work in Wangiwangi.
Ambeua (Pulau Kaledupa) and Pulau Hoga
My boat to Kaledupa leaves the Mola Utara jetty in the morning of Mar-5. The fare is Rp 30,000 (includes my bike). Except for some rain, the trip is smooth. Having arrived at the Ambeua harbour, I take some photos of the ship wrecks (it appears they just leave them there until they dissolve). Then I do a quick ride around town and check out my options: Is there a boat to Hoga and what is the accommodation situation ? At the harbour, I am told that the public boat to Hoga has left while Kaledupa does not have guesthouses or hotels. However, several families rent out rooms if visitors ask for it. I'm a little bit lost at this point as I'm not aware how the system works. Luckily a motorcycle taxi rider (ojek) by the name of Ola (hp 081-543116284) gives me a thorough introduction.
There are 3 ways to organize a stay on Hoga:
I fit into the third category - and what would you expect - Ola's family owns a hut on Hoga, he has access to a boat and he will be happy to organize my stay. We plan this for the next morning, so I will spend the night on Kaledupa.
- Have an arrangement with Wallacea. Everything, starting from your arrival in Indonesia, is taken care of.
- Have an arrangement with Island Garden Resort. Everything, starting from Bau Bau, is taken care of.
- Go independently. From the Kaledupa police station, get a permit to visit Hoga (if you don't have a photocopy of your passport, visit Ambeua's "computer shop" first). Then find the owner of a hut (usually Kaledupa people, ask around). The owner will then find a boat, get the hut ready and carry over not only you and your gear but all your supplies (water, food, candles, oil, batteries, ..) for the planned number of days. Then he will walk you to the Wallacea office where you register (or get sent back if no permit from the Kaledupa police). The owner of the hut will then return. You will see him again on your planned departure day, when he will come and pick you up.
Ola reveals to me that Wallacea has a house in Ambeua for their own use. It is rarely used in the off-season (outside Jul-Sep) so that it is possible to rent a room there. This would be much nicer than renting a room from a family with lots of kids. On top of that the Wallacea building features a high-mounted cell phone antenna that I could use !
We go there and find the house locked with nobody around. It's a large wooden structure on stilts with a balcony running around 2 sides. While Ola gets the key, I have something to eat at nearby Kiosk Eva (GPS KIOEVA). Ola is back with the key, unlocks the door and shows me around the house. The building has 3 double rooms and 3 single rooms, all equipped with fan and electric light, kamar mandi and kitchen are shared. Electricity is available all night. The charge is Rp 30,000 per person and guests are expected to clean up when they leave.
Having sorted out the accommodation, I explore Kaledupa by bike. First to the northern end of the island. The road is narrow, steep and most of it in very bad condition. It passes gardens and patches of forest. Eventually I reach Sombano (GPS SOMBAN), a tidy little fishing village with a white sand beach.
I return to explore the southern part of the island: Buranga, Tanome, a waterfall (GPS WAFA7), Peropa, Bajam. The roads in this area of Kaledupa are better than the one to Sombano and the ride on the crater rim in Bajam area is fun. I make it back to the main road just after sunset and reach Ambeua well after nightfall. Another meal at Kiosk Eva, then back to the Wallacea building. I have been riding 35 km this day, so Kaledupa is not a big place. Ola comes around again and helps me draw my road map of Kaledupa island.
A word about cell phones: There's no cellular network on Kaledupa so that cell phones need to connect to the Wangiwangi network. This rarely works without a Yagi antenna mounted on a high pole. And this means that someone who has a cell phone can only be contacted when he is at home and when the phone is connected to the Yagi antenna. Consequently, SMS is a very popular way of communication.
Places of Interest on Kaledupa
- Ambeua harbour, Kaledupa (GPS AMBEUA)
- Small market in Ambeua (GPS PAS1)
- Wallacea's house / penginapan (GPS PENGWA)
- Kiosk Eva, the only source of bakso in town (GPS KIOEVA)
- Computer shop, does photocopies (nearby Kiosk Eva)
Then, Ola tells me some more facts about Hoga:
What makes a stay on Hoga difficult is the lack of fresh water. All wells on the island have semi-salty water that may be acceptable for a shower but not for drinking. Fresh water is brought over from Kaledupa and filtered on Hoga. Bottled water is an alternative.
Hoga has no shops, kiosks, warung, restaurants. Particularly outside the season when resorts are shut down and Wallacea operates with a minimum of staff, it's essential to plan ahead and bring enough supplies. It is still possible to get hot meals at the Wallacea center but should tell staff one day early.
Hoga is a small island with no cars, motorbikes, bicycles. There are foot paths in the south-western part of the island, but the rest of it can only be reached by walking along the beach (during low tide) or by boat.
There are about 150 huts on Hoga and these are mostly owned by Kaledupa people. Hut owners may rent out directly to visitors and provide water / food. Wallacea owns a few huts but may also rent out other huts and then compensate the owners.
Hoga is just 2 km from Ambeua / Kaledupa and half the distance is shallow water. Transport between the two islands is by small motorboat (called "Johnson"). The school boat goes at 6:00 am and 13:00 hours (returns rightaway, is based in Kaledupa) but there can be other boats going. The official fare for visitors is Rp 20,000 per head and trip.
The next morning (Mar-6), I get ready for the boat trip to Hoga. I bring some bottles of water, some fruits from the market and some bisquits for a 2-day stay. I plan on having 2 meals per day at the Wallacea center. Ola shows up and sends me to the harbour, where a Johnson with Ola's family soon arrives and picks me up. My bike goes on the boat, too. We stop over at Ola's house where we load fresh water and some tools, then head over to Hoga. Ola's hut is located a bit to the right (east) of the Wallacea headquarters and the official jetty. There's a small patch of sandy beach nearby for the boat to land. We unload everything and bring it to the hut, clean out the hut, fill the mandi with fresh water, and visit the Wallacea office to register me. At that time I'm not aware that I need a permit and that means a fast trip back to Kaledupa, a hop to the computer shop where I take a photocopy of my passport, then to the police office where I get the required paper rather quickly. The friendly police officer warns that there'd be a lot of theft now: In Kaledupa school children would be stealing comic books and sarongs, on Hoga valuables disappear while people are on the beach. Ola is not worried, because his hut has a cabinet that can be locked. We head back to the boat and back to Hoga, sort out the paperwork and I'm officially guest on Pulau Hoga.
My hut is in the southern part of the island, not far from the Wallacea office. This area is cluttered with huts of similar style, spaced about 50m apart and connected by neat, narrow footpaths (sealed !). Finding back one's hut can be difficult, particularly at night.
Probably not many people will do it, but riding a bicycle on these narrow paths with tight turns is tricky. There's a strong incentive to stay on the paths and not drop onto sharp-edged coral ground or into water-filled holes. Nevertheless, I use the bike to explore a bit. The network of sealed footpaths doesn't take me very far, in the east it ends near two government buildings (construction almost completed at the time when I'm there). The western end of the nice footpaths is the Wallacea center. A few short trails and the beach are the only other places where one can ride a bike. During the two days of my stay on the island, I will ride a total of 25 km.
To me, Hoga appears pretty much de-populated. A few people are repairing huts, one man is working on the jetty and there's some staff at the Wallacea center. I'm told there'd be another two tourists on the island, but they are already on their way out. From this afternoon, I will be the only foreigner on the island. From the Wallacea staff I learn that this will all change in a few days when the first students of the season arrive. During the high season (Jul-Sep) the island would be really crowded with about 1000 people, there would then be electricity to all the huts, a computer room at the Marine Research Station would open to students.
Hoga's big attraction is the sea life, so I ask about snorkeling and diving. Right there at the center, there's a dive operation that partners with Wallacea. It's the only such operation on Hoga. I'm interested in renting snorkeling gear (Rp 60,000 /day) and with me being the only tourist around, no problem finding my size of fins. A good place for both snorkeling and diving is at the jetty of the Wallacea center, where there's a steep dropoff with lots to see just a few meters from the beach. This is what makes Hoga so special.
Not being enough of an expert to compare the snorkeling experience at this site to other popular places around the world, I just say it is impressive (please refer to other people's underwater photos). After some time in the water, I go for a little walk along Hoga's west coast where I first find LaBaba Resort (none there) and then Island Garden Resort (I meet the caretaker).
The Island Garden Resort caretaker, the only person at the resort, tells me that he is slowly getting the resort in shape for the season and proudly advertises their kitchen which is so good that even Wallacea staff comes over in the evening. The resort belongs to a Dutch couple from Bau Bau / Buton, Hirte and Haji Kasim. Visitors who want to stay at the resort should contact Wolio Tour & Travel in Bau Bau, Jln Betombari 92 (fon +62-402-21189 or +62-402-24316 or +62-81-58195119). Just showing up at the resort is not recommended but will work out somehow if cell phone communication between Hoga and Bau Bau is possible.
Places of Interest on Pulau Hoga
The places on the west coast of the island are accessible either by footpath or by walking along the beach. Going further north to the fishing village is only possible along the beach during low tide, with an occassional climb over rocks between two sand beaches. One can walk on past the village and reach more nice beaches until rocks block the way. The area from the Wallacea center past the many huts and on to the government houses is nicely done with sealed footpaths, beyond the government houses there's no way to continue. To fully go around the island, a boat is needed.
- Wallacea center, Tukangbesi Diving operation, jetty = jembatan (GPS HOGA). This is where most people arrive.
- Well with slightly salty water = sumur mandi (GPS SUMMAN)
- LaBaBa Resort (GPS LABABA)
- Island Garden Resort (GPS ISLGDN)
- Fishing village = kampung (GPS HOGAKG)
- Area with lots of huts = pondok tamu (GPS PONDOK)
- Large government houses (GPS PEMERI)
Back to the Wallacea center, I learn some more facts about the island and the way it is managed: Wallacea has worked out rules that make sure the activities in the area are a win-win situation for locals, for the government, for visitors, for the environment and for them.
For example, visitors have to respect certain rules (behaviour, dress) as not to do damage to the environment, offend locals or reflect badly on the organization - individuals that don't follow can be expelled / students sent back. Not as bad as you think - have a beer, but no excessive consumption of alcohol with noisy partying. As a female, no going topless.
Then, prices for a number of services have been fixed to avoid destructive competition.
As a compensation for the local communities' cooperation (a lot of student projects involve visits to villages and interaction with locals), a part of the income must be used to fund projects for the benefit of these communities.
From the many words of praise I've heard from various Indonesian people throughout the area, I believe Wallacea is doing a great job at whatever they do.
Prices on Pulau Hoga (Mar-2008)
The nearest ATM is at Bau Bau, bring enough cash !
When I ask about the two large wooden government buildings that I have spotted earlier, I'm told that these are meant to become tourist accommodation. They are not going to be luxury hotels, just a little more comfortable than the many huts that exist now. No AC rooms planned, possibly fan. The buildings have their own restaurant and generator. They will be managed by Wallacea in the same way everything else on Hoga is managed: Local people are strongly involved and great care is taken that it's a win-win situation for everyone.
- Transport b/w Hoga and Kaledupa on any boat: Rp 20,000 per head - payable to boatman
- Motor boat rental for a trip b/w Hoga and Kaledupa: Rp 30,000 per boat - payable to boatman
- Hut rental: Rp 50,000 per night and hut - payable to hut owner or to Wallacea office
- Meals: Rp 60,000 per head for breakfast and dinner - payable to Wallacea office
- Rental of snorkeling gear: Rp 60,000 per day and set - payable to Wallacea office
I ask why tourism on an island organized so nicely has to be limited to the rather short student season, but there's no real answer. Actually, everyone would be happy to have visitors all year round, would be happy to build more huts for them, but they are not coming. Possibly a lack in advertising ? Or is it the remoteness of Hoga that keeps people away ? There's no plan of building luxury-facilities on the island, as this segment is already covered by Wakatobi Dive Resort on nearby Pulau Onemobaa. The typical Hoga visitor likes it simple and is a seasonal visitor.
So far, I have not met a single English speaking person on Hoga. I really wonder how the students get along, do they all speak Bahasa ? Well, it is the lecturers who have come to Hoga before and who all speak Bahasa. They communicate to their students in English. When a project involves visits to local communities, an interpreter accompanies a student.
I have ordered dinner and breakfast for the time of my stay (Rp 150,000 / 4 meals) earlier. In the evening I go (actually ride) to the Wallacea canteen to take my meal. There I get to know Hoga's mosquitos. It's lots of them and they quickly come to the point. I use repellent plentiful which brings a little improvement, not a lasting one though. Kitchen staff is joking: No mosquitos in the high season, as the many tourists drive them away. The Indonesia-style dinner is plentiful and tasty, surely beats anything I've had in the past days. It does include rice and fish (barracuda), what do you expect. To get out of the mosquitos' way, I take my plate and glass to a hut on the nearby beach. It seems to have been built for that purpose and I'm not the only one to have dinner there. Soon I discover the second purpose of this hut: My cell phone locks into the Wangiwangi network - all without an external aerial !
Due to the absence of electricity and the abundance of mosquitos, I don't stay up that very long. Luckily the bed in my hut is equipped with a mosquito net. I fall asleep to the distant sound of Kubota boat engines and a generator - and soon wake up again from the sound of a rodent that appears to be after my bisquits. The bag of bisquits is safely suspended from the roof timbers but that rodent keeps on coming back and trying for hours. I just wish there'd be more tourists to serve as alternative targets for rodents and mosquitos.
Next morning I enjoy a solid breakfast at the canteen, then cycle north along the west coast beach up to the small fishing village. There's a few thatched roof huts and some racks used for drying seaweed (to make agar agar). No kiosk there, but I believe if one were stranded on Hoga with all other places shut down, then one could find some basic food and a boat to Kaledupa in this village.
This day I do some snorkeling, explore the interior of Hoga (don't get very far), some more snorkeling, then some reading, until it's time for dinner. Three more visitors have arrived on Hoga and I meet them at the canteen. They have come from Pulau Weh / Aceh, a top diving site at the northern tip of Sumatera. They judge Hoga to be excellent and they plan to travel on to Bunaken to see if this could be even better.
For the non-diver that I am, activities are limited on Hoga. The next morning (Mar-8), Ola comes over with the boat as planned. By noon we've moved everything into the boat, completed the paperwork at the Wallacea center, sailed back to Kaledupa and had some rice and fish at Ola's house. The boat back to Wanci is leaving at 5:30 the next morning, I will spend the coming night at Wallacea's house in Ambeua.
The afternoon I'm crusing Kaledupa with the result that a mudgard bracket on my bike cracks. This way I get a chance to give business to an arc welding workshop. The boy comments "Oh, the bad roads". I remove the broken bracket from the bike and he starts a large Kubota engine that powers a large generator. This attracts quite a few spectators. Then he gets going on my bracket - barefoot as he is, wearing but shorts, no eye protection ! He does an excellent job, the bracket is not just restored but reinforced. It doesn't break again for the rest of my trip.
My dinner is again bakso at Kiosk Eva (have been looking forward to this, they are home made meat balls). Later I enjoy a rest on the balcony of the Wallacea building and listen to the sounds of the evening until Ola comes around and we chat for a while.
Back from Ambeua (Pulau Kaledupa) via Wanci (Pulau Wangiwangi) to Bau Bau (Pulau Buton)
I'm at the Ambeua jetty early on Sunday morning Mar-9, in time for the 5:30 boat to Wanci. Ola shows up as well and I say goodbye and thank him for all the information and help. My bike goes on the boat, and this time the fare is Rp 25,000. They still call this size of boat a "Johnson". The trip that follows is smooth and the boat reaches Wanci at 7am.
With my connecting boat to Bau Bau leaving in the evening (the night boat with the many berths), I rent a room at the Penginapan Nirmala where I wash and rest. Later I ride around town, have something to eat.
At one of the Wanci shops, the owner tells me he would be going to Wanci this evening though not on the public boat - no, never ever. Hogo, that's his name, knows a cheaper, faster, safer and more comfortable vessel. It's a wooden ship by the name of Handayani. Beyond the cargo, it takes a limited number of passengers. The public boat is supposed to be fine in calm weather but really awkward when there's wind and waves. He'd rather trust the Handayani with its size and two large Mitsubishi engines. She leaves from the harbour (GPS WANCI) at 17:00 and it's best to be there at 16:00. I like the idea of this alternative transport option and check it out rightaway. Compared to the large Pelni ships, this one is closer to a boat. Yes, there's space for me and my bike and the fare is Rp 50,000 (vs Rp 80,000 for a berth on the public boat). The scheduled arrival time at Bau Bau is 5:00 am on the next day, Monday morning. I take note that the Handayani returns to Wanci on Monday evening, leaving Bau Bau (jembatan batu) at 17:00 (be there at 16:00).
Another 3 hours in and around Wanci, then I'm back to the jetty with all my stuff. Hogo is already there and the Handayani is still being loaded with all sorts of goods. My bicycle gets towed on deck and I get out of the way, onto the upper deck at the stern and from there onto the roof. This is a good place to take photos of the harbour life. I witness a group of children who play water games in the shallow harbour basin - according to one passenger it's a school class, using the harbour as a gym.
Meanwhile, more and more goods are being carried into the belly of the ship, men sit together and bargain about the freight charges until large stacks of money change the owner and we eventually get going.
It's just after 18:00 when we depart from Wanci. In order to save fuel and minimize engine wear, the captain runs the Handayani at a moderate 15 km/h - still fast enough to arrive in the early morning. The sun sets quickly - in an hour it's all dark. I continue to stay atop the roof with several other men. At times I find the ship is rolling quite a bit but I'm assured this is still considered a smooth ride. The starry sky looks great that night, haven't seen stars that bright and plentiful for a long time. Hands pass plates up to the men on the roof. One is for me, seems the fare includes dinner. I can't see much in the dark but I'm pretty sure there's rice, fish and some sambal on that plate. The other men start eating with their hands, so I also take the challenge. I manage to avoid most of the sambal and the fish bones. Due to the dark and the rolling of the ship, none can see / pays attention to the fact that I'm rather untrained in eating rice with hands. Looking back at 2008, this has been my most challenging dinner that year.
After dinner, the weather is going more windy and it's time to clear the roof. Most passengers are trying to sleep, ladies and children in the cabin behind the bridge, men on the upper deck, the fore deck, the lower deck. I catch some sleep on the fore deck, until rain starts and everyone moves either to the cabin or the lower deck. Soon rainwater washes over the floor so that most folks end up sitting on their sandals or some other object that keeps their back dry. When the rain stops, we have reached Buton island and follow along the shore. Sitting on deck around my GPS, the men discuss which places we are passing and what the various lights on the shore are. At 5am, we eventually pull into the Bau Bau harbour. Too early for any business, everyone enjoys another 2 hours of sleep.
Bau Bau (Pulau Buton) again
It's 7:00 am on Monday, Mar-10. I walk into Bau Bau together with Hogo who has turned out as someone who never stops talking. His mission is finding new, exciting goods that he can sell in his shop im Wanci. He intends to stay at Losmen Wangi Wangi, the cheapest place in town. Staying at Penginapan Wolio looks like a good plan to get rid of him but he comes up with the idea of sharing one of the rooms there. We both go to the Wolio and check out my proposed accommodation. The place is booked out, though. Eventually Hogo stays at Losmen Wangi Wangi, we exchange cell phone numbers and separate. I'm right back to Penginapan Wolio and sure there's a room for me ;)
In the past days I have heard a lot of good things about a lady by the name of Hirte, a western lady who runs various tourist operations, together with her partner Haji Kasim. Their company is called Wolio Tour & Travel (details under Bau Bau Places of Interest). I want to get an update on anything tourism in the area, so I make an appointment and meet her at her office = home. I find out that she runs the Hillhouse Resort (Villa) and the Penginapan Wolio in Bau Bau plus the Island Garden Resort on Pulau Hoga. At this time, a new resort in Kg Bali is being built, "Bendungan Karin Karin". When completed in Jun 2009, it will have 10 houses and a swimming pool.
Food in Bau Bau is nice, particularly when having spent a few days in smaller places. I enjoy some bowls of my favourite food, Bakso.
Having limited time available for this trip, I have to slowly get moving into the direction of Manado. The closest airports are Bau Bau (Merpati on Sunday and Tuesday at 12:30 or Friday at 9:30 am, Rp 627,000) and Kendari. I hear that luggage the size of a mountainbike might not go on the small planes that fly out of Bau Bau, so I plan to return to Kendari by boat and bicycle. My intention is to cross from Bau Bau to southern Muna, cycle to Raha, then catch a boat to Kendari.
Pulau Muna, Raha
Next morning, the ferry between Bau Bau and Waara takes me to Muna Island. It has its own jetty, less than 1 km east of the main harbour (GPS BATULO). On the ferry, a small kiosk is selling noodle soup and snacks. The lower deck is crowded with vehicles, the trip is short and unspectacluar.
From Waara on the south-eastern tip of Muna, I start riding at 8am. A good and hilly road takes me north. It passes near Pantai Madongka, a popular beach. From the mainroad to the beach and back it's a 10 km detour. Pantai Madongka has white sand and is real long and lazy. None there, except a few villagers and cows. Quite a bit of rubbish gets washed ashore, see the photo of the typical mix: Coconuts, plastic cups, plastic bags, worn-down flip-flops, pieces of flip flops (used to float fishing nets), pieces of styrofoam (also used to float fishing nets), dissolving sneakers, driftwood, ends of fishing line and string. There's a public mandi near the beach, very convenient after swimming in the sea.
It's fast riding as the road is mostly good. In Lakudo, there's a rumah makan. Next are Lombe (turn-off), Wakuru, Wakumoro, Kabawo (turn-off), Lailangga (turn-off), Lawa (turn-off), Lagadi (turn-off), Kontunaga (turn-off) until I reach Raha. There's few and misleading signs, I often ask for directions. This is not the road that I've planned to go - the 2008 Nelles map suggests that an alternative road further east is wider, but I'm told this is outdated. Indeed there is a road further east and it passes Napabale as shown on my map. But that road is in a rather bad condition and not used much now.
When I reach Raha at 5pm, I've done a total of 112 km (including the 10 km detour to Pantai Madongka). Overall it was a smooth ride: A few harmless hills and a good road, except for the last 20 km that were cracked asphalt with tons of potholes.
Having arrived at Raha, I rightaway check out the accommodation situation:
Raha Accommodation (Mar-2008)
That was a bit of a survey job. When I retreat to my hotel room (Garuda) that night, I've cycled a total of 141 km and deserve some rest. Still, at 21:30, there's a knock at my door. It's the police (wearing plain clothes) and they ask for a copy of my visa. They apparently doubt that I'm a tourist. Or maybe they suspect something else ? Well, I'm alone in my room.
- Hotel Rambutan (GPS RAMBUT)
7 AC rooms with attached mandi and TV at Rp 110,000
- Losmen Tani (GPS TANI)
2 AC rooms with attached mandi and TV at Rp 85,000
9 fan rooms with attached mandi at Rp 50,000
Spacious but could be a bit cleaner
- Hotel Alia (GPS ALIA)
15 AC + fan rooms with attached mandi and TV
If AC and TV are unlocked, pay Rp 125,000. Without just Rp 65,000
- Je'Ne Berang Hotel (GPS JENEBE)
6 AC rooms with attached mandi and TV at Rp 110,000
2 fan rooms with attached mandi and TV at Rp 80,000
Seafront loaction, new.
- Hotel Tiga Dara (GPS 3DARA)
11 AC rooms with attached mandi and TV at Rp 150,000 or 130,000
1 fan room with attached manid and TV at Rp 70,000
Indonesian breakfast included
- Hotel Berlia (GPS BERLIA)
21 AC rooms with attached mandi in the range of Rp 150,000 .. 450,000
Indonesian breakfast included
- Hotel Adi (GPS ADI) - not yet open at the time of writing
- Hotel Garuda (GPS GARUDA) - my choice
7 AC rooms with attached mandi and TV at Rp 130,000
1 fan room with attached mandi and TV at Rp 70,000
3 fan rooms with attached mandi at Rp 60,000
Indonesian breakfast included, spacious layout, partially nicely decorated
- Muna Indah (GPS MUNAIN)
5 fan rooms with attached mandi at Rp 60,000
Average, free tea, noisy music shop nearby (quiet from 11pm)
- Hotel Napabale (GPS HOTNAP)
3 AC rooms with attached mandi and TV at Rp 100,000
6 fan rooms with attached mandi and TV at Rp 75,000
6 fan rooms with shared mandi at Rp 65,000 (1 person) / 75,000 (2 pers) / 85,000 (3 pers)
Breakfast (roti / bread) included. The place could be cleaner.
I have to think about Raha. Somehow this place is different, the people too. I've noticed it on the road to Raha already, people are noisy and more often than elsewhere I hear the obligatory "hello mister" - "thank you" - "fuck you" - "how are you" - "what is your name". The drivers on the road are on the aggressive side, particularly those driving shiny new vehicles. Judging from the sports facilities available (stadiums and huge pools for rowing competition), the Rahans must exercise a lot. And they need space, a lot of it. The extremely spacious layout of Raha makes it necessary to have a vehicle for virtually any errand.
Raha Vicinity Places of Interest
Next day starts with a hotel breakfast, some trip planning, then lunch before I get going to Teluk Napabale / Pantai Napabale. This is a recreational area on the coast south of Raha. It's located 15 km from the center of Raha and the cracked asphalt road is hilly. On the way, I pass Lohia (GPS LOHIA, turn left there) and GPS 2NAPAB. The car park at Napabale (GPS NAPABA) is surrounded by warungs that are all closed. Apparently this is a weekend operation and today it's Wednesday. Apart from me there are just two local tourists, plus several workers. The workers deal with lots of rubbish and do various repairs. I explore a bit. The water right at the bottom of the stairs seems not to be connected to the sea and this is what the people say. No, this is not Teluk Napabale yet. To get there, I need a boat that takes me to the other side of that body of water, go ashore, follow a trail over a hill, until I finally reach Teluk Napabale (GPS NAPATK). I go there with another visitor and some local children. The swimming is indeed very good. The fare for the boat seems to be highly variable (I pay Rp 25,000).
- Tempat Mandi Jompi (GPS JOMPI, turnoff from main road at 2JOMPI)
A hydroelectric power plant with space for swimming. Not far from Hotel Rambutan
- Teluk Napabale, recreational area, bay for swimming (GPS NAPABA)
- Pantai Meleura, good bay for swimming, near Teluk Napabale (GPS MELEUR)
At Napabale, I hear about a place called "Pantai Meleura". Not exactly a beach as we know it, because there is no beach. Still there is sand under the surface of the water and the bay makes for good swimming. The place is 8 km away, too close to miss it. Though not far, the hills on the last kilometer are steep and tough. When I arrive, it has gotten late so I rush to take photos while good daylight lasts. Near the water there's a large rock with stairs up to a viewpoint, just perfect for my photo session. Half the village's kids follow me up and down again.
On my way out from Pantai Meleura, I do a little detour to a freshwater lake (GPS MANDI7, when coming from Meleura turn left at the junction after the steep hills). It's a scenic lake in the forest, well-visited by locals who do their washing and bathing. The rubbish top runners are washing powder and shampoo sachets, floating in the water. I enjoy my last swim of the day before I hit the road and pedal back to Raha.
As I'm coming into Raha from the south, I pass near "Tempat Mandi Jompi" (GPS JOMPI). It's at the end of a residential area and not far from Hotel Rambutan. The hydroelectric power plant has a little recreational area nearby and some place to swim or wash a motorbike. I reach there after nightfall, record a GPS waypoint, have a short rest and move on to Raha center. It was a 73 km day.
Dinner is warung food and Saraba, a hot drink made from tea, ginger, sugar and milk. At the warung I meet a group of Rahans who recommend I visit a place called "Pantai Bajala" in the west of Muna. This sand beach boasts three different colors of sand: Red, white and brown. Pantai Bajala is a 1.5h car trip from Raha. This time I'm not going to visit it, though.
From Raha to Kendari
My boat to Kendari is going at 9:00 am on Mar-13. This leaves some time for a visit to the market, where I find a cobbler to mend my bags and re-glue my Teva slippers (no chance to find size 43 quality replacements in Raha). I'm back to the harbour in time for the MV Sagori Ekspress. The ticket to Kendari is Rp 76,000.
Both the MV Super Jet and the MV Sagori Ekspress depart from Raha at 9:00 am. The Super Jet is sceduled to arrive at Kendari at 15:00, the Sagori Ekspress at 12:30 hours. Traveling on the Sagori Ekspres at 43 km/h + consistently, I see the Super Jet disappear on the horizon.
Having reached Kendari and checked-in at Hotel Cendrawasih, I feel like cycling a bit. Kambu Waterfall looks like a good destination. I first ride south around the bay to the University of Kendari where I check out the nice university park and ask for directions to the waterfall.
Meanwhile I know it's not necessary to go to the university first, the direct way to Air Jatuh Kambu is this (16 km from the Cendrawasih Hotel):
Go around the bay anti-clockwise, past Kubra Hotel, left at the next roundabout, follow the road until "simpang tiga" where you turn right onto Jln Malakka. From "simpang tiga", follow Jln Malakka for 8 km straight (road becomes neglected after the police HQ, little traffic then). As you go, look out for a bridge with a mosque right after (left side of the road). Between the bridge and the mosque, turn left onto an unpaved, small road. This point is marked GPS 2WAFA8. Follow the road up to a dam (GPS DAM1) and from there to a man-made reservoir. There are stairs, go up (by now there are two local kids with me, showing me the way). Follow the trail / the water pipe until the path descents to the stream (left side). Walk upstream in the water until you reach the waterfall (GPS WAFA8). From the stairs, this is a 15 min walk.
Though it's the end of the rainy season, there is little water when I visit. My guides say it's a lot more when there's rain. Rain or no rain, Kambu waterfall is nothing spectacular: One tier, a small pool at the bottom, nice forest around it. Still a good destination for a half-day trip. As we return from the waterfall to the mainroad, I notice the kids' bicycles have working brakes and gears and when I mention it, they feel proud. Having arrived at the mainroad, we talk about playgrounds until dusk settles in.
The ride back to Kendari is smooth. Once back, I enjoy dinner in the area with all the seafood warung. At the hotel, I have the receptionist call me an airport taxi (Rp 90,000) for the next morning. Sleep, pack my stuff, check out, taxi is there, bike goes on the taxi, and I'm on my way to the Kendari airport. I keep an eye open for hotels on the road, not willing to believe there's nothing in the vicinity of the airport. I notice a hotel about 15 km from the airport and a resort about 10 km away. Next time I'm around, I will explore some more.
My taxi arrives at the airport well in time, virtually no traffic. Lion Air takes my bike without complaint and the flight to Manado feels exceptionally comfortable after all the land and sea transport of the past weeks. The air ticket is Rp 1,010,000 (KDI-UPG-MDC). The second leg of the journey is double safe with the safety card being supplemented by a prayer card (entering a Christian area).
I'm riding into Manado from the Airport on Friday, Mar-14. Feels that Manado has gone a lot more busy since my last visit, I ride through dense traffic. As I go, I survey the hotels that I come across:
Manado Accommodation (Mar-2008)
Eventually I check into Hotel Minahasa - because I like the hillside location with a pool on top. It's not cheap but what the heck, these are my last two nights in Indonesia. Foodwise, Manado beats any other place I've been during this trip. I fill my stomach and eventually end the day with a night-swim in the hotel pool, enjoying the great view over Manado.
- Hotel Vina Transit (GPS VINA) - the closest place to the airport, just 1.5 km from the terminal
36 AC rooms ranging from Rp 160,000 to 205,000
4 fan rooms at Rp 97,500
Breakfast inclusive (nasi or roti)
- Hotel Siladen (GPS SILADE) - 12 km from the airport
7 VIP rooms: AC, attached bathroom, TV at Rp 70,000 to 100,000
12 Standard rooms: Fan and attached bathroom at Rp 50,000
No breakfast, facility is old and could need some paint, beds are clean. Not the best value.
- Hotel Kawanua (Jln Sudirman 125, GPS KAWANU)
25 AC rooms with attached bathroom, hot water, TV at Rp 120,000 to Rp 150,000
Indonesian breakfast, Toyota Kijang for rent (Rp 450,000 per day, includes driver and gas)
Airport drop is Rp 70,000 for guests and non-guests
- Hotel Celebes (GPS CELEBE) - one of the top places in Manado
A total of 75 rooms:
Fan at Rp 60,000 to Rp 100,000
Fan, attached bathroom at Rp 100,000 to 350,000
AC, attached bathroom at Rp 125,000 to Rp 350,000
Breakfast inclusive, add 10% tax
- Hotel Minahasa (GPS MINAHA) - my choice because of the great pool
5 Standard rooms: AC, attached bathroom, hot water at Rp 150,000 to Rp 181,500
25 Superior rooms: AC, attached bathroom, hot water, TV at Rp 235,000
Several new suites are being constructed on the very top
Breakfast and coffee time inclusive, add 21% tax and service
Swimming pool with a superb view of Manado, open from 6 am to 8 pm
The pool is small but supplemented with a jacuzzi, a shallow pool for small kids, a bar
A gym is just next to the pool
If not staying at the hotel, it's possible to buy either a single entry to the pool (Rp 18,150)
or a one-month membership (Rp 100,000)
Van for rent (Rp 500,000 per day, includes driver and gas)
From the hotel it is 17 km to the airport, takes 30..45 min depending on traffic
- Galaxy Hotel (central location, GPS GALAXY, call 0431-863388)
29 AC rooms with attached bathroom and hot water at Rp 150,000 to 350,000
Indonesian breakfast inclusive, add 10% tax.
The hotel is fairly new, has been opened in yr 2006
The building also hosts a cafe and conference rooms
Various cars are for rent, starting at Rp 350,000 inclusive driver and gas
Next day is shopping. In the morning, I ride south to Pasar Karambasan (GPS KARAMB) to find some spices. It's a big market and if it comes to food, the oddest things are for sale there. This makes it a great place for taking offending photos (not showing them here). Karambasan also has a large bus station.
- Manado International Airport (GPS MANADO)
- Pasar Karambasan (GPS KARAMB) - large market in the south of Manado
- Boulevard Mall (GPS BOULEV)
- Manado Town Square with Rimo Department Store (GPS RIMO)
- Megamall with Matahari Department Store (GPS MEGAMA)
- Rumah Makan Mie Pangsit 99 (GPS PANG99) - nice Chinese food, nice drinks, all cheap
- Nusantara Diving Center (GPS NUSDIV)
A big place, located north of Manado, 30 min from the airport. Suites rent out at USD 71 .. 170 and car rental is possible.
The main focus is of course diving and the good places are accessed by boat from the resort.
- Barracuda Diving Resort (just north of Nusantara Diving Center, GPS BARDIV)
- Pantai Molas (GPS PMOLAS) - small black sand beach north of Manado
My next target are the malls. Most of them are built along the sea and the gap between them is filled with smaller businesses. They are the typical Indonesian malls that host department stores, popular fast food chains, boutiques, consumer electronics & IT vendors, arcades and super markets. Several of the shops that exists in the business area between the malls do have branches inside one or more malls. These branches have not as much of a selection, so when I look for my size in slippers, I have to look outside the malls.
In the afternoon I visit Pantai Molas (GPS PMOLAS), the beach closest to Manado. It's roughly 10 km north of the city and the turnoff to the beach (GPS 2MOLAS) is hard to find. Pantai Molas is a small black sand beach that doesn't look too attractive and has no tourist facilities. Fishing villages are nearby. The water is shallow and I walk in far to be able to swim. The beach is surprisingly clean for being so close to Manado. Pantai Molas for sure can't compete with the beaches on the islands north of Manado.
Just south of Pantai Molas there are two dive operations, Nusantara Diving Center and the smaller Barracuda Diving Resort.
Another note on diving: During my stay in Manado, I hear of a dutch guy by the name of Max Ammer, the founder of Papua Diving. He operates in the Raja Ampat area (Pulau Gam, Waigeo, Batanta) where the world's best diving is said to be found. Max is a tough guy with excellent local relations, clearing any problem that competitors fail to overcome. His operation has been around for years and is going strong.
My flight out of Indonesia is next day. Again dense traffic on the road to the Manado airport. I make it just before a downpour starts. At the check-in, no problem with the bike an the excess baggage that I bring. Soon I'm sitting in the departure lounge waiting for the immigration counter to open. Meanwhile I have a go at the bag of rambutan that I have bought on the way to the airport. As I eat the fruits, ants start to appear and they seem to become more and more as I eat more fruits. Strange - when I bought them I had made sure there are no ants. I take the fruits into the washroom and carefully wash them. Back at the waiting hall, in spite of the wash, my snack turns into a little disaster with ants on the floor, over my hands and arms. Luckily, there's no people sitting around me and no cameras either. I speed up and try to contain the ants in the plastic bag with the fruits. When I'm through, I tie the bag close and dispose of it in the nearest bin, then hurry to the washroom. I return and take a seat at the other end of the hall, pretending to be busy with my cell phone. I think it all went unnoticed. Eventually the immigration officer opens the counter, clears the few passengers and I can proceed to my gate with a feeling of releave, leaving the ants behind. I imagine what would have happened if these ants had come aboard and made it into Singapore !
Singapore to Frankfurt
I arrive on MI273 in the evening of Mar-17. As always, Changi Airport appears to be clean, tidy and new. But is it really ? I check that my feet are clean, then walk barefoot from Terminal 2 to Terminal 1 to Terminal 3 - and voila, no black feet, indeed a very clean place !
In order to kill the time until my flight to Frankfurt leaves, I seek out the open air swimming pool of the Ambassador Transit Hotel (Terminal 1). As a non-guest I'm allowed to use the facility for a fee of SGD 14, payable by cash or credit card. The fee covers a towel and a drink at the pool bar. I spend some relaxing hours, so much better than hanging around the terminals and shops.
Finally I leave on SQ26 and several hours later arrive in Frankfurt without any incident. Only as I pick up my bike, I notice that it has suffered again from the transport. Looks like they put bikes on conveyor belts instead of pushing them by hand. Well, it doesn't matter. I'm back to Germany where bicycle parts are widely available.
Cell phones in remote places of Indonesia
- The unit needs to be dual band, my old one brought from Germany works nicely
- Locals know which network works best
- The phone should have good reception properties as the conditions in remote areas are often difficult
- An antenna connector and an adapter that accepts a naked center wire is useful for connecting the phone to a yagi antenna. This is necessary in areas where the network is weak. No need to bring the yagi, just ask to use one that is installed
- Noise isolation earbuds are generally a useful item. Indonesia can be a very noisy place
- A phone that runs off standard batteries is useful, so that batteries can be charged in a standard charger without leaving the phone unattended. The place where there's a working power outlet is not necessarily a room that can be safely locked
Some Indonesian words that were not in my dictionary
air manis = fresh water
bedak = traditional skin protection cosmetic, similar though not the same as Burmese Tanaka
biawak = monitor lizard
dayung sampan = to row a boat
gelombang = wave
jembatan = bridge, jetty
johnson = prahu pakai mesin = small and medium-sized motor boat
kapal = ship
sampan = small boat without motor
sosis = sausage
tujuan = purpose, destination
menyelam = to dive, to snorkel
sumur (mandi) = well (for washing/bathing, not for drinking)
Stuff I should have left at home
- Aluminium water bottle (plastic ones are less sensitive to dents, less heavy and widely available)
- Most pages from my guidebook
- Small brush
Stuff I wished I had brought
- Second pair of slippers
- Spare bicycle computer
- One more quality plastic bag
- Small plastic container to put soap inside
Stuff that broke on my mountain bike
- Mudguards - due to improper handling at Frankfurt / Germany
- Bicycle computer sensor - due to improper handling at Frankfurt / Germany
- Mudguard bracket - combination of bad roads and weak design
- Drivetrain / gears - the 9-speed Shimano Deore malfunctioned due to dirt and rapid wear
- Rear brake - the brake cable of the V-brake got stuck and had to be replaced, reason unknown
- Rear shifter - due to improper handling at Frankfurt / Germany
- Luggage rack - Tubus Cargo tube crushed due to improper handling at Frankfurt / Germany
- A single puncture of the front tire throughout the whole trip
Checking-in a bicycle at Frankfurt Rhein-Main Airport / Germany
Airlines strongly recommended bicycle boxes to avoid damage to bikes. These boxes are sold by FGS (Flughafen Gepaeck Service, +49-69-690-51211) in Terminal 1, Hall B, near conveyor belt 11 or you can bring your own. If bought at the airport, one box is EUR 30 and weighs around 5 kg. Bring your own adhesive tape to seal the box.
Reasons against using a bicycle box:
- It increases the weight of the bike. Add some tools and spares that you are not allowed to take in the hand luggage, and you easily exceed the luggage allowance. This is quickly getting so expensive, that you can afford lots of spares for the money
- The front wheel has to be removed, giving opportunity to damage on fork and brake (if disc brake)
- The box hides what's inside so that it sometimes gets put flat down and luggage piled on top of it
- A box is not an effective protection against the Bundesgrenzschutz unpacking it and disassembling parts
- Disposal of the box at the destination airport can become a problem. In Singapore you could get fined for littering !
DOWNLOAD GPS data (OziExplorer format)
BACK to Indonesia main page