Sulawesi Penjelajahan*

*Penjelajahan journey/adventure, Indonesian

It was around 4.30 last night/this morning (8/11/2017), when the rain came crashing down on the tin roof of our cabin in the Togian Islands with the intensity that only a tropical thunderstorm can generate. The racket, compounded by the cracking of thunder and lightning directly overhead, overwhelmed the previous, gentler sounds of cicadas, geckos and rolling surf. We are in the shoulder season in Sulawesi, that period between the wet and dry where blue skies give way daily to clouds and intense rain that lasts for an hour or so.

We have been in Sulawesi since mid October, diving and traveling in remote areas with fascinating scenery and people. Though it’s not even close to being the biggest island in Indonesia – it’s about the size of England, with a population of around 18 million – it impresses you as an intriguing adventurous place, difficult to travel around but full of varied, unique traditions, and wild, untamed land.

Flying in to Manado, in the north, we headed out by boat to Living Colours dive resort on Bunaken island, under threatening skies. The storm, and darkness arrived as we hit shore, with the boat threading it’s way through the mangroves, intermittently lit by lightning flashes. The next day saw blue skies and lovely diving – healthy coral, plenty of fish and turtles, and good visibility. Daylight also revealed the beautiful setting where we were staying, isolated, idyllic, peaceful (and with great food ☺).

20171022_102108-979x734
Diveboat in the Mangroves at Living Colours, Bunaken

20171022_144652-614x819

20171022_144507-819x614
High tide

20171022_145253-614x819

PA220966-921x691
Our cabin

20171028_094038-588x784

PA221006-1036x1381
Heading out to Bunaken at sunset. View from Manado
20171105_160944-2687x862
Christianity is important in the region – cathedrals next to shanty towns

Unfortunately after our second day of diving (easy, gentle, multilevel dives), that evening,  Anne developed a skin rash on her stomach that was tender and painful to touch. We were in contact with medical advice and insurers through the night and Anne took rehydration salts and painkillers. Diagnosed as mild skin DCS, thankfully it had disappeared by morning. However we took the boat back to Manado to consult the dive doctor there, who recommended Anne avoid diving for the next month.

So, our plans had to change. We stayed on at the resort, and I dived without Anne till the end of the week😢. We cancelled our diving trip to Lembeh and instead went back to Manado and booked a nice hotel, from where we planned to explore Northern Sulawesi – Tangkoko and Minahasa.

Tangkoko and Minahasa

Considering there is no developed tourist infrastructure, and given the variety of local languages, cultures, and terrain, the only way to properly explore the remote parts of Sulawesi is with a car and a local guide. We found a guide from Minahasa, Edwin, with

PA251652-1382x1843
Our guide, Edwin

decades of experience, who explained so much about the local cultures as we travelled through a beautiful landscape of vivid green ricefields, mountains, lakes and volcanoes. The highlight on our first day was a visit to the Batuangas Dua Saudara nature reserve. It is now famous as the location of the dispute over the Macaque selfie, and we were hoping to spot some, along with the tiny nocturnal Tasiers that live in the reserve.

In the late afternoon we entered the forest and luckily found a troop of Black Macaque monkeys, crashing through the trees, eating, playing, fighting and having sex, before heading up to the canopy above to shelter for the night. Photographing them in the fading light and the gloom of the forest was challenging – they were moving fast, crashing through the branches, running along the forest floor, often disappearing only to reappear for a moment and then move on.

20171025_063225-1069x1425

20171105_172439-1184x666
Female displaying

20171105_165552-1638x1229

20171105_171723-1152x1536

20171025_063430-1152x1535

20171025_000259-983x1310

20171105_172144-1689x1267

20171105_171622-859x1145
Rodin Macacque
20171105_173043-1228x1637
Not quite navel gazing!

20171105_165721-1177x1571

20171105_165646-1238x1650

PA241152-1520x1140

20171025_061835-1235x1646

20171105_171405-1152x1536

20171105_165439-1228x163720171025_063342-1504x1128

And let’s not forget those tiny, shy Tasiers …

20171024_220103-1196x1593
Tiny little fingers!

20171024_220207-1319x1758

Following our exertions chasing primates through the forest we stopped at a local Warung for dinner and the local speciality of Tuna head – tasty, but hard work.

Tomohon

The following day we traveled through Minahasa, to the Tomohon area, with its traditional stilted houses, lush, productive land and beautiful volcanoes and lakes.

PA251607-1059x794

PA251477-794x1059
Lokon volcano 

 

 

 

 

PA251641-1036x1381

PA251462-864x1152

We spent a lovely lunch watching birds feeding on the flowers, then visited Danu Linow volcanic lake, saw fish farms on the banks of Tondon lake, high in the mountains.

Tomohon Market – Pasar Beriman

Tomohon is famous for its market – Pasar Beriman, and there really is a staggering display of produce from local farms. Edwin had a long discussion with us about local customs in the consumption of meat so that we were prepared beforehand. We still found the scenes shocking though.

As a consequence I have placed that description, along with some graphic pictures in a separate file.

Sulawesi animal Document

Don’t go there if you think you might find it upsetting.

Pasar Beriman

20171025_205552-1024x768

After our journey through Minahasa, we headed back to Manado for a nights sleep before flying down to Makassa to explore  southern Sulawesi and the Togian Islands.

Sulawesi was proving to be more varied and fascinating than we’d imagined. We will update the blog with stories from the south soon. Click ‘follow’ to get a notification of our next post☺ – and please comment/like and get in touch to your hearts content….

One thought on “Sulawesi Penjelajahan*

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s