From Dairy 3
29. Slow start on the day, turning into some impatience while waiting for the boat to Manado at eleven. We have to go to the Froggies' office in Manado to pay the bill. Our gear is packed: The diving gear and the extra stuff for storing in Manado, and a small bag for exploring the rainforest of the northern national park; Tangkoko.
Well over an hour in a tiny boat to Manado along with Benny, Hence, wife and daughter. We get a ride to the office - a dress boutique which have Sunday closed. Out Visa cards are ripped for over 43.000.000 Rupiah - 3000, and we head straight for an ATM to add worse.
The diving bags are deposit at the office, and our driver brings us to a kind of bus station. A mini-bus with mini-seats slowly fills, and we finally heads north-east towards - eah; we are not really sure. We try to reach Tangkoko National Reserve, but there seems to be a lack of direct transport opportunities.
An bone-bending hour through the suborns of Manado and coconut plantations, and we reach a terminal. We only pay one euro, but we have no idea of its name or location. A pit-stop at the toilet and candy store, and we try to find a connection bus. Strangely enough, it seems to be impossible. End up in a little blue taxi for a short ride to Rena or something like that (actually Gerian).
Here we are dropped of bye two moped drivers who will drive us to the park. The price with a little blue taxi are seven euro, and that sounds like a long ride! They seems unwilled to tell us the price on top of that, and we slowly walks away. End up at the main street with its partly Sunday closed shops.
A marked lours us in. Have are all from big tunas to hair ribbons, trousers, Christmas things and oranges. Unfortunately, there are no light raincoats, which could be handy around here, at this time of year. We end back at the main road, and Morten spots a little blue taxi with Tangkoko in the window.
We stop the newt one - without Tangkoko in the window, and ask him for a price. It is three o'clock, and we better get mowing. He starts at 100.000 Rupiah (7), but set off with 70.000 Rupiah in his hand. We head through wild forest and coconut plantations, and passes the classic shaped volcano; Tangkoko.
The road are quite teaming with especially mopeds, probably people who have spend the Sunday out in the wild at the beach. After an hours wining road, we reach a little settlement: Batu Puthi. This should be the entrance for the national reserve, and we jumps off at a sign with: Tangkoko Rangers Home Stay.
It is off season, but we are welcomed by two charming men, who shows us a nice room. Coffee by the shallow river which have given the name for the area, due to its (former) abundance of soft stones. They have been turned into ashtrays, and there are only a few round, white pebbles left in the black sand. Then we walk to the end of town, which is the beach.
Vide and clean, with black and rather fine volcanic sand, and a great view. Out-rigger canoes and small pigs dominates the beach, and one great motive after the other reveals it selves. The fishermen starts to pull their boats out in the surf, while the sun descents.
The houses are nice and well maintained. Some with perfect lawns in front, all with numerous pot plants, mainly Adenia and Euphorbia milli. All, from rinkeled old fishermen to small kids smiles and say "hallo". It certainly don't seems to be that often they see a couple of pale fellows like us around here!
We head back, but it is still not pitch black, and we follows the well used track just next to our cabin, into the forest. It is not the rainforest I have hoped for, but this is sea level, and it might change. It looks surprisingly much like a Danish forest: Bare stems and some dead leaves on the open space between the stems.
It turns black, and we hear a lot of insects and birds while we find our way out. Dinner is included in the 250.000 price (18), along with breakfast and lunch. Due to the lack of other open restaurants, we found this to be a good offer. The dinner is great: Salad, omelettes, fried herrings and rice, followed by mangos.
Back at the room, I try to get my budget turned into some sensible, sort photos and write diary. It feels a bit strange to be in a remote place this fast. From we passed the international airport in Manado, until we are the only white people around, took only two hours. The rain starts to pour down - lets hope it stops in the early morning!
30. Wake up at six to have the breakfast at half pass. The reserve's entrance opens little passed seven, and after paying six euro each, we get our host as guide. We are not aloud to walk alone due to snakes, getting lost - and the unemployment of the area in general.
We walk in a forest, quite similar to a Danish, although the leaves are significantly larger in general. The path follows the coast a few hundred meters in, the first two kilometres. We walk very slowly, getting hold-up by numerous insects and interesting plants. Our guide is good at spotting them as well, and he have patience with us.
Here are colourful moths, golden beetles, large cicadas, large millipedes, different crickets, different small and bright coloured beetles, ticks, many huge butterflies, predator flies in two forms, armoured and amoured millipedes, itchy-, red-, tiny and in general annoying ants, a soft-wing, grasshoppers, termites, beetle lavas in dead wood, a bee nest in a hollow trunk, colourful and weird formed spiders, hermit crabs (why are they always found in groups?) and much more that elutes us.
In the plant-world, I find some large and bright coloured flowers on the bushes and trees, huge teak trees with fruits on the stem, Aruns with their single but huge leaf, different Asclepiadeans, some of the cup-formed ones, the highly poisons and spiny Batata, many mushrooms, huge fruits on lianas, and some giant lianas and strangler figs, many different ferns from the ground to the top branches, flowers of parasitic plants and trees and bushes in general.
As a real bonus, I spot a flying lizard (Calotes) on a stem. It spreads its yellow wings, and I manages to get a few blurry photos. Not much more luck with golden skinks and brown forest lizards. Nor the Kingfisher who eats them. Even a green snail causes me problems due to the lack of light. A little black squirrel is just too fast.
After three hours, the guide have done his duty, and decides it is safe to leave us alone in the big and snake infested forest. Either he actually believe we are capable, or he just have a desire to get home now. I check the direction for the sea, and off he goes.
We hear a lot of birds, some are rather large, judged by their call. Problem being: We hear them, but we rarely see them, and if we do, it is just a flash. I prefers plants: You don't hear them, you see them! A group of Black Cheated Indonesian Macau's Macaca nigra or Yaki to the locals, causes some problems to capture, due to lack of light.
The sun have barely been out, and we are underneath the rather dense canopy. We get slightly lost, but have the compass baring for the sea. The forest are crossed by many tracks - actually too many. We decides we have seen most of what we can expect to find, and head for the beach.
Down at the black beach, some piles of general while corals are pilled up. Among them, we find many and real beautiful snails and shells. Some of the corals are truly blue. A few crabs escapes to their holes, why we have less luck escaping the huge waves.
We have this several kilometres long and perfect beach for us selves. The air is 30C, the water 28C. The volcanic sand are rather hard to walk on, because of it is so soft, but the whole scenery simply demands our presents. Huge waves thunders in, and turn black, when the leaves.
We reaches the village's fisher quarter, and head for home. A cup of coffee instead for the lunch we candled, and a brake by the river to have a fast look through the photos. Even though we have been walking for six hours, we then head for the town at four.
A little road leads through all the fine little houses with the nice gardens. Within ten houses, there is a church, Some new and impressive, others small and marked by time. Surprisingly many private houses have huge sound systems on the porch. And with big, I mean BIG! Several square meters of speakers, and the amplifier marches. Nice music, covering many houses each.
It is starting to turn dark, and we head for home. I doubt we have passes anyone, who have not greeted us with big smiles. All kids are waving, and even young boys passing on mopeds say "hallo mister". A perfect climate, a perfect nature, a perfect beach, two hours from a international airport, real clean and friendly, and with prices that are among the lowest in the world. Why are we the only two pale fellows around?
Back at Tangkoko Ranger Home Stay, I make a hard decision: Skip bath one more day, of go to bed with a wet dove? It have to be said: I do have a dove, but it is way too thick and warm. There are no sheet nor blanket, but the large towel did fine last knight. Take a chance, and try to dry the towel afterwards.
Dinner is, like yesterday, rice, vegetables and herrings. Today we get beans and the herrings are in soya sauce. Taste good, but I am just not a fan of small bones! Again this evening, the power fails around seven. The generator is started soon, and even though it falls out a few times, it do the job until the public get back between ten and eleven - as usual.
1. December. We get up early enough to be ready for the eight o'clock bus. The chef ranger have to go to Manado to deliver his monthly report, and we plan to trail him so fare. Strangely enough, it seems like the bus - not looking like a bus - passes us without stopping.
Plan B is a hired 4WD, shared with the ranger and two ladies. After an hour, we reach Gerian where we transfers to a mini bus with mini seats. One more hour, and we are in Manado. It is a huge town with 350.000 citizens, and it covers a waste area.
We start with a stop at a nearby ATM where we draw the maximum: 2.750.000 Rupiah. Then a pit-stop at a supermarket to find a pen and some calories. It is after all the Christmas month, and I need candy! Back to find a blue mini taxi. The ones driving as taxis wants way too much to drive us to the terminal, but other drives in fixed routes.
No 21 brings us to an other mini-terminal near the harbour. Another blue mini brings us to where the buses should leave from, but drops us off at a bench from where we should get the next lift. Within minutes, a new 4WD pulls up, and the two of us and a lady are driven to Tomuhon. The ranger told us; this is the place to arrange tours to the active volcano Mt Soputan.
We jumps of at the centre of this rather large town, and head down the street. One striking feature is the horse carriage, which are numerous. We completely fails to find any tour operator, and then it starts to rain! It have been slightly cloudy all day, and the temperature only reaches 25C. Find a umbrella and a small raincoat in a large shop, and some shelter in a small restaurant.
While we enjoy a Nasi Gorang and a Mie Gorang, we try to figure how to get to the volcano. Internet search! While we look for a internet shop, we find two travel agencies. The little one have never heard of Mt Soputan (30 kilometres away), but she points us to a internet café on the other side of the road.
Here we are able to find a few operators - which operates from Manado, and only offers five or ten days tours. I try to get help by the young giggling girls with different Christmas hats on. Eventually, one of the leads me to her sister, who works on the big travel agency below.
They spend a lot time calling around, and find a guide who will take us for 700.000 Rupiah / 50. That is rather steep, considered the 170.000 we paid yesterday, but due to the fact we are having so much problems; we agree. I just make one request: I want to see some volcanic activity for that amount of money. The arrange a meeting with the guide, and we start waiting.
Finally, a girl and two guys turns up. They seems polite and smiling, although the girl are the English talking one, and she won't come along. I tell them what I expect to see, and they tell me it will cost 1.500.000 Rupiah / 110. That is a lot of money, not only around here, but for me too!
They try to explain it: It is a long and hard walk: Four hours up a steep sandy slope. I heard our diving guides made around 50.000 Rupiah a day, and they did work for it! I can't figure why I should pay these two chaps a month pay for eight hours walking - hard or not! We feel hustled, and say we can't afford it.
Back on the street, we re-group. There are other volcanoes, like Mt Lokon - which unfortunately were closed last week due to activity. Then there some crater lakes in this end of Sulawesi which should be interesting, and with some interesting plants and animals around. It is getting dark, and we are forced to find a hotel here. The next cities are even smaller, and we have not even seen a single hotel here!
Take one more stroll down the main road. A turn up-hill reveals a interesting street with small shops. Here are some working tailors, shops with food , hardware, cloths, telephones and lots of other stuff. What there is a completely lack of is hotels!
We find what might be a bus station, and where some white taksas are gathered. We ask one of the drivers for a hotel, expecting him to drive us to one. Shortly, six drivers is discussing where to send us. They agree on a Home Stay behind a supermarket.
To our big surprise are they pointing us to the tiny horse carriages, and we head down the street in one for a couple of kilometres, just a bit further than we walked earlier this afternoon. We pay 40 cents, and find a nice and reasonable room for 11. Here sits a French couple; the first white we have seen, since we left Benny in Manado.
A bit of relaxation on the room, and then out in the lively city to find dinner - without herrings! We have to walk quite a bit back towards town to find a open restaurant. Classic Indonesian courses to reasonable prices, and well prepared. A fried glass pasta and a crispy pasta with fresh vegetables and two coffees makes 2,50. Home through the black town to write diary. Somehow, it is eleven when I'm done - totally done!
2. Once again, we have a rather slow start on the day, this time caused by Morten's need for sleep. I'll give him: It has been an real quiet morning, not even any roosters! Right after we start talking, the giggling girls knocks on our door, and announces breakfast is served. It is a delicious combination of omelette and green pancakes with fruity filling.
The real friendly owner comes bye, and he thinks we are friends of the French couple, who left this morning. I guess that is a fairly understandable misunderstanding, considering we are the only white people in the city during a long time. Then we talk about volcano tracking, and he tell his son might guide us, when he is back from a medical conference in Thailand.
We finish the breakfast, and I relockend take a cold shower, and pay the eleven euro for the room and breakfast. The host returns with a complementary of fresh fruits and carameled almonds. Before we leave, we have to get a picture of the lovely garden.
It is a great morning, and after the nights showers, the sun is up. We walk towards centre, and see one great motive after another. The streets are perfectly clean, there are flowers everywhere, smiling people, horse carriages, colourful shops and below it all: The classic volcanoes.
Morten have an urge to meet some young nurses, and we find a hospital. It is not that hard around here; it is a religious town, and there are many churches, schools and apparently hospitals. While he get the tiny scratch on his leg cleaned, I have a chat with a driver, attach to the hospital.
He is muslin, and tells me about how well everybody is getting along here. There are no really rich or pour (although we did see two beggars this morning), and despite it is a religious town, none is fanatic in any way. I have not been anywhere, where the population have seen so homogene.
Morten returns along with a bunch of waving and smiling nurses. He have a bandage suitable for a broke leg, and soaked in iodine along with a medium size pharmacia. Costed us a fortune, but as long as he is happy...
The plan for the day is to get to Lake Moat, in Indonesian; Danau Mooat. If we read the maps right, we should go pass Tanawangko to Amurang, also known as Kawanekoan. From here, we go to Kapitu and then to Motoling, known as Hmurang, where the terminal turns out to be named Pengendalian. Further south pass Tomapsobaru and Muraindino, which actually are called YYY. Shouldn't be that hard, right???
We walk back to the place we saw all the busses last evening. There is only a few oil-droplets back! Must have been Indonesian tourists after all. Bag to ask a blue mini cap driver among the many. He say we have to go to the terminal: Kasrasen. Here, we have to find a blue mini marked Kawanekoan.
The first passes immedially , and we are at the terminal. It look like an interesting place, and we make a round. The first stands are with fresh fish; huge tunas, squirts, sardines, redfish and much more. The most significant is after all the smell. Then there are a big area with vegetables and fruits.
Behind that, the meat marked starts. Outside are cages with chickens and dogs. While Morten ask if they are for eating, I find them slaughtered and burned free from hair on the tables behind. Along with them large fruit bats have gotten the same treatment. The next stands have way more bloody pig-parts and piles of slaughtered chickens.
We end outside by the blue mini busses, empty handed. We find the one to Kawanekoan, and we are among the last passengers. We still have to wait quite some time in the steaming car, before we are packed like sardines. I open a window, and get the shoulder out of it which releases some of the pressure.
We drive through huge and real nice houses and fields with corn, rice, vegetables, coconuts, bananas, fruit trees mixed with true nature. After an hour, we reach the smaller Kawanekoan, and changes car. In this town - and those who comes - the horse carriages are replaced with mopeds with two front wheels and a bench. Guess that means: When you get out in the countryside, the distances are too large for horses.
The drivers are sitting around a table, playing cards while their car fills up - or longer. Again, we have to sit in the car and wait for half an hour before the last passenger is squeezed in. Now, we are getting out in the larger fields with only a few houses. The few villages we passes have a significantly large number of churches!
The hills and rice fields get numerous, and the views greater and greater. Ox wagons, either with timber or coconuts are often seen along the road. This is a truly weird country compared to those I'm usually travels in. Not the big different between poor and rich, and a great mix of traditional and modern stuff. Not strange to see the driver of an ox wagon take a picture of you with his cell-phone, while you photo him.
The road is really winding, and as in all other vehicle around here, I sit with my head up in the roof, without any chance of a proper view outside. That means my stomach starts to act a bit motion sic. When we reach the terminal in Amurang, I call for a brake. A pill and a coffee, and I'm ready.
I had thought we have gone much further, but we have crossed over a low mountain range and east-west on our southern course. There are not that many roads in the area, and we have to make some de-tours. We have found a funny driver who claims he is going all the way to Muraindine, the city near Danau Mooat. And he will take us for 3,60.
Sounds like a good deal, and we crawls into his car along with eight 50 litre plastic containers with gasoline. We pick a few more people up, and head down the southern main road - a two laned sealed and well maintained road. Where the other drivers have had four 15" bass speakers, and not only the amplifier to mach, but also the will to use it, he have no radio.
That is no guarantee for a quiet ride: He honks the horn constantly, but in the most friendly way. Seems like he know everyone. He yells to most, and get greetings back. We stop at some of the moped gasoline stands - those with the one litre cola bottles - to deliver gasoline.
The landscape is mainly forest and coconut plantations, and we passes a huge coconut oil factory. I can smell it for kilometres, but cant figure what it is. A bit like fresh bread or cookies. The cities we pass might not be big, but they are still fairly modern. We reaches the sea on the western part of Sulawesi, and he stops.
He say we have to take another car from here. It will cost 3,60 as well. We had this clear feeling we had an agreement about going all the way with him. A lot of smiling and Indonesian/English, involving around 20 people. We are apparently still around an hour from the lake. A taxi will cost the 3,60, two mopeds around 2, but it might start to rain.
After a long time, we agrees to give our original driver additionally 1,40, and we continues alone with him, and the last two containers of gasoline. They are soon dropped of, and after a little hour, we see the crater lake; Mooat. He drops us off in the middle of nowhere, but what looks like a nice resort with huge cottages is right next to the lake.
Looks rather deserted when we get closer, but some workers greets us. A kid shows up with some keys, and open one of the cottages. Haven't been used for quite some time, but the beds are all right, although there are no water. We have not had lunch, and can't figure where to get dinner. The kid can't a single word English, and are not into guessing games.
He end up telling us: We can't sleep there. Then what? It is six o'clock, and getting dark real fast. We walk back to the road, and a little blue passes. We squeeze in, and causes a lot of laughter. People are simply not use to pale people around here!
The driver takes us into Modoinding, and drops us off by a house he claims is a hotel. Unfortunately the guy who opens the door don't agree. He say we have to go ten kilometres into town, and shows us two moped drivers. They take us on a ride up a narrow but sealed mountain road, and we end at a huge and very modern house on the top.
Here is a power failure, but what I guess must be the caretakers invites us in. They don't speak more English than we Indonesian, but we get a room. The water have gone too, but there are still some in the mandy of an other room. The man seems a bit drunk, but they are real friendly, and do their best to pleas us.
First we get a cup of coffee while the excuses they can't cook dinner for us. Then they drive down to town to get some, and returns an hour later. I get this weird feeling sitting in this large, deserted, powerless house. Does not help it is hit by something real big - like an elephant - and the whole house shakes. Then something heavier than a ct and even faster runs around on the thin sealing plates. I just need a kit on a tiny trikebike now...
At nine, it is pitch dark, and our computers are out of power. Not much else to do, but head for bed. We are actually tiered enough anyway. The elephant and the fat and fast cat have called a day, and beside from a few night birds, it is silence as the grave.
In Diary 5, we get even further out