From Diary 4
We are touring the completely untouched northern Sulawesi, just two bulles (white or actually albinos), with small backpacks, no guide, nor map. All we have, is a taste for adventure and no fear.
3. December. Wake up at six, while the first daylight pierces the curtains. While Morten heads for the toilet in the other room, I check the view from our porch: Awesome! We are on the peak of a little mountain, lying out in the lake. I can see for kilometres, and most of it is nature.
A group of macaus runs around below, and one comes to the porch. I keep my distance, and it seems to relax too. I shoot some photos, and retires to the room, where the temperature are on the right side of 25C. Our host announces coffee in the saloon, but draws my attention to the the porch on the other side of the house.
From here, there are a fantastic view to a giant amphitheatre, covering three villages and many small but rich fields of vegetables. The villages looks quite alike some in southern Europe from this distance, and the bare mountain could be as well. Most of the lager vegetation are "normal" trees, and only a few palms are visible. A few tree-ferns make the scenery remind us of New Zealand.
Back inside, I admire the furniture. It is all brand new, and with wood-carvings I only have seen on 100 year old and very fine pieces of furniture. It looks like the house build for a real rich person. Bit of a dacha, in the middle of nowhere, but with a marvellous view, and quite close to the big city .
We finish the bare coffee, and ask for the bill. They seems a bit unsecured when they ask for seven euros. That covers the mopeds last night, the shared mie goreng and coffee. If it have been the owners, and not the caretakers, they could have asked for ten times as much.
We walks off to get a closer look at the crater lake we came for. The brand new, and real good quality sealed road - leading only to the hotel - serpentines several kilometres down hill. Small and new pagodas are placed in points with good view, no other buildings are seen on the hill.
I find several interesting plants in the rather dense forest along the road. One is a Selaginella, others seems real familiar from other places in the world. At the foot of the private mountain, we find a gravel road, leading closer to the lake. Several mopeds are parked on it, their owners are fishing along the shore.
It is still early enough to see a lot of insects and hear some lizards. We keep walking for an hour, seeing one great view after the other. The uncertainty of the distance to the village, the little dinner and lack of breakfast makes us return. We might be able to catch a ride, but we would like to enjoy the landscape while we are here.
We passes some people working on the fields, some with oxes. Here are potatoes, carrots, onions, cucumbers, turnips, cabbages, tomatoes and many other familiar vegetables. Around us, many birds can bee seen. From kites over falcons, yellow willy-wagtail, swallows, sparrows, a green pigeon to black headed nuns.
After three hours walking, we reach the village; Modoingen. It is long stretched, and we manages to be greeted by most of the residents before we reach its centre. All the houses we passes are well maintained and with an abundance of flowers around. There are, as we have seen before, many churches too.
We find a small eating place, and orders chicken, which we get with rice and spiced vegetables. We just passed the school, and we have drawn quite some kids along. The stand in the door, until the two-three year old daughter of the house closes it. Then they fill the windows.
A man joins us at the table. He tell the kids to leave, and tell me why they are so interested in us: We have big noses like Jesus! Well, and the fact they have never seen a white fellow before, I guess. He invites us on coffee in his nearby house; he want to practise his English. He sure needs too, but not on us, please.
We continues down town, and find a little blue who drives to Katamobagu, the next lager town down the road - and Sulawesi. He drives real slowly through town the way we walked, and we stop for quite some time, waiting for a guy. The a stop at a "One litre Cola bottle gas station" to fill up with two bottles. Can't be that fare to Katamobagu!
The speed is picked up, and off we goes through real rich fields with vegetables, and along the lake. We reach a village with a huge gathering of people. It is a Muslim burial party, leaving the mosque. It is one of the first we have seen, but they turn real numerous now.
There are still ponds and rice fields between the coconut plantations, but the vegetables are getting scarcer. We reaches Katamo(bagu) around noon. A huge city, dominated by those passenger-mopeds. These mopeds are pimped up like nothing else: The front looks like a Ferrari, and they have a huge car battery to run the extensive music power station, using the three or even five 15" bass speakers along wit up to 20 other speakers. You newer hear the hard working engine, just the music.
We drive right into centre, which looks more like a mid-Arabic city than anything else. The flowers are gone, the streets are less maintained and clean, but the people are still real friendly, waving and vide smiling. There are no doubt in our minds; They newer see pale fellows like us! Scares the smallest kids while the mid-aged are real intrigued. Well, most of the old too.
We decides just to take a walk-around, and see what we find. We start at the modern mall with its Christmas decorations. We could use a map, and I need a new pen - again. The main street is dominated by moped workshops and cellar phone shops. Some shops have all kind of back-packs, and I spend €15 on one that fit my travel gear, including the computer and raincoat.
There are no tour operators in this town either. On the other hand; we walk the streets thin for seven hours without seeing one singe white person. Guess this is the biggest potential tourist country I ever been in. One should not have much imagination to find a lot of real interesting sits around here, given the nature and history.
We had a loose idea of going out to Bogani Nani Wartabone National Park, but we are fare from sure exactly where it is, nor if it is possible at all. Considered how alike the nature have been thought the part we have seen - and how little exotic it is to be honestly, we decides to spend the rest of the day in this town.
We might as well start looking for one of these rare hotels. After quite some time, we finally find one in the main street. Their middle priced rooms with two beds are at four euros, but when we see it, it only have a narrow bed. Alternative, there are the luxury to eight, or the budget to €2,50. Fine with us, although we have thought we would get a towel and a extra sheet.
Drop the backpacks, and hit the town again. A pit-stop for coffee, and we look for the marked. We find it in a parallel street, and it is huge! No dogs, nor pigs, not even bats, but everything else one can imagine. Like every where else, most greets us with a big smile and "Hallo Mister". The offers their fries fish, eggs, cheese or whatever, but like everywhere else, they take a polite "no thanks" for an answer. Real nice!
Make a few loops, one to get Morten's sandal fixed by a shoemaker I saw earlier. We passes the large marked again, and head out of town. Within fifteen minutes walking, we are out on the countryside with fields, goats and fresh air. It is getting darker, and we head back. A new supermarket supplies me with candy. As everyone knows: Fat food and candy does not fatten during the Christmas month. Morten buys, to my big surprise - and his later - an alcohol free malt beer.
A break at the hotel room, and then out to find dinner. The town is still very lively, although it is dark. We get a mie gorang, which is real tasty, but we have t pay 70 cents each. Back to work with diary and photos, some are leftovers from yesterday. Bumps my head on the door frame once again. It is 20 centimetre too low for me - like so many around here.
The television is right outside our room, and it is popular. So are our attic, but as a racing field for monkeys. Somehow, Morten manages to sleep from it all.
4. After a rather sleepless night, we get up at seven. A minute later, it knocks at the door, and we get served coffee and a stuffed bagel. I'll take a shower and dry my selves in the pillow casing. That is what they get out of not supplying me with a towel. This have been the worse room we have had, but surely also the cheapest.
The plan of the day s to work us back towards Tomahon, where the hotel host's son might take us to the volcano. On the way, we will jump off the blue mini, and have a walk along the road in some nice nature. My flip-flap gave me a blister long time ago, and now it is bothering me again. Decides to buy some new shoos before we start walking for real.
We are a bit early out for shopping, but due to our keen knowledge to the town, we fid a big and open shop just after eight. I try the pair of shoos they have in 43 - Yes: The only pair. Pay ten euros, and head for the terminal. Spend some time explaining we want to go some of the way back towards Manado, but want to jump off in the middle of nowhere.
A slightly strange fellow who can speak a bit of English help us, and a driver are ready to set off with only us in the car. We are heading for Danau Mooat, the crater lake we visit yesterday. Just at the peek of the near bye mountain, we jumps off, and start walking.
Surprisingly fast, we reach a lake, which is the twin to Mooat. Surrounding nature is fantastic, and as we got here at nine, the fat golden skinks are too fast, but there are still some insects to be found. On a single stem, we spot two flying lizards.
There are some epiphytes in the coffee bushes, among them orchids. Here are also a great variety of ferns, from huge tree ferns to small epiphytic. The bird-life are rich; all from the tiny spectacular birds over crows to kites. Some tiny nectar eaters and kingfishers passes way too fast.
Then, without any warning, I spot the plant I'm really want to see: Lecanopteris celebica. It is a epiphytic fern, and of cause it sit high up. Morten stand impatience and ready with his camera while I climb the tree they are in. Their popular name is ant-fern, and that is well chosen! It looks like a plant from another planet, and although they are showing sign of the ending of the dry season, I get some valued shots.
We reach some farmed fields. Onions, carrots and all kind of other vegetables are hand-maintained on weed-free and steep hills. We reach Mooat, and I find another strange fern: Lecanopteris carnosa. I would say it is even stranger looking with its "antennas". (Or the first is a juvenile form of the L. carnosa?) They sit in huge clusters - high up. Once again, Morten get disappointed when I reach solid ground after a successive climb.
We reach the closed lodge we ended up at the evening before last, and we are at familiar grounds. Mooat is famous for its ability to change colour, and while we walk along it, it goes from blue to brown. The key is the clouds, which clearly can be seen, when they are absolute, and the lake is striped.
There start to be some real nice flowers in the side of the road, but I figure it is because the side of the road have been used for dumping of garden waste. There were too many familiar window plants! The epiphytes are more authentic: Huge clusters of ferns and orchids along with the cup-shaped Asclepiadaceae.
We reach a small village after twelve kilometres and three hours walking. The sun have become strong, and the temperature have gone from the hotel's 25C to 35C. We find a tiny restaurant, and buy some real spicy lunch. After a bit of walking, we passes the hill on which we slept two nights ago. Then we reach Modoinding, which does not provide any new experiences.
We try to find a little blue that can take us towards Tomohon. End up in one that do a lot of zigzagging through town. When he finally speeds up, it is in the wrong direction! Most of the passengers claims we have to go this way, and due to the fact we don't have a map on hand, we end up in Katamobagu one more time today. One hour in the wrong direction.
We figure the misunderstanding is due to the fact they won't believe a couple of pale guys like us are using little blues. The drop of at the station for the 4WDer, which are more than eager take us along. No doubt it will be real expensive! They are he only ones who have touched us had a hard time understanding NO!
We retreats, and Morten have got a hot tip to; where to find a roadmap. I only heard some of his conversation with the young girl, but Facebook was one of the words I picked up. Anyway; we find the shop, and a Sulawesi map. The area we are covering is on the size of a palm, but it is nice to have it in printing. Might have saved us for the two hour driving to and from Katamobagu.
A coffee brake on the way to the terminal, and two roles of biscuits, and we start the hunt for the right little blue. We find our driver from this morning, but he won't take us. Not sure why. The other drivers try to lure us to the 4WDers - we think, but finally, we get the next Tompaso(baru), which are a small town on the right road. Third time today, we head up this road.
When we pass a high area, it starts to drip, and the clouds are real low, covering the peak of the volcano, and coming down among the trees. After an good hour, at dusk, we reach the little town. We have had a few wind tears on the way, and when the driver tells us we have to continue with mopeds, we back out. There are at least two hours driving to Amurang and the same to Tomahon. On moped, at night, in rain???
We start walking, counting on a ride. To our big surprise, the first cars and pick-up passes our thumbs. Then we figure they don't use this sign around here. Try the next pick-up, but it passes waving. The luxury car behind stops; it is three real young guys, and we get seated on the third row of leather seats.
It is a pretty good driver, and while we listen to some great laid-back techno, we sprints up towards Tomahon. At one point, could be around Sonder, we passes a point with a significant small of sulphur: An active volcano nearby. The young friends are on their way to Manado, and after three hours, they drops us off at our hotel in Tomahon. We get our usual room, and head out to find some dinner.
It is late, and we don't dear passing the rather good restaurant we eat at last. Get a menu with bean soup and grilled fish/pork, rice and spiced vegetables. Morten treats him selves with a Anchor's Stout, I get coffee. Bach at the hotel, it stands on photos and diary. At midnight, I must admit I have no energy for the photos.
The last bit of this adventure is in Diary 6