Trans Sulawesi

Bali, Sanur,Ujang Pandang,Fort Rotterdam,Becak | Sengkang,Tempe | Pagkajene, Pinrang, Polewali,Mamasa | Tedong Tedong | Enrekang,Latimojong Mts Res,Makale,Rantepao | Toraja,Suaya, Tau Tau,Kambua, Kete Kesu, Lemo | Palope,Masamba,Wotu,Pendola | Peruhumpenai Mts Res,Tentana,Paling | Salupa waterfalls, Sulawana | Poso, Watutau,Lore Lindu Res. Palu | Donggala,Tanjung Karang | Moutong, Ada,Lore Lindu Res. | Grontala,Mangrove, Randangan Panua Res. | Lolak,Molosing beach,Celebes zee | Island Molosing,Coral | Manado | Minahasa, Tomohon, Tondano, Berschati | Bunaken | Bali |

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Over land through Sulawesi from south to the utmost north, what kind of journey is that? According my experience is it one of the most fascinating trips through Indonesia. Because the Trans Sulawesi High Way is not yet ready and to my opinion it will never become ready, it is a really adventure, and because Sulawesi is a relative unknown island, it is fascinating and unspoiled. Much depends of good travel preparations (what get it done by an expert travel agency), available time and your resilience by unavoidable bad hotels, warungs (restaurants), roads, delays and everything what's getting under your skin which is normal in Indonesia. Patience, toleration, keep smiling and an adventurous attitude are important for a unforgettable nice trip.

We starting our trip at Bali in Sanur with a good sleep what's absolute necessary after a 20 hours flight. From Bali we take a flight to Ujang Pandang. Take care for reconfirmation of your tickets otherwise you will have problems. On the airport of Unjang Pandang we meet our Dutch speaking guide Boy Ramsky. Transfer to the hotel Maranu Tower, luggage to the rooms, have some coffee and we started with a city tour. We arrived here at a wrong point of time because a couple of days ago a Chinese has murdered some children with the consequence that a lot of furious people revenged on everything what is Chinese. The famous Chinese temple is complete destroyed and the view over all the burned shops and restaurants is disconsolate. We visit the remains of fort Rotterdam, the from origin Dutch Shells Museum, the Orchid gardens and the harbor. The Shell museum is still worth to visit but the orchid gardens are to neglected to be named a garden. In the evening we walked into the direction beach/harbor to have a look at the famous eating-places of Ujang Pandang. Well I may safely say it was a big surprise, hundreds mobile eating-stalls, in the mud rotten rest-overs and grubbing animals trying to sell their food here. You can cut the smell with a knife and the washing-up water is coming direct from the kali (canal). A couple of Becak (three wheel bicycle) drivers are constant turning around because they don't understand that we want to walk, which is crazy to their opinion! A little bit further it is a more clean but here eating? never ever! Back to the hotel we used two Becaks because we are to big to sit together in one. The diner in the hotel was nice and clean.

Tempe river The next day we are going to Sengkang. But first our guide explained the reasons to have a stop on the way: photo, coffee, smoking, sanitary and walking or stretch the legs. However the first stop is due a flat tire which was not part of the program! It has not raining for 6 months here and we can see clearly the consequence around Ujang Pandang, the fields are dry and yellow. Our route is going through Bantimurung Res with the famous waterfalls (which are dry now) and through several little villages straight to the north. A pretty good way. In the afternoon we arrive at Sengkang for our hotel Apade, very simple! From the hotel we made a short walk to the Tempe river to make a trip with a kind of a water-taxi a long narrow boat with an old car engine, it's a pity, but due the low water level we could not reach lake Tempe and several times we run aground in the mud. The plantages along the river looks miserable. Back over the river with its own special community, everything will be done in and on the river, washing, tooth-brushing and relieves, they living of the river and on the river in simple pile-houses. Very poor circumstances and certain not so healthy live! In the evening the hotel people arranged a traditional diner for us, we have to dress our self to represent local prince and princesses and under Christmas-tree lighting we are served by traditional dressed boys and girls, very funny! They sprayed our room with anti-mosquito oil, we going semi-conscious but the mosquitos still living.

Sawahs Very early in the morning we started for a splendid trip to Mamasa, the unknown west Toraja territory. First we visit the silk weaving-mill close to Sengkang. The trip going along Pangkajene Rappang and Pinrang to Polawali. Beautiful views over Sawahs (rice fields) and rivers. Near Pangkajene we saw the destruction caused by the recent earthquake around Parepare. The ways are growing worse and we have a flat tire again! Our guide decide to buy 4 new tires. Near Polawali we will have our lunch in a pile-restaurant above the sea. Here we are introduced with the local passion... Karooke... In all the restaurants Warungs en also in the small hotels generally the menu consist of: white rice, chicken, fish (roasted) and underdone vegetables with sometimes saté or fuyonghai. In the bigger hotels you can order from the menu. To Mamasa the trip is going through the mountains straight north, the landscape changed into green forest and the road will be more worse, we pass bridges with total moulder wooden road surface, two new planks length-wise and the way is serviceable but take care that your wheels remains on the planks! The surroundings growing more fascinating and beautiful. Our destination is Mamasa Cottages a nice block of local style cottages. Only every moment we have a power cut. The capacity of the generator is to low, after switch off all the refrigerators the problem is over! In the evening during diner a traditional dressed local dance group make one's appearance, nice performance!

Toraja houses Early in the morning started for a beautiful walk over the hills, Sawahs and Toraja villages. some houses are marked what means that they have a preservation order on it. we meet a kind of baby-care, with an enormous ulster they weigh all the baby's and note down the measures, we caused a lot of fun because 6 crazy belanda's (white people) want to know everything! Some woman painting their face with a kind of white clay, why? I don't know. When I ask for the reason I don't get a real answer. The bag with balloons for the children empty very fast. The driver waiting for us at the end of the village and carried us a 15 km for a walk to Tedong Tedong a collection of in the forest found very old coffins. The coffins are made in the shape of kerbau's and filled with human remains. We will see much more strange ways to bury the dead's what is apparently for the Torajas very important and what is also the reason by which they are well-known. You will see here many cacao fruits and the pulp around the beans tasted very well. Along the roads you will find many places where cacao-beans or coffee-beans are drying in the sun mainly for own use. At the slope of the hill we have a nice strong coffee Tubruk ( the by car crashed beans burned above a fire) in the smallest restaurant of the world (one square meter). In all these little restaurants they serve you the coffee in half a litre beer-glasses probably delivered by Heineken (Bir Bintang).

Toraja graves Today we are going back to Polaweli because we want to drive via Enrekang and Makale to central Toraja land. Rantepao is our destination. But first we have a long way to go, Often you have to travel back before you can go further. From Enrekang the trip is going through Latimojong Mts Res to Rantepao, a magnificence trip through overwhelming nature sometimes interrupted by small parts which are cultivated for agriculture mainly Sawahs and Pisang (banana) fields. Central Toraja land and less Manado are the only places at Sulawesi which are regularly visit by tourists Rantepao Toraja Cottages is good and beautiful. The staff welcomed us in perfect Dutch. The majority of the tourists which visit Sulawesi take a flight to Rantepao poke around in the Toraja area and flying back. Not we, because we want to go through a great deal! . Go through a great deal! - will be the slogan for our trip. Early to bed because tomorrow will be a long day.

Tau tau In the morning the girls have a wake up call in Dutch Good morrrning sirrr, you've slept well? After a good breakfast our driver takes us to the Toraja area for a nice walk along all the places of interest. First we visit the Royal cave-chambers at Suaya, high on the cliff you will see a kind of balconies where Tau Tau strange puppets are placed. These puppets represents the people buried in the cave after the balcony. Some are very old and regularly the decayed dressing will be changed for new one. The Tau Tau puppets at Suaya are still original because it is very difficult to reach them. Many are stolen by antique-dealers or by the Toraja people at time changed for imitations. The Toraja people the oldest and original inhabitants of Sulawesi have in the past and less now a very complicated cult to burry their dead's. At the moment nearly all the Toraja people are Christian but their burry-cult still remains. Head-hunting is over but a funeral-ceremony is still a reason for bloody killing of many buffalo's and pigs. Walking through the beautiful area we arrive at the so called rock-graves, a rock-cavern with many Tau Tau puppets but also miniature ships filled wit human remains. We walking through fine Toraja villages with enormous rice-barns and big houses adorned with hundreds horns of slaughtered buffalo's, The quantity of horns represents the status and wealth of the owner. Next is the Baby tree at Kambua which is the most strange way to burry. All the dead-born and dead babies become to buried in a little hole made in the tree-trunk and the hole will be sealed with palm-fibres. The hole is growing close the baby is back into the womb and the tree transporting it to heaven. The Baby-tree is located in a fine bamboo area! To the suspended graves at Kete Kesu. Several sculptures of ships, houses, buffalo's and pigs filled with human remains be suspended on the cliff with in between a lot of Tau Tau puppets. Close to Lemo an old Toraja village will be renovated and changed into a kind of touristic attraction with souvenir shops paved roads walking pads etc, not such a splendid idea!! As last we visit the boulder-graves. Enormous volcanic boulders are excavated to be grave-chamber and adorned with buffalo and pig heads.A funeral is very expensive and sometimes it takes more than 25 years before the dead can be buried.

Poso lake Early in the morning we left Rantepao for a trip to our next destination Pendolo. A beautiful trip through the hills to Palope near the cost and along the mountains to Masamba and Wotu a way of only bends. On the way many walks through the forest along fine waterfalls with with many big butterflies. Everything great!. The road is pretty good but the bridges are miserable and dangerous. We take a lunch in a local warung. If you need the toilet Kamar Kecil expect nothing, it might have been worse. A sit on one's heels toilet is luxury mostly it is only a hole above the abyss so that it take a few seconds before you hear falling your number two. Or a little corner by the side of a tray with water, a splash over it and its ready. Our destination is hotel Mulia Cottages, little cottages made of plained bamboo, very primitive but with good beds and the position is a dream. On a white beach under the palm trees with slowly murmuring water of Poso lake. We have a very nice swimming and enjoyed the sunset.

In the morning we have still some time to enjoy the view and the water before our driver take us to the other side of the lake Tentena. There is also a possibility to go by boat but according insiders is that not a good idea because it is equipped with very loud music machine and its sailing far from the cost, thus you will see nothing and you will be deaf too. Along the west side of the lake through Puruhumpenai Mts Res with splendid views over the lake and a beautiful nature reserve. In Sury Cottages we dropped our luggage and continued the the village for a lunch. In the afternoon we relaxed at the beach. The cottages are a little bit more solidity as in Pendola but still very primitive. At the beach the staff over-indulge us with thermos flask coffee and cook. In the lake are living enormous eels of about 2 meters and so thick that it is not possible to catch them with two hands. In the evening listen at the terrace to stories about big monsters...Yeah...which are living in the 400 meters deep lake ...yeah... you can see their eyes glowing in the dark! And a story about a certain mister Graveyard who visited Sulawesi ...Yeah...and he's make anger because there are flies on his plate. Adoeh! (hold cheap) flies don't eat much....its stupid to lose temper about such a little animal.

In the morning they served the breakfast at bed. eggs bread jam butter and a thermos flask coffee or tea, good service! After breakfast we visit the Salupa waterfalls near Sulawana in the Poso river. A nice walk along Sawahs and through the forest to the imposing waterfalls. We where just in time here because after 45 minutes arriving a lot of children on a school-journey and the quiet disappeared. On the way back we visit a nice Pasar (local market) and the rest of the day we enjoyed our self at the beach of Poso lake.

Highway? Today we continued our trip to Palu at the west side of central Sulawesi. We use the High Way which is pretty good till Poso After Poso the road is growing worse and after about 50 km near Watutau the road is blocked by a kind of sluice-gate. Every 4 hours you may drive 2 hours in one direction and the 4 hours you may drive 2 hours in the other direction. At the moment we arrived at this block the road was still blocked and we wait in a long queue of trucks busses and other kind of transport. In the meantime it is growing dark and we are waiting in mortal suspense what kind of experience will happen. Suddenly the queue of cars starts moving and with full headlights its moving along ravines over earth-shiftings hundreds of bends uphills downhills darkness and dust. The only things you can see in the darkness and dust above and under you are the headlights and red back lights of the other cars in the queue. And it is going on with a fast as possible speed. Naturally you will meet some cars with trouble from the opposite direction. If you get troubles here you are lost! About 4 hours do we have bumped and raced over this mad road and a little bit infatuated we arrive at the Palu Golden Hotel. Our driver enjoyed the trip very much because he finished it in less time then normal! At 22.00 hours we are going for dinner. With the knowledge that we have to use the same way in return because according local information is the other way unusable, bridges broken and subsidence. - Yes Trans Sulawsi high way ?

We make a trip to the harbor of Donggala at the end of the bay of Palu. Donggala is a important place to ship copra. Very primitive, a long queue of people carrying bags with copra on the shoulders to a kind of apron for trans-shipment into a big ship. All the ships which are sailing the Street of Makassar are wooden ships some even equipped with sails. Its very interesting to observe those middle age state of things To the utmost end of the bay we arrive at Tanjung Karang with a beautiful beach. According our guide it was not necessary to take the glasses and schnorkels with us because there is no coral or fish to see. In reality there is a fine coral-reef with accompany fish. So we rent the equipment locally and joined it together. After words we are informed that our guide never used glasses and schnorkel so he didn't know. Very nice this beach and a beer-glass filled with coffee. Back to Palu for diner. We are all colored.

Transport Early in the morning we depart from Palu to Moutong and we use the same bad road through the Lore Lindau Res but now by daylight. It appears that there in reality is no road at all only the beginning what a road should be. The walls or cliffs created by dig out of the road consist of sand and stones. Some of these walls are very high! Thus the steep dig off walls regularly collapse during rain. On the way we enjoyed the show of big truck which are going faster down then up the slope. Final with the assistance of big local bulldozer it succeed! Some cars are using such a worn tires that problems are unavoidable. After we returned this way we follow the cost road along the Tomini Bay to our destination Moutong. On the way we observe the processing of coconuts. First the nut be spear on a pole with a sharp knife to remove the skin. A action not without risk. Then the nut will be broken, the pulp scrape out and dry it to copra. Everything will be used the shin for plait mats, the shells the make charcoal and the copra to produce oil. Along the cost you will meet several very small settlements of fisherman. To my opinion people who are during transmigration fall between two stools. These people living under very poor circumstances in cots made of wreck-wood from what the sea will deliver some little fish and shell-fish that's all. But despite that very friendly and fond of laughing Near Ada we pass the equator not so spectacular only a little pillar with a sphere op top. In Palu we bought a lunch-packet because according our guide its not responsible to use a lunch in a warung during this trip. In one of the little villages we use our lunch-packet with coffee from the warung. Coffee is not a problem because the water is boiled and used immediately. We inspected the warung to control if the story is true. Well, the kitchen was a mess... A very dirty cot with fires on the floor and pans which are not washed but wiped off only and Kamar Kecil the toilet is in the same room. We have seen enough and fully agreed with our guide. During lunch a very excited local man coming inside and trying to explain that we have to go with him to see something. It appears that one of the fisherman have catch a enormous Tuna-fish what is apparently so particular that everybody have to take a look on it before it will be cut in pieces. We bought also some pieces to be fried in the hotel for dinner, very nice! In Mountong we are the object of interest, a foreigner is very particular here. Hallo sir, I love you ... calling the children and that are the only words they know! We use hotel Asmoro, the only one with an own generator so that the fan remains working during the night. We rent 3 Becaks for a round trip through the village. According the local fashion is every Becak equipped with a music installation which produce very loud noise during the trip. You can imagine that we cause a lot of fun by local people.

Beautiful view Through a varied landscape we travel to Gorontala. The trip going along Randangan Panua Res. several little fisherman villages and Mangrove forest. According the local people Mangrove is worthless, the wood is burning slow thus they cut it all down..... and the delivery rooms of nature are disappeared! Also you will find several places where the forest is burned, in the National Reserves too! Oh well! Sudah people need food Yeah! Isn't that awful Sawahs and Pisang are green too Yeah! And in the meantime they burning another pieces of forest because the soil is useless for agriculture. On the way we meet a original traditional village pasar (market), that's the limit to make Photo's or film. Of course after some time the market turned topsy-turvy and the trade be stagnant because our behavior is crazy in the eyes of the local people. And I think they are right! At Gorontalo we stay in hotel Mini Saronde, what in the early days was a beautiful and luxury hotel but now its total neglected. Dust of at least 30 years cover everything. Door-handles remain in your hands and the door of the bathroom collapse because it was complete mouldered. The owner (granny) speaks Dutch but can't walk and is nearly blind. Gorontalo is a 100% Muslim city and from all directions you will hear the Imam shouting for prayer. The intention was to stay here 2 nights, but together we decide that one is enough and ask our guide to change it. In the evening we dine with the Chinese and we bought lunch-packets for tomorrow.

stinky fruit We make an early start for our destination Lolak in the north at the Celebes sea, a trip along many fisherman villages, Mangrove forest, Cocos plantages and over many shaky bridges. In a local warung we used our lunch packet and at 15.30 hours we arrive in hotel Molosing beach at Lolak. Sound luxury, but it is not. The compound consist of a line of cottages under the palm trees at the beach, with on both sides very poor fisherman cots of the village Lolak. The beds are good but without upper-sheets, you have to ask for it. Before we can use our cottage some local guests will be removed and the water of the mandi tray renewed. The staff is moving and moving to study our comfort but they don't know what to do. First a little walk over the beach where immediately half of the population show up to see you. They are all living at the beach in self-made cots of bamboo and wreck-wood without a toilet or something, the waterline will be used for their motions, terrible primitive! If you want to make a photo immediately some naked children jumping before the lens. There are beautiful palm trees on the beach but it is terrible dirty. They don't see it, after our question why the beach is so dirty they start immediately to clean up. The beach before the hotel is clean and the local population is not allowed to be there. Back to the hotel for diner and after dinner coffee at the terrace of our cottage Wisma Mawar. We have an Airco which after cleaning of the radiator is working too!

A day free at leisure. Our guide arranged a boat trip with the owner of the hotel to a uninhabited little island Molosing with a small dependance of the hotel. The complete staff of the hotel will accompany us with cooks kitchen-boys girls to serve the food and an engineer to startup the generator and enough food to feed a complete village. We have to start very early before ebb otherwise it not possible to swim. It is a dream-island with beautiful nature and pretty possibilities to use your glasses and schnorkel. This place is much better than by Donggale, more coral and fishes. A very good lunch will served at an improvised terrace. It is unimaginable what the cooks can perform on the little fires. In the afternoon during ebb it is no longer possible to go into the sea because the coral is to sharp to walk over it, but discovering the island is also very interesting many shells and other animals be left at the beach. On the way back to the hotel we meet a group of dolphins playing in the sea.

Beach Lolak In the morning we make a quiet walk through the Lolak village. All little bamboo cots and some very little shops. Back over the beach where some of the nets are under repair. Everybody want to be on the photo and start immediately with to sit for it and we still trying to explain to continue with the daily pursuits. In the afternoon we depart for Manado. You will clearly notice by the traffic that you approach a big city. Sometimes you see a car with a cage full of dogs. These dogs are catch on the way and will be sold as a delicacy in Manado. Watch your dog otherwise it will end his live on the menu of one of the restaurants in the city. We stay in hotel Sahid Kawanua, a real hotel with some luxury.

Today we make a tour through Minahasa. First Tomohon a flower city with many nursery gardens located in a valley between two volcano's. We visit the sulfa lake which stinks to high heaven like rotten eggs with many bubbly hot wells. After coffee we visit the local potteries, all coarse products not beautiful! We traveling along Tondano lake, with breeder places for enormous gold-fish, ecological a mistake because the escaped gold-fish have eaten all what living in the lake! If you are be interested, in this surroundings are many large underground fortresses of the Japanese. There are stories that after more than 50 years still some very old Jap soldiers pop up who are thinking the war is still going on. You will meet also very old graveyards with Dutch textual explanations on the stones. Back in Manado we visit the pasar Berschati, located close to the hotel. Within some minutes you run mad of the noise bustle smell and traffic. There is also a WR location, where you can buy dog meat, not so appetizing. Souvenirs or interesting things are not available and soon we escaped into the hotel. In the evening we dine with the driver and guide in a sate restaurant. It is their last evening with us. Tomorrow we going with four and the guide to the Bunaken and after this last trip they depart to Ujang Pandang. Our guide Boy, was a very friendly and handsome man and our driver experienced and clever. Exploratory our guide was not so good but it is compensated by his fast improvisations knowledge of the right persons and his advisories which are really necessary during this trip.

Bunaken Anemone-fish Its a day free at leisure and with two other people we have chosen to go to the underwater paradise Bunaken. Don't organize it by yourself, ask your guide to do it which is at least 50% cheaper! After a short walk to the harbor a fast boat with two strapping engines is waiting. After a 50 minutes sail we arrive with schnorkels and glasses at the preserved island Bunaken. A prohibitory sign mentioned that it's not allowed to damage or remove coral or shells. First we will have some coffee and then the boot brings us to the reef. Glasses on and schnorkel in your mouth and jump into the warm water. The first moments you are breathless so beautiful! So many varieties and colors in coral. Some enormous and others little and delicate and in between thousands fishes in all possible and impossible sizes and colors. Large shoals fishes with lightning strips and in between beautiful anemone-fishes. On the reef it is about 1.5 to 2 meters deep and at the end it is very steep 900 meters deep. Depends the surroundings you will have a good view till 30 meters. On different levels you will see passing several kind of fishes with in between some very big and strange solitary fishes. The water-refreshing is very heavy, the stream is sometimes so strong that it is not possible to swim. Our instruction is to swim always with the steam and don't fight against it. One of the boatsman is still in the water to watch us. After upwards of a two hours and complete softened by the warm water we going back to the island for lunch. In the afternoon we going to an other place at the reef with total different coral and through that other kind of fishes. The reef is here more fantastic with deep channels in which a different flora and faun is living. What you see surpassed everything what the TV showed you. Fishes like a little coffer with a handle on top and when you approach the fish it blow up them self and many more strange animals The stream is growing so strong that it is no longer possible to swim and we have to go inside the boat.

Latest day on Sulawesi. In the afternoon we depart with the hotel bus to the airport. The first flight is to Unjang Pandang with a transit to Denpasar. Everything going perfect and in the evening we arrive at Sanur, in the same hotel from where we started. We have still 1.5 day to see something from Bali or take some rest under the palm trees at the beach. It was adventurous, exciting, varied, surprising and sometimes a little bit look away on this trip but we enjoyed it very much!

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