dear friend Florian Spisla wanted to include a visit to Indonesia in
his round the world ticket, to see us and to discover a new place.
The goal was to meet on a nice island, which is easy to reach from
abroad and great to hang out a couple of days. When Lisa asked her
colleagues in Solo about the most beautiful places in Indonesia,
everybody immediately answered „Bunaken!“ But there are no direct
flights to Bunaken – Manado seems to be the gateway to heaven for
divers, tourists from Indonesia and other parts of the world. We
decided to see the gate also, as we had to pass through it anyway.
|View from Manado harbour|
as well as domestic flight connections to Manado are easy to get. Not
really cheap, but quite frequent (we will post soon about booking
flights in Indonesia/South East Asia to give you more detailed
information). Before landing on the island, the airplane circled a
little over Northern Sulawesi, so that we got the full view over all
these beautiful little islands with yellow and white sandy beaches.
It looks like paradise from above. Clouds gathering around the big
volcanoes give it a little mystic touch - make it an interesting
scenery that you can't wait to discover.
|Sunset view from Manado|
Airport is one of the cleanest and prettiest that we have seen in
Indonesia so far. Getting to the Baggage Claim, you see more and more
guys with pink T-Shirts popping out of nowhere. They are luggage
porters you can hire. Lisa got a little nervous about that, as in
many countries they are very pushy and just grab your luggage so that
you're almost forced to pay them. But they had great manners, as
Indonesians usually do, and were decent, only working for you when
you really showed them that you want them to carry your stuff. As we
rather grab our bags ourselves, we just ignored them, which worked
outside, the usual crowd of taxi drivers asked us where we wanted to
go and if they could take us there. We negotiated a little, and got a
good deal: it cost us 70'000 IDR/5 EUR from the airport to the
guesthouse Istanaku, where we stayed for the first two nights. Going
back to the airport to pick up our friend, we found out that with the
argometer you pay about the same, depending on traffic jams. So that
worked out just fine, as the “official” price would have been
100'000 IDR/7 EUR, but our driver still seemed to be happy with the
money he got and brought us quickly and safely to our destination.
|Rooftop terrace of our guesthouse|
at Istanaku, we were surprised about the incredibly lovely and
helpful staff, and about the cleanliness of the rooms. Indonesian
cleanliness standards are not the same as European standards usually.
That is simply the experience we had so far. But this hotel (okay, it
was brand new, they had not finished all the „monster“
graffitties on the walls yet) was spotless. Fresh white towels, not
one single spot or hair on the bed sheets, the toilet had a little
bit of mold behind the sink but we have seen way worse things in
tropical climate. For breakfast they serve the usual tourist food
(toast with salty butter, strawberry or pineapple jam, chocolate
sprinkles and peanut butter) as well as Nasi Goreng and some other
local dish that changes every day. We were happy to have a choice
between tasty local food and a tourist breakfast.
|On the way to Lihaga island|
a rather noisy evening (the microlets (minibuses) play loud music
along their way) and a rather rough wake-up, caused by super happy
cleaning ladies who laughed and shouted through the house from 8am
on, we ventured out to discover the city.
is kind of disappointing at first sight. It might have been the
cleanest or most modern city in Indonesia a long time ago. Today it
just looks like other Indonesian cities. Loads of shops, cars and
dirty streets, dangerous holes in the sideways, loud and a bit
smelly. At second sight (after the first 20 minutes) we discovered
that there are more churches in Manado than mosques in Solo. That the
people are smiling, super friendly, welcoming us warmly, as in
Central Java. That there are many bakeries that sell delicious
sweets, that the microlets bring you everywhere for 3'000 IDR/0.2
EUR, and that it is easy to keep track where you are. Getting lost in
Manado is hard. But finding the really beautiful spots too.
|Enjoying the beach with friends|
got help from a local Couchsurfer, who showed us some very nice
spots. It is your choice whether you want to dive into the colorful
life of the locals and enjoy a huge variety of local food in some of
the Warungs or whether you need some Western/Chinese/Japanese food.
In the endless amount of shopping malls along the sea you get food
from all over the world for middle to big budgets. Local food is
usually rather cheap, if you dare eating it where the locals do –
in the Warungs. We eat there a lot and never had any problems so far.
Manado you have several possibilities to get your adventure. We will
cover Bunaken in a seperate post, as we spent a couple of days there
and information about it is easily found online. Other possibilities
are to climb the volcano(es), see strange animals like tarsiers in
the local conservation park, go to Tomohon (a mountain village with a
little cooler climate than hot and humid Manado), and many more
things. If you're interested, ask us. We can help you at least get
the appropriate information, which is scarce about these things).
Luckily we met somebody who makes us want to go back to Manado soon
again to discover more of the wonderful places around.
one of the highlights was our trip to Lihaga Island. A two hours car
ride (but there are some buses going, too), followed by a 20min boat
trip to one of the most beautiful small, white beach, turquoise water
islands. It is definitely worth a day-trip! We were lucky to have our
local friend with us, which made it an easy trip. He gathered 10 of
his friends to accompany us, as you have to charter a boat to the
island, which costs about 700'000 IDR/50 EUR. There were other groups
of people visiting the island, but besides taking photos with us,
they let us enjoy the island with our friends. If we now made you
want to go to Lihaga, contact us for further information, we can put
you in contact with locals who can help you get there.
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