21 June 2014

Ternate

View from Ternate to Tidore
One island, one mountain, one city. That is Ternate, the destination we spontaneously added to our trip to Manado and Bunaken, as it is also the gateway to northern Maluku. Flying in through clouds that always cover the top of the vulcano after lunch, first thing you see is the dark waters and that the entire volcano is covered with thick jungle. Along the coast you discover a few houses, rapidly that become more and more: Kota Ternate stretches out over about 14km around the small island, a place definitely off the beaten track, as soon we found out. And you see that it is not the only island you can barely wait to discover. Neighboured by its historically rival island Tidore, both of them pretty close to apparently huge Halmahera island and many more small, also wood-covered islets.

We landed in Ternate and honestly had no idea what to expect. But people were welcoming us with a lot of smiles again. Airport taxis cost 100'000 IDR/7 EUR, which we considered too expensive. So we walked towards the gate of the airport, where we got two ojeks for 20'000 IDR/1.5 EUR each after a bit of bargaining.

One of the speedboat jetties in Ternate
As we couldn't find any teasing offers online, we decided to just walk through the small city center to find the nicest place for us. But after asking for a room in five hotels, which were all full, we just settled for the next one coming up – Losmen Kita. The superior rooms have hot water, AC, TV and a window for 275'000 IDR/18 EUR. But Lisa could somehow not get comfortable, maybe also because the staff was not too motivated doing their job. Or any kind of job, for that purpose. For the second night we wanted to change the hotel.

We originally planned to leave for Tobelo (on Halmahera) that morning, but Fabs' toes got scratched while diving in Bunaken and one toe got a pretty bad infection that needed treatment immediately. The only hospital that looked trustworthy enough was the military hospital “Rumah Sakit TK IV”. We were lucky to arrive there at 7.38 am, they open the counter at 7.30 am for registration. Perfect timing to get the first appointment with the doctor who is responsible for infected feet, who starts working at 9 am. He called us in promptly and did a good job. The friendly hospital staff who by then knew us quite well, as Lisa smoked with the older officers outside and Fabs did not fight against the nurses flirt attempts, all bid us goodbye after taking the usual pictures. So after our two hours military hospital visit to get Fabians infected toes cleaned and fixed up for 120'000 IDR/8 EUR, we went to Tiara Inn, the apparently best hotel option we saw in Ternate.

That one looked very new and quite promising, but it was full the day before. When we walked in around noon, they promised us an available room and we agreed that we'd be back at one pm. Super happy about the fact, that we would spend the next night in this beautiful place, we packed our backpacks and walked under the hot sun. When we entered the lobby of the hotel with our backpacks, one of the staff sitting on a sofa jumped up, ran to the reception desk and said something to the ladies. They all together started to say that the hotel is “full, full”. We don't know whether they don't like backpackers or whether they simply forgot the promise they made us an hour earlier, but it was incredibly frustrating for us in that moment.

Our room in Villa Ma'rasai
So we were back on the street, looking for a hotel room again. Going back to the Losmen Kita was not an option for us. We remembered that there was Wisma Daisy, a simple homestay. They were not really motivated giving us a room either, but they did, including twin beds, AC, TV and a western toilet in the room for 200'000 IDR/14 EUR.

All together the hotel options in Ternate looked pretty bad for us so far. The people are super friendly in general, but the city seems not to be prepared for tourists. To get information from the locals is really hard, and without basic knowledge of Bahasa Indonesia we probably would have been completely lost. Luckily we met the German Mister who owns a hotel in Kupa Kupa on Halmahera. He recommended us to stay in Villa Ma'Rasai, 7km south of Kota Ternate. Where we finally found what we were looking for throughout our holiday.

Our balcony in Villa Ma'rasai
To reach Villa Ma'Rasai you have to climb up the volcano for a bit. Ojeks, microlets or taxis can also do that for you, right to the front door of the hotel. And it is hard to find it by yourself, as from looking up to it, you only see a lot of trees with beautiful flowers – the hotel is surrounded by palm trees, nutmeg, clove, and coconut trees and many more species we have never seen so beautifully before. The hotel is built with large windows, a phenomenal view over the trees to the neighboring islands and the open sea. Bright colored walls in orange and yellow bring energy, but the dark wooden furniture calms you down again. The perfect combination to relax and enjoy. No WiFi, no TV, no hot water. That makes it probably the only place in Ternate where you can sleep in silence and be there with your body and soul. The owner of the hotel spent over 20 years in the tourist business, where he learned how to deal with guests. But those who think he would do that just as a business are wrong. The owner family is much more than just owners. They spoiled us for three full days with exquisite cuisine (75'000 IDR/5 EUR pp for dinner), fresh juices from mangoes growing around the house, 5 o'clock tea and a lot of interesting information – yes, they speak English! (we could hardly believe it at first). So if you need a place in a decent hotel (about 550'000 IDR/36 EUR per night incl. Breakfast for a double room with balcony) with lovely hosts and care about views, this is the place to go.


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