Sunday, November 20, 2005

Trip to Manado

Posted by Dawn at Sunday, November 20, 2005
Our trip to Manado was a reminder of what the tropics is like- humid and hot! (with lots of mosquitoes). We chose this resort because the price was not too cheap and not too expensive. It looked good on the web and it offered diving. However, it was not what we expected.

The resort is a small and secluded resort with no facilities but diving and swimming pool. We did not know what else to do. They offered tours as well, but again, it was not what we expected.

First, I must say that Manado is a nice place especially when I was in the plane overlooking the mountains and beautiful.

The scenery from the small, resort-like airport was also very beautiful..

When we reached the airport, the hotel did not send anyone to pick us up as our booking was quite last minute. So, we looked quite lost and many taxi drivers approached us and asked us if we want to take a taxi. I felt unsafe and scared of these persistant drivers. All spoke in Bahasa Indo...which I did not understand. Finally, one guy with long hair and a cigarette on one hand approached and spoke in English.

He asked us where we were going. CT answered, "Kikisi Nature Resort". Then, the guy commented that he knows where it was and he knows the bosses there. I was skeptical as it cannot be so coincidental. That guy must be out to cheat us. He offered to call the resort for us and find out whether anyone is coming. In the end, he told us that he will ask one taxi driver to send us there. So, we innocently went into the cab. We were desperate as we did not know any other choice.

In the end, we found out that the long-haired guy was really a nice guy who did make the arrangements for us and made sure we reached the resort safely. During the ride, the cab driver was driving crazily at 80km/h in the winding road which looked like a one lane road..but in fact, it was 2 way road.

The scenery was nice as we drove through villages, fields, spotting cows and stray dogs. Lots of coconut trees everywhere..

The resort is so small that it does not have their own car park. It is just a small space for cars to drop passengers and we have to walk up to the reception area which is just a small hut. But, the resort has nice surroundings-trees, plants, flowers, pool..

The above picture shows the hut where the reception area is. It is also the same place where we take our meals.

For the first 2 days, we ate in the resort since it is quite inaccessible. Breakfast was complimentary and we can have a choice of toast, mee goreng or nasi goreng. We tried all since we had 4 days here..

Actually, we booked for a small cottage, but the resort gave us a bigger one which was more expensive. It was because there were people staying in the small cottage which they only have one. So, they said they would not charge us for the bigger cottage that they gave us. But once the couple leaves the small cottage, we would have to move in there.

The view from our cottage was quite nice..seeing the waters, viewing the sunset...

The cottage is definitely too big for us with a sofa, 2 bedrooms, dining room and kitchen. But it was boring because there was no TV. So, we really had time for ourselves. It is like staying in a forest or camping but in a more luxurious way since we did not sleep in tents.

We dived the second day-2 dives. It was a beautiful dive with many many species of fish. There were so many schools of fish that when I looked up under the water, the schools of fish will just swim on top surrounding the waters..

During the second dive, the divemaster spotted a green sea turtle on the sand bed. I had to stare hard before I could see it cos it was camouflaged with the sand and there were fishes on the shell.

CT and I went closer to take a look and it got intimidated and swam away slowly. So cute...

I really enjoyed being in the water. Looking at the fishes and sea creatures made me feel as if I was home. Strange but true...I felt peaceful and relaxed underwater. Currents make divers panic but I just laid back and allowed the current to push me to wherever....Saw CT moving quite a I held his hand and pointed out fishes to him excitedly..

Too bad I do not have an underwater camera to take pictures of what I see. But I guess no matter what picture I is always better to see it yourself.

After the 2 dives, we had lunch provided in the boat. Had fried fish, brinjal and rice. Yummy.. After the dives, felt so hungry...

Here is the view from our diving boat...

Initially, before I came to Manado, I thought the beach would be just a step away from the resort. However, all resorts were uphill and so, to go to the waters, it was about few hundred metres trek to reach. And they do not have any beach at all. It is just swampy water...So, kind of felt cheated.

We had to walk to the boat on this plank...

I guess people get disappointed only because of in order not to feel disappointed, do not expect anything. Simple? No...People just like hope and form expectations in their mind it is hard to control..

The third day, we went for a village tour near our resort. Our dive master became our tour guide. He brought us to 2 villages. We walked for 2 hours..dreaching in sweat. Very hot. It was interesting as we saw many live chickens...which we avoided as we thought of bird flu! haha.. Saw stray dogs, pigs, cows...

After a hot walk, we changed and jumped straight into the pool..

After swimming, we got a cab to come into our resort and went to town. Town was another place we did not expect. It was run down and we seemed to be the only tourist. Quite scary as we were carrying a lot of money as we just withdrew money from the bank to pay for our resort stay. Our resort does not accept any cards cos of how ulu it is..(no phone connection).

Everyone in town spoke Indonesian. So, we had problems communicating. We walked and did some sighseeing. Had KFC for lunch as we loved to try KFC all over the world. It was interesting as they served rice...without any cutlery!

So, we had to follow everyone by eating with our hands as we ate with chilli sauce. Quite gross. Then, we thought where was the toilet to wash our hands. We observed what the locals did..and after eating, they just left the restaurant. toilet in KFC!

There were a lot of blue mini buses on the roads where people just flag and hop on. We did not know how to take these, so we settled to walking instead...

We stopped by malls, go right up to the foodcourts to take a rest from all the walking. Look at how tan CT is!! Doesnt it look athletic??

Before the sunset, we walked near the waters to catch the sunset. We spotted people fishing and couples sitting by the waters as well..

After seeing the sunset, we had seafood dinner in town before we took a cab home. The drive home was again a rollercoaster ride. I had to hold on to my seat..

When we went back, we moved to the small cottage as it was vacant. The small cottage had no aircon and it was an experience. It was hot and lots of mosquitoes when we were sleeping. There were ceiling fans only in the living room area, but not in the sleeping area. So, in the middle of night, I went to living room to sleep. We were really glad that we did not stay all 4 days in this small cottage as what we booked initially. So in the end, we only stayed one night i the cottage as we made our way home tomorrow afternoon.

Since we could hardly get a good rest, we woke up early morning at 4 plus am to catch the sunrise. We walked down to the jetty area to enjoy the open sea.

The water was so clear, we saw fishes at the jetty..I even put my head in the water to catch the fishes..haha..Spotted angelfish-looking school of fishes.

We went back to our small cottage after that and spent the time talking and taking pictures of the cottage..

We left the resort just before lunch. Had lunch in the airport, then took the flight back to Singapore.

This trip was value for the money as we did not spend anything on the expensive flight here...except for the taxes. A flight to manado would be about S$300-400. The resort did not charge us for their village tour as the guide was not the right one and there was also a 20% to our stay and diving.

I must say the trip made me realised how backward Indonesia is and it reminds me how important it is for me to know Malay. I truly enjoyed the scenery and diving in Manado. Humid weather and the mosquitoes were the negative sides to this trip but I guess, I cannot expect perfection...


Hebrew_Star on Wednesday, December 07, 2005 said...

Nice read...and food for thought... Yes, always good to know some other language, even if it a smattering... ;o)

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