A traditional rocker boat, photographed off Pantai Liang (Bunaken).
A traditional rocker boat, photographed off Pantai Liang (Bunaken).

Arrival in Sulawesi: heading for Bunaken!

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic Google translation from a post originally written in French. My apologies for the strange sentences and the funny mistakes that could gave been generated during the process. If you can read French, the original and correct version can be found here PetitesBullesdAilleurs.fr

  Indonesia: Sulawesi - July 2007

Through the porthole of the plane, I discover Sulawesi, and the island of Bunaken, where I will spend the first five days. Arriving a creepy hair: it is nice over the bay, but a big rainy cloud settled on the airport of Manado.

Acrobatic landing

The pilot tries a first approach. It is a little too much, to my taste, two mountains covered with jungle, before entering a mashed gray pea.

The island of Bunaken, seen through the porthole of the plane of Silk Air, a subsidiary of Singapore Airlines.
The island of Bunaken, seen through the porthole of the plane of Silk Air, a subsidiary of Singapore Airlines.

Then the plane rises, goes up at once, out of the cloud and leaves for a large circle on the sun side, over the sea and the islands that form the Bunaken National Marine Park. Before returning to the storm cloud, for a second attempt.

The pilot will repeat the maneuver two or three times, after we have courteously announced that the visibility was really too rotten over the track ... Bigre.

Ace, this pilot! We ended up landing, gently, in the pouring rain. A relief for everyone. Around me, tense faces relax.

After, it's easy. I pay my 25 USD visa for 30 days, clear the customs, get my bags and find as expected, with his little sign, the guy from Froggies (Bunaken dive center with whom I contacted by e-mail before departure), in the crowd watching the passengers at the exit.

It's hot, very moist. The rain has stopped. A swarm of kids armed with huge rainbow umbrellas still rushes at travelers coming out of the airport to take a taxi. The drivers drive the kids unceremoniously. Nothing works !

Manado Tua, the volcano island that faces Bunaken.
Manado Tua, the volcano island that faces Bunaken.

Crossing by car from Manado, big city concreted without grace, but very animated. Then an hour's boat ride Bunaken.

The boat in question is actually the one that supplies Froggies in food and especially in water. The profile of the coast and islands is steep, volcanic, covered with dense and exuberant tropical vegetation.

Pantai Liang

I am warmly welcomed on arrival at Pantai Liang, the west beach of the island, by Christiane. Franco-Italian, polyglot, she constituted the diving center Froggies 15 years ago, with Indonesian staff, and trained herself the guides who accompany us underwater. She always has a lot of incredible stories and funny stories to tell, in the evening, when guests meet around the table for dinner.

At my request, she arranged for me Nyiur Melambai, a homestay neighbor, or nights (120 000 Rp, or nearly 10 €) are cheaper than at home Froggies. I will also take breakfast and dinner, included in the rate. Hearty but monotonous dinners: rice and fish grilled on the menu every night, with some variations, sometimes, in the assortment of vegetables (beans or spinach, spinach or beans). Desire for change ? Simply alternate between the bottle of ketchup and that of chili sauce ... Hum! Fortunately, I'll catch up at noon with the great buffets of Froggies.

Pantai Liang, beach on the west coast of Bunaken Island.
Pantai Liang, beach on the west coast of Bunaken Island.

Tonight, I'm the only customer of the huge restaurant Nyiur Melambaiinstalled under a large sheet metal roof on the sand.

Here, as at TiomanIn Malaysia, the coral reef becomes mangrove in places on the beach: trees grow in the sea.

Family atmosphere and peaceful in my guesthouse. Two charming old ladies hold the restaurant, helped by a lot of other people who must be from the same family. Nothing is caring for me, makes me big smiles, unable to really converse. Only a young guy (a nephew, a cousin, a grandson?) Gibbered a few words of English.

French cheese

After the rice-fish, I go home Froggies, at two steps, get to know the other divers. Tonight is a celebration: some customers have brought cheese to Christiane, and I'm not the only one to have thought of bringing a bottle of wine.

The meal ends so cheerfully, in the French, under the benevolent smiles of a couple of Australians, Jeane and Bert, who taste politely french cheese... with much less greed than Christiane.

A traditional rocker boat, photographed off Pantai Liang (Bunaken).
A traditional rocker boat, photographed off Pantai Liang (Bunaken).

The atmosphere is assured by the Indonesian staff, resort staff and guides, who push the ditty, accompanied by guitars and percussion various. Songs of the traditional local repertoire, sometimes with almost Oceanian accents. In these latitudes, in the sea of Celebeswe are not so far from the Pacific ...

Every night, we will be entitled to this little concert very nice. It's not just for folklore. I will see, during the days to come, that all the locals love to sing, at any time, on the boat, in the village, fishing, during their activities of the day ...

I'm tired and I go back to my bungalow early, recover from this long journey. Spartan comfort: bed, fan, mandi (water tank and bowl with which we spray to wash). In bed ! Tomorrow, I dive on the famous Bunaken drop-offs.

  Indonesia: Sulawesi - July 2007

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