Indonesia: Sulawesi - July 2007
Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation made from a post originally written in French. My apologies for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have been generated during the process. If you are reading French, click on the French flag below to access the original and correct text:
Today I fly to the other end of Sulawesi with Lion Air. Flight Manado, Makassardeparture 7.55 am, arrival 8.30 am. The plane is full as an egg. I am the only Westerner.
Departure from Manado
I booked my flight with the very efficient Lion Air agency Star Express from Manado, for 769 000 Rp (about 60€). It's the high price, it seems, since I'm in the middle of the Indonesian vacation period.
I do not intend to stop at Makassarbut inquire directly with a bus for Rantepao. I know there's one at 10am, but I've already written it off, thinking of taking the 2pm one instead.
I'm not sure if the plane leaves on time, and on arrival I might lose a lot of time collecting the luggage, after which I'll have to take a cab to the bus terminal, which is not exactly next to the airport.
But I forget that in Indonesia, time sometimes has elastic virtues. We call it "Jam Karet"…
Return of Tomohon yesterday, in the late morning, I did not want to go back to the Minahasa. I opted instead for another mid-range accommodation, theHotel Central in Manado. Not much to say about it, except that it is also strategically located on Jalan Sam Ratulangi, but much closer to what I consider as the "center": namely the shopping malls of Mega Mall (With the super high-speed internet center on the top floor) and the nice little restaurants facing the sea just behind.
For 180 000 Rp + 10% we have a "deluxe" room, i.e. hot water, clean sheets, TV and air conditioning. I got a blind room, the only one available when I showed up.
In short, a hotel without charm, purely functional, but which makes well my business for the night. Cab to the airport at 70 000 Rp. Manado is definitely not cheap for tourists on the road.
At the airport, we still have to pay the 30,000 Rp domestic tax after check-in. Some jerk tried to grill me in the queue in front of the luggage scale by putting his bag on the tray, but I politely but firmly put him back in his place. No way!
Take off with Lion Air
On the tarmac, dominated by the sloping profile of Mount Lokon, I gauge with my eyes the plane of Lion Air I'll take. It looks good.
I learned from Christiane de Froggies that Indonesian companies have just been put on a "black list" in Europe. But frankly, it doesn't scare me more than that.
Well, once inside, I still notice that the light strip on the floor, supposed to indicate the emergency exits, is cracked and repaired with tape. I prefer not to imagine that the rest of the device is perhaps patched up identically...
I am frankly amused by the discovery I make in the pocket of my seat: a document named Invocation Card, much more fascinating than the booklet of the safety instructions.
This pamphlet contains prayers, in Indonesian and English, for almost all faiths, so that the journey goes well.
The prayers, for Muslims, Protestants, Catholics, Hindus and Buddhists, basically say this: "O God, make this plane arrive safely, may the elements be favorable to us, and may the crew get us safely to our destination, Amen."
I read all the prayers, cover to cover, and it worked.
We arrived safely at Makassar. With quite a delay, though, since the plane didn't leave on time. Jam karet ... Elastic time.
Update. On the same theme, I wrote this other article, six years later (as I continued to fly Lion Air often, during my travels in Indonesia):
→ Pray your prayers on Lion Air (bis)
I still waste some time at the airport, chatting with nice people who quickly noticed that I wanted to go to Rantepao. One of them wants to send me to his friend's hotel, the other one to his tour operator boss.
But I am the girl who already has her hotel reservation and knows perfectly where to go to visit the country Toraja. So, as I am French, they show me their "Hello, how are you?" and tell me about Zidane.
But then, moved by a sudden intuition, I decide not to linger any longer and to go to my bus terminal. The reps consult their watches, doubtful. They kindly point out that I have plenty of time for the 2pm bus.
They would still like to talk to me, the guys... But they are still nice and courteous, they drive me to the cab counter together. "prepaid" and even carry my bags... Pfff! Too easy.
The bus terminal for the north is in "zone 1", fare 64 000 Rp. The trip is not that long. On the spot, I don't let myself be impressed by the horde of robbers-harassers from the parking lot, who pounce on the passengers disembarking from the mikrolets and cabs, and I walk straight to the ticket office on the platform, to which they don't have access (you have to pay 500 Rp).
There, I discover a beautiful-big bus of the Litah company. My bags are immediately stuffed in the hold. I am not sooner wallowed in a huge recliner, to taste the freshness of the air conditioning, that the bus moves.
Set course for Rantepao!
I can't believe my luck. It's 10:35 am. And I've just caught the famous 10 o'clock bus, it's written on my ticket. Hey hey! I congratulate myself, not a little proud of myself.
That means I'm going to come to Rantepao at the end of the day, around 6:30 to 7:00. And so, and above all, to be able to admire the mountainous landscapes, reputedly splendid, at the gates of the Toraja country, because we will be there before nightfall! Impossible thing with the 2pm bus...
I abandon myself blissfully to these joyful reflections, thinking that I surely did well, when I was suspended between heaven and earth, to address all these prayers to several gods at the same time...