A yellow pygmy hippocampus, as big as the fingernail of my little finger. (Bunaken, North Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2007.)
A yellow pygmy hippocampus, as big as the fingernail of my little finger. (Bunaken, North Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2007.)

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  Indonesia: Sulawesi - July 2007

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation of an article originally written in French. I apologise for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have resulted. If you read French, click on the French flag below to access the original, correct text: 

Already my last day at Bunaken ! I have new neighbors at Nyiur Melambai: Olivier and Ariane, and their three daughters, Alizé, Flore and Jade. From Grenoble, arriving from Bali. We take our meals together in the evening in the big desert restaurant and we quickly get on well with each other. I'm a little sad at the idea of leaving tomorrow.

I'm already starting to take my little habits here. To do to mosquitoes (Nyamouk) at the shower fresh and salty mandi (hard to get fresh water on this island!), grilled fish and rice in the evening, the fabulous lunch buffet at the Froggies, to the inexhaustible kindness of the locals.

The beach, Pantai Liang, at low tide. Bunaken, North Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2007.
The beach, Pantai Liang, at low tide. Bunaken, North Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2007.

I like the island of Celebes alias Sulawesi... In any case, the little I could see, in five short days, of North Sulawesi: that is, for now, a tiny piece of island, streets jammed when crossing Manado and the road to the airport...

Few or no veiled women here: we are in a Christian enclave, in the largest Muslim country in the world. Lots of kitschy churches line the roads: many adventists, evangelists, some catholic buildings.

The government has tried to build mosques in every Christian town and village, but they remain empty because of the lack of worshippers... On the road, we pass cars that display on their windshields "Jesus is my pilot". It seems that even the logo of the famous pub Pentium "Intel inside was here diverted into "Jesus inside"

Manado Tua, the island-volcano in front of Bunaken, seen from Pantai Liang. (Bunaken, North Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2007.)
Manado Tua, the island-volcano in front of Bunaken, seen from Pantai Liang (Bunaken, North Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2007.)

I went for a walk quickly last night, before nightfall (and it falls early, in these latitudes, from 18h-18h30), in the tiny village located above "my" beach, that of the west coast of Bunakencalled Pantai Liang.

You have to climb a long and steep staircase, then follow the path between the banana and coconut trees. Rickety shacks with chickens pecking in the courtyard, on the doorstep, alternate with dapper houses with a large television and plush living room furniture, which can be seen through the open patio doors.

I don't know if it's because it was Saturday night, but everyone had their sound system on full blast... Karaoke atmosphere in the village! People were a little surprised to see me there, but everyone was going to his "hello!" and a friendly hand gesture. I counted three churches in this handful of houses alone.

I did not have time to go to the "village" of Pantai PangalisangThe beach-mangrove located on the eastern tip of the island. But while passing off shore, with the diving boat, we can see a big construction like a birthday cake, another church...

From the sea, we can see the Pantai Pangalisang church. (Bunaken, North Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2007.)
From the open sea, you can see the church of Pantai Pangalisang (Bunaken, North Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2007.)

I'm trying to learn a few more Indonesian words, but my progress is slow... In the evening, I'm too tired to do my vacation homework and language exercises. Especially since I'm planning the rest of my stay.

After long discussions with Ariane and Olivier, who, like me, have not planned anything definitive, and on the wise advice of Tommy, the Indonesian who leads Froggies with Christiane, we decide to give up the natural park of Tangkoko, infested, he told us, with mosquitoes and frightening gnats that sting like sandflies (bites without gravity, but itch terribly) ...

TomohonIn the mountains, near Manado, seems to us a much more pleasant stage: there are volcanoes more or less asleep, lakes, therefore a lake of sulphur, and nice walks to do, accessible to all legs.

It's decided. I still plan to spend three days diving at the beginning of my stay, but on the island of Lembeh, where I'm moving tomorrow.

Located on the east coast of the peninsula, the island is just over an hour's drive from Manado, then twenty minutes by boat from the port of Bitung. After that, I will go to Tomohon for a couple of days, to dry off a bit and see something else than fish. At the same time, I can't get enough of fish (except in my plate)...

And I'm proud to have succeeded, after many unsuccessful attempts, in taking a picture of this tiny seahorse, below, no bigger than the nail of my little finger...

A yellow pygmy hippocampus, as big as the fingernail of my little finger. (Bunaken, North Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2007.)
A yellow pygmy seahorse, as big as my pinky nail (Bunaken, North Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2007).

The weather is fine again, I enjoy the last bubbles in Bunaken. The fauna of all these drop-offs is rich and varied, but less spectacular than in Sipadan, in the same sea of Celebes, off the Malay side of Borneo. (Read my story from July 2006: Sipadan: swimming with sharks.)

Well, I'll stop being a spoiled diver... There is still a lot of fun to be had here with the "small". And we appreciate even more to meet "big" ones, sometimes. Like this big turtle, who came to say goodbye to me. A little bit in spite of her, the poor one...

Hello the turtle! (Bunaken, North Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2007.)
Hello the turtle! (Bunaken, North Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2007.)

It passed under my nose, suddenly pulled out of its little nap in a cavity of the drop-off, by my repeated flashes. I was blocking her exit, busy as I was with the exquisite details of a new nudibranch and the recalcitrant focus of my macro mode...

Needless to say, she ran off into the blue without a second thought!

  Indonesia: Sulawesi - July 2007

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  1. Amazing!
    J’ai lu et relu ton récit , épatée je suis; nous évoquerons sans doute demain, Hélène et moi, les débuts de ce fabuleux voyage, c’est un enchantement…
    Je quitte la grisaille bretonne demain après-midi et espère dîner en terrasse en compagnie d’Hélène et Grégory, place de la Comédie, au soleil et dans une douceur vraiment estivale…
    J’ouvrirai à nouveau ton livre de voyage dès mon retour dimanche soir, avant de repartir en vacances vers le sud.
    Goodbye Bunaken, little girl, Lydie.

  2. Épatée… oui. Mais en ces durs jours de labeur pour moi, j’ai quand même du mal à réaliser qu’il existe des endroits comme ça!!! Néanmoins, grâce aux photos, je me dis que oui, c’est vrai, ça existe; et ça me fait du bien après cette longue journée de travail avec Saburo (le chorégraphe japonais) qui n’a pas eu pitié, nous a achevé!! J’en peux plus!! Et pour couronner le tout, suis rentrée sous la pluie (froide)!!!! Bon, au moins, y a pas de risque que je me fasse piquer par un moustique!!!
    Demain, départ en bus pour Montpellier, répétition, et enfin un petit moment de détente avec maman… En terrasse….?? Je l’espère… Mince,on est en juillet, il devrait faire beau et chaud!!!
    I'm kissing you strongly; good holiday continuation !!! Beware of mosquitoes !!!!!

  3. Hi the queen of bubbles!
    6h du matin à Rennes et le ciel est déjà, toujours et encore gris. Bref une nouvelle journée de m… Je viens de rentrer d’un reportage et me plonger dans tes récits m’offrent une parenthèse de paradis avant de reprendre le taf. Veinarde. Je ne peux que regretter de ne pas disposer d’un télétransporteur à la Star-Trek pour voir de mes yeux tout ce que tu nous décris. Et dans tes mots, on sent ton émerveillement, qui est communicatif… Je relis encore et encore et…
    Continue to bring us sun and dreams and keen adventures! Big kisses.