Antalya-İstanbul-Jakarta-Makassar ended up being a 26-hour airplane journey (home to hotel). Ferda and I spent less than 48 hours in Makassar and boarded the Pelni ship KM. Sinabung for what ended up being a 19-hour journey (hotel to hotel) from Makassar to Baubau. We were still tired and disoriented from the long days of travel, jet lag, tropical climate, new country, new food, new language, but we correctly assumed that Baubau would be a better place than Makassar to rest a few days and get our bearings.
First class cabin on the KM. Sinabung:
The boat departs Baubau without us:
We had put our bicycles together in Makassar so on our first full day in Baubau we were ready for the short ride to Pantai (Beach) Nirvana. Indeed we stepped into a tropical paradise — white sand, clear turquoise water, palm trees — you know, the kind of thing people fly halfway around the world for.
One of my main goals for coming to Southeast Sulawesi was to snorkel what are supposedly some of the best reefs in the world. People, however, do not fly halfway around the world to snorkel at Pantai Nirvana. The sandy gently sloping beach made it easy to get in the water. Visibility was good. I found some coral, but at high tide (coincidentally it was high tide) everything was a little too deep to see much. It was fine for our first snorkel — testing equipment and getting used to being in the water.
Before I forget, I ought to describe some of my first impressions of Indonesia after two weeks in Sulawesi. For full disclosure, I must say that I’ve been to Indonesia before — I traveled in Lombok, Bali, Java, and Sumatra 24 years ago.
- Indonesians are kind, gentle, smiling, and helpful. Everyone wants to say hi to us — that’s already starting to get tiring; we feel like we constantly need to smile.
- There isn’t much English spoken. It’s great to learn some Bahasa Indonesia, the more the better. It’s not a hard language to pick up some basics.
- There are almost no bicycles. Everyone is on a moped.
- It’s hot. But, actually, so far it’s less hot than we expected. It’s also rainy. Even though it’s the start of the dry season in Makassar, it’s the middle of the rainy season in Baubau.
- The food is really good with a surprising variety. We’ve had soup with jackfruit, noodles and rice with seafood, yummy greens, papaya, durian, watermelon, rambutan, mango, dragon fruit, banana, and other fruit whose names we don’t know. We’ve spent seven nights at a hotel in Baubau. The breakfast is terrific, and we haven’t had the same flavor twice.
Our first durian:
We’ve visited three islands near Baubau, but I’ll save that for the next post.