So there we were…walking through the most intense and bloody meat market we have seen on our entire trip.
After our short trip in the national reserve, we traveled to the town Tomohon, a city at the base of one of the many active volcanos in the area. Jason’s birthday request was to climb a volcano so that is what we set out to do. Arriving the first night we went out to dinner at a small restaurant down the road from our hostel and got to talking with a local man who went to university in the US. He and his family own several businesses throughout the Tomohon area and after a short conversation he generously paid for our dinner and offered to drive us around, show us the town and introduce us to some of his other family who also studied in the US. Always up for an adventure, we jumped in his car and went to his brother’s house. Long story short, one of his brothers offered for us to stay at a hillside resort that he owns for free the following night (which was Jason’s birthday) and Ferdinand (our new friend) offered to come pick us up at our hostel and drive us around the city the next day before dropping us at our new hotel for the night. Another example of Indonesian hospitality at its best, we of course accepted and made plans the following day to meet after we finished our hike.
The next morning, which was Jason’s 29th birthday, we got up early and started our hiked up Lokon volcano. The base of the volcano was right behind our hotel so it was easy to get to started. The hike brought us up a dried lava bed all the way to the rim of the crater lake. You can continue onto the peak, but because we had no guide and we heard it is tough to find the way, we ended the trek at the lake. You could hear the lava bubbling and the sulfur steam was pouring out. We made sure to not breath in much of the sulfur air and did our best to stay clear of the steam as it can make you very sick. It was not a difficult hike, but we enjoyed the views of the city and the opportunity to look down into the active volcano cone.
After finishing our hike Ferdinand picked us up at our hostel and drove us to check into the hotel. The property sits up on a big hill overlooking the city and is surrounded by green, lush jungle. The room was spectacular with a modern, simple design. It was by far the nicest place we had stayed on the entire trip…and for free! As we were heading out to see the city, we mentioned that we had friends staying nearby (some other travellers we had met along the way) and Ferdinand offered to go pick them up as well and take them with us for the day. He brought us all out to a beautiful sulfur lake that was a few different shades of blue/green and treated us all to beers at a cafe right on the lake shore (which his family also owned!).
After enjoying our time at the lake, we wanted to celebrate Jason’s birthday so we invited everyone back to our hotel, which had a wonderful living room, to have dinner and drink some beers. After getting some take out food and a few beers from the grocery store, we all made our way back to the hotel for some fun with our new friends. We had a wonderful evening together and Ferdinand and his family made our stay in Tomohon a very memorable one.
The next morning before heading out-of-town, we paid a visit to the local market. The Minahasan (North Sulawesi) people are known for eating some weird stuff and this market was supposed to be the best place to view some of those things. The items on display were bats, forest rats, large snakes and even dogs. The main butchery area was a bloody mess to walk through but very interesting to see. The hardest thing for us was seeing the BBQ dog, some already cooked, some waiting for their fate in crammed cages. Even though we realize this is their way of life, it was hard to see up close and in person as we are both such dog lovers.
After letting our stomach settle a bit from the intense market, we jumped on a bus back to Manado and then took a quick boat to the island of Bunaken. The beach is unfortunately not very clean as trash washes up from the nearby city on the mainland, but the under water exploring is worth the trip. We spent several days diving and nights drinking the local rice wine with the great hotel staff. The diving was just as spectacular as everywhere else in Indonesia, lots of great fish and coral walls. We also got to do one muck dive which is a very shallow dive over a sandy bottom looking for some unique critters. We both really enjoyed this dive as it was much different from everything else we have done before and we got to see some really different fish.
We loved every part of Indonesia and diving was a wonderful way to end our two months there. We had a quick stopover in Jakarta on the way to our next country, Singapore. More on that in the next blog!
- Climbing the active Lokon volcano
- Our nice hotel for the night of Jason’s birthday
- More wonderful Indonesian hospitality from Ferdinand and his family
- Diving and chillin’ in Bunaken
- Seeing the dogs at the market in cages awaiting their death and Becky seeing one of them being killed with a blodgeon to the head.