“How many of your friends have traveled to Bunaken?” I mumbled to my buddy when our boat docked to the pier.
“Two, as far as I know.” She replied.
“Mine’s two as well, or maybe three.” I counted myself.
In fact, flight to North Sulawesi was neither short nor cheap. It took us 3 hours and almost 2.5 million IDR for round trip ticket, even though it was not a high season to travel. Maybe that’s the reason why majority of our acquaintances prefer Thailand or any other country as their travel destination.
But we did not regret our decision. Bunaken was totally worth.
We stayed in Bastianos Dive Resort, willing to pay some more than to commute 45 minute each way from mainland to the national park. I would recommend you to stay there too, since they provide warm hospitality and more importantly, delicious food.
The underwater view of Bunaken was fantastic. Colorful corals, school of fish everywhere, and a lot of sea turtles. If you’re lucky, you will meet sharks, too. The best time to visit: late April to November.
After 2 days and 6 dives, we are going back to the mainland. This time we will walk, instead of swim, to meet some other creatures in Tangkoko Nature Reserve.
Tangkoko Batuangus Nature Reserve is a lowland rainforest, 2 hours drive from Manado. Here you can meet the ‘fusion’ of Asian and Australian Faunas: the tarsiers, the black macaque monkeys, maleo birds, cuscus and the hornbills who make this their habitat. Unfortunately, as the land diminished, some animals have become endangered or even extinct.
Wasn’t lucky enough to meet the big monkeys but still, worth the 8 km hike. Here are some Pals I met during my visit (too bad I did not bring a tele):
Again, we were the only local tourist visited. Our guide, Meldy, said that almost all of the visitor are foreigners. It was a shame, that even his relative from Manado, did not know that Tarsius lived on the same island as theirs. Well, some road are less traveled for some reasons, right?
If you are wondering, how I arranged this tour. I googled about Tangkoko, then found contact of a recommended guide in Lonely Planet forum. He already had a reservation on our wished date, however he referred his friend to us. On the date of our visit, Meldy and a driver picked us up on the port.
We were back to the city at the end of the day.
It felt weird to be surrounded by a lot of people, after being secluded on the island and forest. We missed the solitude already.
On the final day, we explored the city and of course, the culinary~
First stop of our city tour was the North Sulawesi Museum. They provide nice information about the province’s history and culture as well as basic information about human evolution. It is currently the only museum in Manado.
Second stop, Nasi Kuning Seroja. It is located on a walking distance from the museum. They provide a fancy leaf-wrap if you order take away.
Then we head to the chinese area to visit Ban Hin Kiong temple. Actually there were a bunch of temple on the area,but Ban Hin Kiong is the largest temple. We still saw some Cap Gomeh decoration along the street.
Not far from the temple, there were Wakeke Culinary area where you can find a lot of kiosk selling Manadonese traditional food: Mie Cakalang, Tinutuan (Bubur Manado), etc. Despite of its relatively cheap price, they serve quite big portion.
On our way to visit Christ Blessing Monument, we stopped in Merciful Building to buy some souvenir. They provide a wide variety of this, including outside North Sulawesi.
Unfortunately it was raining when we arrived at the monument. The statue located in a real estate residential area. On top of a hill, facing the city. It is the third largest statue of Jesus Christ after the first in Brazil and the second in Poland.
Lastly, we stopped in Christin’s Klapertaart on the way to the airport . We forgot to take pictures because the tart was too good. Yumm 😀