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Monday, September 1, 2008

Indonesia 3, Manado

Manado, Sulawesi

By Jon Votraw

Well after a great short trip in Bali, it was off to the final leg of Island stops. This time it was up to Manado, Sulawesi. Manado is home to the largest Christian population in Indonesia, as well as home to Bunakan Island which is in the process of becoming the second largest tourist spot for the whole country. Bunakan Island has caught the attention of the World’s Ocean Forum as well. Manado is in the process of upgrading its hotel and restaurant capabilities to accommodate the upcoming conferences. Another interesting fact about this Island is that it was formerly known as Celebes which is indigenous to many half break species of fish, and the Celebes Rainbows.

Upon arrival in Manado, we were picked up at the airport by a gentleman named Henke, who is the tax minister for this region, and his family. One very new thing for me here was that most anywhere you go; you are expected to eat something. So the first thing, even though the plane served food, was to bring us to a place to eat. I really was full and not in the mood to eat, but at the same time, you have to balance respect for their culture. I’m very much a believer that if you want respect for your ways and points of views, then when you are in someone else’s home or country, you need to follow their ways. So I ordered just drinks.

Henke was particularly interested to hear about the USA and how life is here. I was quite happy to provide him with my points of views. I can say this much, while this diverts off the topic, the Democratic candidate selection process was still going on very much while in Indonesia, and it received a tremendous amount of media attention there. There really isn’t many other ways to put it except straight out, but I absolutely cannot stand Hillary Clinton, her double talk, politics, her family or most anything about her.
I firmly believe she has little to no actual talents and basically plays off her name only. We’ve heard her health care stories over a decade ago, the State of New York which she is supposed to represent is for the most part, in even worse shape then before she was elected, and her arrogance to suggest Obama should run as VP while he’s leading her should tell most anyone with common sense, she’s not the answer by far.

Sorry for that rant, but I am very much appalled and disgusted with everything that she’s done during this campaign, and the lies she tells. The conflicting point of “Every State matters, that’s why I’m staying in this nomination” vs. “Well I won the big electoral states, those are what matters in November, is clearly a direct contradiction of herself, and another good reason that anyone should see, this woman will tell you ANYTHING it takes to get a vote.

So upon sharing this point of view with Henke, he did at first appear a little confused. It took me a bit of time to ascertain if it was a matter of the English or just the point of view. I suspect it was a little of both though Lotje insists he understands English ok. After a rather large fried fish dinner, we then adjourned to the Ritzy Hotel in downtown Manado and I’ve included some shots from the sixth floor of the view.

The following day, Henke picked us up at the hotel, and brought us up to Soputan, a very large active volcano in the area. It was a very interesting site, and had more activity then Tangkuban Parahu. The smell of sulpher was distinctly present as was a much larger amount of heat. I took some shots of Soputan from a distance and at the site. Due to recent volcanic activity, people are not allowed to approach closer then 10 KM of Soputan. Being that Henke is in the local government there, I didn’t consider it wise to try to press him to get to the peak.

The local’s in the 10K zone have a small market of goods they sell there. One unique feature is corn, and they actually prepare and boil the corn in the volcanic waters in the area. I was a bit hesitant at first to try this, but everyone else was eating it. It still had a rather raw taste to it, with a small hint of smokiness. I found some interesting face statues at this site which I took shots of as well.

From there, it was off to view some local properties Lotje’s family has, and graves of relatives. I noted the rather vast amounts of dark green vegetation in this area as well. It’s very heavy and much like a jungle there. We stopped by Henke’s mom and dad’s house, which of course I had to eat food there. I don’t think they spoke English but they were rather friendly. However, I still haven’t determined if it was just how they prepared and cooked the food, or just simply the food itself, but from that day forward until about three days being back in the USA, I had the worst intestinal cramps you could think and felt like I had to run to the restroom every 20 minutes. While waiting for the ladies to finish their visits, I took the time to explain more about US culture with Henke. I explained to him about being charged double being white at Tangkuban Parahu, and how that would be very illegal to do here in the USA, and the basis for discrimination laws actually originate from the US Civil War. Again this is funny how from a historical point of view, there are still opinions. From my point of view, which I shared with him, it depends on where you were educated actually. Most places in the North will teach you the civil war was fought over slavery. In the South they teach you what I accept as the real issue, States rights vs Federal Goverment. From how I understand things, slavery was actually secondary to the main point, with the North saying, what DC says is law, and the south saying, no the State laws are higher then that. I'm not sure if he fully understood, but I explained it the best I could.

The day following that was a trip out to Bunakan Island with Henke’s wife, Shenna. She’s quite a lively lady to say the least. Bunakan Island is only accessible via boat. The ocean is quite blue in appearance as well. It takes about 45 minutes by speed boat to reach the island area. From there, we were transferred to a private charter boat where the lower half is below the water line and paneled so you can view the ocean from there. However, being only about 10-15 feet below the water line, there was a high amount of UV distortion in the pictures and most of the reef and fish shots did not turn out well. The reports on the unpredictable currents discouraged me from contemplating trying SCUBA. I settled for the shots I could get, and other then the reef shots, they are quite a sight.

Finally that evening, Henke and his family took us out to a famous restaurant in the area. It was a nice place, but less then two weeks in Indonesia, I still hadn’t fully acquired the taste for their foods, so I stuck to the more traditional American types. Lotje was able to get a few pictures of what I suspect is a Blood or Chili Red Arowana, though the area that is showing red isn’t where you’d typically expect to find it. At the age of this fish, it really shouldn’t be showing red there, and I suspect this to be a dyed fish. I also included these shots as well.

Yet another interesting fact about Manado is while they are trying to upgrade the capacity to accommodate the future influx of tourism, they still have issues with supplying power to what they have established currently. In the Ritzy alone, while Lotje was out looking around and I was resting up, the power went out about 10 times. On the day we were heading back to Jakarta before coming back to the USA, Shenna took us to a place to eat, and they also had no power at 10:00 AM. In my opinion, this would be an ideal situation to employ solar or geothermal means for power. However, Indonesia is government run when it comes to electricity, and would take some significant political clout to have a private company to explore this. All in all though, it is a place you’d want to visit.

Sorry I had forgotten to add the video information.
Part One

Part Two

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