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Published: October 27th 2009
Grows to be the world's largest crab
So I guess I'll pick up where I left off. After getting sick in Rantepao and traveling for two days on hot buses and staying in filthy rooms, I got on the ferry to the Togean Islands. I was with a Spanish girl named Laia whose bus broke down and so she was on my bus. We shared a room in Poso and Ampana before finally making it to the islands. I should say that those towns were fine, lots of friendly people and everything, but I was sick and just not in the state of mind to look at the bright side of things. We stayed on a small island called Kadidiri. It was really really perfect. Nothing at all on the island except the three little resorts all on the same beach. No road or... anything at all. There was great snorkeling right off the beach and all of the meals were served communally, no real restaurant, which is great for everyone getting to know each other. One night, of the less than twenty people at the table, there were people from, Spain, Italy, Austria, France, Germany, Belgium, Russia, England, America, Switzerland, Croatia, Finland, and Indonesia. Pretty cool. After
4 days or so, our little group that arrived together had suddenly been there the longest. So by the time we left after 9 days, we all really felt at home. Did a lot of reading and lounging around. If at any time we felt like snorkeling on the offshore reef, the diving boat would take us out there for free. So yeah it was $15/day for the room and all meals and free snorkeling. The water was amazingly clear and warm, and there are some of the best reefs in the world around here.
I intended on diving the whole time, but for the first week was really just too lazy to actually do it. But in my last 24 hours there I did two dives, both of which were just pure bliss. There was a Swiss instructor there who just gave me a few basic directions and a quick safety talk, then we went down, staying down for almost an hour each time, and the second time going to about 55 ft. Really, one of the best experiences I've ever had. There were huge overhangs to swim under and just an infinite amount of type of life on
the reef. I would have dove more, but I didn't bring enough cash (no credit cards even on the island).
We had bonfires several nights with a few guitars floating around, whiich was always fun. But one night of us went to bed,while a few of the Finnish resort hung around our fire until 3 am being very drunk and loud. I am not ashamed to admit that we all cheered the next day when we found out that he went swimming while drunk and stepped on a sea urchin and had to be taken off the island to a hospital. ...and so... well there's really not much more to report from the island. It was the perfect relaxing island paradise. Swimming, beach volleyball, beers, occasional running water and electricity, bugs, fireflies, lightning storms...
So finally we left, Laia going south and I took an overnight ferry north to Gorontolo with Daniel and Jenny, a really nice couple I'm still traveling with. We had an AC cabin in the ferry, so it was actually a nice trip. As in I slept the whole way, the vibration of the boat nice and familiar to me. Upon arrival in Gorontolo, we chartered
And there's little Che
a car to Manado, which is at the far end of the contorted island of Sulawesi. We arrived yesterday afternoon in the city, which is chaotic but quite modern, a weird mix of ugly strip malls and pleasant tree-lined avenues. Today, the three of us hired a car for the day and went up into the mountains. We had the driver drop us off at the base of a volcano and we started up it, but were quickly turned away by local farmers. They said there was no path and that Swiss tourists had died up there from fumes. The local information center also said that it couldn't be climbed, but our driver knew a guide, an energetic short little older man who claimed to be Che Guevara's son. He led us up a really strange trail that felt like a steep river bed through the jungle, but was actually a lava flow from a 1981 eruption. As we got nearer to the crater at the top, the sulfur smell first appeared. Smells like fireworks. All of the trees towards the top are dead. It's a strange apocalyptic landscape of green grass and barren little trees and boulders. A little
eruption 4 years ago killed all of the trees up there, but the guide assured us it was safe (he's been up there over 2,000 times). Finally we came up to the crater. I had been expecting something like what I saw in Bali - a bit of steam coming up from some holes in the ground, but no, this was a volcano like you imagine it. A huge amount of steam and smoke billowing out of a giant crater. When the steam parted for a second, we could actually see the green water boiling at the bottom.
Everything was fine, but then little Che put his hand over his mouth and started running down and mumbling for us to turn around. So I turned around and was pretty much ripping my shirt off to cover my face when he suddenly said it was fine again. The mountain would belch out clouds of blue smoke every few minutes that we had to avoid, and then rush back up to the edge to take pictures. It was an incredible sight.
We hiked back down and went to a restaurant on a lake and stuff but all of that is kind of boring in comparison. So now it's Tuesday night in Manado and I have a flight out on Thursday to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. KL is a hub for the airlines, so I can fly anywhere from there cheaply. I'm thinking of Vietnam, but we'll see in a couple days. Just figured out tonight that Laia will actually be in the city that same night for her last night in Asia before flying home after a 10 month trip, so we're excited to reunite!
Indonesia overall has been very good. Bali was so-so, but Sulawesi very impressive. The people are all so friendly. 99 out of 100 that you look at will smile and try to say hello. And it's always entertaining to be the main attraction everywhere you go. I was just in a mall here in Manado and every store I would walk into, all of the employees would be peeking out from behind shelves and giggling and pointing. Random people are ALWAYS yelling 'hello mister!' Every you turn around here, someone is trying to sneak a picture of you on their phone, and then they run away giggling. But the food hasn't been very good. I'm excited to find some better food.
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