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Published: January 7th 2016
Jet-boat to Bau-Bau
But we like Wakatobi. More on that later.
I last left you standing under a starry sky in Kolaka. Magical things happen under starry skies. Like Rastafarian secret agents popping-up to help you find a Kijang to Kendari. Now our dreadlocked friend actually appeared long before the stars did, but having him emerge under the faint lights of faraway suns makes for a more dramatic entry of this interesting character. Having him show up at the docks of Watampone and escorting us on the ferry, though true, is far less spectacular. The truth wins in this instance. This self-proclaimed Indonesian equivalent of a C.I.A. agent was hanging around the ferry in Watampone and upon seeing us, decided that he would take us under his wings.
And in the process whisper his secret identity to us, ‘I work for Indonesian intelligence. Like C.I.A.’
In case we didn’t believe him he showed us his wallet with a picture of him in an army uniform. In short he was a dreadlocked version of James Bond, without the sophisticated suite or the women. Instead he wore a tattered t-shirt and broken jeans. It seems strange that a secret agent would divulge this
Wooden boats outside Kendari
particular information to anybody. You would think the term ‘secret’ in secret agent kind of excludes telling people what your profession is. Perhaps the Indonesian agents confound their enemies by doing exactly the opposite. Whoever this man truly was, he was friendly and unobtrusive and under the influence of the benign stars he escorted us off the ferry in Kolaka and made sure we were safely seated in a Kijang headed for Kendari. Therefore I salute my Rastafarian secret agent. Hail to you! May your dreadlocks bring you good fortune and may your enemies tremble beneath them.
And so we drove off into the night and reached Kendari right about the time the sun decided it was time to peep her rosy cheeks over the horizon. Kendari is the capital of little visited Southeast Sulawesi. It is also the starting point for the jet-boat to Bau-Bau. A jet-boat that leaves early in the morning. So about an hour after arriving, we left again. On another boat. Jetting our way along a stunning coastline with craggy cliffs and secluded beaches. Past lonely isles, and mushroom shaped rocks jutting out from turquoise waters. Undiscovered Shangri-La’s pop up around every corner. Unreachable.
V.O.C. cannon on the citadel of Bau-Bau
They pass me by. The jet-boat roars on, uncaring about the marvels that beset my eyes. On to Bau-Bau.
Bau-Bau with a mighty walled citadel on a hill overlooking its bay. With walls which are remarkably well preserved. And canons emblazoned with the old Dutch East India Company logo, V.O.C. In Bau-Bau we halt our trip. It is time for a rest before we start the final part of the journey. Niklas craves western food and heads straight for the KFC down the road. I don’t crave KFC and head for a warung. We both crave a good night sleep however. And a shower. Our wishes are fulfilled.
Refreshed we step on yet another boat. A creaky wooden beast, the night-boat to Wangi-Wangi, the main island in Wakatobi Marine National Park. The boat rocks in the night, my dreams are of giant waves engulfing our ship. I wake up with a start. The sea is calm, the sun is shining, Wangi-Wangi looms in the distance. Another stepping stone. Almost there. Our tropical paradise is just one more boat trip away. A short hop, a mere hour. After three days of travelling we finally arrive on Hoga Island. A
View of Bau-Bau from the citadel
bungalow with a veranda and the all-important hammock is waiting for us. An abundance of good food too. Followed by an abundance of mosquito’s. They are everywhere, at all times. Paradise it seems, comes with a price. The price: blood and sweat!
Ironically the price is larger than expected when somebody pilfers my bag during a diving excursion. The thief most likely lurks among the staff, as my room was locked. The culprit is smart enough to go for the money only. Not all, but about half. Half is a lot though, because out here on the islands there are no ATM’s, so travellers come equipped with a lot of cold hard cash. I suspect the malefactor hoped I would not notice it, or if I did, that I would not remember exactly how much I had in the first place, causing me to doubt myself. Was there really money missing, or had I maybe spent more than expected? This is, I am pretty sure, also the reason why my camera’s, laptop, e-reader, and other electronics were left alone. One can get confused about how much money one has spent, but a missing camera is blatantly obvious. Unfortunately for
Tomb of one of the Sultan's of Bau-Bau
whoever took my money, I knew exactly how much money I had when I arrived. And half was missing! Around 120 euros gone.
I went straight to the manager. She got completely stressed out. I felt sorry for her. For me it is just money. It is upsetting, but I will get over it. For her it is her business. The business model is based on trust. Trust of her staff. Trust that her staff won’t steal from her customers. Trust from her customers that her staff is honest. That trust has been broken. She doesn’t know who did it. So now she has a problem. I hope she finds the miscreant. As for me, Wia, the manager, offset part of my loss by waiving my bill. In the end I lost approximately 50 euros. Wakatobi had dealt its first blow.
With the coming of the New Year, Niklas and I decided to go to the next island, Tomia, because we had heard the diving was better there. Not that the diving was bad in Hoga, it was fine. The highlight was a playful dolphin. In Tomia we ensconced ourselves in a simple homestay just next to the
jetty. While staying there we managed to convince the owner to go backpacking. I suspect his wife will not be pleased with his resolutions for 2016. It was in Tomia where Wakatobi dealt us our second blow. After a morning of diving, one of the boys on the boat managed to lose a small but relatively expensive diving whistle owned by Niklas. It now lies, together with his salt-water resistant carabiner at the bottom of the reef, somewhere outside Tomia. Niklas was not happy. The dive-master was also not happy, because he had to pay for it.
Yes, Wakatobi does indeed not like us. But despite all that, we still like her. She is unspoiled and beautiful. She has some great dives and some outstanding beaches. The people are friendly. The palm trees suitably tropical. We forgive Wakatobi.
Niklas has left now. I am alone once more. Alone I boarded the wooden barge taking me back to Bau-Bau. Alone I returned to Kendari in the jet-boat. Alone I sat watching the sunset on the veranda of my hotel that evening. Alone sounds sad, but there is something to be said for alone. Alone clears the mind. Alone teaches
Typical architecture in Bau-Bau
you independence. Besides in my mind I am never alone.
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