Southeast Sulawesi

From 15th March 1995, Son No.1 and I spent a month or so – and my diary has incomplete info about dates and other details – visiting the Spice Islands, We decided to travel by sea for much of the journey, partly because we hadn’t done much previously and it gave us an opportunity to catch up, partly because it was cheaper than flying, and partly because of the historical significance.

Bau Bau (Buton, South-east Sulawesi)

Descending down rickety steps from RM Kerinci, my pocket was picked and wallet stolen from the buttoned down pocket on my trouser legs. I only discovered this when we were about to check in to a losmen (homestay).

The bulk of our money was safe in a money belt under my shirt, but I thought that the loss of photocopies of my passport and visa could be problematic, so we reported to the local police. They typed up a report on an ancient machine and in grateful thanks I offered a pack of Djarum Super kreteks as a ‘present’. This wasn’t accepted because of “puasa Mister” (fasting during Ramadhan).

Or it might have been because the chief of police of the Kendari province was expected very soon. It turned out that he, plus his large entourage of family plus staff, was put up at the losmen we were thinking of checking out, so we checked in instead at the Losmen Hanny which was opposite the police station. And they were very welcoming for the Rp.27,500, with a drink, cake and friendliness. However, we didn’t like the chained parrots or stuffed lynx and turtles.

Because we were dependent on the schedule of the PELNI ferries, we had five days to wander. Apart from noting the contrarily named Hotel Wangi-wangi (meaning ‘fragrant’, when the town’s name translates as ‘very smelly’), the significant attraction is the old Dutch fort with a commanding outlook and surrounding waters.

Click for large image

The ruins were being restored, but what was surprising was to find an exceedingly well-maintained village inside, albeit without visible amenities such as TC satellite dishes.


Having thoroughly strolled around and seen all we thought there was to see, we decided to explore the island to the east. There wasn’t much to see there either. Including us, the Hotel Alia had had 26 visitors in 15 months. Twelve Germans probably went to the Napabale Festival held at a lagoon we visited.

Experience South-east Sulawesi 

This objek wisata had all the facilities including an entrance hut, a barrier across the road under a large portal declaring 1991 (w)as VISIT ASEAN YEAR, two locked up toilets, three diving boards, and loads of concrete steps down to the “succulent salty” water.

We were the only westerners on the island of Muna.

Change in a Bau Bau supermarket

A few random notes …

… because we’re literally locked in our 4th class cabin section awaiting a ticket inspection. Apart from the safety aspect, and regulations – there are seemingly none, this isn’t much of a restriction – unless you suffer from claustrophobia or mal de mer.

We discovered a great drink in Bau Bau and Muna called sarabba , a mixture of jamu, ginger, palm sugar and spices, sort of.

Here on the Rinjani, we have a few cans of Singapore Sling found in the Bau Bau supermarket, and we’re looking forward to going on deck to quaff away – Sam’s first alcohol?

KM Kerinci 15-18.2.95
Tanjung Priok (Jakarta) – Bau Bau
2nd class 4-berth cabin 5052B
Rp.196,500 each

KM Rinjani 23-24.2.95
Bau Bau – Banda
4th class 8-berth cabin
Rp.57,500 each

We much prefer 2nd class. Out on deck, it’s all the same, but now more people, no blankets, wash basin or bantal guling (bolster), and less coffee for breakfast.

But we could have been tightwads and gone ekonomi

About Jakartass

A Brit Abroad
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