Having had our fill of animal sacrifices, we decide to head to the Togean Islands for some serious snorkeling. This seems to be a common route for travelers, but it is definitely not easy. First a 14 hour bus and then sleep at a grungy hotel in a one horse town. The next morning is a 5 hour minivan ride to sleep in another small transit town to catch a 5 hour ferry to Togean Islands the next day. It does not matter if you are traveling by local transportation, car, tour bus or by private jet when possible. Long trips are inevitable in Sulawesi.
|Changing a tire during a bus trip in the developing world is such a cliche|
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Therefore, our first stop is at Kadidiri which is easily accessible from the village. Kadidiri has three separate hotels squished together on a small beach. All of the hotel prices include all three meals because tourists have no other options for finding food. Our choice is the most basic place with an outhouse, mandi (tub of water you pour over yourself with a cup) and terrible food - a piece of cake for breakfast and then fish, rice, vegetable x2, repeat daily. This must be the only tropical island in the world without fruit. But they do make up for their other deficiencies by giving us free snorkel trips and gear (sort of gear) when the more posh places charge their guests for the same.
|View from beach of our hotel|
Our next island is Malenge which has two hotels. The first hotel is a bit strange. They have a tiny beach and a large patch of grass. There is also an old Bajo (Sea Gypsy) cemetery on the property. There does not seem to be good snorkeling here and we actually do not try. It is near two Bajo villages, and we can easily imagine that all of their waste gets plopped into the water while all of the fish get plucked out of the water. The Bajo fish in the water with goggles and a handmade spear gun. So we spend the day visiting the Sea Gypsy village and losing trails in the jungle. We spend our first evening reading in hammocks, watching the Bajo play volleyball in the hotel grass and then leaving the hotel before dinner because Mika catches a peeping tom Sea Gypsy while in the mandi. The owner is irate (at having a peeping tom or losing a customer?) and sends all the volleyball playing Sea Gypsies back to their village. Word on the street is that this is not a one-time occurrence. Hopefully the owner will finally take care of the peep holes.
7:00 AM: Wake up
8:00 AM: Coffee and cake = “Indonesian breakfast”
9:00 AM: Snorkel
11:00 AM: Second coffee
12:00 PM: Lunch
12:45 PM: Attempt to climb coconut tree
1:00 PM: Ask hotel guy to climb coconut tree; Drink fresh coconut
1:45 PM: Trek in jungle
3:00 PM: Snorkel
5:00 PM: Pretend to bathe by throwing some fresh water over our heads
6:00 PM: Torment hermit crabs
7:00 PM: Dinner
7:45 PM: Look at the stars
9:00 PM: Sleep
The sea here is beautiful too, blue and calm. Having daily views of tropical fish is intoxicating. There are more species of larger fish here than in Kadidiri. One morning we see a group of seventeen large parrotfish grazing on the ocean floor. Through the ocean I can hear them munching.
The coral in Togeans is in much better shape than of what we have seen in other parts of South East Asia, but it is dying as well. Dynamite fishing is illegal, yet is still practiced. The population of a type of coral eating starfish is exploding in the region. Incidentally, this starfish is the meal of choice for the Napoleon fish whixh has almost been fished to extinction because of the money they fetch from Hong Kong restaurants.
|Our close encounter with a family of large parrotfish* (see comment below)|
|Some kids in Wakai village|
|Economy Class: Grab a chair or some floor space, no extra charge for luggage|