Bomber wreck, kite runners and sea gypsies of Togian Islands

Tropical island Malenge

Tropical island Malenge

Apparently it takes some determination to get to the Togian Islands, an archipelago made of 56 islands and islets, settled in the Gulf of Tomini, off the Central Sulawesi coast. Well, it took us exactly 3 days to reach the Togians along with 2 buses, 2 boats and few swear words (when the road suddenly disappears and slips into a ravine or when the winding roads make our stomachs go upside down).

So here are these 3 days in 4 sentences.

We left on a bus from Rantepao at 9am on Friday morning and 15 hours later we got dropped off in a random but cheap hotel in Poso. The following morning a mini bus, organised by a hotel, took us for a 6 hours picturesque journey to Ampana. We then spent a sleepless night in Oasis hotel, woken up by a disco karaoke, mosque and roosters and at 9am boarded a car ferry (outside of Ampana) to Wakai, one of the biggest islands in the Gulf of Tomini. From Wakai it was only 45 minutes cruise on a small boat to Kadidiri, our first destination. Continue reading

Rice paddies, buffaloes and the dead. Welcome to Tana Toraja!

Burial caves in Tana Toraja

Burial caves in Tana Toraja

I was excited about our arrival in Tana Toraja for some time. After reading countless papers on this part of Sulawesi, my old love for anthropology had heated up again. It were the green rice paddies, beautifully craved houses and rice barns, ceremonies of life and death had brought us here to discover what the land of Tana Toraja has got to offer.

As soon as we found accommodation in Rantepao (major city in the area), filled our empty stomachs with coconut porridge and refreshed with hot showers, we started to enquire about a funeral, one of the main reasons for our visit in Toraja. With good timing, and turning up just after the rain season ended we were spoilt for choice. Funerals in Toraja, being seasonal events, start late May lasting throughout the summer months and the day before we arrived a celebrations had begun in a nearby village. So just after 2 hours we arrived in Rantapao, at 9am we were on our way to the funeral. Together with Johnny, a local guide and with a german couple, Oliver and Jojo (met in our guesthouse), we were taken for a journey into very unfamiliar but yet exciting local traditions and customs. Continue reading

Leaving Flores and a cheating tip on how to survive an overnight ferry journey in Indonesia!

Last sunset in Labuan Bajo

Last sunset in Labuan Bajo

With my newly developed love for diving we ended up staying in Labuan Bajo for almost a week. With an early start to each day, 8 hours on the boat and plenty of sun, we did not have much time and energy to discover Flores, which was a bit of a shame. But although I was sad about leaving my underwater life, I was looking forward to reaching another destination on our Indonesian map, the island Sulawesi and in particular highlands of Tana Toraja. Continue reading

Beautiful diving in Komodo National Park

Diving in Komodo

Diving in Komodo

It’s official. Getting my open water diving certificate has been the best decision I made on this travels. It started with a panic attack and not willing to get out of the boat and ended with me not wanting to leave Labuan Bajo, so I could do never-ending diving with mantas, turtles and sharks. And this is how it all started.

We arrived in Labuan Bajo (one of the main port entries in Flores and a hub for diving and Komodo tours) with a group of travellers we met on the ferry. We all ended up staying in a lovely guesthouse, Chez Felix that had some beautiful views overlooking the bay. Each night we treated ourselves to some amazing dinners, including delicious pizzas, pastas and fresh fish. Continue reading

30 hours in transit. Travelling from Kuta, Lombok to Labuan Bajo, Flores

Beautiful Indonesia

Beautiful Indonesia

With over 17,000 islands, Indonesia is the worlds biggest archipelago, hence traveling around this marvelous country takes significant chunk of time (and money). Time is your biggest enemy and with maximum 60 days tourist visa, good planning skills are needed in order to organise a stress-free travels throughout the islands. In our first month of bumping around Indo, we managed to visit Sumatra, Java and Gili Meno, and although it may not sound like a lot but it was indeed a rushed travels. Now, with our visa extended for another 1 month, we did some more chilling on the unspoilt beaches of Lombok and after few days made our way towards Case de Flores, commonly known as Flores. Continue reading

Sleep, eat, beach, repeat. Five lazy days on sweet Gili Meno.

Beautiful Gili Meno

Beautiful Gili Meno

This may be the shortest blog entry I’ve ever posted but to my joy not much had happened in the last few days. We spent some time doing absolutely nothing on beautiful Gili Meno, one of the three Gili Islands located north-west of Lombok. Gili Meno is the smallest and the quietest out of islands and with population just under 400,  no cash mashines and no cars or motorbikes there is not much happening on Meno. Continue reading

Volcano Ijen. Beauty and the beast of Java

Beauty and the beast

Beauty and the beast

It’s no secret that the best thing about traveling without any deadlines (apart from expiring visas!) is flexibility. We didn’t plan on visiting Java but the sudden decision of skipping south Sumatra gave us some extra time to play with. On the way to Borobudur we chatted to a Dutch girl who was just ending her backpacking trip. She said that one thing she regretted not doing in Indonesia was climbing Volcano Ijen. The name instantly rung the bell and reminded us of a program we watched on BBC in the UK few years back about sulphur mining in an active volcano in Java. I did a little bit more Googling which came up few other reasons for tackling Ijen: blue flames visible only at night and magnificent sunrise. The decision was made. Ijen was our next stop and we were going to climb it with our favourite backpacking kiddo, Kristina! Continue reading