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

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

Getting from Lake Toba to Berastagi

Tim waving down our boat

Tim waving down our boat

Today we left Tuk Tuk and made our way to Berastagi, where we will probably spend few days climbing volcanoes and visiting local villages.

When I researched directions I couldn’t find much information on how to get to Berastagi from Tuk Tuk, so here’s a quick post on how to do it. Continue reading

Idyllic Lake Toba in Sumatra

Wonderful Samosir Island

Wonderful Samosir Island

It took me some time to find a place that is some way matched what I have imagined to be my prefect backpacking destination. Getting there wasn’t easy (2 hours on a boat, followed by almost getting scammed, then 12 hours on a night bus, 1 hour on a minibus and then a ferry) but once we got off the boat and started walking into the Samosir Island I knew I’m going to love this place. After an hour or so we found a dirt cheap accommodation just by the lake and slept for the rest of the afternoon.

HORAS! As the locals say. Welcome to Lake Toba! Continue reading