29 October 2017

The First Taste of Celebes: Day 1-2

Celebes is an old name of Sulawesi, the forth largest island in Indonesia after Sumatera, Borneo (Kalimantan) and Papua. Its biggest city is Makassar, where I and family traveled 2 weeks ago. I've been willing to see the eastern parts of Indonesia, especially Sulawesi, since people praise their beauty a lot. But as you know, the beauty is equivalent with the way to go there. The prettier a place is the more difficult to reach it. Some places are required a whole day to reach by changing more than one transportation. Not just it is exhausting but also expensive. With a small kid like mine, I would think twice to travel to isolated places like that. To have a slight taste of Sulawesi, how about traveling to its big cities first? My choice was Makassar or also called Ujung Pandang, the capital city of South Sulawesi, which had many flight options from Jakarta.

I booked Sriwijaya Air round ways via Traveloka about 1 month before the trip, and it cost me about Rp.1,3millions/person. At that time there was a cheaper flight, Lion Air, but I did not want to take Lion Air anymore after being delayed one hour in my previous flight from Padang to Jakarta. (Unfortunately my Sriwijaya Air flights were also delayed: one hour delay on flight to Makassar, and 2 hours delay on flight from Makassar, eugh!). We (me, my husband and our daughter Nad) arrived in Sultan Hasanuddin Airport in Makassar around 2PM. From Airport to downtown took about one hour. The Airport Taxi cost Rp.150,000 flat price, while I checked Grab only cost Rp.90,000 and Uber Rp.50,000 (with promotion). I tried ordering Grab and Uber in the same time, and finally one Grab Driver accepted my order. He called to instruct me to go to Departure Hall because Arrival Hall is full with Airport Taxi which hate Online Taxi, a common problem in many cities.

We checked-in to our room in Singgasana Hotel. Apparently their room key card reader system was down since a week ago, so receptionists said hotel staff would accompany us whenever we went inside the room. We took prayer and then at 4pm went out to visit the first attraction: Fort Rotterdam. One must have not been in Makassar if one hasn't visited this fort. It is a historical fort in Makassar built by Gowa Kingdom maybe in 15th Century but then overtook and rebuilt by Dutch colonial to be used for Dutch military base in Sulawesi. That's why the buildings have Dutch style, and remind me of old school buildings. Most parts of the fort and buildings are in a good shape. The stones made for the fort were in high quality and seemed everlasting. They came from Maros, an area outside Makassar that is famous with its karst stone (where we would be going on the next day). There are many spots to sit and hangout, including stones and grass fields. Afternoon is the perfect time to stroll around this fort. Fort entrance fee was free during August month to celebrate Indonesian Independence Day, but the officer in front gate asked visitors to fill guest book and ask to donate some money. I don't know to whom the money went, hope it would be for the fort/museum development.

Strolling around Fort Rotterdam

At 5pm we crossed the street towards Kampoeng Popsa to have early dinner. We only ate small breads for lunch, so we were very hungry. Kampoeng Popsa is a nice food court by the sea that offers a lot of varieties of foods from local to international. Of course I chose local Sulawesi food: Cakalang Noodle and Es Pisang Ijo (ice green banana). Cakalang is a kind of tuna fish famous in Sulawesi. Maybe the foods were not that special (taste was ok, price was normal), but the view was. We were sitting in the balcony facing sunset on a port with a lot of small boats parked. This port is used for crossing to nearby small islands like Kayangan Island. Is that island really like Kayangan (heaven)? I did not plan to go there this trip, hope I can visit there next time.

From Kampoeng Popsa, we ordered Uber again to go to another iconic place in Makassar: Losari Beach. It's said a beach but in fact no beach at all, more like a park by the sea blocked by the wall. There is no entrance fee to come here. The big park contains big letters PANTAI LOSARI (Losari beach), and neighboring park contains big letters CITY OF MAKASSAR with colorful light at night. Between PANTAI LOSARI park and CITY OF MAKASSAR parks, there is a food court where we can enjoy local foods with sunset view. Since we had early dinner in Kampoeng Popsa before coming here, we skipped that foodcourt and went straight back to hotel (also by Uber) after capturing some pictures with the already cranky Nad.


When we went back to hotel, receptionist said their card reader system was up again so we could use our own card to enter the room. Nad really loved our room. It's spacious with carpeted floor. Singgasana is old but having 4-stars hotel facilities still in a good shape. The next morning at 6.30am we tried swimming in their big outdoor pools. There was a separated pool for children but the water was so much cooler. No other people except us, even the staff. Maybe we swam too early, but we wanted to be on the road from 8.30am. Everything around the pool was dull and old, we did not take long time swimming there. That was the first and last time we went to that pool during our 4 days stay there. One of the reasons I chose this hotel because of swimming pool, but in the end we did not use it much.

Pool at Singgasana Hotel

After taking shower back in our room (there were shower rooms near the pool tho but not convenient with the dim lights), and having nice breakfast in the hotel restaurant, I called our driver who was already waiting in the carpark to pick us. I have booked a car for one day trip to Maros from Angin Mammiri car rental service. I booked it via WhatsApp to this number 081342222747 3 days before, without down payment. The price for 12 hours car rental to/from Maros was Rp.400,000 exclude fuel (around Rp.80,000-100,000).

Maros is a regency in South Sulawesi just 40-60km outside Makassar, which is famous with its karst and rocks. There are many attraction places to visit in Maros, mostly related to rocks. Our first destination was Rammang-Rammang, a river village surrounded by karst hills. We arrived in Rammang-Rammang Port 1 around 10am. Fortunately the boat price was fixed, so I did not need to bargain (I am very bad at bargaining). Since it's only 3 of us, we took boat with capacity 1-4 persons.

Boat price to go around Rammang-Rammang, unlimited time

There were many stops along the way and driver would wait for us in every stop we took. But we directly went to Kampung Berua (Berua Village), the furthest stop, about 15 minutes ride from the port. The view during boat ride was amazing, sandwiched between karst hills and passed by 2 bat caves. It reminds me of Tam Coc near Hanoi, Vietnam, where we just visited last May.

Upon arriving the village, we approached the reception desk to write our names in a guestbook and to pay the small tourist entrance fee to the village, only Rp.2000/person. This village gave amazing view of paddy fields with karst hills which I often saw it before in Instagram. Yes, this place was starting famous recently in social media. Many travel bloggers and travelgrams went there and shared their beautiful pictures. The village was big but we did not explore deep inside. It was secluded, the only way to go outside was via the river. How did they end up living there?

Kampnng Berua

The perk of staying in a nice hotel room is the kid kept asking to go back to hotel immediately, not even 2 hours yet. However the show must go on. After 1 hour walking around the paddy fields and relaxing in the only coffee shop there, we went back to the port with our same boat and the driver passing the same route. Some other stops along the route were tracking ways to some caves and lakes, cafe and restaurant riverside, and a Rock Garden. We decided to stop and sightsee this garden. As the name stated, this place is full of rocks. They somehow formed to weird shapes naturally. It's a small place so we did not take a long time there. We then back to the port and paid our boat fee plus some tips to the boat driver.

Rocks Garden

We walked to our rented car but we could not find the driver. I called him several times but he did not answer. Perhaps he took Friday Prayer because it was the time already. We really understood that but at least he should notify me via WhatsApp or others. Anyway, we used this waiting time for having lunch in one of coffee shops around that small part and taking prayer ourselves, so later on we did not need to stop for lunch and praying anymore. Since we were still quite full from heavy breakfast, we only ordered one Coto for share, a famous local beef soup with rice or rice cake. If you want to eat with rice cake, they already provided on every table a bowl of rice cake wrapped with leaves and a knife to cut it by yourself.

Coto with rice cake

After our driver's back, we went to our next destination, Leang-Leang, about 15km from Rammang-Rammang. The karst hills view on the way going there was beautiful, reminded me of Lembah Harau in West Sumatera where I visited last July. So this year I have visited 3 places with karst hills view (Vietnam, West Sumatera, Maros) but I never get sick of it. During 30 minutes ride in the car to Leang-Leang, Nad was sleeping and still sleeping when we arrived in Leang-Leang. So husband carried her while we were walking around to see this place. Leang-Leang is a prehistoric place of rocks and caves from thousands years ago. There are few caves where we can go inside by tour guide only because the caves were being locked to prevent from vandalism. Why so important? Because inside there were hands prints and other drawings believed made by prehistoric people. The entrance ticket to this place was Rp.10,000/person exclude tips for the tour guide. If you do not want to see the caves, no need to book the guide but still have to pay the ticket and you can take many good selfie and instagrammable photos here with rocks and karts hills behind.

Leang-Leang

When Nad woke up, she started crying and asked for going home (to hotel). I hadn't felt enough taking pictures yet, but thought better to finish this place and back to our car, for our third and last destination, Bantimurung. In the car, Nad stopped being cranky and started excited again when we reached Bantimurung. This place is famous for butterfly breeding, but we did not see any live butterflies at all. Ticket fare was Rp.20,000/person. We came into a sad butterfly museum with another entrance fee Rp.5000/person. It's not worth it but I hope our money would be used for improving this museum.

Another famous thing in Bantimurung is the waterfall. We went further inside towards its low waterfalls and the stream. Nad was so happy to see the water and could not wait to dip in the water. Sellers were going around to lend swimming rings, to sell foods and drinks, but not too pushing (like sellers in Anyer beaches). Surprisingly we had a good time there, especially because Nad was happy and not cranky anymore. After Nad finished 'swimming' (more like dipping her feet), we walked around the place for a while. There was a directions to go up towards Danau Kassi Kebo (lake) and Goa Batu (cave) which we tempted to go but afraid if the walks would be too long and tiring. We asked some people who just got down from that road and they told us it was quite far about 1 hour walk, so we decided to skip it and headed back to carpark. It was a good decision because the rain suddenly poured down not long after (even before we reached our car).

Waterfall and stream at Bantimurung

It was around 5pm, and we headed back to Makassar city. We asked the driver about nice local foods in Makassar, and we decided to have dinner in Sop Konro Karebosi (rib soup), one of his recommendations too. We ordered one rib soup and one grilled rib, both were very delicious! The meat was easily ripped off from the bones. The soup was really warming our body in that cold rainy evening. After dinner, we went to Toko Cahaya, a souvenir shop recommended by the driver, to buy some souvenirs home. At 8pm finally we went back to hotel like Nad always wanted since 11am in the morning.

Sop Konro Karebosi

I thought I could write whole Makassar trip in one post but it's getting too long already, so better to split into two. I will continue the story of our trip in Makassar Day 3-4 in the next post. Off now!

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