Travelling in BUDGET, that is what comes up in our mind when we booked ZERO fare tickets to Manado from Kuala Lumpur (RM 70 vv). We heard that Manado is top class destination for snorkeling and diving in the world, so what they can offer is a high class resort & plenty of luxurious facilities. But then thinking again what can Indonesia typically can offer for us? We surely that there is a spot for budget travelers like us, even for Manado. So with confident even we booked our ticket on November 2008 for flying on April 2009, we practically do nothing and do not plan anything for our Manado trip except booked the hotel rooms in the city center (for shopping and entertainment) and snorkeling trip (at least to see the famous Bunaken National Sea Park).
And then Voila, we already in our morning Air Asia flight for our 3 days 2 nights trip, 4 hours journey….Omigosh….the plane almost full and we afraid that Manado will be hetic and full like Bali. Bravo……we arrived 35 minutes early from the expected time arrival, when the Pilot announced that, suddenly almost all the passengers gave around applaused by clap their hands.
Sam Ratulangi International Airport, surprisingly with high standard and beautiful airport. We can not find taxi over there so we decided to hire “Angkot” which is actually the minibus for public transport, but their ok to take us “privately” for 70,000 rupiah one way journey to city center where we already booked hotel 2 rooms for us , the “Angkot” complete with entertainment support Full music and super loud sound system. The driver very nice, helpful and full of smile, no hesitate he recommend us several must visit places in Manado and show us the shopping mall that appeared during our journey to the hotel.
Our first impression?? Manado is a city surrounded by water- clear, crisp, sparkly water and also full with churches everywhere. Our hotel is small but cozy and worth it, only 275,000 rupiah per night for deluxe room with twin beds and en suite bathroom, wow…….wow……. the location very near to Manado Town Square, one of the largest mall there, a walk away to pedestrian walk that facing the manado sea. We had our lunch in one restaurant near our hotel, the restaurant provide all kind of Manado exotic foods, they provide pork, dog, bats, rats, snails and I think other kind of meat that I was not bother to ask because I will not eat ha…ha…ha… I was only enjoy my pork that stamped with coconut oil and soy sauce. But basically the other foods also the same treatments and my friends seem to enjoy their “exotic” meals so it should be nice lah. The lunch cost us 143,000 rupiah for 5 persons, quite cheap because we already eat as we like plus the drinks.
We decide to go to “Bukit Kasih” – Hill of Love, where in the top of the hill stand up big Christian cross. The journey takes almost 3 hours but then we not feel regret because actually in the same time we also travel for North Sulawesi itself, we passed City of Flower – Tomohon – the city annually held International Flower Festival, the city a bit cold and we can feel the developing progress here. We rent the car until midnight for 200,000 rupiah inclusive petrol.
Only God knows how we can climb up to the top of the hill, not recommended for old people, because the land structure not that friendly. But the view from the top very spectacular. The funny things that from the ground we guided by 10 years old boy, he sell souvenirs by the way, but then we just realize that he followed us to top of the hill when he started to tell the story of the history of the Bukit Kasih and the original tribe that live around that area. But what makes us more touched by him is how he encourages us to climb the hill, believe me it is not as easy as you think, only three of us went upstairs and we almost gave up if not because of that boy. Thank you…….
On second day we went to our snorkeling trip that provided by one of the famous Diving company. The trips cost us USD 20/pax for full day trip included a boat, snorkeling equipment, swimming equipment, and lunch at Bunaken island. But before that we had special Manado culinary for breakfast Bubur Tinutuan (Manado style congee) and Nasi Kuning daun Woka (Yellow rice in Woka leaves) both are very nice and tasty. We can find the foods everywhere.
Bubur Tinutuan is the food that made from rice, corn, water, salt, red parsnip, pumpkin, cassava, spinach, kangkung, serai leaves, turmeric, spring onion and basil. As for Nasi Kuning Daun Woka is consist of Yellow rice, the side dish usually meat, fish or abon, Laksa bihun or cooked with soy sauce, fried potato, fried onion, and of course the Dabu-Dabu of processed chili with brown sugar. I am not really into the congee so I am more enjoy the Nasi Kuning where we buy it from the famous Nasi Kuning Seroja, for one packet they sell it 11,000 rupiah for big portion, for 1 bowl Bubur Tinutuan they sell 6,000 rupiah. Yummy….Yummy….
From hotel we hired “Angkot” again to one of private harbor that belong to the diving company. In the harbor, we already can see so many beautiful sea creatures, from blue starfish, and also “Finding Nemo” look-alike fishes, quite amazed because this is our first time. In the boat we made some preparation for our snorkeling trip, we change our suit and trying the snorkel google. It takes around 30 minutes to arrive to our site for snorkel.
The blue crystal water and sunny breeze air was surround us.
Time to jump into the sea, and it was magnificent view inside the deep blue sea, as a small treasures as candy crabs frequent the beautiful soft corals in the area, The faerie crab, a fingernail-sized squat lobster that’s pink and hairy can be found by a discerning eye peering among the outer folds of barrel sponges. We enjoy the magnificent sight of Resident napoleons.
It is too bad we don’t have waterproof camera so we can not shoot the panorama inside the water, but far in our head we really take a deep breath and feel amazed with what God created for human being.
We had our lunch in one restaurant in Bunaken Island, they served Grilled fishes, as they said the fish is still family with Baracuda and Napoleon, but what we taste is very nice especially when we mix it with the Dabu-Dabu sauce. Near the restaurant also a lots of tents that become market to sell T-shirt and other souvenirs, I got one big T-shirt for 30,000 rupiah only. After lunch we continue our snorkeling trips to other side of the sea, but now we really feel exhausted so we only jump to the sea for a while and decide to laying down in front of the boat and feel the sun touch our skin and of course Camera time.
Almost dark when we finish our trip, very tired and our body feel dizzy, we decide to go to SPA, we found Tikala Shiatsu Family Spa. Decent and a bit upclass spa but for 2 hours massage and Body scrub only 180,000 rupiah…(so cheap….) Wuiih….nice traditional massage by the Indonesian girl, they also provide tea and toast for us, I was also try the sauna. After that fresh again and ready for shopping…………
We went to Manado Town Square, the mall quite big and it was quite new, we went to the big retail market called Hypermarket, wah….very cheap the items they sold here, I bought my facial kits and equipment from here. We also try some foods in the restaurant inside the mall such as Es Teler 77 and Ayam Penyet.
Back to the hotel, we spend our last night in Manado to try some Milk tea and coffee on one open air café in front of our hotel, very crowded and full of youngster here, there is also sing performance from the local, very interesting and we went back to hotel very late around 02.00 am.
We took morning flight went back to Kuala Lumpur, it is on time, and only half of the plane was occupied. So fantastic experience, what else we expect? Nice view, nice people, nice foods, nice beverage, nice for shopping, nice snorkeling site, nice massage, wow Manado absolutely I will back.