Five Fan­tas­tic Eastern In­done­sian Hol­i­day Des­ti­na­tions

Indonesia Expat - - NEWS - Text and images by Grace Suse­tyo

The In­done­sian ar­chi­pel­ago, fea­tur­ing 17,000 is­lands, has so much to of­fer in­sa­tiable ad­ven­tur­ers. While more and more ex­pat trav­ellers are be­gin­ning to ven­ture be­yond Bali and Lom­bok, plan­ning hol­i­days in Eastern In­done­sia can be tricky with the re­gion's tourism in­dus­try still in its in­fancy and most in­for­ma­tion re­main­ing off­line.

But for those will­ing to make a leap of faith, re­ward­ing ex­pe­ri­ences and un­match­able mem­o­ries await. Eastern In­done­sia is a vast play­ground of thrilling un­der­wa­ter es­capes, un­for­get­table out­door ad­ven­tures and dis­tinct his­tor­i­cal cul­tures.

Don't for­get to bring com­fort­able out­door ap­parel and shoes, pro­tec­tive swimwear, a rain­coat, sun pro­tec­tion, flash­lights and ex­tra bat­ter­ies as well as plenty of cash.

Soë, South Cen­tral Ti­mor, NTT

Proudly dubbed “the heart of Ti­mor” by lo­cals, Soe is sit­u­ated at the foot of Mount Mutis, a ma­jor source for four ma­jor rivers which dis­trib­ute wa­ter through­out Ti­mor. If you don’t mind DIY ad­ven­tures re­ly­ing on the hos­pi­tal­ity of lo­cals, Soe makes a great base for long dis­tance mo­tor­bike rides across moun­tains, horse ranches, coasts and pre- In­done­sian cul­tural vil­lages.

AROUND SOE: Take a scenic morn­ing walk along the Oel­bubuk in­ter­city road. Trek the forests around the Oe­hala wa­ter­fall. Have a Dawan lan­guage in­ter­preter take you to Boti, a se­cluded pre- In­done­sian king­dom which still prac­tices the Halaika re­li­gion and nat­u­ral dye ikat weav­ing. Camp overnight at Kol­bano beach and watch the sun­rise the fol­low­ing morn­ing. Stay at Lopo Mutis in Fa­tum­nasi to ar­range an ex­cur­sion to the Bon­sai For­est and Mount Mutis. Visit Fatu Naus­sus and learn about the in­dige­nous resur­gence that closed down a mar­ble mine in 2006 un­der the lead­er­ship of Mama Aleta Baun.

FUR­THER AWAY: Make a day trip to North Cen­tral Ti­mor to visit Gua Maria Bi­tauni, a nat­u­ral bat­cave with a shrine for Catholic de­vo­tions to Mother Mary, and Sonaf In­sana, a Ti­morese royal palace with a history of post­colo­nial resur­gence. By the East Ti­morese bor­der in Belu, view both coun­tries from the high­lands of Fu­lan Fe­han cac­tus for­est and trek to the pre­his­toric Ti­morese am­phithe­atre Ben­teng Makës.

EAT: A com­plete meal of se’i babi (smoked pork), sate babi (pork saté), sup brenebon (bean soup in pork broth) and sayur bunga rampe (papaya flowers with bit­ter greens). Sub­sti­tute rice with ja­gung bose (creamed corn with beans). Wash it down with sopi, the lo­cal sug­arpalm wine.

HOW TO GET THERE: Daily flights into Ku­pang In­ter­na­tional Air­port from Surabaya and Bali. Rent a car or shared shut­tle from Ku­pang to Soe.

Ten­tena, Cen­tral Su­lawesi

Lake Poso is home to tran­quil white- sand shores, tall wa­ter­falls, rich bio­di­ver­sity hotspots and sub­ter­ranean lime­stone cat­a­combs hous­ing hu­man re­mains. Up in the Poso re­gency high­lands, the Bada Val­ley is home to pre­his­toric an­thro­po­mor­phic mono­liths sim­i­lar to those of Easter Is­land.

AROUND TEN­TENA: Hire a lo­cal fish­ing boat to go snorkelling or fish­ing in Lake Poso – stop by the Watu Ngonggi mu­si­cal rocks. Swim in Pan­tai Si­uri and the Salu­opa Wa­ter­falls. See the en­demic black orchid at the Bancea Orchid Park. Trek the Latea River and co­coa plan­ta­tions to get to the Latea Cave, the fi­nal rest­ing place of lo­cal an­ces­tors.

FUR­THER AWAY: Move up to the Bada Val­ley for a tour of pre­his­toric mono­liths. Ask your guide to fin­ish with a trip to the lo­cal hot springs.

EAT: Woku sogili (Lake Poso eel wrapped in co­conut leaf and spices). Tosu-tosu katue (grilled shell­fish, sim­i­lar to saté). Ituwu manu (chicken cooked in bam­boo).

HOW TO GET THERE: Fly into Poso via Makas­sar or Palu. Rent a car to Ten­tena.

Tali­wang, West Sum­bawa, NTB

If your idea of a hol­i­day in­cludes se­cluded surf spots and ad­ven­ture sports over­look­ing scenic land­scapes, Tali­wang may be worth a visit. With plans to open the Sekongkang Air­port later this year, and the rise of home­s­tays pop­u­lar among for­eign vis­i­tors, Tali­wang may ex­pect a rise in tourism in the com­ing years.

AROUND TALI­WANG: Spend a day rid­ing the waves at Sekongkang Beach or Ker­tasari Beach and have din­ner at Maluk Beach. Ask your home­s­tay in ad­vance to help or­ga­nize a paraglid­ing ex­cur­sion at the Man­tar High­lands, or fly a drone from here. Jump into the wa­ter­hole at Tiu Kalela wa­ter­fall. Tour the Ke­mu­tar Telu Cen­tre with a lo­cal guide to learn the history of Tali­wang as a vas­sal state of the Sum­bawa Sul­tanate. Check out the lo­cal Main Jaran horse races.

FUR­THER AWAY: Ad­mire the is­land- stud­ded seascapes from Poto Tano sea­port. Trek the sa­van­nahs of Ke­nawa Is­land.

EAT: Sepat veg­etable soup with grilled fish. Sing­gang (fish or prawn curry). Ayam Tali­wang (grilled chicken). Madu Sum­bawa (wild honey) and susu kuda (horse's milk).

HOW TO GET THERE: Fly into Sum­bawa Be­sar via Lom­bok. Rent a car to Tali­wang or Sekongkang.

Kal­abahi, Alor, NTT

Ris­ing in pop­u­lar­ity among ex­pat trav­ellers, Kal­abahi is a balmy coastal town where tourism is dis­creetly present. Ex­pect an in­ti­mate en­counter with a mul­ti­cul­tural Eastern In­done­sian small town, un­der­wa­ter ad­ven­tures brim­ming with lo­cal folk­lore and vil­lage com­mu­ni­ties ea­ger to in­tro­duce you to their an­ces­tral cus­toms.

AROUND KAL­ABAHI: Spend a day bum­ming around Batu Pu­tih Beach. Dive and snorkel around Pu­lau Pura, Kepa or Ter­nate and visit the vil­lage to shop for nat­u­rally coloured ikat tex­tiles bear­ing the tur­tle mo­tif. Be­fore watch­ing the sun­set at Alor Ke­cil, ex­plore nearby his­tor­i­cal sites such as the Dragon House of Bao­raja, and Masjid Jami Babussholah which houses a Qur’an made of tree bark. Ar­range welcoming cer­e­monies at Tak­pala and Mon­bang, the lat­ter of which makes clothes out of an en­demic wood bark. Visit the Mu­seum 1,000 Moko to learn of the mys­ter­ies of moko, or­nate cop­per drums be­lieved to orig­i­nate in Viet­nam.

FUR­THER AWAY: Take a dip in the Tuti Ada­gae Hot Springs in North­east Alor. Trek the cliffs around Lin­gal beach in South­west Alor. Cross over to Pan­tar Is­land and hike Mount Sirung to view vol­canic craters and Alor from across the strait.

EAT: Cakalang kuah kun­ing (skip­jack tuna in yel­low soup). Sayur jan­tung pisang (ba­nana flower curry). The sea­side restau­rant Warung Mama is great for din­ing in or pack­ing In­done­sian pic­nic lunches. Make your own trail mix from ja­gung titi (corn flakes), ke­nari (lo­cal al­monds), kue ram­but (palm­sugar noo­dle cook­ies) and cashews.

HOW TO GET THERE: Fly into Kal­abahi via Ku­pang.

Makas­sar, South Su­lawesi

Once an im­por­tant port of in­ter­na­tional trade, Makas­sar has be­come a mod­ern wa­ter­front city with a royal history of an­cient glo­be­trot­ting sailors and fiery colo­nial bat­tles. Within an hour’s drive, dis­cover the moun­tain­ous land­scapes of Maros, the crisp seascapes be­yond Losari Beach, places of cul­tural and his­tor­i­cal in­ter­est and culi­nary ad­ven­tures for car­ni­vores.

AROUND MAKAS­SAR: Go snorkelling around Sa­malona Is­land and sand­bathe on her white- sand beaches. Take a scenic boat ride to view the Karst Moun­tains of Ram­mang- Ram­mang. Go cav­ing around Leang- Leang to see pre­his­toric cave paint­ings. Trek the Ban­timu­rung wa­ter­fall and learn about Bri­tish nat­u­ral­ist Al­fred Rus­sel Wal­lace’s legacy in the Ban­timu­rung But­ter­fly Mu­seum. Visit the mu­si­cian Daeng Serang Dakko at his home stu­dio in Sang­gar Alam. Tour Fort Rot­ter­dam for glimpses of Makas­sar’s royal past.

FUR­THER AWAY: View the mak­ing of phin­isi ships in Tan­jung Bira. Go div­ing and tur­tle watch­ing in Se­la­yar. At­tend a cer­e­mo­nial burial in Tana To­raja.

EAT: Coto Makas­sar (beef or of­fal stew in spiced peanut broth). Iga bakar (bar­be­cue beef ribs). Ikan bakar nasi san­tan (grilled fish with co­conut rice). Konro kuda (horse stew).

HOW TO GET THERE: Daily flights into Makas­sar In­ter­na­tional Air­port from most In­done­sian ma­jor cities.

Grace Suse­tyo is a Jakarta- based free­lance jour­nal­ist. Hav­ing re­cently com­pleted a Mas­ter of De­vel­op­ment Stud­ies, Grace’s re­search fo­cused on in­dige­nous iden­tity and social cap­i­tal in West Pa­pua.

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