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The cultural gap (or maybe fracture) and journey to Manado

My travel buddy and I made it to Manado, Sulawesi. And it was somehow a hard journey…I took a few pictures for your entertainment, I hope you will like them.

We left little paradise island of Lembongan around lunch time to get a transfer to the airport. Once we are there, we have a few hours to kill so we hang around, get food and drinks. And use the toilets. I have seen this sign before, but maybe you haven’t, so here:


I guess it is self-explanatory. A lot of Indonesian people are not used to Westerner toilets, hence the reason you often find dirty feet marks on the toilet seat. Lovely.

Anyway, the plane is delayed as usual, but only a “normal” delay, about an hour. We get on it and I witness the best boarding organization ever: cross the tracks for cars and fuels tanks by feet, get to the airplane. Both doors are open so people climb front and rear…but no one tells them where to go depending on seat allocation. This of course results in a massive traffic-jam in the middle of the plane, where people who went by the rear door but sitting front are trying to get there, and the other way around. All this while most of them are carrying three pieces of hand luggage (and I won’t even tell you about airport security and how you can get your bag through X-ray with liquids, electronics and pretty much anything). Then you wonder why planes are late…

Finally, everybody gets to their seat and I start to fiddle in the pocket in front of me, where I find this:


Well, it’s a mainly muslim country, they take care of everybody. It seems to be a specific prayer for plane journeys, it has all big religions from Indonesia in there:


Nice, uh?

Finally, after getting off the airplane in Makassar, then boarding it again, we arrive at Manado very late. We wait for luggage forever, so I watch people while doing this. So far I have seen very few burqas or equivalent around here, there is one tonight. (it’s still somewhere between 30 and 35°C). Apart from the eyes, you can see nothing of the woman. OK, I don’t really understand nor support this, but who am I to say anything? But for the first time I witness something else: the woman is holding a little baby, probably 4 or 5 months. A baby girl, not that I can tell because she is wearing pink or earrings…she is wearing a baby veil. A fancy one, red and yellow. Her head and complete neck are covered up. It left me with a weird feeling of shock and amazement.

We finally get out of there, negotiate a taxi and give him the address of the place we have booked. We had a struggle the day before finding a decently priced place to sleep, seems like weekends are pretty busy in Manado. We have found this place out of town with little bungalows, the price is OK, so are the few pictures and a couple of reviews, so we get there around one in the morning…and we wish we hadn’t. The room is FILTHY. It smells horrible, curtains look molded, sheets may or may not be clean, there is litter still on the floor room, and everything seems to be falling apart. But it’s one in the morning (almost the middle of the night here) and we are stuck. So we tiptoe around the room, crash into bed and decide we will deal with it the next morning. (Kayo actually went to bed with his shoes on, either for running fast or in case some beast crawled to him during the night).


(it actually looked OK from outside)

The next morning, we get up to face our place in daylight…and it’s even worse. So we don’t even try to get food, we just get a cab and run for our lives as fast as we can. We find a place in Manado city center (more expensive, but by now we are ready to pay for clean sheets and decent bathroom) and have a little walk around. In the hotel staircase, a five year old girl points at me and tells her mama “Buleee!” (stranger or white people in Indonesian). Yes I know that, thanks. But apparently it’s not so common around here since a couple of kids on the street already asked us for pictures.

In need of toiletries, we make a trip to the local supermart. Well, so much for cultural shock: this is what we found in the meat stall:


Hard to tell? These are dead and cooked bats. Bon appétit.

But our new place is clean and it has a nice view over the harbour.


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