Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by mumunmumun on 17 January 2013 • Itinerary
Unlike the fairytales, this damsel in distress didn’t wait for a charming prince on a white horse to take her across the kingdom. She didn’t even hesitate to flee the fort to chase a dragon’s tail at the high grounds and end at the land’s edge to finally swim in paradise. This might sound like an exaggerated story of my trip to Baubau, but there is nothing of it that isn’t close to literal. I though it was just another town on another island, but this city turns out to be packed with history, culture, and nature. Only recently has Baubau been recognized as one of the many gates to Wakatobi, the diving heaven. But it should be more than just a gate because again, I emphasize, there is a dragon, a fort, and a beach called Nirwana beach in Baubau. I wasn’t exaggerating.
By the way, my trip to Baubau and Wakatobi was courtesy of Wego Indonesia and organized by Explore Solo. I was one of their photography contest winners. I know, right? Me? Photography? Can’t be right!!! But I won fair and square since it was a lucky draw out of a short list, mind you 😉 A free trip to Wakatobi? Double WOOT!
Indonesia has thousands of islands, big and small, old and young (yes, we have young islands such as Anak Krakatau). So many that it hurts! Being a huge archipelago, scattered kingdoms, and colonialized mostly by 2 parties for over than 3,5 centuries, there’s bound to be things that I would find in my travels but not in our history books.
Personally, I think Baubau is underrated considering it has the Keraton Wolio Fort, which not only is the vastest fort in the world according to the Guiness Book of Records, it is also built by the local Buton people. So many of our forts were built by the Dutch, but this one differs itself being locally made, phylosophical designs, and almost skipping a generation of its people. Fascinating!
More of it on our blog here: Keraton Wolio Fort – The vastest fort in the world
After being bewildered by the fort made by the hands of Indonesians, I turned perplexed by a half dragon standing in the middle of the Kamali public space. It had a feisty growling gesture as it faced the ocean. I couldn’t decide whether it was delighted or disgusted by the sight of the ocean. But my decision was hardly important compared to asking ‘WTF?!’
Baubau has a strong Moslem culture but has not discarded its history with the Chinese. The dragon seems to be a significant landmark, but I have yet failed to find a reliable source about the Chinese and Buton. Finding this dragon wasn’t bizzare enough, there’s more to it: Dragon of Baubau – The Quirkyness of Buton
What is an island without a beach to swim in? With only a short stay in Baubau, we managed to visit two spots to swim, or at least to dip my feet. Located on the outskirts of Baubau is the Nirwana beach, translated to “paradise beach”. With white sands and a nearby local fisherman’s village, there’s always life at Nirwana. And being a working day, there was hardly any visitor on the beach. It was mine! All mine!
If you prefer to soak in fresh water, the Tirta Rimba Waterfall can meet to your requirements. It’s located not far from the city center. You can get there by car all the way or catch public transport and walk up to the fall. Although the water was contained in a man modified pool, but the clean greenish water kept everthing quite organic.
For a splashing read, head down to our blog about swimming, YAY! Swimming and Splashing in Baubau
“Can we have chicken or beef now?” a travel mate of mine whined. The people of Sulawesi in general, or on any small island, eat a lot of seafood. They can’t help themselves. It’s the abundant resource they know. But my Java originated friend couldn’t help his boredom towards fish. Coming from a Sulawesi family, I had the time of my life eating fish at every meal. I actually think I don’t eat enough fish to call myself a descendant of the k-shaped island, therefore I had to redeem myself.
But the Sulawesi people create a whole lot of various dishes with seafood. For fish alone, one of their popular local dishes is the Pallumara.
This dish is very commonly found throughout the southern parts of Sulawesi. The dish consists of fish cooked in a sour and spicy broth (usually a yellow color). There’s no special fish required for this dish. The core is the broth. Don’t be intimidated by the chilies thrown in to it, they only give it a hint of spicy sensation. The fish that we tried in Baubau was well cooked. The fresh fish melted in my mouth with every scoop of warm and soft rice.
Prices were about IDR 20,000 / portion.
There are also other option to chose from such dishes with chicken, beef, and lamb.
During our transit which didn’t involve an overnight stay but a light nap, we stayed at the Debora hotel, located a walk away from Kamali beach. This hotel was pretty basic with large rooms, rattling AC, mini TV and an acceptable clean bathroom. It wasn’t fancy but a decent 3 floor accommodation.
Public transport pass the hotel since it’s located in the middle of the city.
I think there are better accommodation options aside to this, but in the case of this trip, I’ll take anything that’s free.
Jl. R. A. Kartini
Email : Hotel_debora@yahoo.co.id
I entered Baubau through Makassar. So book your ticket to Makassar first to get there. You know Makassar is a great city to transit too.
From Makassar we took a flight to Baubau with Merpati Airlines with tickets approximately IDR 500,000 / pax. It’s the cheapest airline from Makassar, but during the trip back, the flight was canceled without notice and all hell broke loose trying to organize new schedules and who had to stay overnight (that would be me!) because there was a Merpati flight the next day.
Another alternative is Wings Air, an airline owned by Lion Air. Their flights run to Baubau for tickets about IDR 600,000 / pax.
Other option is Express Air. Not sure how much a ticket cost with them.
Public transportation is available in Baubau. ‘Angkots’ or the small mini vans run around the small city ready to take you to your supposedly reach-abel destination.
We traveled around the city using a rented car. But because I was the passive traveler at the time, I didn’t ask much about the price of the rental car. But generally in Indonesia, a rental car would cost about IDR 600,000 – 700,000 / day with various terms and conditions (chauffer and his meals, gasoline, etc). There were 8 people in total so we used 2 cars to transport us to all the destinations that we needed.