MANADO, North Sulawesi – The Start of Uncovering A Mystery Island

Submitted by indohoyindohoy on 5 October 2010   •  Itinerary

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If you look at our “We Are We Are” page, you’ll see that Sulawesi is amongst my top 5 of to-visit places. And the reason why it’s in the top 5 is simply because it’s.. well it’s far from where I live, but not so far. It seems distant and foreign, but not really, cos it’s still a part of Indonesia. It’s.. got a funny shape of island, if you look in the map, and I knew so little about their everything. It’s a mystery to me, sort of.

So, we spent 17 days exploring what we could in Sulawesi. And this is the beginning of the whole voyage: Manado, the capital city of North Sulawesi.

To be honest, my top priority in Manado was to snorkel – or maybe do an introductory dive – in Bunaken island, the internationally well-known diving spot within Manado area. However, we had to skip it because we could only spend less than 24 hours in Manado itself. Oh well, that just means I gotta make another Sulawesi trip in the future! Meanwhile, I was happy just to go around town and make some new friends in the city.

Travel Indonesia: Manado

Photo courtesy of Reno Raditya

Next: Gorontalo – A Picturesque Lag of the Journey

Sweet Jesus

Our very first venture in Manado was actually.. posing. Hahaha. I mean we checked out this huge statue of Jesus in the Winangun area, and of course took pictures with it. It was actually a detour from the Sam Ratulangi Airport to the city, and our taxi driver was the one who informed us about the statue. I’d never heard about it at all before.

Travel Indonesia : Manado

The statue overlooks Manado city, it’s located exactly on a hill above this elite neighborhood, with several small ones ‘hovering’ at its feet. I’m not a Christian nor Catholic, but honestly, I was amazed by it. It left my mouth open, looking up there and felt… like, magical. Maybe it was the gigantic size, or the details. Yeah, that’s it, the magic is in the size and details.

Travel Indonesia : Manado

Photo courtesy of Reno Raditya

Watch a movie, seriously

No, I’m not kidding. We watched a movie at the cinema, the movie was “Inception”. Is it a Manado film? Of course not, it’s THE “Inception” with Leonardo DiCaprio in it. Why would we watch a Hollywood movie in a Sulawesi trip? Well, simply because we didn’t know what else to do. We were too full (after a great afternoon meal, which you can see in the Eat tab) to try other kinds of food or beverage, and we didn’t have enough time to go to Bunaken, Tomohon, or other interesting places around the city.

It was nice, though. The cinema was in Mantos, short for Manado Town Square, their biggest shopping mall. Manado is known for its people, boys and girls, who like to dress up, look good, and party. Mantos is a place where they go to see and be seen. And we felt like we were in a Jakarta shopping mall. The people appeared quite a lot like how the Jakartans would. But of course we could tell the difference right when we hear them talk cos they got very distinct accent.

Travel Indonesia : Manado

Photo courtesy of Reno Raditya

All in all, it’s always nice to have local people as your guide. Here in Manado, we were introduced to Reno’s friend’s sister’s best friend’s cousin (haha), who gladly took us around the city along with his two friends, and sorta gave us some insights on Manado, like where the good place to eat is, where to get travel tickets, etc.

Dabu-Dabu Restaurant

One of the things that I was really looking for in Manado was their food. Their hot, spicy, good food. So after quite a long discussion with our hosts about where to go, finally they dropped us at this simple restaurant called Dabu-Dabu in the new shopping center area, across the shopping mall.

First we had roa chili condiment, with bobara fish cooked as woku, and stir fried kangkung (a kind of green leafy vegetables). We ate them with rice, as the usual Indonesian food. My god, was it hot or what! We were sweating and gasping, it was like eating a plate full of chili!

Travel Indonesia : Manado

Travel Indonesia : Manado

And then.. before the dish was all finished, we had a brilliant idea. We ordered another dish, that’s widely known as this hellish chili food from Manado, called rica-rica. And what we ordered exactly was cikalang fish rica-rica.

Travel Indonesia : Manado

Photo courtesy of Reno Raditya

 Travel Indonesia : Manado

Photo courtesy of Reno Raditya

And then can you guess what happened? Well, at first several bites I was eating in peace. I was even questioning the image of rica-rica that I’ve heard so far. Why is it not as hot as it was supposed to be? So I was casually eating it while chatting with Mumun and Reno, talking about this and that, when suddenly.. I started to feel the spiciness creeping in, like, from my mouth, to the back of my head, and then to my ears, to my whole face, and up to the top of my head..! Darn it! And all I could do was swear, have some water, and swear again, and then of course.. eat some more! Hahaha.. I think that was close to addiction!

In Jakarta, you can also find Dabu-Dabu restaurants. I thought they just happened to have the same name, but after I checked out the website, it looks like they’re of the same franchise or maybe the same owner. The ones in Jakarta sure look fancier than this one, though.

Travel Indonesia : Manado
Odd, the tables are only for 3.

Dabu-Dabu Restaurant

Jl. Boulevard 12, Manado

+62 431 854511

We went from Jakarta, so it was easy, we just took the Batavia Air directly to Manado, only 3 hours time, costing us about IDR 670,000 / pax, purchased the tix about 3 months in prior. A guy that was standing next to us in the queue when boarding said he had to pay for IDR 1 mil because he bought it only a week in prior.

Other than Batavia Air, you can also take domestic flights with many other airlines to and from Manado. For example, Garuda Indonesia, Lion Air, Merpati Nusantara Airlines, Sriwijaya, and many others.

If you’re going from Singapore, I thinks Silk Air has a direct flight to Manado. And there’s also an airline that can fly you there from the Philippines.

And if you’re going between Manado and Bali, there are Garuda Indonesia and Lion Air, that I heard of.

Travel Indonesia : Manado

We didn’t spend much while in Manado..

– Taxi from Sam Ratulangi Airport to Edo, our new friend’s house @ Pasar Bahu area by “Trust” taxi = IDR 175,000.

NOTE: We don’t actually trust this Trust taxi now because they charge too much with the meter.

– Lunch at Dabu-Dabu Restaurant = IDR 135,000 for us three.

Details of the menu that we ordered, take a look under Eat tab.


– Movies = IDR 20,000 / tix

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