Sights & Sounds: Private Tour with Safari Tours & Travel Co., North Sulawesi (Day 2)
Day 2 Highlights
This is a continuation of the pervious article on engaging a private tour with Safari Tours & Travel Co. in North Sulawesi for the whole family!
So now, let’s just dive right into Day 2 experiences! Since Day 1 was all about getting wet at Bunaken Island, near Manado city, so the following day, it was all about soaking up the sun and all its concomitants in the more rural areas!
Honestly, I did not expect to be inundated by the marvellous beauty of the mountainous countryside of North Sulawesi. Near the city of Tomohon and Tondano, you get to experience quirky villages, lakes that are so serene and air so amazingly fresh as you travel up the hills passing lustrous greens of vegetable fields. It was such an enrapturing encounter, especially for nature enthusiasts, where you can get a little taste of what the local area has to offer! Just amazing!
Day 2 Highlights: Wooden Houses of Woloan Village
The journey was about an hour’s car ride from our Mercure Manado Tateli Beach Resort to our first highlight of the day- the quirky little village of Woloan just about 2 km away from Tomohon city centre!
The sky was in its perfect cerulean blue and placid white fluffy patches of clouds pasted randomly all over. It was a pretty amazing day for exploration in the countryside. Since Tomohon is located on the mountainous region of North Sulawesi, the vicinity around it, like the Woloan village, experienced much cooler temperatures ranging in its 20s oC!
When we got out of the Safari Tours & Travel Co. van to take a nice walk around, we experienced the perfect bucolic surroundings of Tomohon. With temperature at about 20 oC odd, definitely much cooler than at Manado city (which was sweltering), and accompanied by the slow paced vibe of the countryside; everything all seems to be in the perfect cosmos as we wandered off to look at the incomplete (yet accessible for viewing) humble wooden knocked down houses.
To me, Woloan village is described as quirky because it really wasn’t like the typical village we would normally have had in mind. It was basically a place where the making of wooden products happen. In Woloan village, you could see how the Minahasan style houses were being built by the carpenters. You get to see the knocked down parts of a wooden house that were ready to be shipped or delivered.
For someone who is intrigued by carpentry and wooden house craft, this is probable a nice pit stop! According to our tour guide, the humble houses that we saw, which were built along the roadside, were actually up for sale. If you were interested, you could buy it straightaway. The house you were interested to purchase would be knocked down, and shipped to your address, along with an assembler, so you need not worry about assembling the house yourself!
And of course, a quirky little village calls for a few quirky family shot initiated by the brother truly; and photographer: the girlfriend. Haha! 😀
Because these wooden houses are known for its quality and good workmanship by the skilled carpenters, Woloan village receive orders even from resorts at Bunaken Island. Interesting… …
Day 2 Highlights: Vegetable Fields in Rurukan Village
Next up, was to drive towards Mount Mahawu, but to get there we had to pass Rurukan village, which had the most beautiful vegetable fields I have ever seen. Located at the foot of Mount Mahawu, this is a must stop place en route up Mount Mahawu. Just a 20 minutes odd drive from Woloan village, this place just screamed perfection; where the blues meets lustrous greens.
I reckoned this wasn’t part of our itinerary pit stop, it was meant for a pass by to Mount Mahawu. But after looking at the beauty that passed us by whilst in the van, it was just such a pity not to ask the tour guide to let us out to see the view and fill our lungs with the amazing cool crisp air (which, I will not lie, has a tinge of fertiliser smell- if you know what I mean). Of course, it had to have that smell, we were, after all, in an agricultural vicinity right? 😀 #ecotourism?
Hectares of plant terraces and hills that stretched beyond, and overlooking the city sprawling beneath it, just sunk me into the whole agricultural scene that I don’t get much off back home. A really pleasant experience with a good change of scenery once in a while!
Day 2 Highlights: Mount Mahawu
An approximately 5 minutes’ drive upslope from Rurukan village and we finally made it to Mount Mahawu! Or at least 1 step closer to the vantage point at Mount Mahawu! Really excited I was! I mean, it was my first time up a volcano! 😀
Well saying it was ‘1 step closer’ really is just a figure of speech. ‘Cause looking at the entrance, it was a hell load of steps up up up to the viewing point! There was no rest benches for respites (if I did recall correctly), only hand railings were built in the middle of the steps all the way to the top (which is better than nothing huh?).
Elevated at 1324 metres above sea level, the crater of Mount Mahawu is 180 metres wide and 140 metres deep with a distant backdrop of Mount Lokon. Once up at the viewing deck, we all had an unimpeded view of the dry crater beneath us. Though the sun shone fiercely at us all with darting sunrays, but since we were at least a thousand metres above sea level, the weather wasn’t really warm and humid. Cool breeze and all… …
The tour guide informed us that we could take a walk around the volcano. It would probably take about ½ to 1 hour? We decided not to do so, since it was already past lunch time. Hence, to ensure we made the most of it, considering the fact that we had actually arduously climbed a bunch of steps up, we decided to just follow the trekked path slightly inwards to see what other angular views of the horizons we could be getting.
And boy, was it amazing. Though, the tall grass and all were hindering our views, but we could definitely see the city sprawled beneath us. It was pretty doped! It reminded me of when I was up on Mount Wellington when I was in Hobart, Tasmania.
Just the thought of overlooking upon everyone down below was, to me, just a very serene experience somehow. It made me feel that the world is so huge, and sometimes, our problems aren’t really that big a deal and we should just think positive and move on- one deep breath at a time. 😀
On a side note, I believe it is my duty to inform everyone that at the entrance of Mount Mahawu laid a toilet facility. Thank you to whoever decided it was a great idea to build one, seriously. Having been on the road for a few hours from Manado City and having a few respites and all, sometimes nature calls are really larger than us, you know? ;P
Day 2 Highlights: Lunch at Astomi Restaurant on Lake Tondano
Jl. Peleloan, Maesa Unima, Tondano Sel., Kabupaten Minahasa, Sulawesi Utara, Indonesia
|🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂|
Total Damage (per pax)
~ IDR $117500
We were definitely ravenous after all the climbing at Mount Mahawu, and it was time to have our late LUNCH! About a 30 – 40 minutes odd drive from Mount Mahawu down to Lake Tondano, Astomi Restaurant it was!
This restaurant stood on stilts on the waters located along the ever so tranquil Lake Tondano. We had to walk on a gangway made of wooden planks to cross over.
Never did I expect to be so impressed by the food that was served at this restaurant. I am not exaggerating at all when I say how prefect the food was. From the side dishes of stir-fried Kang Kong (Water Spinach), and some other vegetable (I have no idea the name of), to the corn and fish fritters and of course, the main star dish: mini lobsters, oh my goodness, they were all amazingly delish! For those who are allergic to prawns and lobsters, fret not. Another good option could be fried Tilapia fish. It was really good too!
We ordered a set each; 5 mini lobster sets and 1 fried Tilapia fish set. Each set came with a plate of vegetables, and 1 – 2 plate of fritters? I really do not know, ‘cause when the dishes came, they came in a swarm! I reckoned that because we ordered so much, they combined a few fritters into a single plate for us all to share. But what was definite, was that the mini lobsters was a plate for each person; which mean 1 person had about 5 – 6 mini lobsters! Oh man, that was mini lobsters heaven for me and my belly jelly!
Astomi Restaurant was so kind, they threw in 1 more extra plate of mini lobsters no charge at all. More lobster delights for all to share! Perfecto! With an amazing feast on the table, and the serene Lake Tondano as the backdrop, it was a lunch not to forget. I really wouldn’t mind heading back there again for a taste of the delish lobster at that reasonable price!
It was an impeccable late lunch experience by the lake, as we felt the cool lake breeze and enjoyed the calming waters and scrumptious meal prepared for us! My only issue was the pesky houseflies that kept hovering hungrily for our food and drinks. But for the delectable served with such a perfect backdrop, the houseflies aren’t even going to bother me. We just had to exercise some arms swiping whilst eating! 😀
Day 2 Highlights: Lake Linow, Sulfur Lake
It was already evening, with our bellies all well-fed after that incredible lunch. Even during lunch, we could already see the sun slowly creeping back into the horizon. If we had more time, our tour guide mentioned that we could go to the hot springs which was actually en route to Lake Linow. But since it was already quite late, we headed straight to Lake Linow, passing the hot springs.
Either because the sky was getting dark and most tourists had already visited Lake Linow earlier in the day, or the vicinity around Lake Linow was undergoing revamping hence most tourists wouldn’t want to visit this place for the time being, but either way, there wasn’t a soul there other than us.
It was quiet and melancholic. As compared to the afternoon at Rurukan village and up on Mount Mahawu, the scene at Lake Linow was a 180 o change. Gloomy and a little depressing. Lake Linow, when I visited, reminded me of those movies or dramas where the actor would take his row boat out into the lake in the thick fog, and just disappeared- no screams no body found, just vanished into the thick fog.
I was a little disappointed because I was pretty excited to see the change in the colour of the lake. The tour guide mentioned earlier in the day that waters in Lake Linow could change colour due to the sulfur content present in the water body. The sulfur present in the lake was said to be due to the Mahawu eruption that happened years years ago.
With the sunrays reflecting and refracting on the lake in the bright morning or afternoon, and accompanied with the sulfur content, that would explain why the waters in Lake Linow changed colour. Since sulfur is yellow, the water in Lake Linow would change between hues of yellow, amber, green and blue. But because, it was already close to dark, all we saw was a single shade of murky green. Haha! #maybenexttime
By right we should be able to smell the pungent odour of the sulfur from the lake. But when we were there, we didn’t really experience that. Probably if we had come earlier in the day, we might smell the rotten egg odour of the sulfur?
Alas, when we visited Lake Linow, the facilities were in renovating progress; the side roads and all. The café was also not in operation, and all lake activities also seized operation. We saw some Swan Leg-Paddle boats, which, if they were operating, could allow visitors have a go at wandering along the banks of the lake. That sounds intriguing… …
If you are wondering if swimming in the lake is allowed, then maybe we should all take a deep breath and think twice if we would want to soak our delicate bodies in high sulfur content? Haha! That should be your answer right there. 😛
(a) Early morning at Lake Linow (reshuffling of itinerary sequence?)
As you would know, I wished we had the opportunity to see the changing colour of Lake Linow, but due to the timing of the day we were there, we experienced a melancholic sight. But hey, it was still all pretty cool and all.
Hence, I do suggest the best time to visit Lake Linow would be in the early morning when the air would still be crisp, the surroundings in serene and the temperature by the lake still being cool and chill. I bet the experience by the lake in the morning would bring about a pleasant and tranquil moment that would fill anyone up with wonderful memories and beyond!
Thus, probably putting Lake Linow as the first sight of the day to visit would be a better choice? Followed by Mount Mahawu before lunch? That could be a suggestion.
(b) Set off from Manado City earlier
It was literally a whole day affair, and we still missed out certain little aspects of the tour itinerary. Not that the whole trip wasn’t fun and all, but in hindsight, the timing can be adjusted a wee bit.
By the time we were up on Mount Mahawu, it was already slightly past lunch time, and had we set off slightly earlier, we would be right on track. I reckoned a comfortable timing to set off from Manado City would be around 8.30 am or even earlier if you would like to visit Lake Linow at an even much earlier timing in the morning.
(c) Proper footwear please?
Regrets in life happened at specific moments of the day when you thought to yourself how brazenly you felt you could survive climbing up and down a volcano with slippers on. What was I thinking at that morning? Hey, I have no idea… …
Climbing up a gazillion steps to the vantage point on Mount Mahawu was not at all easy with slippers. With poor gripping underfoot and walking on unlevelled ground, wearing slippers does make me feel that the strap was about to snap and give up on me. Oh imagine if that had happened… … Then I would have to walk around barefooted, and how enhancingly close to nature I would have been. Hhhhmmmm… …
Picture does speak a thousand words, but trust me when I say, you need to be there to really believe it. Believe that there’s just so much more out there in this world. Believe that there’s so much beauty in this world.
So get out there, and explore! Remember to Travel Whenever!