January 30, 2015

Beginner's Guide To Manado - Diving Haven

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Manado, it is a city in Indonesia, and is surrounded by sky-high mountains (some are even active volcanoes!). It has a relatively small population of only 450k Manadonese people, which btw, are extremely friendly and welcoming *heart eyes*.

Manado tourism has flourished for its diving attractions, namely Bunaken island, an island with several diving sites for us to choose from. I was fortunate enough to have been invited by Manado Tateli Beach Resort to enjoy their luxurious services and tour around the beautiful city of Manado - which I would later come to find is so much more than just a diving hotspot. 

Day One 


Waiting out our 45 minute delay…


Finalleh...

The flight from Jakarta to Manado was relatively long; it took approximately three hours from take-off to landing. No problem though, I had my silly best friend as my flying buddy and Murakami on my lap. 




I'm wearing Revlon's "Wine Not" on my lips 

 Do yourself a favor and do not enlarge this image. LOL



Got picked up at the airport by the hotel's driver service! 

When we arrived at the airport, the sun had already taken her hiding spot behind the clouds. We were booked into the Ocean Suite room, a two-level room with a quaint living room and guest restroom on the bottom floor and the main bedroom upstairs. The living room had a "welcome tray" lain out for us, decked with fruits, chocolates, and drinks to quench our thirst from the tiresome travel. The interior was simple, but extremely homey and resonated with good vibes. We absolutely loved the room and how spacious and clean it was. Alicia and I kept joking around about how we felt like we were on our honeymoon HAHA.


The beautiful lobby that greeted us right as we arrived

The cute little living room on the first level of the room - awesome if you want to have guests over
The lobby and the living room was great and all, but of course our favorite feature had to be...... drumroll please... THE BEDROOM WITH THAT FLUFFILY HEAVENLY BED!!
Prior to the trip, the hotel had asked us if we wanted twin single-sized beds or a Queen-sized bed to share and we immediately agreed on sharing a bed. So glad we did that because the bed was amazingly comfortable, luscious, and not to mention, HUGE. I'm quite certain it was a king-sized bed because for once Alicia did not punch me in the face in her sleep. *deadly serious expression*

Adore the relaxed interior of this room. The hallway on the right leads to the vanity area and the bathroom!



We were exhausted from the travel and decided to stay in and order room service. We ordered nasi goreng and spaghetti bolognaise, simple dishes, but were fully satisfactory nonetheless. We salvaged every last bit of that meal #thefatlifechoseus.




I love food more than I love humans. JK. Not really.


Day Two
Waking up to the view of the pool, the ocean, and large array of mountains isn’t bad at all.

Sometimes, I go to bed early because I want time to pass quickly so that I can wake up and eat breakfast. I can’t be the only one…? Anyway, the resort had a wonderful selection of breakfast foods, ranging from continental dishes to traditional Manadonese cuisine.


Clockwise: your typical omelette dish with a side of Manadonese chili, Tinutuan porridge from Manado, and a plateful of Titan’s bad decisions.

I could barely contain my excitement during breakfast because I’d be scuba-diving FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME EVER that very morning. I had an eclectic mix of emotions whirring inside of me: guilt (I had promised my parents I wouldn’t dive but I’m sorry Papa & Mama, my bucket-list has to be completed), excitement, nervousness, fear, etc. They were afraid I would die but I was (pretty sure) I wouldn’t die. 
And I didn’t. 
So. 
Ok now I’m rambling. 
Love you Pa Ma.

Manado Tateli Beach Resort had its own diving centre within its premises! We had to walk a mere 30 steps to get from where we were eating breakfast to the diving centre where the boats dock. The guys who work there - they call themselves the Minanga divers - are a group of extremely pleasant and friendly local professionals. They gave us a briefing on who our coaches were, how to work with the equipment, and how to communicate underwater using sign language. I had one Pak Aaron as my personal coach because I did not have a license yet, and I was doing what they call the “discovery dive,” which I assume was a simpler dive than what Alicia and several other guests would be doing. He taught me (with utmost patience) about every little thing I needed to know about diving, and answered any queries I had with detail. Within ten minutes, I understood completely and felt 100% at ease. We had several men come with us on our journey to Bunaken, which was only about 40 minutes away from the resort. 

The boat ride itself KILLED ME. I am hopeless when it comes to motion sickness, that is, I get it so easily and feel nauseous even on stable car rides. Thank the heavens I did not puke. The Minanga divers kept the mood lighthearted by cracking jokes here and there, and making conversations that flowed, and that helped a bunch ^_^


                            
All smiles before the seasickness kicked in...

Alicia said I looked like I was meditating but I was actually holding in vomit. #doeverythingwithclass #evenpuking


                            
Kudos to myself for still being able to take a selfie even when I’m feeling sick.

We didn't dock on the Bunaken island itself, but around the island there are dozens of diving sites where we could simply "float our boat" and jump off with our diving gear ready to go. My diving coach had me fall backwards into the waters (which was the proper way to get into the water) and made sure I got used to breathing through my mouth before we dived deeper into the sea. I hyperventilated a little then, because I took little breaths, thinking that I would exhaust my oxygen supply if I breathed excessively. My coach reminded me to stay calm because if I didn't, I would not have the courage to dive and explore the ocean. He told me to breathe normally, take as much oxygen in as I would if I were up on land. I did that, and relaxed at once. We sunk slowly until we were completely submerged. This, my friend, was the moment where I REALLY freaked out. Not because anything was going awry, but because of the sight to behold right in front of my very eyes. I was amazed that the entire ten minutes of my floating on the surface, getting taught and trained by my coach, I was being completely ignorant of the view that was laying below.

There were corals of every color - red, green, blue, orange, and yellow. Finding Nemo immediately popped into my head because I was practically living in it at that very moment. I wish I could pack you all up and take you with me to marvel at the glorious sight that is Bunaken's underwater world. I am going to post photos that one of the dive masters Pak Marcelle sent us, but when you view these pictures, keep in mind that what was in real life was a gazillion times more vibrant, colorful, and jaw-droppingly beautiful.

This is Alicia taking videos on her GoPro. Those little specks are schools of fishes, and imagine the corals behind her to be an array of blaring rich colors.

Alicia hates her hair here but whatever, there are more photos of her than there are of me so I'm sharing them! 

Alicia and I holding hands, as we do.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHA. I look absolutely hideous. Note to self: no selfies underwater. Mmmm, those lips doe.


WE FOUND NEMO!!! And his father. 

If any of you have been diving before, you would know that it's an activity that practically exhausts all your body's energy resources and leaves you incredibly tired and... HUNGRY. After we cleaned ourselves up back at our hotel room, we decided to venture Manado's city area and go on a local food tour. Manado possesses a high diversity of culinary dishes, mainly revolving around seafood. Unfortunately (for me), I came to find out that they also enjoyed bizarre foods such as bat meat, cat meat, rat meat, and even dog meat *holds back tears*. I'm not going to lie, this was the one thing that disturbed me greatly throughout the entire trip, but I tried my best to refrain from thinking about it whenever I saw a stray dog roaming the streets. 



Most of the food plates you see are pork meat, but the bottom right dish is from dog meat :(

This is me eating a pork satay they call Ragey. I also tried a bite of bat meat soup in the blue bowl. It was odd-tasting. Just like how lamb has its own distinct taste to it, bat also had its own flavor to it.

Delicious pork rib soup 

Pisang Goreng (fried banana fritters), Tahu Goreng (fried tofu), and Perkedel Jagung (fried corn and potato fritters)

In Manado, it is customary to eat pisang goreng with their signature chili sauce called Sambal Ikan Roa, which is made from a concoction of crushed Roa fish and chili padi. I skipped the chilli though, I found it weird to mix the two together but Alicia loved it!

Day Three

Our last full day in Manado :( we wanted to make the most out of today so we decided to venture out into several different places and go sight-seeing amongst the mountains. Manadonese people call it the Minahasa tour, because the area in which these sights are located is called Minahasa, a village where a handful of people reside living a quiet life. First, our guide took us to a temple with a nine-story pagoda. 



Does my back shadow look sexy?

After a gruesome climb, the view on the top of the pagoda was so rewarding!

A little bit away from the temple, was a hill where a beautiful collection of religious sites were located. They call it the Bukit Doa Tomohon, which directly translated is "Prayer Hill of Tomohon." There sat a modernized chapel with vivid greeneries surrounding every corner you looked.






The Mother Mary cave with fresh cold running water you can splash on your face

Next came... LUNCH!!! We were starving at this point. We barely had anything to eat that morning as we were rushing out to make time for all the sightseeing. Florent (the hotel GM) and our tour guide took us to a famous restaurant called Gardenia. They serve food of all different cuisines, local Indonesian food like nasi goreng and gado-gado, to salads with various different dressings. All the food we ordered were surprisingly pleasant, especially the Pisang Goreng and salads! *drool*



Gardenia's concept is, well, a garden.


Lotus flowers! They grew flowers of all different kinds. The breeze was also fantastic.


They had a greenhouse to grow plants and herbs. These were then picked and used for the salads for customers to consume. Hence, freshness guaranteed!!!



All beautiful things have to come to an end because look at these grilled rats... *WARNING* NSFW OKAY?

Mmm... YUMMY.


The picture above was just one of the many bizarre sights we encountered in the wet market also in the mountain. Our tour guide had asked if we were interested to check out the market and all of its paraphernalia and we said we were, but I did tell him to refrain from entering the area in the market where they butchered cats, chickens, and... *sniffles* dogs! :( :( :( 

I've been contemplating on whether or not I should share the bad part of my story at the market, for I did not want to scare any of you away from Manado, a wonderful city overall. This was just my least favorite part of the place - so I wanted to be honest and share it with you guys. I didn't see any of the killings occur, because I practically sprinted away as far as possible when I saw dogs in cages about 10 meters away. My heart broke into a million pieces. I thought I was safe until I saw a little mixed-breed puppy caged as I was already leaving the market. The puppy was wagging its tail (a sign of excitement and happiness) ever so slowly, it seemed melancholic, but it was excited as its master was about to feed him some food. What killed me was the thought that the puppy still loved the master and could still get excited at the sight of him, but what it doesn't know is that it is only being fed to grow larger until it is large enough to be murdered. I burst into tears as my heart pained for that dog.

Let's backtrack a little bit, though, because I truly want to cast that thought away from my memory. We also checked out other interesting tidbits at the market, like their large collection of spices, traditional cakes, and seafood. 

Kue Arem made from Javanese sugar. This was delish!

Authentic coffee.

Fish that Alicia got excited about. I can't remember its name for the life of me.

Bananas. That is all.

To wrap up the trip, we took a visit to Danau Linow, a lake known to have different shades of colors due to the high sulphuric content. Although they call it a lake, it is really a water-filled volcanic crater. 

Again, photos do not depict how beautiful this really was in real life.

No, that is not a forest fire happening in the distance. Those are vents that line the wall of the crater, spewing hot gases and water.

The Manadonese really like banana snacks.

Candid.

Florent's extremely adorable daughter Kemangi taking an afternoon nap :3

Abundant thankyou's to Manado Tateli Beach Resort for sending me on this amazing journey! Special thanks to Florent, the general manager of the hotel, for making sure we had the best and safest trip we could possibly have. Manado and its stunning underwater world will always have a place in my heart. I sincerely hope all of you guys will go check out the resort and the facilities they provide for all your Manado vacation needs; I am a strong advocate for discovering Indonesia, our homeland that boasts beautiful nature and is far too underrated. #indonesiaislove

Manado Tateli Beach Resort
Jl. Raya Tanawangko, Desa Tateli Kecamatan Pineleng Kabupaten Minahasa Sulawesi Utara Reservations
P +62 (431) 825 888 
E-mail: manadotatelibeachresort.res@gmail.com

Minanga Divers
Contact: Marcelle +62 855 1152728
Email: marcelle@minangadivers.com

Minahasa Tour
Jl. Santiago III No. 19 Manado North Sulawesi - Indonesia
Mobile of Director Edwin S Rumbajan: +62 811436076
Email: edwien@minahasatravel.com
www.minahasatravel.com


Much Love, T

5 comments:

  1. Next stop is Vancouver.

    M.

    ReplyDelete
  2. OMG BEST TRAVEL REPORT EVER.

    I'M BOOKING MY TICKETS NOW!!!!!!!

    /faint

    ReplyDelete
  3. OMGSH! This is amazing!!!! I was wondering how did you get all those sharp and vivid underwater shots with the GoPro camera??
    Mine just turns out to be a blur ><"

    -lazypandah
    BLOG: ♥ lazypandah blog (✪㉨✪)♥

    ReplyDelete