Sunday, August 26, 2012

Exotic Souvenir

On the ferry to Surabaya from Makassar I started to feel a little unwell. I thought it was due to the kretek smoke that was permeating the cabin and thought that some sleep and fresh air once on terra firma would be all I need to feel better. Unfortunately that wasn't the case and the first day back in Surabaya the dull, throbbing headache that had developed aboard was joined by a vice-like sensation behind my eyes and pain in my joints and muscles. I had a sneaking sensation and after looking into the symptoms online and getting a second opinion I was certain that I had picked up an unwanted souvenir in the Moluccas: dengue.

An Aedes aegypti mosquito, the vector of the dengue virus, biting an unsuspecting victim (actually, given the a photo was being taken of it the perhaps the victim was suspecting after all). [Photo from Wikipedia.]

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Ferry Long Way Round

In Ternate I found myself out on a limb as it were. I needed to get back to Surabaya where I had left the bulk of my belongings with Erika and I had to return there before continuing east again through the Indonesian archipelago. As I've mentioned before I hate retracing my steps and so refused to consider going back through Sulawesi and instead decided to head south through the rest of the Moluccas before swinging west and back to Java. It's a route that is heavily dependent on boat schedules, the information for which is patchy at best, but I decided to take a leap of faith and see how far I could get.

In blue my route out to Ternate from Surabaya and in red my route back. It took nine days, of which over 100 hours were spent on boats (and a further 15 waiting for them).

Friday, August 10, 2012


Indonesia is made up of around 17,000 islands. Some are huge, like Borneo and Sumatra, whilst many are tiny. The cluster of four islands of Ternate, Tidore, Makian and Moti, each centred around a volcano and each small enough to be circumambulated in a single day, is certainly towards the small and insignificant end of the spectrum. Nevertheless these tiny islands, located some 250km east of the northeastern tip of Sulawesi in a sub-archipelago known as the Moluccas (or Malukus), were to have a huge and dramatic impact on world history, far in excess of their puny size. According to legend Helen's is the face that launched a thousand ships. These little islands did that and far more.

A view of Ternate from its twin, and eternal rival, Tidore. Little speedboats shuttle people back and forth from one to the other throughout the day.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Swimming With The (Jelly)Fishes

Sulawesi is undoubtedly one of the world's oddest-shaped islands. Sometimes described as resembling an octopus or the letter K. Either way, its trailing tentacles and testing topography make travelling time-consuming. Bus journeys rarely take less than 8 hours and the various boats that service intra-island routes have seen better days. The tenacious are, however, rewarded with spectacular views of jungle-clad mountains that sweep down to isolated bays with turquoise waters and some of the best diving to be found anywhere in the world.

Sunset in the Togians always seems to be gorgeous.