12/6/09 TRACKING THE BIRD OF PARADISE.....
I have longing wanting to trail the Land of the Bird of Paradise. The people who, seem to have the affiliation with this Bird, have a special ‘tree’ that worth to be discovered. It was recorded in the old maritime history of the Javanese and Borneon, that once, they have traded and even presented the feathers of the Bird of Paradise to the Emperor of China. The Malays, name this bird as Cenderawasih, a special name symbolizing their acknowledgement for the fine beauty of the creature.
The journey began on the 7 June, 2009 at 1730 hours through Kuala Lumpur International Airport, and landed at Bandara Sukarno-Hatta, Jakarta by fortunately 1745 hours. Seem, I didn’t lose a moment of my journey time, since Jakarta is one hour behind Kuala Lumpur time zone. Thereon, I asked the driver to take me to Nyi Iteung restaurant, for a special Javanese Food, nasi lewet, specially cooked spice rice, nice taken with fried kampong fowl, and keluban, a Javanese salad, which I have long missed, made of boiled tapioca leaves, bean sprouts, young papaya leave, long bean, desiccated fresh coconut, and hot peanut gravy (really remind me of my mom and granny).
(3) Since I have ample times to roam around in Jakarta, thus, I decided to check on the Mekarsari, just about half to one hour drive out of Jakarta. Agro-tourism is the main theme of the Place. Various types of fruit orchard: star fruit, mangosteen, durian, jack fruit, rambutan, various types of citrus, vegetables, including fruits such as rock melon and honey dew are planted on this about 390 acres of land. This Place is very popular among the housewives, since they could ‘pick and pay’ for their chosen fresh fruits and vegetables. Interestingly, there is a section, I believe about 10-20 acres old coconut area being transformed into kids Extreme Sport facilities. Nice to see those kids age 5-12 years old being treated to some thrilling experiences going through the bamboo air-walk, flying fox, air-bridge walk, and all sort; while the mothers are chit-chatting among themselves nearby. I believe, this Mekarsari is a great idea not only to bring mothers together but most important to provide a place where we could build our kids sense of confidence and courage which are very missing nowadays. I’m thinking of such facilities be established soon for our kids in Sarawak.
(4) By 1700 hour on the 8 June, 2009, I left for Mataram, Lombok via Surabaya, an Island eastern to Bali. Upon arrival, we rushed to a restaurant in town. Eaten a plate of large size cockles and crabs, the size 2-3 times larger then those I usually taken back home. I hardly could finish one arm of the crab. It is so big and very fleshy. The next day, I took a half Island tour to have a feel of the aren industry. Aren, is just another palm tree that grows wild here, and being process into flour which has special characteristic that is great for the making of clear noodle. Going big for this product seems to be though, as there is no contiguous aren growing area, and road network seem to be undeveloped. One interesting to note here in Lombok is the farming of kangkung, which is done exactly like rice farming, no elsewhere have I seen this practice: Sawah Kangkung.
(5) The next day, I started roaming the Island by 0800 hour. At lunch time, I have my lunch at Lesehan, which, in Javanese, lesehan means a place of rest. I don’t want to miss my keluban, which is called pelecin, here in Lombok. Here, at the Lesehan, one could fish and have whatever they fished, be prepared and taken in-situ. In the evening, I took a break, having black coffee at a Lesehan by the cliff looking down to the Bali Sea. Here they sell roasted jagung kampong (the old hard variety maize) and fried-boiled yellow tapioca. The tapioca really tastes great, milky, and lovely sweet. Great to appreciate black coffee in the old kampong days, with gorengan singkong and jagung, while watching the sun set slowly down under the sea.
(6) At 1400 hour on the 10 June, 2009, I headed back westward for Surabaya, then flown across the Flores Sea, and landed in Makasar, the capital of South Sulawesi, then crossed the Southern part of Sulawesi to Kendari, the main town of South East Sulawesi. I settled down in Kendari at about 1700 hours and got the chance to have a glimpse of the Bird of Paradise ‘resting trees’. Not much of these trees are found here, but there is a special variety that worth to consider, with much gigantic and healthy look. I believe, the ‘tree’, could be turned into greater money making products. Since Jusuf Kalla(JK) is in town, I have to shift to a nearby small lodging place.
(7) Beginning at about 0900 hour on the 11 June, 2009, I have the travel agent to take me to a brief tour of the Kendari town. We crossed over to the opposite site of the town and tour the mangrove areas. Here, I saw an opened-pond fish culture system, which could work in poor village alike back home. The idea is that the fish, would get their feed supplies from the incoming and out going tides, which is controlled through a flip-gate system. Among the mangrove tress, I saw a ‘Bird of Paradise’, which I’m calculating to get hold later in the future!
(8) At about 1630 hour on the 11 June, 2009 I flew back to Makasar, and landed at about 1800 hour. Once on the highway, heading for the City, the traffic were slowed down due to the presence of Bambang Susilo, the President, who is heading back to Jakarta, after his brief Presidential Campaign here. It was a real frustration, since I tried to reach the hotel which is located by the seaside, to get a good record of the nice sunset. In the evening, I have seafood, at the community-based eating place. The service at the Place is poor, as I believe, the management dependent on huge numbers of workers, labour intensive work culture, seem to generate wait-and-see attitude among the workers. Makasar is the homeland of the Bugis.
(9) Actually along the way, while queuing on the Highway, I tried to figure out the term, the origin of the term Bugis and Makasar. I explored the idea of the word Bengis, but due probably the strong windy Island environment, the term evolved to Bugis, while Makasar, could be derived along the same meaning ie Muka Kasar. The driver and his assistant in fact inform me that, in the past, the Spanish, Dutch, and Portuguese were scared of the Bugis for their great resistance for the later occupation. They are really fierce and put up real fierce fight to deter these western conquest. Even in English, the term bogey, the bogeyman is derived from the term Bugis. But, to add spice to the talks, the driver assistance who is a Makasar himself, define BUGIS as Banyak Uang Ganti Isteri!
(10) From those villages that I managed to visit, both in Kendari and Makasar, it is crystal clear that the Bugis are sea roaming community. The Bugis seem to love colour, and their boats are very colourful.
(11) By 1230 hour on the 12 June, 2009, I took a plane to Ambon, after crossing for about one and half hour the Buru Sea, landed at Pattimura Airport by 1530 hour. From Ambon, thereon my Celcom communication is cut-off. At least now, I’m at peace not connected to home. Ambon time is an hour a head of Makasar. Since it is getting dark, I rushed to a ferry point, and at about 1830 hour, sail for Kiratu Kambu, which is located on the main Island of Seram. Seram is the second largest Island after Halimathera of the Malucas.
(12) The ferry journey from Ambon to Kiratu at these odd hours is really an amazing experience. I have not sailed in the open sea at this moment for so long, since my kid days. As the ferry snail into the open sea, the sun light on the western horizon began to change colour from bright white to slowly yellowish, then reddish. As the sun begin lowering behind the globe, the lining chain of mountains, turn into gigantic dark body. While on the eastern side of the globe, the blue sky slowly turn soft pinkish and darken as the sun buried himself deep down under.
(13) The hot sea air, slowly turn to cool breeze with the lowering of the sun. The strength of the wind mount as the night turns darker. Accordingly, on the eastern corner, the moon began to emergence with sparkling crown princes of stars taking turn showing themselves in clusters.
(14) By 0800 on the 13 June, 2009 I left for a ride along the coast of the Seram Island. Along the way, stopped at many points and walked deep to the hills to search for the Bird of Paradise. I can’t even get a glimpse of the Bird of Paradise, the bird is absence from this archipelagos of Islands, and I wonder why, though its has its name in this local dialect? I saw only those interesting trees which are very gigantic and have given lives for the Seram population. The soil here is dark sandy, but wet. Along the hillside, it seem perfect for the growing of bananas. Cocoa and coconut are the main money making crops here. At Kiratu market place, I saw lot of gigantic with some interesting ways of preserving the boiled tapioca, bamboo shoots, male papaya florescence, etc. Various types of yam and tapioca are sold here.
(15) Off the coast, tuna fishing is very popular. Groupers are abundant. Squid and crab (reddish species) seem to grow at very large size as compared to those at home. Most of the fishes here are colourful, and I lost my appetite taking those colourful fish. I prefer to go for roasted or deep fried kampong fowl.
(16) On my journey to Masohi, a midway town of Seram, I met two beautiful offsprings of the ‘Bird of Paradise’. Their eyes are sharp, clean, dark, but, reflecting a clear sign of ‘uncertainty of life’. I was touched with the life that they are going through. Here, the International donors, seem not to bother about poverty, but are more interested to build monuments symbolizing their generosity and holly thought, but leaving the people in deep poverty, so as to continue to manipulate them into the far future! I really felt sick discovering how my ‘cute cenderawasih’ being treated.
(17) At Masohi, I ate at Gamelama Ternatte, a cute eating place by the sea, built by a mixed family of a Ternatte (Pak Hamid) and a Javanese. Here I met Chandra (the daughter) and Aftan (the son) who can really sing. They sand the Seram song, which sound like the Hawaiian.
(18) It takes about 2,000-3,000 km to circle the whole Seram Island. Hopefully one day I’ll make it.
(19) At 0530 hour on the 14 June, 2009 I left for the ferry for Ambon. After having the real nice nasi kuning which is equivalent to nasi dagang of the Kelantanese, with black coffee, I boarded the ferry around 0600 hours. The ferry expected to depart at such time, but only to start the engine by 0730 hours. This is a real Third World brother.
(20) Nonetheless, this ferry trip completed my sunset and sun rise opened sea travel. At his hours, as compared to the last two days trip, I could really appreciate the dark-turned-bright scene of the day. Similarly, I could also have the benefit of enjoying the cold-turned-warm sea breeze. It is really amazing to see, from the far horizon, all those dark bodies, slowly being brighten up by the rising sun. It really a warming feel.
(21) I reached Ambon by 0830 hours, and head for the look out of the Tree. In this Island, there is these two Trees that I’m interested. I only manage to see one, and left the other one for others to pick up soon.
(22) Ambon, is the birth place of Broery Marantika (Widuri), Bob Tutopoly (Memang Lidah Tak Bertulang), Grace Simon (Mawar Berduri, if not mistaken), and many others. Lots of Indonesian national level singers were born here. Afan and Chandra, the two at Masohi, are good natural artistic talent of the Malucas.
(23) Malucas, their spice: lada, cengkih, pala, kayu manis, etc were the reason, why the Dutch invaded this part of the world. Strong heritage of the Dutch are peresence here, and every year, in July, the Teluk Ambon will be flooded with sea surfers from all over the world, especially the Dutch and Ausie.
(24) Tonite, at about 2100 hour, I have roasted duck by the road side. Thereon, I went over to an Old Folk Karaoke House, by the seaside. Beautiful Melayu Delis and Maluku songs broke the silence of the nite. The Molucas, they really can sing.
(25) To close the night, I need to leave for airport by 0430 tomorrow for Jakarta to continue with my second lap of the Trail, a friend told me a joke: In Indonesia, POLITIC, leave it to the Javanese, TRADING, let the Padang and Bugis do it, to RECITE the Quran, then pass over to the Maduras, but, after the long days works, get the AMBON to entertain us!
Seram and Ambon, Malucas
13-14 June, 2009