Sunday, September 28, 2014

INDONESIA - SULAWESI - BIRA - 4 to 9 JUNE 2014 - 'DOESN'T GET ANY BETTER'

Info

Car/driver Makassar to Bira 800 000R
Bira entrance fee 20 000R
Hotel Anda –
Nusa Bira Indah Hotel – 081343636883 – 200 000R air con room
Motorbike hire - Bamboo Warung

The journey




I left Makassar with my driver/car towards Bira, the traffic wasn’t too bad and the roads were okay. The drive took about 4hours not six with a stop for lunch. The driver spoke very limited English and he was loud and a bit annoying with his constant chatter about nothing but he drove fast and furiously. Eventually, I told him to stop talking and drive only.
I paid the 20 000R entrance fee for Bira and checked out two hotels and chose the Anda Hotel. It was clean, aircon and quiet for 475 000R.

I wandered down the road and down the steps to the beach. Bira was a pretty white sand beach with sand similar to Byron Bay. The water was clean, light blue and very inviting. Warungs lined the beach with tourist/fishing/banana boats dotted along the beach and in the water. I met and chatted with a nice group of local school students back for the day from their high school at Makassar.
I spent the late afternoon on the beach, enjoying the sunset, having a few local and Makassar conversations and a couple of cold beers.
That night I had dinner at the Bamboo Warung. It was cheap and tasty had a number of chats with expats, locals and the staff of the warung. It was a great eatery for information.
In the morning, I decided to change hotels. The room was good but the price too high for what I was getting plus it was boring and the staff unhelpful. After breakfast, I moved hotels to Nusa Bira Indah Hotel – 081343636883. The owner was very short and small but she was so sweet and nice. The rooms were spaced well apart on stilts. The room was large with wooden walls and floor. It had a comfortable large bed, air con and bathroom. All for 200 000R and breakfast.
Once settled, I went for a walk west along the beach. It was very pretty with small waves and a backdrop of a long limestone cliff which was eroded at the base by sea and salt action. Along the way, there were a number of steps up the cliff face heading to nowhere or starting 3 to 4 metres above the beach. There were also a number of small shallow caves.
On my return, I had a really tasty lunch at the Bira Beach Hotel. I ate lunch here a number of times has it had a cool breeze, good food and a nice view over the beach.
Later, I went for a snorkel off the beach. There was a drop about 200m out that had heaps of fish and some corals. The current was reasonably strong and heading in the wrong direction to where I wanted to drift so I only snorkel there for a short time.




I had dinner again at the Bamboo Warung, met a few locals and expats from New Caledonia who were repairing a boat. Udi (I think) from Makassar was playing guitar. It was all a lot of fun with some singing.
The next day, I went for a long hike after breakfast up the nearby hill of Pua Janggo. It had a nice view of Bira and the harbour. I backtracked down the hill then continued along the road and down the turn off to Kaluku Cottages at East Beach. It was a long, pretty white sanded beach but the off shore winds made it uninviting for a swim. At the northern end of the beach was a boat building area. The boats being constructed there were massive and heavy wooden structures. I think it would be very hard to get them onto the water.



I retraced my steps and stopped at Kukulu Cottages for a lime juice. The accommodation was pretty and well maintained but isolated beach feel.
I continued along further south to the harbour. The beach here was rocky and covered in flotsam. The harbour was interesting with a few large boats.  I walked out of the harbour area and back to Bira.
Back at Bira, I had a sunset swim down the beach, starred in many local photos and drank a couple of beers. At dinner, I met a nice couple, Colin (Irish) and Rachelle (English), who were dive instructors in Thailand.
It was a noisy sleep with a large group of students arriving early morning and talking till 4am.
In the morning, I organised a boat to snorkel the reefs off Pulau Liukang. The boat trip was short and fun. At the island, the snorkelling was good with pretty coral and lots of different types of fish. Later, the boat landed on the island and I wandered around the beach and village. I t was very interesting and pretty but the camera batteries went dead. I had a great fish and rice lunch at the homestay at one end of the beach. The homestay had a separate room for 250 000R fan and 350 000R air con. It looked very nice and was located right on the beach.
Back at Bira, I had a lazy afternoon with beers and a swim at sunset on West Beach. I met a number of people such as a group of Indo bike riders from Makassar who spoke very good English and two university students who recorded an interview with myself.
Today was exploring the area by motor bike day. It started off a bit slow but to cut the story short there was no bike from the hotel. I walked up the road and got one from the Bamboo Warung. That took about 20 minutes.
I just drove all over the place, I had no map but I had a great time driving through towns, villages and to various beaches. It rained a lot so I had some rest/ talk sessions in sheltered areas until the skies cleared. In one of the stops, I was invited onto the family veranda for a chat and was offered water and biscuits. The biscuits tasty so well. It was a fun ride!



Back to the hotel, rest, late lunch, a couple of beers down the beach and a twilight walk along the beach. I got the phone number – 08114211418 - for the home stay on Pulau Luihukan and booked a room for two nights.
My lesson today was to organise things the day before I go anywhere or if not wait patiently. I went down the beach to organise a boat to the island with the guy who got the homestay number for me but he wanted 600 000R. The next guy I got down to 150 000R. I went back to the hotel and tried ringing the island homestay. At last, I got an answer and the boat was 100 000R and he would meet me at my hotel. It just got better from then… he carried my bag to the boat, sent a guy (who couldn’t swim well) overboard when my hat blew into the water. My parting vision of Bira were waves on the beach which looked bodysurf able.

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