Kenari towers – 0411 873 476 - aircon room with sea view 500 000R
Taxi – Makassar airport to hotel 110 000R
Car/driver to Bira – 800 000R
Becak cycle tour 100 000R – seems relatively a lot but it was for five hours and it was hot and it was a long way.
I arrived at the domestic airport in Bali for my flight to Makassar, Sulawesi. The domestic airport was then at constant change due to the upgrading of the facilities. It was an easy check in with Garuda and after a flight delay of ½ hour I was up, up and away.
The flight was good as Garuda provided in-flight entertainment and a meal which was included in the price.
I arrived at Makassar airport. In very little time, I was at the taxi stand organising transport to my hotel. The road from the airport was wide and modern but deteriorated closer to the city centre into a warren of crowded streets.
I arrived at the Kenari Towers Hotel and chose the second room they showed me. It had a huge bed, aircon, TV, and a partial sea view of the harbour. It was very clean. So far so good!
It was near sunset so I caught the elevator the 7th (top) floor where there was a restaurant with a commanding view over Makassar city. I had dinner and a few beers and met a local couple who were babysitting their nephew. The sunset was pretty and with darkness the lights of the city began to twinkle around me with their added reflection on the sea. Really nice but it was still very hot!
My sleep was broken due to the air con and mosque. I wasn’t loud but ear plugs helped.
I woke early and caught the elevator to the roof for the sunrise. I watched as it burned its way over the urban horizon. The temperature was already on the up.
I had breakfast at the hotel and had a chat with a nice Indonesian family.
Down to the reception and I booked a car for Bira at 8am the following morning.
I walked down to the nearby waterfront. The waterfront was a wide concrete area that stretched along the coastline between the ocean and the main road. It was adorned in statues depicting various features of Sulawesi life with stairs at various points that lead up and down to various concrete features. The ocean water was dirty with floating rubbish but still the vista of the harbour was pretty and serene. The waterfront was called Lestari Beach but there was no beach. Hmm!
I couldn’t help but notice that I was being followed by a cheerful, persist and beckoning becak (cycle with sitting seats) driver as I walked along the waterfront. I ended up hiring him for 100 000r for a city tour. He was a bit of an idiot but the tour was fun. He has a wife and one boy.
Our first stop was Fort Rotterdam which was cool. The fort has large walls with a walkway that skirted along the top of the exterior wall. Inside the fort were a number of buildings and grassed areas. At the large entrance gate, I was greeted by another guide (100 000r) whose name was Rusli Amin He was very informative and gave me a stack of advice, insights and information on travelling in Sulawesi.
After the fort, the becak drove for ages into oncoming traffic. I pointed this abnormality to the driver but he just smiled. I decided it was better to let him look ahead than to distract him. Generally, it was a bit disturbing but fun!
The next stop, was the Chinese area. After a brief look, I lost interest and onwards we cycled.
It was a long ride to the fish market harbour. It was a challenge not to step in mud or fish crap as well as avoiding sliding on the tiles of the fish market which was covered in fish blood. It was very grotty, smelly but the people were friendly. I liked it!
Next was the cargo boat harbour. There was a 5 000R entry fee. We walked along the docks looking at the various boats. He pointed out that one of the fishing boats was going to Bira, my next destination. They actually offered me transport in the boat if wanted. I didn’t want.
Next was the traditional market. At this stage, I walked as it was too awkward to ride the becak through the closely packed crowd. It was very interesting but by this time it had become intensely hot. It was time to end the tour.
He cycled the bike back through narrow streets, traffic and eventually, the main road to the hotel.
At the hotel, the driver tried to convince me the tour was 100 000r per hour. I laughed and gave him 100 000r plus 50 000r even though I personally thought he was an idiot but still a fun guy. He taught me a few local phrases which I used as we cycled around.
a-pa-kar-re-ba = how are you?
Bugi = good.
Chick-a-lee = person
Later, after resting, I walked over to the waterfront to the mosque for sunset. The mosque was truly a beautiful building. It was built over the water sitting on huge concrete columns with two entrance bridges at the north and south ends connecting it to the waterfront walkway. I walked across one of the bridges, removed my shoes and wandered around. I met heaps of locals and was in heaps of photos. I was also invited to join the faithful in prayer. I declined mainly because I couldn’t assume the prayer position with my damaged toe. As the sun set and the darkest moved in, the mosque was lit up with tranquil bluish lighting. I already thought the mosque was amazing but now I was stunned that any building could be of such beauty.
I had dinner across the road from the waterfront then walked back to the hotel for drinks on hotel roof. There was a band playing! They were okay but I was the only person there beside the staff.