Baliem Valley, West Papua

West Papua is located in the most eastern part of our country, Indonesia. With more than 17.500 islands spread all over the country, West Papua is one of the biggest islands after Kalimantan (Borneo), Sulawesi (Celebes), Sumatera, and Java. I can say that I am lucky enough since I was able to visit those four big islands, plus some of the small ones.

I visited West Papua for the first time back in 2006 when I worked as a full-time worker at an international NGO based in Manado & cover the area of East Indonesia. I was so excited planning my trip to the heart of Papuan culture & tribal society: Wamena or mostly well-known as Baliem Valley.

Village chief mumi in Kurulu Village

The only access to get there is by flight from Sentani, Jayapura (less than one hour with small planes like Trigana Air). Unlike any other planes, there is no seat number in this plane, meaning you are free to rush & choose the most suitable seat for you once you are boarding. For no special reason, my favorite is always at the back, right beside the window.

Going to Wamena, there are several important thing you need to consider:

  • Make sure that you have done that ‘natural calling’ at the airport (I mean there is no airplane toilet on that Trigana Air except you can manage to hold it back for another 55 minutes till you get there)
  • When you arrive at the airport, watch your luggage very carefully. If you can carry it all by yourself, it will be better but in case you need a porter, deal your price first & keep walking as close as possible to him.
  • Most of the hotels/home stays in Wamena are within walking distance from the airport but with your luggage, you might need a pedicab or a rent car. Again, deal your price first.
  • Riding on a pedicab or ‘becak’, you have to warn  the rider to slow down because they often run the pedicab as fast as they want. Do not forget to deal the best price & do not hesitate to haggle.
  • For photographer, be careful! Do not use flash when you take photograph in public like at the market unless they will ask you to pay for each snap you take!

    I snap this photo without them knowing it 😉

  • When you visit one of the villages to see a mumi (like in Kurulu), you better ask a prior information about the sum of money to pay for each person (you decide how many people you want to photograph which suits your pocket). As I remember, we paid about five or ten thousand per person at that time.

    Photo with a village chief mumi in Kurulu village

  • Coming from Manado where the price for a litter of mineral water is only 3.000Rp, I was so shocked to find it more than 3 times expensive here, so are the meals at the small cafes/restaurants, and other stuff as well. So, I liked buying several things from Jayapura before getting to this extra-expensive area (due to the only way to get things here is by plane).
  • Where I live (in Tomohon) is known with its cold air but to my surprise, it’s much colder in this valley. So warm jacket is a must. Yet it’s quite hot during daytime (on sunny days).
  • In some spots, cell phone signal is good
  • Sometimes you can be assertive to any individual selling Papuan souvenir. A strict “No” is sometimes needed unless they will keep following you day after day till you finally want to buy.

    Some of Papuan souvenirs

    The locals make 'koteka' (penis gourd) from this kind of plant

    Once you are in Wamena, you will explore its rich culture & social life, gorgeous landscape, and the rest of its natural beauty like Baliem River.

  • The best time to visit Wamena is in August since they host an annual festival which you don’t want to miss.
  • Don’t be shocked when you see the elder ones loose some of their fingers. It has something to do with their culture of cutting a single knuckle when one of the family members died (I’m not sure if it also apply to the young people)
  • Most of the locals live in their traditional homes called Honai. Sometimes a small honai could accommodate up to 20 family members! Honai consists of three different shapes: for men, for women, and kitchen.

    Inside the Honai

    I wish to go back there someday.. 🙂 It’s a nice place to visit.

Categories: Indonesia, photography, Photos, Places of Interest, Tourism, Tradition, Transportation, Travelling, West Papua | Tags: , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Tomohon: Horse Carts Parade

So, I’m back again for the umpteenth time to introduce more of my world, mostly about my hometown which you might start to get familiar with: T-O-M-O-H-O-N. There are thirty-five villages in Tomohon spread over five sub-districts.

Though it’s a new city, which officially inaugurated in 2003, but in the past seven years every Tomohoner has seen the fast development and change in its infrastructure, economic growth, and especially in tourism-related events.

When I was a little child, I usually got a fever every time I went down to Manado – the capital of North Sulawesi Province (about 25km / 15 miles away and reachable within 30 minutes drive through the winding road) due to a temperature difference; the average temperature in Tomohon during day time is between 17 – 30°C and 16 – 24°C at night, while in Manado the average temperature is between 24 to 30 °C. But now I am used to go back and forth on a daily basis with no bad affect on my body temperature.

Cool weather and fertile soil bring so much benefit to the local farmers to grow tropical plants including vegetables and flowers. We can even easily cultivate flowers, vegetables and spices at the backyard.

On January 26th, 2009, we celebrated Tomohon’s 6th Anniversary in which “Pawai Bendi” (or horse carts parade) hit the main road with their own unique decorations mostly by using marigold flowers; since Tomohon is also well-known as the City of Flower.

These horse carts are also part of public transportation here but they just serve some limited routes namely to Matani, Walian, Kaaten, and Kolongan villages (those which are closer to downtown). The fare is Rp.2.000 and they have their own station which is in front of Bethesda Public Hospital. But if you are in the vicinity of those four villages and want to have a ride, you can stop one when you notice it empty (without any passengers) or there is a space available.

Below are some photos I took nearby Tomohon downtown, the day when the parade was held.

Representative from my village 🙂

Say "cheese" 🙂

Just another 'proud contestant'

Coffee mix??

Enjoy the clip-clop sound of the horses hooves!

Categories: Flowers, Indonesia, Manado, Minahasa, North Sulawesi, photography, Photos, Places of Interest, Tourism, Transportation, Travelling | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Tomohon vs Pasadena

I never realize that my hometown, Tomohon, has so many beautiful things to share until I start running this blog. 🙂

Since 2006, there has been a popular annual event held in an effort to promote the tourism aspect from this small so called City of Flower 🙂

That event is called Tomohon International Flower Festival which covers three major agenda namely:

  • Tournament of Flower
  • Queen of Flower Contest
  • Tomohon International Choir Competition

Tournament of Flower features fantastic floral floats which represent the landmark of the participants’ hometown or home country. The parade route covers about 7km (about 4 miles). In the previous Tournament of Flower, the participants were from the provincial capitals and some major cities in Indonesia, also from some other countries like Vietnam, North Korea, Russia, India and Malaysia.
But this year, according to what I read from the local newspaper, the number of participants will be limited only for 50 participants. This event will be held again this year on August 8 – 12, 2012.

I’ve watched on TV the Tournament of Roses in Pasadena which was held on January 2012. It was spectacular!

Hereby, I’d like to share some photos of Tournament of Flower in Tomohon (all photos are not mine; I just took them from many sources in the internet – thanks to them all!)

The largest floral carpet in the world

This floral carpet (49 x 79.2 meters) was claimed to be the largest in the world and got an acknowledgment from MURI (Museum Record Indonesia). It took place behind the old Mayor Office (ex-rindam building) – see my older post in January (The Beast Inside the Beauty). At the background were the floats of different & unique shapes. Most of the flowers used are Mary gold, church lily, Japanese Aster, Tuberose, Chrysanthemum, and some rare orchids, also cordilive, cadaca, and asparagus leaves

Minahasa Bamboo Clarinet Instrument

Local Legend of Minahasa

Well, I plan to replace some of these images with the bigger ones once I receive it from a friend of, just wait.. 😀

I am proud to be a ‘Tomohonese’ 😀

Categories: Carnival, Celebration, Flowers, Indonesia, Manado, Minahasa, North Sulawesi, Photos, Places of Interest, Tourism, Travelling | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Tomohon Traditional Market

I’m in a rush of getting my translation work done before its due date in two days but I can’t hold it to post about this one. In most of the sponsors’ letters to each of their sponsored-child, they wrote about the unusual weather, Christmas holiday, motivational words, and also about fruits! Some say that mango and papaya are so expensive in stores because the climate condition there doesn’t allow them to grow such tropical fruits; could be in any of your home-country.

Based on that, I come up with an idea to post  about the traditional market in my hometown, Tomohon, because we could also find various kinds of tropical fruits of all seasons there.

Rambutan or hairy fruit

Durian fruit (this one, ...smells good...) 🙂

Lansat fruit (...)

Some other fruits including mangos and papayas

Almost every time when I go to the market, I could always see some tourists there. No wonder since this place has become one of the tourist destination covered in their highland tour package. Some could enjoy the visit but some could not, especially those who are dog lovers… Below are some more photos of the market (some have been edited into black and white)

You can bid for a lower price here

Favorite section at the market: 'cabo' stands for 'cakar bongkar'; second-hand clothing with very low price and still can bid...kind of worth-it...but (shrug-off)

I bet you know this 🙂


As a Minahasan, I used to eat this lovable domestic animal but since I become a dog lover I QUIT it!! I don't even eat those in the previous two photos.

The market days are on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and the most crowded day is on Saturdays. It starts from early in the morning till the afternoon. It also operates on every week day but less crowded and less items to find as well.

Located right beside the bus terminal, makes it easier to stop over at this market then continue to another places of interest with public transport fare of less than 1$ within some surrounding areas like Tondano and Manado.

Bus terminal next to the market

Enjoy the tour.. 🙂

Categories: Indonesia, Manado, Minahasa, North Sulawesi, Photos, Places of Interest, Tourism, Transportation, Travelling | Tags: , , , | 16 Comments

The Potter’s Hand

In Minahasa Highland Tour, pottery industry in Pulutan village, Tondano (less than one hour from Tomohon), is always on the list to visit. Located not far from Tondano Lake, the local people here use the raw material of clay in their land to make some traditional pottery works like pots, a set of small round-table and chairs, and some other things.

Looking at the way the potters form the clay into a certain shape of art work, I can imagine that firstly they already have a clear picture in their mind of what the final result would be look like. So, there he is, a craftsman, sitting on that set of a self-made simple equipment, working at the wheel, and start enjoying his precious time with the clay on his hands. In some points, I see the potter squeezes the clay before adding it to the half-way part.

The potter's working at the wheel

Give the clay its shape

After having the specific form, the clay must go through some other process of drying, firing, brushing, painting, and every little thing in between. And the clay is in a full surrender to the potter’s hand, like a verse in Isaiah 29 says, “…Can the pot say of the potter,”He knows nothing”?”

This reminds me of a passage in the Old Testament (Jeremiah 18) about the LORD asked Jeremiah to “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” Like Jeremiah, I have also learned a lot just by stopping by Pulutan village for several times.

I think of so many ups and downs I’ve been through so far. I’ve been struggling with some health issues like Asthma and recently a cyst as big as an adult fist in my right-hand ovary. Not to mention, my struggles to overcome my failures in the past and try to stand up again. I got Asthma since I was in Middle School and in some critical stage I was on the verge of leaving this world. But then I think of how I could escape such dying moments and continue to enjoy the gift of inhale and exhale freely every single day. A friend of mine once encouraged me by saying, “Liv, if it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger!” I know he quoted it from an expert but I was thankful to him for such enlightment he brought to my mind.

As I look at myself today, I can’t thank God enough for His faithfulness to carry me on His loving arms so I can survive every hardship this life offers me. I know, like the clay in the potter’s hand, I am, too, going through the same process in order to bring out the very me by which God has planned according to His purpose for my life. And, He is not finished with me yet!

There is nothing I can do than surrender into His hand, endure the difficult times, lean on Him all the time, be the one that He wants me to be, and do what I suppose to do as His child. Of course, without setting aside the reality I have to cope with wisely & gently till I see the complete form of His work in me. 🙂

Ready to promote

Look at these tiny cute souvenir from the clay

“…My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Categories: Indonesia, Jeremiah, Lake, Manado, Minahasa, North Sulawesi, Places of Interest, Pottery, Pulutan village, Reflection, Tourism, Travelling | 7 Comments

Bunaken: Divers Paradise

Today I found these old pictures so I’d like to share them here. It’s all about Bunaken Island. Have you ever heard of it? Its a National Marine Park in North Sulawesi, Indonesia. They call it a paradise for divers. I was lucky enough to always have a job related to travelling..several years Bunaken is one of the places I was able to visit many times. Yet, I never go there for diving nor snorkeling — I can’t swim 🙂 — so unfortunately I have no underwater photos. For more information about Bunaken, you can visit (

Manado Tua Island & Bunaken Island a view from Tumpa Hill (Gunung Tumpa) at Manado

At Liang Beach, west of Bunaken Island (Tumpa' Hill is visible in the distance)

At Pangalisang Beach, east of Bunaken Island

One of the resorts in Bunaken

Passangers boat to Bunaken

Enjoy the trip

For more information about how to go to Bunaken, please visit

Categories: Beach, Bunaken Island, Indonesia, Manado, Manado Tua Island, Minahasa, North Sulawesi, photography, Photos, Places of Interest, Tourism, Transportation, Travelling | Tags: , | 16 Comments

Linow Lake, Tomohon

@ Linow Lake


Linow Lake, a sulfur lake


Linow Lake, way to go..


Linow Lake, home sweet home...

Linow Lake is located in Lahendong, Tomohon. It’s about 30 km (about 18 miles) or less than one hour from Manado. It’s a magic lake! 🙂 It contains of rich sulfur so on sunny days one could be lucky enough to catch the view of its changing color.

I missed the time when I visited this lake anytime & no need to pay for the entrance ticket! There is a private kind of cottage located by this lake, as you can see through my 2nd pic, and you have to pay for Rp. 25.000 (less than 3$). But in return, they will serve you with a cup of coffee or tea, and a local dish / cake.

When you eat a boiled-egg, of course you could also smell it, right? That’s the familiar smell once you are approaching Lahendong village. From the main road, you need to go up a small road on the left (about 700m), pass another cottage (Villa Esmeralda), and down to this beautiful lake.

Categories: Indonesia, Lake, Linow Lake, Manado, Minahasa, North Sulawesi, photography, Photos, Places of Interest, Tourism, Travelling | Tags: , , | 6 Comments

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