Day 3: The travel to Tomohon

~This is part of the Minahasa-Sangihe Chronicle, a journey by Toshi and Uncle R in their ancestors' homeland in North Sulawesi, which is located just on the Indonesian border facing southern Phillipines. Date of journal: Sunday, 9 March 2008 ~

Seriously, even till this day I still couldn’t believe meeting an old schoolfriend from SD Don Bosco (Pondok Indah, Jakarta)…. in Manado. The world is indeed a small place.

Hence on the Sunday morning, Uncle R and I went for the morning mass at the newly-built Manado Cathedral (which ended at 9 AM) and from 9 onwards I parted with Uncle R as he chose to stay in the hotel room.

Then I went with Cecep –who had been waiting in front of the chapel across the street— for the walk around the town.

We walked from Cathedral to the Manado Boulevard (which wasn’t located far away) and walked for as many kilometres as I could recall. But since the Boulevard itself was a seaside road, I kinda enjoy it because it reminded me of my walk in Sanur, Bali (and the memories there, gee-hee).

Cecep and I chatted about a lot of things, which were unfortunately, private enough that I couldn’t write them down here. But there were several things I could disclose though, such as when we reminisced our good old days together; playing pranks to our teachers, talking about girls and TV dramas and WTC attack (2002 was the year when I left that school), how I helped saving him from his bad grades, and how much pains he went thru knowing that I moved to Bali for my second year of SMP (Secondary School).

Enough of that, it’s getting kinda gay here already.

Haha… And so Cecep told me that he was now majoring Anthropology in Sam Ratulangi University (said to be the public university with the most affordable tuition fee in Indonesia), and how he had outlined a plan for the next several years for him to take a Master’s degree in Connecticut, and then work as a documenter for TV stations like Discovery Channel or National Geographic Channel.

I could recall very well that Cecep failed his History exams during our SMP years, and I asked him how he could overturn that malaise into strength, as he now majored in Anthropology (which is a branch of the History discipline).

He told me in length about how he enjoyed majoring in Anthropology as it helped him to gain a new insight to the world around him. I really couldn’t believe that this was the Cecep I knew several years back. He had changed.

Before we took the mikrolet to the bus terminal, we stopped by at the Manado Town Square (locally called Mentos) as Cecep had to withdraw some money from the ATM.

There was a security guard standing by the mall entrance with a bag scanner on his hand, but strangely enough, he did not use the item to scan the visitors’ bags. He just let Cecep and I passed thru him without checking our satchels. Oh dear, Manado would be too easy to be targeted by the terrorists, then.

Taking a look inside, I felt that somehow the inner architecture is bloody familiar.

“The developer of Mentos is the same with Citos (Cilandak Town Square, in South Jakarta),” Cecep told me.

Oh, of course! No wonder they look the same!

Don’t those people have any spark of creativity or something, building their malls’ inner architecture to be exactly the copies of each other, I asked myself.

One thing I soon learned to love about Minahasan people was that they frequently used the word “Terima kasih” to customers, a thing rarely found in Jakarta.

After two days there, I made an assumption to myself that in comparison to Javanese cities, Manado was as hot as Surabaya, as ancient as Yogyakarta, and as “beachy” as Anyer.

From Boulevard we took Mikro (which is the shortened form of Mikrolet, and the equivalent of Angkot in Jakarta), as I agreed to went along with him to his uncle’s hotel in Tomohon, a high-altitude city located 40 km southwest of Manado.

The Mikro cost each of us Rp1,750 when we alighted at the Manado suburb terminal. From that terminal we took the sardine -like bus that heads for Tomohon.

I was astounded to know that the trip from Manado to Tomohon only cost us Rp 5,000!

“Surprised?” Cecep grinned, “Manado has a hell lot more surprises than you could manage to handle”

It was a very enjoyable ride thru the mountain; with all the greeneries seen as far as I could remember which was a recompense for the scorching hot atmosphere inside the bus. Then Cecep told me about two of the most “indigenous” things to Manado, which are RW and Cap Tikus.

RW (read: Air-Way), which is the local term for Roasted Dogs (I choose to call it the acronym for “Roasted Woof”), is the most favoured local dish. He told me that he loved eating RW, despite the warm, tingling sensation it brings to the throat of the eater.

“Didn’t you pity those dogs, Cep?” I asked.

“Of course I pitied them at first,” he said, “but the thing is when you see people around you have no problem in eating them, you’ll soon catch up with their mindset too.”

Apart from RW alone, the other odd culinary of Manado is roasted cat.

He then told me about how some of his Muslim friends in Manado have also deliberately eaten pork, cat, and RW (!).


I’ve heard about how my Muslim friends in Bali deliberately eating pork, but that was the first time ever I heard about Muslims eating cat. It’s a very curious thing though, because cats are well-known to be the favourite animal of Prophet Muhammad SAW.

If I had stayed in Manado longer, I knew I myself would’ve eaten RW. It all had to do with one’s mindset.

Along the way, I saw a Citraland complex where it adorns a Jesus statue with his arms wide open (comparably the miniature version of the famous one seen in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil).

I was supposed to be impressed seeing that Jesus statue, but I wasn’t. Citraland is well-known everywhere to be making their own sensational statues in their complex. And if you couldn’t imagine what the Manado Citraland looks like, just visualise those Citralands you’ve seen in Outer Jakarta. It doesn’t look very much different apart from them anyway.

Entering Tomohon, we went straight to the Lokon Boutique Resort which was owned by Cecep’s uncle who was a famed economist during the New Order era. The resort was located in Kakaskasen Satu, near the Masehi Injili Kakaskasen Church.

We took one or two pictures there before finally decided that we were hungry enough to head for a lunch at Tomohon KFC. I’ve promised myself that day that I wasn’t going to taste Manado’s food again.

After lunch, we headed back to the hotel by using a mikrolet. That was the first time I saw with my own eyes how the passengers were literally being delivered to their own preferred destinations! Really, in North Sulawesi, mikrolets are known to be the equivalent of semi-taxis, because people could order the driver to go to any part of the city at will.

~to be continued~

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