A horrible April Fool prank

~Author unknown~

A young mother had just given birth to a new born baby, the nurse was just congratulating her, when the doctor came in bouncing the baby from hand to hand. The mother looked startled. The doctor then said

"Here catch."

And promptly tossed the baby to the mother, but it landed on the window ledge and fell out the window. The lady shrieked and said, "You bastard, you've killed my baby!"

The doctor replied:
"April Fool, it was dead already!"


What do you think of interfaith marriage?

Last week, my dear friend PL confided to me in our Yahoo Messenger chat of a problem she’s having with her boyfriend V.

An ordinary couple-fight? No. Apparently, it turns out that the problem they’re having is much bigger than a mere fight.

Here’s the transcript of our chat (it was originally written in Indonesian, hence this is the modified English translation).

PL: so sad…. Been sobbin all nite, bro…..
Toshi: wassup?
PL: I’m havin problem w/ V
Toshi: what kind of prob? Mind tellin me?
PL: we couldn’t continue our relationship
PL: there’s a BIG difference between us.. but neither of us is willing to end this
Toshi: why? What difference are u talking abt?
Toshi: isn’t the difference is what makes love beautiful? Or am I missing a point here?
PL: the difference is our religions
PL: it’s impossible to hav 2 faiths under one roof
Toshi: err… I thought he’s also a Christian?
PL: he’s Catholic
PL: I can’t convert into Catholicism and he can’t convert into Protestantism either

Our chat transcript went so far that it would turn into an arduous task for me if I were to translate it entirely here. To cut the long story short, let me just summarize the main points.

She is 23, and he is 24. She’s employed with a nice job, and so does he. And both of them are Chinese Indonesians. With 8-years of steady relationship, everyone thinks that it would be nice if they continue into the wedding altar soon.

I’ve met V once and honestly, I do think that they make a good couple together. Not that they’re lovely or whatever, but since PL is funny and so does he, then Voila: they’re a perfect match! ^^

Unfortunately, their parents (both V’s and PL’s) know nothing of their relationship. All this time during their 8-years of relationship, they’ve always thought that both V and PL are intimate friends (which is called TTM, Teman Tapi Mesra, in Indonesian).

The parents from both sides were unhappy to hear their respective children’s intention to marry with someone from differing religion.

As a result, their relationship is now in a limbo. Their “case” is now “impending”, awaiting a further verdict that might come out from each side: Breakup or A green light.

My advice to her?

No advice of mine would be of much help actually, because the decision is not theirs to make, but their parents’. I could only give her words of support and consolation, so that she would be able to weather this storm, with a promise that I’d pray for the best of both of them.

Nonetheless, I have further thoughts on this issue.

Honestly, I still couldn’t figure out why are some parents so conservative these days that they refuse to let their children marry with the beloved from another faith.

Hello, Parents out there! This isn’t the 20th century, where arranged marriages were still commonplace! You can’t honestly expect your kids to marry with the person of your choice!!

“You must marry with a guy of the same race” or “Marry with the girl of the same faith” is soooo outdated. Perhaps you people should go back to the 20th century then.

And I hope that my emboldened paragraph above echoes on the Grand Canyon.

It is perhaps worth noted that arranged marriages are more deeply rooted in Asian cultures (especially the Chinese and Arabic) than the Western. In the Western civilization, arranged marriages most of the time occurred between the royals who match their sons and daughters, as not to mix their bloodline with the peasants.

The Asian society also makes lives more difficult for girls’ who want to marry with a guy of another race/religion, since most of the time they would have to cede to the male chauvinistic tendencies of Asian customs.

However, this is the 21st century now! For those people who haven’t woken up to the current issues, let me tell you: This is the century of Google and Facebook and CNN, and Iraq has been attacked twice by the Bush family. Or perhaps they haven’t heard of a guy named Bush? Oh please, open Wikipedia then.

Please excuse my angst above, I was just being empathic. Not that I’m voicing my own egocentric concerns though.

My own parents are quite liberal in this aspect that they don’t mind what religion/race/nationality of the person I’m dating with, as long as the person is a she!

Hence I have no limits on what kind of girls I’m dating, be they Korean, Buddhist, Jews, Spanish, etc. But oddly enough, the girls I’ve been playing around with are mostly (the statistics has shown a staggering 90%) Catholics, who all belong to the same faith as I do. I guess that’s a coincidence arranged by God, eh?

Let me open an interactive discussion here:

What are your views on the issue of "Interfaith marriage"? Should V and PL proceed with their relationship? If yes, how should they proceed? If no, why not? And what do you think if your own son/daughter gets married with someone of a different race/religion? Please answer by riposting below.


Funny Garfield strips

I laughed out loud when I came across these two (^o^)
clipped from ivanov.in

blog it


Becak Aspal (The Faux Pedicab)

No, of course I don’t mean the word that is defined as “asphalt” in English. The as-pal (mind the dash) here is the Indonesian slang contraction which stands for Asli-tapi-Palsu (Real-yet-Fake).

Real-yet-Fake is indeed a bit too long for an English equivalent. I agree with that. That’s why I was so delighted to find out the exact English equivalent just now: “faux-“.

And also, “pedicab” is the English word for the Indonesian “becak”. Rickshaw is the term which is more appropriate for the Chinese ‘pulled’ ones, instead of the Indonesian ‘pushed’ ones.

Just remember to add another word after that dash.

Let me digress.

I also found this interesting quote just now:

“The best place to hide something is in plain sight” Agatha Christie.


Stimulative website for Dogs

Using the word "P***" would make my blog banned by the Indonesian govt (according to the recently passed law), hence the alteration on the title. But this pic below sure is a laugh!

Source: Kaskus


List of non-flood-affected areas in Jakarta

Here is a list of subdistricts (kecamatan) in Jakarta not affected by the flood (data is true as of early 2008).

Central Jakarta: East and West Cempaka Putih, Menteng and Kampung Rawa.

West Jakarta: Kamal, Kalideres, Kemanggisan, Kelapa Dua, North Sukabumi, Jelambar and Keagungan.

South Jakarta: East and West Tebet, Kebon Baru, Pasar Minggu, Jagakarsa, Selong and North Gandaria.

East Jakarta: South Utan Kayu, Pondok Kelapa, Batu Ampar, Kebon Pala, Gedong, Rambutan, Susukan, Ciracas, Kelapa Dua Wetan and Cibubur.

North Jakarta:

Source: The Jakarta Post


It’s all child’s play

The following text is originally lifted from the trivia section of The Jakarta Post dated Wednesday, 26 March 2008.

~Compiled from various sources~

  • Monday’s Child is fair of face, Tuesday’s child is full of grace, Wednesday’s child is full of woe, Thursday’s child has far to go, Friday’s child is loving and giving, Saturday’s child has to work for its living, but a child that’s born on the Sabbath Day is fair and wise and good and gay.
  • During pregnancy a woman’s blood volume increases up to 50%. In addition to meeting the needs of the foetus, this is a reserve against the needs of the foetus, this is a reserve against fluids that occurs during childbirth.
  • A foetus acquires fingerprints at the age of three months.
  • Identical twins do not have identical fingerprints.
  • On average, a baby’s heart will beat about 60 million times before it is born.
  • In England the chance of a woman having twins has doubled since WW2. At this rate, every pregnancy will result in twins by the year 2060.
  • A three-week-old embryo is no larger than a sesame seed. A one-month-old foetus’s body is no heavier than an envelope and a sheet of paper. Its hand is no larger than a teardrop.
  • A newborn baby’s head accounts for about one-quarter of its entire weight. By the age of 15 years, the head makes up about one-eighth of total height.
  • A boy’s voice breaks during puberty because his vocal cords are lengthening. Up until that point, girls’ and boys’ vocal cords are the same length.
  • The weight of a foetus increases about 2.4 billion times in nine months.
  • The world’s first test-tube twins were born in June 1981.
  • Until about age 12, boys cry about as often as girls.
  • Up to the age of six or seven months, a child can breathe and swallow at the same time. An adult cannot do this.
  • The “spring up, fall put” phenomenon says children grow twice as they do in the spring as they do in the fall, while they gain more weight in the fall.
  • Babies that are exposed to cats and dogs in their first years of life have a lower chance of developing allergies when they grow older.
  • Babies’ eyes cannot produce tears until the baby is approximately six to eight weeks old.
  • Children who are breast fed tend to have IQ seven points higher than those who are not.
  • The daughters of a mother who is colourblind and a father who has normal vision will have normal vision. The sons will be colourblind, however.
  • Midgets and dwarfs almost always have oversized children, even if both parents are midgets or dwarfs.
  • 80% of 10-year-old girls in USA go on a diet.
  • Infants spend more time dreaming than adults do.


The Minahasa-Sangihe Chronicle

Wow. That was quite a journey. In fact, it was more than just a normal journey.

Remember when I said that I went to Manado and Sangihe with my uncle to trace our ancestry and a bit of soul-searching on my part? Well, we’ve achieved both objectives to the fullest extent. My soul-searching had reaped much more benefits for me than I had expected, bringing me the kind of spiritual bliss I couldn’t have found anywhere else.

I’ll start blogging on my daily journals in North Sulawesi tomorrow, as I’m too tired to write/recount anything now. Having just arrived in Jakarta this afternoon after a fully tiring-yet-exciting three-week trip, I know that I have to spare some time to recuperate myself. Not that I’m weak or what, but it’s already a great thing that I hadn’t fallen sick there, because being active out in the both the forest and the beach had never been very well-suited for my body before. God had literally blessed my journey there.

I also need some time to pick which pictures (out of the ±900 images I took there) are suitable to be uploaded here. The Minahasa-Sangihe Chronicle, as I choose to call it, is going to be written on a day-to-day basis, with certain days merged in one blog post because not all of my days there are well-documented: some are less documented than the others.

One thing to be noted though: In my strict self-adherence to the anonymous-blogging-policy, I wouldn’t upload any images that show me or any of my family members there, hence this whole Minahasa-Sangihe Chronicle will lack any pictures of me or Uncle R. The individual names that I am going to post on this blog, with exception to those who aren’t related to me by blood, are going to be altered for pseudonyms or initials. However, all events, happenings, and place names are still going to be recounted exactly as they are.

All in all, it was a very inspiring and splendid journey I had there. And I’ve finally found the essence of my soul, Hohohoo……!!! (^o^)


Whatever your interpretation on my last sentence above, keep it to yourself, OK? Hahaha…


Bit of a tipple goes a long way

The following text is originally lifted from the trivia section of The Jakarta Post dated Saturday, 8 March 2008.

~Compiled from various sources~

  • In the 1600s, thermometers were filled with brandy instead of mercury.
  • As late as the mid-17th century, French wine makers did not use corks. Instead, they used oil-soaked rags stuffed into the necks of the bottles.
  • In the 1800s, rum was considered excellent for cleaning hair and keeping it healthy. Brandy was believed to strengthen hair roots.
  • The corkscrew was invented in 1860.
  • Before thermometers were invented, brewers would dip a thumb or finger into the liquid to determine the ideal temperature, neither too hot nor too cold, for adding yeast.
  • The longest recorded champagne cork flight was 54 metres and 18 centimetres. 1.2 metres from level ground at Woodbury Vineyards in New York State.
  • Bubbles in champagne were seen by early wine makers as a highly undesirable effect to be prevented.
  • Rhode Island never ratified the 18th Amendment establishing Prohibition.
  • The Manhattan cocktail (whiskey and sweet vermouth) was invented by Winston Churchill’s mother.
  • President Jimmy Carter’s mother said “I’m a Christian, but that doesn’t mean I’m a long-faced square. I like a little bourbon.”
  • President Thomas Jefferson was the new U.S. nation’s first wine expert.
  • Abraham Lincoln stated that “It has long been recognised that the problems with alcohol related not to the use of a bad thing, but to the abuse of a good thing.”
  • Adolf Hitler was one of the world’s best known teetotallers. His adversary, Sir Winston Churchill, was one of the world’s best known heavy drinkers.
  • Alcohol is considered the only proper payment for teachers among the Lepcha people of Tibet.
  • The purpose of indentation at the bottom of a wine bottle is to strengthen the structure of the bottle.
  • Dipsomania refers to an abnormal or insatiable craving for alcohol.
  • Methyophobia is fear of alcohol.
  • Alcohol consumption decreases during a full moon.
  • Drinking lowers rather than raises the body temperature. There is an illusion of increased heat because alcohol causes the capillaries to dilate and fill with more warm blood.
  • “Whiskey” is the international aviation word used to represent “w”.
  • In West Virginia, bars can advertise alcohol beverage prices, but not brand names


Statistics on expats in Indonesia

This is the statistics as of early 2008. The South Korean embassy knows there are some 30,000 Koreans working in Indonesia, 70% of whom live in Jakarta.

The American Embassy said it has 7,700 U.S. citizens registered in Jakarta and figures for non-ethnic Indians are guessed to be sitting somewhere around the same.

Japanese Embassy figures put its expatriate community at 11,200, with 6,470 of them residing in Jakarta. This is followed by Taiwan, with some 7,000 in Indonesia, including 1,000 residing in Jakarta.

The Australian Embassy said they have 1,000 expatriates registered as employed in the Indonesian capital, but one official said it is probably more likely 3,000. And they don’t all live in Kemang.

Source: April 2008 edition of The Jakarta Post Weekender supplement magazine.


Sangihe Stay (2): A holiday to unwind the stress

~This is part of the Minahasa-Sangihe Chronicle, a journey by Toshi and Uncle R in their ancestors' homeland of North Sulawesi, which is located just in the Indonesian border facing southern Phillipines~

Day 6 (Wednesday, 12 March 2008)

It is my third day in Sangihe, and I've started to miss a hot water bath already. Having a cold water bath at 6 AM sure was freezing.

The most updated newspaper available in the island is a previous day issue of Manado Post and another provincial-based newspaper, where most of the news would tend to focus on the happenings of North Sulawesi and its surroundings.

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth
Tahuna street in the morning

As Aunt Paula's inn had only one TV to date (and it was placed in her residence), Uncle R and I could be rest assured that we would not get any stock of news for at least the entire week.

Now that's what I call cutting yourself off the outside world!

Not necessarily a bad thing though. The Jakarta where I lived was a hectic city of hullabaloo and it was surely a good thing to be cut off from the outside world once in a while.

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth
Tahuna Secondary School No.1

After visiting Manganitu for the last two days, Uncle R told me that we would likely spend the entire day in the town, as we would be visiting the family grave in Southern Tahuna and the Dumalang family in Apengsembeka.

I was a bit disappointed for not visiting Manganitu again, but it's OK. We were planning to spend at least one week in the island anyway, and it would do good to get to know more of my far family members.

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth
Sangihe Nutmeg juice

Firstly we went to the Bawoleh's residence where we had a light morning chit-chat with the family there. We were served the nutmeg juice (refer to my 11 March journal for explanation of Nutmeg juice) where I tasted a peculiar kind of juice: it tasted a bit like orange and mangosteen mixed together.

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth
Tahuna view from above

Then at around 10 AM Opa Ben took both of us by oto to the DM family residence for us to meet the family there for the first time.

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth

an inside view of oto

They were very pleased to see us indeed. I met two cousins who were both younger than me (one who was in secondary school and another in high school). They all spoke fluent Indonesian but with a dominant Sangihe dialect here and there... I guess I still had a lot to learn, eh?


From the DMs, we learned the fact that what used to be a Sangihe regency in the New Order era has by now been divided into 3 regencies which are Sangihe, Tagulandang, and Sitaro regencies.

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth

Uncle R and Opa Ben walking to grandpa's childhood house

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth

a typical family grave I spotted during the walk

At 12 AM, the three of us went by foot to the childhood house of my grandpa (who is Uncle R's father). It was sunny indeed but we had got our caps on, despite the fact that my face got oily by then. I enjoyed walking in behind with Cayman Islands song "The King of Riot Street" while Opa Ben and Uncle R walked up in front.

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth

my paternal grandpa's childhood house

The house architecture might look new enough to me, but Uncle R told me that the house had been refurbished several times since the 1940s that it did not any longer look like its original form back then. By now, the house has already changed hands several times and it is now owned by a Chinese family.

Inspite of the refurbishment, Opa Ben told us that the well still looked more or less the same as it was before. Nice.

At the afternoon, Uncle R and I went for a walk around the Tahuna main business area and to take some snapshots and here they are:

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth

Tahuna's prison since the 1930s

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth

PT Pelni, Sangihe Branch

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth

Tahuna's main business area

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth

Tahuna mosque in Kampung Arab

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth

Tahuna GMIST church

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth

oto as seen from the front

By 5 PM we went to the Regent official building just north of Tahuna to have an internet connection (though the hope was slim) and it turned out that the building was closed for the day. Oh dear, so much for an internet connection!

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth

sunset as viewed from the Regent official building

To avoid starving ourselves like the night before, Uncle R and I bought some biscuits and breads in a supermarket nearby. As we found out later, there were only three supermarkets in the entire Sangihe island and all three of them are concentrated in the capital of Tahuna.

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth

a monument located not so far from the market

By then I had found out that Tahuna had no malls yet (and apparently not going to have one anytime soon).

I was quite concerned about the lack of amenities in Sangihe because perhaps it was due to the central government's (Jakarta's) neglect of the region. So I asked Uncle R about this (FYI, Uncle R has spent two decades in the hospitality industry in various European, American, and Asian countries)

Uncle R answered that the matter may not be because of the Jakarta government's fault. But he did not think that it was Sangirese people's fault either. The Sangirese people were not ready to have the amenities yet, that's all.

One thing I've learned from the Sangirese people today was that:

They don't really care about tomorrow. They only think about what happens today, and that's all that really matters.

No wonder life in Sangihe was very stress-free. The life there went very slowly but I've said, it was worthwhile to experience such a holiday indeed.

Day 7 (Thursday, 13 March 2008)

The first thing in the morning, Uncle R and I went to the St. Agustinus Catholic church which was around three blocks away from our inn.

We were introduced to Father Ronny who was apparently the only priest who served the entire island on a temporary basis (Yes, there was basically a shortage of priests indeed).

Uncle R asked permission to have a look at the registry on baptismal records that dated back to the year 1929 when the first Catholic baptisms in the entire Sangihe-Talaud region was conducted. The registry proved somewhat useful for Uncle R in gathering information for our family ancestry. Indeed, the Catholic church always had it all when it comes to archiving registries.

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth
baptismal record of Tahuna parishes from 1929 to 1957

From Father Ronny, we gathered several things.

First, the entire Sangihe region belonged to the Manado diocese instead of having a diocese on its own. This was indeed readily apparent because a Catholic diocese must have had its own Bishop in order to called a diocese!

Second, the entire Aceh province belongs to the North Sumatran diocese. I asked Father Ronny if there was any church in the Sharia-based province of Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam, and he said yes. There were two Catholic churches in the province: one in Banda Aceh, and the other one in Meulaboh.

Third, Father Ronny told us that Sangihe dialect had its own distinctive subdialects. While the Sangihe town of Manganitu (where my grandma originated) was widely known as having the Bahasa Halus/polite subdialect, another Sangihe town named Tamako is the origin of the Bahasa Kasar/coarse subdialect. This is akin to the difference between Received Pronunciation (the English dialect spoken by the elites in London) and Cockney (the English dialect spoken by the plebs in London outskirts).

By noon we took the ojek (motorcycle taxi) to go and meet up the family in Manganitu.

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth
Manganitu palace

There I asked Opa Dupont Mocodompis about the internet in Sangihe, and he said that internet in the island was almost literally nonextant. From him I also gathered that a Pentium 4 PC (512MB RAM) he had at home was bought from Manado for Rp 6 million. He was startled when I told him that PC with similar specifications could cost only Rp 2.5 million in Jakarta.

The higher price computer bought in Manado was indeed a contradiction to my observation the day before: the food prices in Tahuna supermarket were surprisingly low!

I asked Uncle R about this and he told me that the packed food in Sangihe were mostly supplied from the nearby Philippines in contrary to the electronic goods which had to be shipped over from Jakarta.

Ah, no wonder.

Here is a Manganitu-specialty "Cactus" biscuit which tasted more or less like a Marie Regal, but a bit tastier:

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth

We went back to Tahuna at 6 PM, but not before taking several pictures in Manganitu beach. Such a splendid view indeed to enjoy the sunset from that beach, it reminded me of the Jimbaran sunset in Bali!

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth

a picturesque Manganitu beach

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth

Manganitu beach with Budiman island on the background


List of Indonesian foods I love

I really am in the mood of making lists these days.

In regards to food, my tongue is very much suited for both Japanese and Indonesian delicacies. I’ll focus on the Indonesian ones this time. This list ain’t exhaustive.

  1. Acar Sangihe. A seemingly normal acar, but it’s addition of pineapples and whatever ingredients adds a twist to it that makes me love it very much. And moreover, it originates from my ancestor’s land of Sangihe in North Sulawesi. As promised, I’d blog on this soon, starting from early April.
  2. Pempek Palembang. A very spicy floury fish that I enjoy very much. The "originals" could only be found in either Jakarta or South Sumatra. Outside those regions, they don't taste very much "original"... Honestly.
  3. Nasi uduk. The idea of mixing onions with rice seems quite plain, but I love it somehow. Especially when you combine it with tempe-tahu…
  4. Rendang. This spicy Padang meat is one of my most favourite ever.
  5. Kupat tahu. Most of the time I enjoy this during the Ramadan season.
  6. Gado-gado. The name tells of a random mix of a lot of stuff.
  7. Martabak. Non-Jakartan Indonesians call it “Terang Bulan”, while Sulawesinese call it “Malabar”. Apparently, the Singaporeans have a slightly different version called “Roti Prata” which is also called “Roti Chanai” in Malaysia. But still, the Indonesian Martabak is the best.
  8. Indonesian fried rice. I’ve tried a lot of “Fried rice” versions, such as Thai, Japanese, Singaporean, and honestly; they all don’t taste as good as the Indonesian one. Especially the Japanese one, how could they mix ketchup sauce with fried rice??? No offence here, but I still think that the Indonesian one is the best.


Sangihe Stay (1): Meeting the Sangihe family

~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~

Day 4 (Monday, 10 March 2008)

Note beforehand: Due to the private nature of the discussions Uncle R and I had with our family members in Sangihe, most of the part of our stay when we visited them for a tea and chat would be left out from this journal.

In Sangihe language, the pronunciation of the word “H” and “R” are interchangeable; hence it is perfectly acceptable to pronounce the name of cities like Tahuna as “Ta-hoo-na” or “Ta-roo-na”. The adjective for Sangihe could be both “Sangihenese” and “Sangirese”. The noun “Sangihe” could be used to describe the Main Sangihe Island (Pulau Sangihe Besar) as well as the Sangihe Islands (Kepulauan Sangihe). In my journal, the noun would mostly refer to the main island itself, which was the only Island that Uncle R and I visited.

To standardise the terms, I’ve opted to use “Sangihe” for the noun and “Sangirese” for the adjective.

Waking up at 8 the next day, I was very agitated as I knew not what to expect. In my mind I pictured the Sangihe islands to be a mixture of Hawaii’s tropicalness and Papua’s remoteness, which eventually turned out to be correct anyway.

We checked out of the hotel at 9, and walked to the port which was located 20 minutes away. We checked in onto the ship with the VIP seat tickets which Uncle R bought for Rp250,000 the day before.

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth
Express Bahari ship

We went aboard the fast ship Express Bahari at 9.30. They played VCD of Christian songs on a Plasma LG which –as I later found out— were traditionally unique to Sangihe due to the predominance of Christianity there. The captain himself led the whole passengers in a Protestant prayer for safe journey when we finally departed at 10.10

After an hour or so in the ship, I asked Uncle R (who used to be a work in Caribbean cruise ships) about how fast the ship was going. Seven knots, he told me.

SEVEN KNOTS?!!, I exclaimed.

Geez, that was the fastest ship I’ve ever been on. If you have no idea how fast Seven knot is, then I tell you: One to two knots is the average velocity of the kaleng kerupuk/cracker jar-like ships that goes from Banyuwangi in East Java to Gilimanuk in Bali.

After two hours of the journey, I could see the “virgin islands” outside where not a single houses or landmarks whatsoever were seen. If you had never seen a “virgin island” before, you should definitely embark on a journey to see them yourself. Those “virgin islands” were extremely stunning and mere beautiful words wouldn’t be enough to describe how amazed I was seeing them for myself. Anyway, I managed to take a few pictures then.

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth

Nope, this isn't a virgin island. Notice the small house on bottom right?

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth
Now this is a virgin.

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth
Sorry for the vague picture, I took it from inside the ship window.

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth
Semi-virgin island snapped from faraway...

Seven knots should be fast enough to make anyone seasick (especially with the high waves that day), but it appeared to me that I was the only one there who got bloated.

Uncle R noticed this, and he asked me if I was feeling seasick.

“No, that’s impossible!” I fabricated a smile, though I knew very well that my seasickness was easily noticeable in my face.

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth
Obviously taken from behind the window.

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth
This one too.

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth
And also this one.

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth
Fortunately this one doesn't look too vague. One of my most fave snapshot.

Around 11.30 or so, I forced myself to sleep because I couldn’t bear having the seasickness tormenting me.

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth
Siau Volcano. Notice the fumes?

I woke up for a while when the ship docked to discharge the passengers in Siau Island and Tagulandang Island, the two main islands which were located middle way between Sangihe and the Minahasa regency.

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth
Part of the Sangihe Islands

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth
Another part of it

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth
And another...

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth
Nice view

At 4.35, the ship finally docked at the port of Tahuna city, Sangihe. It took us 30 minutes to finally descend from the ship, because there were a hundreds of passengers in front of us.

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth
A military ship

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth
Abandoned warship in the Main Sangihe Island

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth
This is what I call cracker jars!

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth
Tahuna port. Damn, I should have turned my flash on that time!

From the port, we took a 20 minute ride by oto (minivan, which is called angkot in Jakarta and elsewhere in Indonesia) to the inn owned by Uncle R’s aunt. For now, suffice it to call it Tante Paula’s inn (“Tante” is the Dutch term for Aunt).

Uncle R then did most of the talking with most of the family members there, because I had not known any of them yet. It had been 12 years since Uncle R left Sangihe, while that Sangihe visit was my first ever. I was introduced then as Uncle R’s nephew, a son of his elder brother.

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth
Notice the small cross on the centre of this picture?
It's a grave of the King of Tahuna, one of my ancestors

Most of the discussion then circulated around the family tree, because Uncle R wanted to gather as much information as possible regarding the European bloodlines in the family.

Wait a sec, European bloodlines?

Yes, you’re reading it correctly. Most North Sulawesinese could find either Dutch or Portuguese names in their family trees, as proven in the prevalence of “van de” names in Manado. This was a direct result of the mixed marriages between the local Sulawesinese and the colonials, a feature more commonly found in Sulawesi due to the ease shown by the locals in accepting the proselytism by the Christian missionaries.

Some North Sulawesinese however, have to take the trouble of tracing the names themselves because the names could be left out far above in our family tree, and that was exactly what Uncle R and I were looking for in Sangihe: to fill in our family tree with the European names we traced.

I hadn’t realised it on my first day, but my Dad’s bloodline apparently belonged to several of the most prominent families in Sangihe (from both my Dad’s Mother and Father respectively), especially with a lot of royal bloods running thru his veins. Each city in Sangihe had two or three sovereignties, or kingdoms as we commonly call it, with each of them rule over an area not larger than the size of Orchard and Novena districts in Singapore combined.

Of course, those royal lines in Sangihe and elsewhere in Indonesia—with the exception of Sultanate of Yogyakarta and Kasuhunan Surakarta in Java— ceased to rule since the Independence of Indonesia.

Dusk had arrived when we visited the BW family house located nearby Tante Paula’s inn, hence there were not much I could see at that time to describe the what Sangihe looked like on my first day.

Uncle R and I had dinner in the one of the food stalls located just across the street from the inn, and we found out that a lot of Javanese work there as a result of transmigration programme that the former president Soeharto implemented. The meatball-noodle stall we visited had an owner who hailed from Salatiga, East Java.

Before going back to our room to sleep, we visited the beach market which was located 5 minutes walk away from the inn. Despite having quite a few lightings turned on in the area surrounding the beach market, the entire area was almost deserted at night, resulting in a picturesque planetarium-like view of stars blanketing the night. I gazed in awe at how beautiful the night scene was. It was just unfortunate of me that my camera is a normal Samsung digital camera (and not an SLR), which resulted in me being unable to provide any snapshots for you here.

We slept at around 23.00 in our non-air-conditioned inn room.

Day 5 (Tuesday, 11 March 2008)

I woke up to the song of RRI (Nyiur melambai) which had become almost extinct in Jakarta. It was still played often in the Sangihe radio however.

After Uncle R bathed, I took my turn to bathe in that freezing cold water at 6.30, which took me some time getting used to.

That morning I found out that the inn we slept in was actually located at the civic centre (or downtown depending on your dialectal bias) of Tahuna city. So Tahuna (which is the capital city of Sangihe regency) wasn’t so big after all. Despite having known that Sangihe island was only a bit larger than the island state of Singapore, the regency only has a population of approximately 200,000 people, and this explained the smallness of the urban areas there. Most of the Pulau Sangihe Besar itself is still covered with forest till this day, and the area of Tahuna itself is no larger than half of Mataram city, Lombok.

We took a walk around the civic centre from our inn encircling the traditional market, the mosque in Kampung Jawa (Java Village), and back again. Despite knowing that the predominant religion there was Protestantism, I was surprised to find how rare it was to find mosques in Sangihe: there were only three of them in the entire Tahuna that I had caught sight of during my stay there.

The biggest denomination of Protestantism in Sangihe wasn’t one you could find elsewhere either, because it was named GMIST (Gereja Masehi Injili Sangihe Talaud, or Evangelical Messiah Church of Sangihe Talaud), presumably unique to the Sangihe-Talaud region just as Shintoism is unique to Japan or Southern Baptism is unique to America. Its main branch is in Manado, which is named GMIM (Gereja Masehi Injili Minahasa).

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth
A GMIST church in Manganitu

Sangihe has always been the main producer of Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans) in the country. Nutmeg seed, or “Pala” as called by Indonesians, has a very strong unpleasant odour, though it is tasty to be imbibed as a juice. I heartily recommend you to try a drink of that Nutmeg juice when you visit Sangihe, because it has a unique taste that is as sour as Orange juice but as sweet as the Aren sugar.

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth
A view of Sangihe greeneries

If you want to take land transportation in and around Sangihe, never expect to find taxis or buses, because there aren’t any. There are only three types of public transportation, namely Oto, Ojek, and Bemtor.

Oto is the minivan, and it is the same thing what you normally call “Angkot” in Java or “Bemo” in Bali. The only difference between the minivan you find in Jakarta and Sangihe is that Sangihe Oto drivers always turn their song volumes into a full blast during their ride, and I laughed when I found out that such otoes are the one that attract most drivers. Such a peculiar thing indeed. The drivers there had their own sound systems and CD players, which amazed me at the first time I saw them.

Ojek is a shuttle motorcycle (found throughout Indonesia) that transports a maximum of two persons at one time for a fee. The fee differs for various regions in Indonesia, but in the case of Sangihe ojeks, they charge us Rp10,000 (€0.60) for a 30 km ride from Tahuna to Manganitu, a very generous fee indeed in comparison to the Rp5,000 Jakarta ojeks charge for a 5 km ride.

Bemtor is a uniquely Eastern Indonesian transportation, though I hadn’t known yet of its existence outside of the Sangihe region. It is a mix between a motorcycle and becak, which makes it only suitable for the inner city transportation, since most of the regions in Sangihe is mountainous.

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth
Bemtor from the front

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth
Bemtor from the side

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth
Bemtor in a Manganitu street

There are only four banks in Tahuna, namely BRI (Bank Rakyat Indonesia), BNI (Bank Negara Indonesia), Bank Mandiri, and Bank Sulut. They are all located in the civic centre of Tahuna, and the Bank Sulut outlet there is located adjacent to Tante Paula’s inn where I stayed.

At 9.00, Uncle R and I took ojek to the Mocodompis King’s Palace in the city of Manganitu. During my ojek ride, I was fascinated at how beautiful the scenery was, because between Tahuna and Manganitu there was a mountain thru which we have to encircle first in order to reach one city from the other. While Tahuna is a seaside city facing the southwest of the island, Manganitu is a seaside city facing the northwest, so there is a considerable difference of atmosphere between both cities, despite having similarly located on the seaside.

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth
Mocodompis king's castle

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth
Mocodompis family house

When I first saw my Grandma’s cousin in Manganitu, I was surprised to find out that she is a close relative of mine. Being 85 years old today, she is 100% Caucasian, with a French father and Portuguese mother!

Whoa, I knew that I had been expecting all along to see some Portuguese names in my family tree later on, but I wasn’t actually expecting to see the evidence in person. Apart from her alone, we met her son and most of her family members (who were all White), and they were delightedly surprised to see us family members coming far away from Jakarta unannounced.

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth
Manganitu street view in the afternoon

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth
Manganitu field

Amongst heaps of other details we discussed with the Mocodompis family in Manganitu, I gathered that I have family members who have been residing for years in Canada, Philippines, Netherlands, Portugal, and Japan.

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth
Manganitu field view from the side

The family member who now lives in Japan was actually my late Grandfather’s sister who was kidnapped during the Japanese Occupation of Indonesia, and there she had intermarried with a Japanese man, though our family had lost contact with her Japanese family for almost two decades today.

Hmm… I revelled in the thought that I actually have a Japanese cousin, and would like to see if I could actually trace my Grandpa’s sister’s grandchildren today. But such a possibility is indeed small, if there is any.

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth
Another view of a street in Manganitu

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth
Manganitu forest leading to my ancestor's graveyard

I was appalled when they told us that there is no telephone connection at all in Manganitu even till this day. The only cellular service provider that accepts signal roaming in Sangihe is Telkomsel (GSM), hence you could only expect to bring either your Kartu AS, Simpati, or Kartu Halo. It is an irony indeed that the people in Manganitu had actually gained firsthand access to mobile phone instead of home phone like most of us does. CDMA cellular services is almost unheard of, despite the fact that Sangirese could see them on TV ads everyday.

Though the Telkomsel signal reception was strong in Tahuna city, most of Manganitu had a poor one, which made Uncle R hard to receive SMSes from our family in Jakarta.

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth
A typical house in Manganitu.

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth
Roofing tile-making centre in Manganitu

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth
A dilapidated Dutch house in Manganitu

Regarding the TV shows Sangirese people watched; I was more overwhelmed to find out that almost every Sangirese households have their own parabola, unlike their Javanese counterparts. Hence, apart from the local channels like RCTI, SCTV, and Metro TV, they also had reception for CNN, BBC, HBO, Star Movies, Celestial Movies, and several Filipino TV channels whose names I couldn’t recall.

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth

A Catholic kindergarten+primary school in Manganitu

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth
View of the school from the front, still being renovated

We went back to our inn at Tahuna at 5.30 that day, because after dark ojeks could seldom be found. A ride thru the mountains after sunset is not advisable either, due to the lack of lighting in the road connecting Tahuna and Manganitu. To give you an idea of what it looked like to ride thru the mountain roads in the dark, you should imagine a ride thru the mountainous roads from Lembang to Puncak in West Java without streetlights at all.

Zorpia Photo Sharing: Free Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth
Ship docked amidst the mangroves in Manganitu coast

All in all, the ride by ojek back from Manganitu to Tahuna was the more enjoyable one, because from the motorcycle I rode I could see varying views of the sun setting on the sea with various tinges of red. It was an awe-inspiring view indeed.

Too bad the motorcycle was accelerating fast enough that I managed to get only a few proper pictures of the sunset. Sorry everyone, no sunset pictures for today’s stock, because there are still 12 days to go!

I made a small wish to myself that day though, so that I could take a girlfriend in the future to see the sun setting in Sangihe together…… Oh, how romantic!

~to be continued~


  © Blogger template Shush by Ourblogtemplates.com 2009

Back to TOP