The Indonesia beyond Bali

As we step off the air-conditioned bus into a sun-drenched village we are immediately greeted by two things known well to Indonesia; its 30-degree heat and a group of smiling youngsters, viewing us with both curiosity and awe. Their faces make you feel invited, if you have been to Bali you are no stranger to the friendliness of its people but getting off the beaten track in the North of Sulawesi, is a whole different ball game.

At the end of April, I was invited by the Ministry of Tourism of Indonesia to embark on a one-week adventure with a bunch of fellow travel writers.
We squashed 7 cities into 8 days, ran on little sleep, indulged in pristine waters, made life long friends and tapped into unspoilt sights.

Being half Indonesian, the fact that I had only been to Bali (before this trip) really annoys me. I am so grateful I can now share the true beauty my heritage has to offer. Indonesia is made up of over 17,000 islands making it the largest archipelago in the world. Of the 17,000 islands, over 8,000 are inhabited, it consists of more than four hundred volcanoes, is home to astonishing biodiversity, and has the kindness humans ever! Culturally fascinating with rich diversity of religion, temples, traditional music, rituals and ways of life, changing drastically from each island. Come with me and explore the Indonesia beyond Bali.

RELATED: 10 Amazing Things to do in Sulawesi

Manado, North Sulawesi
1.4748° N, 124.8421° E

Tondano Lake
Tondano Lake, the largest lake in North Sulawesi, sits 600 metres above sea level. It covers an impressive 4,278 hectares and with its lush vegetation and mystical mountain backdrop, it makes for a spectacular lunch stop. The lake, situated by the village of Remboken is around 30 km from Manado. Enjoy the local caught fish at one of the many food stalls and restaurants surrounding the lake.
Indonesia beyond Bali, Tondano Lake

Indonesia beyond Bali

Indonesia beyond Bali

 

Hill of Love
Bukit Kasih or Hill Of Love is located in the Minahasa Regency of North Sulawesi. On arrival, we were greeted by a mob of men with their owls wanting photos, thank goodness none of the group acknowledged this poor attempt at tourism. This sulphuric hill spans over 2435 steps to the top, and with active sulphur that has eroded parts of the track, the walk is eerie, to say the least.
This highland is called the Hill of Love because it is where people from different religions can gather and worship their own faith symbol in peaceful harmony. There are five houses of worship: a Catholic Church, a Christian church, a temple, a mosque and Hindu temple.

Indonesia beyond Bali

Indonesia beyond Bali
Indonesia beyond Bali

 

 

Bunaken Island
Bunaken Island is located in the bay of Manado in northern Sulawesi, Indonesia. Its main attraction is the incredible marine life. We took a ferry from the Harbour Marina port which took around 40 minutes. The translucent waters of the Bunaken seas allow for fantastic snorkelling, just be aware of the incredible albeit a tad scary cliff drop on the edge of the coral reef then plunges down more than 25 metres.


Indonesia beyond Bali

Indonesia beyond Bali

Indonesia beyond Bali

 

Tangkoko Nature Reserve
The Tangkoko Nature Reserve is a flora and fauna conservation area on Mount Tangkoko in the district of Bitung in the province of North Sulawesi, about one hour’s drive from Manado.  The reserve is attractive for its unique wildlife, in particular, the Black Macaques.
Bonus: just on the other side of this jungle is Black Sand beach. We caught the last glimpse of light, perfect way to end the day!

Indonesia beyond Bali

Indonesia beyond Bali
Indonesia beyond Bali

 

Stay: Mercure Manado Tateli Beach Resort
We stayed at the Mercure, a 30-minute drive from Manado City and around 45 minutes from the airport. The grounds are beautiful, with exotic palm trees framing a huge lagoon-style pool or enjoy a game of tennis followed by a relaxing sauna. Loved the lobby at this hotel with its massive seat swings, the breakfast was decent also! Downside? It’s wifi, I had to sit at my door to access it.

Indonesia beyond Bali

Indonesia beyond Bali

 



Palu, Central Sulawesi
0.9003° S, 119.8780° E

 

Talise Beach
Unfortunately, our flight was delayed for a few hours and we missed out on some planned activities in Palu. We arrived just in time to see the sunset over Talise Beach, a bunch of locals were around which made the experience all that more authentic. I love that side of travel that allows you to engage in a local community! It’s all about the people <3
Indonesia beyond Bali
Indonesia beyond Bali

Indonesia beyond Bali

 

 

Tanjung Karang
We were welcomed by a maze of palm trees that lead to powdery white shores, pristine water, and rickety beach bungalows. Tanjung Karang Pantai (Beach) is located 40 minutes from Palu, it’s a great escape from the uninspired city life. We began our morning with a spot of snorkelling and Bintangs at 10 am, it was pure bliss!

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Stay:Hotel Santika Palu
Strategically located in the centre of Palu, Hotel Santika Palu is just a 15-minute drive from Palu Airport. The rooms were clean and equipped with all the necessary amenities- the wifi even worked in my room! The hotel houses an outdoor swimming pool, fitness centre and full buffet breakfast.
Only a 10-minute drive from Talise Beach, make sure you venture down to see the sunset.

 

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Ambon, Maluku
3.6554° S, 128.1908° E

 

Namalatu Beach
We arrived at, Namalatu beach and were greeted by a bunch of school students, dressed in traditional performance clothes, an open-air stage,  and a stunning backdrop. We took in the scenery and then sat back and watched a magical performance called the Sahureka-reka! We ended the morning with fresh young coconuts and selfies with the gorgeous children.
A beach with the perfect combination of coral and sand, located within just 30-minutes south of Ambon.
Ilmi Eco Tours will help to organise an experience like this, one which you won’t regret.

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Ambon City
Ambon, the capital of MalukuIsland is one of the largest cities in Eastern Indonesia. We began our city tour with Ilmi Eco Tours, I can not recommend them enough! They looked after us during our time in Ambon and made sure everything was perfect!
Some highlights were:
-Ambon War Cemetery
-Peace Gong
-View from the top

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Saparua Island
We took a speedboat from our hotel and arrived at Haria Village Port.  On arrival, we were greeted with a swarm of men casually observing our arrival.
We were first taken to Fort Duurstede & little museum, and then wandered the traditional markets. With its friendly population, pretty villages, plentiful historical relics, stunning beaches and fine coral reefs, Saparua Island made for the perfect last day. I was hesitant to mention this spot as don’t want to spoil the true beauty!

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Liang Beach
After a day of exploring Saparua Island, we were taken to Liang Beach or White Sand Beach to see a traditional performance of sorts. The “Bamboo Gila” appropriately translates to Crazy Bamboo, and it is one of the strangest things I have witnessed. 7 or 8 men hold a piece of bamboo in their arms whilst being waved with a light flame. An enchanting ritual that still confuses me 😛

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With help organising your next trip to Ambon, Indonesia, get in touch with Ilmi Eco Tours

Stay: The Natsepa Resort
The centre of Ambon City is 30 minutes’ drive away, while Pattimura Airport is a 40-minute drive from the property.Offering stunning views of Natsepa Beach and the ocean, The Natsepa Resort and Conference Center definitely offers good first impressions!
My room was nice and spacious with a private balcony. The hotel boasts an outdoor pool,restaurant and a spa. The private beach was definitely the highlight! I wasn’t impressed with the no wifi, or my terrible room service experience!

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Indonesia beyond Bali

I was a guest of Ministry of Tourism of Indonesia, but as always my opinions, photos and ideas remain my own!


PLAN YOUR TRIP TO INDONESIA:

+Amazing beaches of Indonesia
+The Ultimate Bucketlist for Indonesia
+Things to do in Bintan Indonesia
+Ultimate Bali Travel Guide
+Where to stay in Seminyak
+Where to stay in Ubud
+Amazing beaches of Indonesia


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Indonesia beyond Bali

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About Nha Trang Cooking Class

As a part of The Anam’s new cultural experiences, guest can embed themselves into a ‘day in the life’ situation with a Vietnamese family from the neighbouring countryside of Nha Trang.

Designed around the idea of families coming together for a delectable feast the day-long tour saw us visiting different local markets and shops and learning about daily life over traditional Vietnamese ice-coffed before sitting down to a three-course meal.

We are picked up by our host Dat who shares a little knowledge of Vietnam and daily life before asking US what we might like to cook.  The menu is completely left up to us and we settle on morning glory, chicken with lemongrass and chilli and bánh xèo.

To buy the ingredients for the afternoon’s cooking class, everyone together visits the local’s markets, a herb stall, bakery and noodle making house. Dat introduces us to local farmers and artisans offering insight into each traditional trade.

‘We give you a unique inside view to the traditional style of Vietnamese cooking, renowned for its combination of 5 taste senses and use of the freshest local ingredients, making it the best and healthiest cuisine in the world.’ Dat explains his love for the Vietnamese cuisine.

The other amazing thing I loved about our day is finding out about Dat’s charity and community work. They help the facilitation of sponsoring children in their community. These kids are disadvantaged and the money helps to support their education. They have a guest house on their property that is available for volunteers taking part in charity projects.

‘At Nha Trang cooking class (VIET GARDEN) we believe in giving back to the people in the community who are most in need. Every tour, we contribute to our chosen charity project, usually focused on helping individual children who cannot afford an education and are living in poverty. Together we can change the lives of people who have little chance and even less hope. We will pay for their education and give them the tools they need to live a fulfilled life. We are dedicated to their cause and are fully transparent in showing you how a percentage of the cost of every tour and every donation gets to the people we have chosen. We have included a page on this website listing everyone who has contributed, giving full exposure to what our charity does with the money that you spend.’

Shopping at the local markets

After a brief bus introduction and the choosing of today’s menu we jumped off the air con bus to sticky Vietnamese heat and wander to a fresh produce stall where the lady is smiling ear to ear at our arrival. Here Dat offers up knowledge of how local product becomes medicine and what herbs and plants are good for digestion, congestion, cold and flu and anti-aging. These practices and plants have been used for centuries, the lady nods on in agreeance as Dat explains.

Wearing: T-shirt by Glassons, Skirt by Miki Finn, Shoes by Miki Finn

We walk the streets and stumble upon our next traditional stall. A bakery! And one unlike I have ever seen before. It is closed, Dat says the baker has finished for the morning. We open up the doors anyways and then the baker appears out of nowhere. He doesn’t speak English but gives us a demo of the process he uses to bake over 2500 baguettes daily.

Ever wondered how rice noodles are made?

It’s a long process that takes skill and patience. The same method that was used 100’s of years ago is still used today.

Using broken rice the process starts by soaking it in water for up to a day to soften before it is ground up.

The ground rice is then mixed with the tapioca starch for flexibility to create a white paste-like batter. The paste is then heated over a large skillet much like cooking crepes.

Once hardened the sheet is removed and placed on racks for drying. It is then placed on the roof in the sun to dry for a day.  The final step sees the rice paper being put in cutting machine to create the noodles.

There is nothing I like more than a good exploration amongst the locals as they swarm the markets for fresh produce.

Here we pick up the majority of ingredients for today’s cook. There is everything here including vegetables, fruits, seafood, meats, herbs and spices, sauces and even flowers. It’s an array of colours, overwhelming smells and something interesting to look at on every corner.

Coffee Break

In between our shopping expedition, we stopped at Dat’s favourite coffee shop for a bit of a break and to try the traditional Vietnamese coffee.
Next to the cafe is a mat weaving artist who is putting together their latest creation. Someone of us give this old-school practice a go whilst other enjoy getting out of the heat and cooling down with an ice-coffee.

What makes Vietnamese Coffee special?

If you have tried Vietnamese coffee before you will know that it’s pretty bloody decent, in fact, it is a little addictive which makes sense since Vietnam is the second largest coffee growers in the world. The special preparation process, as well as Robusta beans, helps give Vietnamese coffee its particular full taste.

Coarsely ground beans go into a Phin which is a low-tech device that mimics the combination of a  French Press and drip filter. The Phin sits on top of the cup and the beans are weighted down resulting in a strong brew. This is then topped with sweet condensed milk a practice that began because when the French occupied Vietnam fresh cows milk wasn’t readily available for their coffee or tea.

In Northern Vietnam, this is called ca phe nau (brown coffee), while in the South it’s called ca phe sua (milk coffee).

 

Course 1- Morning Glory

The readily available vegetable Morning glory is very popular Vietnam. This inexpensive water spinach can be enjoyed stir fried with sauces or served fresh as a salad. The day of our arrival to the Anam we were hosted for lunch at Lang Viet and served a glorious morning glory salad, when Dat asked what we wanted to cook the vote was unanimous to replicate that yummy starter.

At the market, the lady used a double ended blade to shred the morning glory into thin strands. We then make the dressing which is a combination of garlic, chilli, sugar, lime and fish sauce. We put the garlic, chilli and sugar together in a mortar and use a pestle to crush and pound until it starts to resemble a paste, the dressing is finished with a big squeeze of lime and fish sauce.

We then use a traditional woven pan to remove the skins from peanuts and chop small to sprinkle on top of our salad for some crunch and extra texture.

Course 2- Chicken with Lemongrass and chilli

Next up we cook one of Dat’s favourites, juicy chicken that has been marinated and then served with turmeric rice. The flavour combination of hot, salty, sweet and fresh from the lemongrass make this dish a winner. It was also incredibly easy!

Ingredients

– 200 gram skinless, boneless chicken breast or chicken thighs
– 2 lemongrass stalks (slice and finely chop)
– 2 spoon of fish sauce
– 1tbsp superfine sugar, to taste
– tbsp of pepper
– 2 red chiles, halved, seeded, and shredded, chopped
– 4 garlic cloves, crushed
– 1 tbsp ground peanut
– Serve with a pickle and turmeric steamed rice.

Preparation
Trim any fat from the thighs and cut the flesh into bite-sized pieces. Remove the tough outer layers of the lemongrass and trim the top and base. Mince the rest—the softer part of the lemongrass—as finely as you can. Put half of this into a bowl with the fish sauce, sugar, half of the chiles, half of the garlic, and the chopped chicken. Mix together with your hands, cover with plastic wrap, and put into the fridge. Let marinate for at least 1/2 hours.

Cooking
Heat the oil in a wide-based saucepan or a wok set over medium heat. Add remained garlic till smell good, add the chicken and cook on all sides, getting a really good colour all over it. Add the reserved chiles, reserved lemongrass, and the onion and stir-fry until the onion starts to soften. Be careful not to burn the chiles or the lemongrass. Pour in the coconut juice, reduce the heat, and cover. Cook the chicken for about 5 minutes.

Remove the lid, increase the heat, and continue to cook until the liquid is reduced. You want a mixture that is wetter than a stir-fry but drier than a braise. Check for seasoning to balance, adjusting with sugar and fish sauce. Scatter with cilantro leaves and ground peanut, if using, and serve with steamed rice.

Course 3-  Bánh Xèo

Bánh xèo is something everyone should try when visiting Vietnam! The xèo literally refers to the sizzling sounds it makes when you cook the batter, the whole name can be loosely translated to ‘sizzling cake’.

Bánh xèo is a great snack or street food that’s meant to be eaten with your hands. Inside our crispy savoury crepe was seafood, chicken, bean sprouts and shallots and served with lettuce, herbs and special dipping sauce.

 Nha Trang Cooking Class

‘The ‘A Day in the Life’ Cultural Cooking Tour is the latest initiative from The Anam property to demonstrate an ongoing commitment to supporting the local population and its businesses. ‘

The ‘A Day in the Life’ Cultural Cooking Tour is offered daily from 9am from The Anam and includes transfers by car or Vespa, tour guide, entrance fees, banh mi baguettes, coffee, a three-course meal including soft drinks and local beer, recipes and insurance. It is priced from 1,360,000 VND (USD 59) per person based on a family or group of 5-6 guests. Prices for smaller groups and families are available on request.’

Found this pin helpful? Be sure to pin and share!

BOOKING RESOURCES

INSURANCE

ACCOMMODATION

Booking.com

FLIGHTS

INSTAGRAM

Come join us on Instagram, for daily wanderlust- @kelanabykayla

About Nha Trang Cooking Class

As a part of The Anam’s new cultural experiences, guest can embed themselves into a ‘day in the life’ situation with a Vietnamese family from the neighbouring countryside of Nha Trang.

Designed around the idea of families coming together for a delectable feast the day-long tour saw us visiting different local markets and shops and learning about daily life over traditional Vietnamese ice-coffed before sitting down to a three-course meal.

We are picked up by our host Dat who shares a little knowledge of Vietnam and daily life before asking US what we might like to cook.  The menu is completely left up to us and we settle on morning glory, chicken with lemongrass and chilli and bánh xèo.

To buy the ingredients for the afternoon’s cooking class, everyone together visits the local’s markets, a herb stall, bakery and noodle making house. Dat introduces us to local farmers and artisans offering insight into each traditional trade.

‘We give you a unique inside view to the traditional style of Vietnamese cooking, renowned for its combination of 5 taste senses and use of the freshest local ingredients, making it the best and healthiest cuisine in the world.’ Dat explains his love for the Vietnamese cuisine.

The other amazing thing I loved about our day is finding out about Dat’s charity and community work. They help the facilitation of sponsoring children in their community. These kids are disadvantaged and the money helps to support their education. They have a guest house on their property that is available for volunteers taking part in charity projects.

‘At Nha Trang cooking class (VIET GARDEN) we believe in giving back to the people in the community who are most in need. Every tour, we contribute to our chosen charity project, usually focused on helping individual children who cannot afford an education and are living in poverty. Together we can change the lives of people who have little chance and even less hope. We will pay for their education and give them the tools they need to live a fulfilled life. We are dedicated to their cause and are fully transparent in showing you how a percentage of the cost of every tour and every donation gets to the people we have chosen. We have included a page on this website listing everyone who has contributed, giving full exposure to what our charity does with the money that you spend.’

Shopping at the local markets

After a brief bus introduction and the choosing of today’s menu we jumped off the air con bus to sticky Vietnamese heat and wander to a fresh produce stall where the lady is smiling ear to ear at our arrival. Here Dat offers up knowledge of how local product becomes medicine and what herbs and plants are good for digestion, congestion, cold and flu and anti-aging. These practices and plants have been used for centuries, the lady nods on in agreeance as Dat explains.

Wearing: T-shirt by Glassons, Skirt by Miki Finn, Shoes by Miki Finn

We walk the streets and stumble upon our next traditional stall. A bakery! And one unlike I have ever seen before. It is closed, Dat says the baker has finished for the morning. We open up the doors anyways and then the baker appears out of nowhere. He doesn’t speak English but gives us a demo of the process he uses to bake over 2500 baguettes daily.

Ever wondered how rice noodles are made?

It’s a long process that takes skill and patience. The same method that was used 100’s of years ago is still used today.

Using broken rice the process starts by soaking it in water for up to a day to soften before it is ground up.

The ground rice is then mixed with the tapioca starch for flexibility to create a white paste-like batter. The paste is then heated over a large skillet much like cooking crepes.

Once hardened the sheet is removed and placed on racks for drying. It is then placed on the roof in the sun to dry for a day.  The final step sees the rice paper being put in cutting machine to create the noodles.

There is nothing I like more than a good exploration amongst the locals as they swarm the markets for fresh produce.

Here we pick up the majority of ingredients for today’s cook. There is everything here including vegetables, fruits, seafood, meats, herbs and spices, sauces and even flowers. It’s an array of colours, overwhelming smells and something interesting to look at on every corner.

Coffee Break

In between our shopping expedition, we stopped at Dat’s favourite coffee shop for a bit of a break and to try the traditional Vietnamese coffee.
Next to the cafe is a mat weaving artist who is putting together their latest creation. Someone of us give this old-school practice a go whilst other enjoy getting out of the heat and cooling down with an ice-coffee.

What makes Vietnamese Coffee special?

If you have tried Vietnamese coffee before you will know that it’s pretty bloody decent, in fact, it is a little addictive which makes sense since Vietnam is the second largest coffee growers in the world. The special preparation process, as well as Robusta beans, helps give Vietnamese coffee its particular full taste.

Coarsely ground beans go into a Phin which is a low-tech device that mimics the combination of a  French Press and drip filter. The Phin sits on top of the cup and the beans are weighted down resulting in a strong brew. This is then topped with sweet condensed milk a practice that began because when the French occupied Vietnam fresh cows milk wasn’t readily available for their coffee or tea.

In Northern Vietnam, this is called ca phe nau (brown coffee), while in the South it’s called ca phe sua (milk coffee).