We have just arrived home after a brilliant day exploring Tidore, one of the many islands neighbouring Ternate.
Our day began just after 8am, when we walked down to the dock to hire a speedboat.
L-R Inten, Totu, Bu Esty, Berliana & Salfa. Ichal also joined us but for some reason left the house later than we did.
The day dawned perfectly for an outing across the sea. There was no wind and the sea was so flat, you could see the bottom as we walked along the path to the harbour. Tidore was also cloudless and the peak of the extinct mountain could be seen for the first time since I arrived in Ternate. All great omens for a boat trip to Tidore.
There were many speedboats available for hire at the dock and they looked nothing like I imagined them to look.
which are the local form of transport both in Ternate & Tidore. The ones here in Ternate are generally souped up with mag wheels, amazing speakers which belt out music with lots of doof doof, and often too a row of what looks like spot lights along the roof! They have rows of seats in them just like a mini bus and look a lot more comfortable than the public transport I have seen else where in Indonesia. What makes me hesitate riding in one is purely the speaker volume. When they drive past, the music is so loud, it is deafening, so I can’t imagine what it would be like to travel anywhere with that racket wailing in your ears.
Also at the dock were many 8 seater cars called Avanzers available for hire, however Bu Esty had prebooked one for us, so it was waiting for us, complete with driver just as we emerged from the terminal. The weather in Tidore was still cool when we arrived so we drove along with the windows open enjoying the fresh air.
As soon as we started moving, the first thing I noticed were the many tarpaulins covered in cloves drying in the sun along the roadside.
Many more than Ternate and the higher into the hills we went, the more there were. At times there wasn’t enough room by the edge of the road, so the drying cloves were placed in the middle of the road instead!
The smell was just lovely. I wanted to see cloves being harvested, so we stopped where the driver thought there may be pickers and we followed a well worn walking path into the forest. As we walked along Fa called out in Bahasa Ternate (the language of Ternate) the equivalent of cooee and from miles away someone echoed her call. When we were close enough to yell, Bu Esty call out in Bahasa Ternate, ‘Where are you?’ and we discovered why the answer was not clear because we finally came upon 2 young boys playing in the forest. Their father was nearby and turned up eventually to explain that as it was Friday, no one was picking cloves today. Friday is the most important day in the Muslim week, just like Sunday is for Christians, and as the workers have to get to the mosque for midday prayers from deep in the forest, it is not worth working Friday mornings. So to give me an idea of how the cloves are picked, Bu Esty kicked off her shoes and shimmied up a tree for me!
Bu Esty and Ichal then explained to me that as cloves are sold by weight, it is better to pick them before they flower as they weigh more! We then headed back towards the car however we were constantly distracted by other interesting plants also growing in the kebun. We firstly found lots of nutmeg & mace trees. The fruit looks like apples hanging in the tree.The trees grow quite large. Here is Bu Esty standing at the foot of one of the larger trees we found.
they decide that the next tree I needed to investigate was a kanari tree. According to Wikipedia the kanari tree is more commonly known as a pili tree however I am not familiar with either. Apparently it is native to maritime South East Asia, New Guinea & Northern Australia! The trees that we found were enormous and very solid looking so it is no wonder they can withstand strong winds! We searched underneath the trees for some nuts and luckily came across a stash of nuts at the base of one of the trees!
The flavour was far superior to an almond. It was so crunchy yet creamy, a beautiful flavour and consistency. According to Wikipedia, pili are used in chocolate, ice cream and are also one of the major ingredients in Chinese moon cakes!
We then drove to what was originally a Spanish fort and then during the Dutch colonisation was adopted by the Dutch. It is called Benteng Tahula. To reach it, we had to climb over 100 steps in the suddenly very hot and incredibly humid sun. The humidity by this time was very high and you could actually feel the moisture in the air. At the top though, was the most amazing view across Tidore. We could see the Sultan’s kraton and mosque, both with blue rooves, as well as neighbouring islands.
It was close to midday by this time, time for midday prayers. We all jumped back in the car and for the first time, put the air conditioner on and cranked it up as high as it would go. We were all soooo hot! We headed to a cousin of Bu Esty’s so that the men could ‘solat’ (do their prayers( while we enjoyed sitting on the back verandah where there was a beautiful cool breeze. Once prayer time had finished, we headed out again driving high up the side of the extinct volcano trying to find a good vantage from which to enjoy the view.
On our way back down the mountain, we stopped where by the side of the road were many large baskets of tomatoes next to a hut. Hanging in the hut were back pack baskets made from woven bamboo and just as Bu Esty put one on her back to demonstrate how they are worn, 3 locals appeared carrying baskets of tomatoes perched on top of their backpacks. The baskets were so heavy they needed 2 people to lift them down onto the ground! I can’t imagine picking tomatoes on a very steep surface and then throwing them somehow onto a basket hanging behind my shoulders. As a teenager I helped picked many a tone of tomatoes at our family market garden and that was hard work, never mind throwing in all the other variables! At least I could see the container I was throwing the tomatoes into!
The driver then took us to a beautiful little hot spring right on a beach. The spring itself was at the base of a tree and the hot water seemed to be coming out at its roots. The locals had enclosed the spring with a stone wall which not only helped to create a shallow pool but also gave some privacy as we discovered that the older locals enjoy having their mandi there! While we were sitting with our feet in the very hot water, a steady stream of elderly people arrived carrying small buckets of soap & shampoo. Our presence more than likely gave them something to talk about when they finally descended into the pool for their mandi after we had left them in peace!
Our last destination and the one that Berliana had been looking forward to all day was a swim in the ocean. Our driver stopped by a beautiful black sandy cove where the water was surprisingly cool and extremely clear. While we frolicked in the water, a little way up the beach was a fishing boat untangling it’s huge net. The entire net was in the water and while one person stood chest deep in the water, the polystyrene floats along the edge of the net helped him to feed the net to the rest of the crew standing along the side of the boat. They were gradually pulling the net up onto the boat and folding it in front of their legs. The net would have been very weighty and awkward to handle yet they managed it smoothly. While they were working, they had their music blaring which made it difficult to ask if I could take photos. However as they were working as a team, they couldn’t stop anyway to answer, so it didn’t matter that the music drowned out my request!
We headed back to the car in our wet clothes and I was amazed that our driver didn’t mind that we all hopped into his car dripping wet! He was probably just being very polite! We were hoping to catch the ferry home but we missed it, so Bu Esty chartered another speed boat and we were home before we knew it. As her house is very close to the harbour, she talked the fellow into taking us closer to her back door which was an added bonus! I think those of us in wet bathers were pleased our walk home had been shortened so that we could all quickly jump into a warm shower and put on some dry clothes.
Terima kasih banyak Bu Esty for the absolutely brilliant day exploring Tidore. I am looking forward even more now to celebrating Lebaran on Tidore!
Postscript: Unfortunately my camera SD card is malfunctioning and I could only access a few of the photos from yesterday. Luckily Bu Esty also took many photos, so once I work out how to transfer photos from an ipad & samsung phone, I will add some more photos. Fingers crossed tightly that the photos on my SD card are retrievable somehow but in the meanwhile it looks like I will have to buy a new SD card.