Exploring Ternate

Another amazing day in Ternate with the wonderful Bu Esty and her family and friends. Today we commandeered Bapak’s driver to take us on a tour circumnavigating Ternate incorporating several interesting stops along the way. Joining us today was Bapak’s driver, Bu Esty, Ichal, Safa & Berliana,
After dropping Bapak at work, we headed off on our drive around Ternate. We drove in an anti clockwise direction starting in the city of Ternate. Our first stop in Ternate allowed me to replace my SD card which died yesterday. Bu Esty insisted on paying for it which was incredibly generous of her especially as I wanted to get a 8 gig card! The photos on this blog will be my first from my new card! Terima kasih Bu Esty!

We then headed off on our drive. We began by retracing the direction I went with Ichal on my first day n Ternate. Past the airport where the runway has been recently extended and in doing so, the outer limit of the grounds is a huge rock wall buttressing the huge amount of landfill needed to do so. Being incredibly isolated, Ternate residents rely either on air transport or sea travel and consequently the two major developments here are the airport and the wharf precinct. Locals would dearly love to see tourism flourish here however I can’t see that truly happening until there are direct flights from Bali available.

Once past the amazing fields of lava, I began traveling through unexplored territory. Just sitting in the car looking out the window as we drove passed houses and vegetation with Gunung (Mt) Gamalama in the background was fascinating. While many of the trees here are found all over Indonesia, it is not as lush as the rest of Indonesia and at times resembles Northern Territory (Australia) more. Evidence of the ‘Wallace Line’ is everywhere and it was further confirmed when I read on a sign at one of our stops that cockatoos are one of the native birds found here on Ternate! There are also no rice fields here on Ternate. While the slopes of Gg Gamalama would be highly fertile, the frequent eruptions together with low rainfall would ensure that rice farming would not be as successful here as it is on the other side of the Wallace Line. The major crops are cloves, nutmeg and mace which are native to this area and consequently a considerably more successful crop.

Unlike our day in Tidore, the weather today was overcast and very cool. Gunung Gamalama was constantly shrouded with low cloud. The northern side of Ternate is well known by the locals to be considerably hotter than the rest of the island, so I packed sunscreen and a hat however neither were needed at all. It was the umbrellas that got a workout today! At times, I was positively cold, especially after a walk in the light rain. A real contrast to our day yesterday and a very pleasant change.

Our first stop of on our tour of Ternate was a lake called Danau Tolire. 20130803-201415.jpgThis legend of the lake explains why there is no path or steps leading down to the lake. Apparently there used to be a village situated where the lake is now. This village leader was someone who unfortunately encouraged inappropriate behaviour which the gods disapproved of. To remove the village and the villagers who refused to behave respectfully, the valley that the village sat in was filled with water. This lake now serves as a reminder to other villagers in Ternate. A crocodile also has been sighted swimming in the lake which makes it an even less attractive place to explore! Being Lebaran, it was deserted but apparently on Sundays it is a popular place for people to visit. There were seats and tables under cover and areas set up for warungs. Close to the concrete fence surrounding he lake is a very detailed sign about the lake. Signs such as this are often found at locations designated as tourist attractions.20130803-202440.jpgWhat I particularly like about this sign is the map of Ternate! As you can see, the lake is almost directly opposite the town of Ternate.20130803-202525.jpg
As we were driving along, I was given instructions to ask the driver to stop whenever I saw anything interesting that I wanted to photograph. It seems that most of the places and objects I photograph are bizarre because I often hear Bu Esty explaining to locals that I am an Indonesian teacher which instantly gives my ‘peculiar’ photography credibility. My first request for the driver to stop was by this river bed:20130803-202810.jpgInteresting because it is not a water river bed but a molten lava river bed. Look at the boulders in the river bed, they and bigger ones erupted out of the volcano when it last erupted in 2011. All around the island, we passed over many bridges like this. The molten lava creates the river beds and the government then builds a bridge wherever the road is swept away as the molten lava makes its way to the sea. Imagine how the sea would boil and bubble as the lava flows into it! Surprisingly even though it has rained most days since I have been in Ternate, there beds are almost always dry. 20130803-203111.jpgBu Esty standing on the bridge.

Our next stop was the Benteng Kastela which also had a gruesome story to tell. This fort was built by the Portuguese in 1522 but is famous as a scene of betrayal. In 1570, the Portuguese leader of the garrison based here invited the reigning Sultan for a meal. After the meal, the Sultan was murdered as he was leaving. The son’s of the Sultan and the local people of Ternate were so incensed that they immediately began a resistance movement against the Portuguese which led to them eventually being forced to leave 5 years later. Closer to the beach was a fantastic mural depicting this story too however parts of it have been affected by the weather and are covered in mould This panel is one of my favourites: 20130803-204709.jpgThe arrival of the Portuguese ships and the fort where they were based.
A short walk up the beach from this mural was a Pertamina ship which got into trouble 3 days ago and lost most of its cargo of fuel. At first the hull was only slightly damaged however while waiting for assistance, high winds blew it onto the jetty. The ship then capsized and its load of petrol and diesel spilled into the sea. 20130803-205503.jpgApparently villagers descended onto the beach in droves with containers of all shapes and sizes to harvest the fuel. I would have liked to have seen that! How on earth does one harvest fuel from the top of water? We could still see fuel in the water and along the waters edge were animals that sadly didn’t survive contact with the fuel.20130803-205555.jpga beautiful tiny shrimp
20130803-205725.jpga variety of sea cucumber
20130803-205929.jpga sand worm

Our next destination was the oldest clove tree in the world. To reach it, we had to climb up a very steep slippery path20130803-210242.jpgwhich really tested our fitness. It was only the children who were able to climb without needed constant rest stops! The tree is apparently over 400 years old and is the ancestor of all clove trees in the world today! At one point, clove trees were only found on Ternate. The tree is almost at the end of its life with only one branch of leaves and cloves.20130803-210536.jpg

The view from where the clove tree was growing was beautiful and shows just how high up we had to travel to reach it.


Just as we were heading down the mountain, Bu Esty stopped at a place where bamboo furniture is made. Being so close to Lebaran, most of her stock has gone, however I could still see examples of the larger furniture they make. Seeing it was like a trip back in time. It doesn’t seem that long ago that this furniture was often found in homes and hotels throughout Indonesia. It looks great, especially the peices that are made using the variated bamboo. The bed is very practical because it comes apart which makes it easy to transport or to remove just the base if it needs to be put out in the sun.

Ternate, for such a small island, has so many interesting places to visit and has so much history.


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