While in Bali, I met my neighbour, Guido. We happened to be the victims of the same crime – our flip flops being stolen from outside our neighbouring apartments in Canggu.
This incident made us hate each other for a brief while – on suspicion that the robbery was performed by the other neighbour. But then we both realised this can’t be true and had a Bintang. Apart from having no flipflops, being neighbours and sharing a Bintang we realised that we have more in common – in particular, we like travelling, a lot.
So Guido recommended me going to the Togeans. In particular, he’s mentioned Sunset Beach and Lestari in Malenge, and recommended a way to get there. I’ve done a quick Google search myself and agreed that going to the untouched tropical islands with wonderful coral reefs and one of the best diving on Earth is something I want to do, right now.
Getting to the Togeans
The Togeans are quite hard to reach – which is both advantage and disadvantage. It scares off the ‘bad’ kind of tourist, who like to party, are irresponsive and don’t care about the environment. On the other hand, getting there is a real pain – at least 24 hours while being in Asia!
I took a connecting flight to Bali to Palu with Lion Air. The first flight arrived in Makassar at the time the connection should have departed, but there seemed to be no rush. Makassar airport had no sign of the flight to Palu and I got worried a bit, while being asked to wait near a get to a flight to Jakarta. 10 minutes through the wait, with the announcement not changing, the staff collected a group of people going to Palu, we boarded a bus that took us to the plain and we went off.
After about 7 hours of flights, I had to take a bus to Ampana. Google and Guido advised that there’s an 8-hour bus departing at 9am and 5PM every day. I arrived at Palu at around 3PM, and asked an official taxi driver to take me to the bus station. In very bad English, he found out that I’m going to Ampana, and explained that the bus station was closed. Luckily, his friend has an agency and they can offer me a ride for 250 000IDR (bus is 120 000 IDR). I had no choice and the driver dropped me off at a ‘tour agency’ – a tiny room adjacent to a shop where one can buy some instant noodle soup. I waited for about 2 hours for the car to fill. It was a 7-seater, filled with boxes of goods, stacked on top of one another. About 11 people boarded the car, including 4 kids, one woman, and old man and 3 other men. I rejoiced having the front seat – but not for long. We had somewhat different music tastes with the driver, and he must have been deaf. After 10 minutes, I was too, despite using earplugs.
The drive was a pain. 10 minutes after we all boarded, we stopped at a gas station for about half an hour. Palu-nians seemed to have no concept of a queue and although our car was the fifth in a queue to fill up, there was a never-ending flow of motorcycles and people carrying fuel tanks and bottles before us. After half an hour we left and continued the noisy drive.
After another hour, we had a lunch stop at some road-side place. I wasn’t hungry (and why they didn’t eat at home?) so stayed in the car. That took another half an hour. Then we stopped to get some fruit…
I was counting hours in a car and looking at a map. I’ve had a hotel booked where I hoped to arrive at 2 or 3am. My hopes were vanishing with every stop. They vanished completely when 1 hour before Ampana, we stopped in a restaurant that had some beds and they decided to sleep! It was 3AM, we were 1 hour before my destination and we stopped for 1,5 hours there. I was furious.
We then had another stop, just 15 minutes before my hotel. They smoked for about 20 minutes. I was exhausted and regretting I’ve taken on that trip.
I checked in the hotel and went for a nap before the boat at 1PM. On my check-out at 11, I was offered breakfast despite having overslept the breakfast. I then arrived at the pier, only to find that 1PM speedboat was not going today because of the engine problems and the next boat is tomorrow at 9AM… I was so disappointed.
Luckily, I met some other tourist from the Chezch Republic, who were facing the same issue. We all stated in Kahyangan Hotel, which was very nice and had a lovely manager, Elise. She recommended me where I could buy some Durian, and next morning she gave me some durian ice cream her mother made – which was truly delicious!
The next day the boat departed on time and my struggles were over!