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Makassar, a big but pleasant city

Makassar once was the main harbor and trade center in pre-colonial Indonesia. It is situated in the South of Sulawesi, right in the center of the Archipelago. Currently, it is a big, but pleasant city, with Fort Rotterdam as its main attraction.

Street in Makassar From Flores we take the boat to Sulawesi, one of the larger islands of Indonesia. We think we are heading for Ujung Pandang, but the Pelni schedules refers to the harbor city as Makassar, its old name. Later, we learn that the city has actually been renamed again, so the Pelni schedule is right.

Pelni trouble

Getting a ticket for the Pelni ship wasn't easy this time. In Maumere we try to figure out when the boat will leave. The Pelni schedule, hard to find and difficult to decipher, mentions a different time than local people are telling us.

More Adventure travel tales in Indonesia:
the Minangkabau
Ubud, Bali
Komodo Dragon Cruise
Flores Island
Tana Toraja
Lake Toba
Bukit Lawang
Southeast Asian Tales:
Angkor Wat temples
Sapa Valley Vietnam
Luang Prabang in Laos

Even the date isn't clear, since 1 AM in the night of May 23rd , might also mean May 24th. Despite different people offering their help, we get no clear answer.

Since we do not wish to stay the few days before departure in Maumere, we want to buy a ticket directly. But that is not possible. And then Hans arrives, a friendly local, who wants to help and offers to buy the tickets for us, once that is possible. We can leave for the beach in Waiterang, although Hans is still confusing us with times, day and date of departure.

In Waiterang we learn from other tourists that the ship is delayed for a day. Hans also sends this message to us. But to be sure, we go to Maumere on May 23rd to check for ourselves. It appears that Hans hasn't bought our tickets, since it is only possible to get Ekonomi. We will have to try to change them into 2nd class on board.

Luxury on the boat

Leaving the harbor of Maumere, heading for MakassarAfter hearing some more rumours about another 10 hour delay, we decide to leave for the harbor on the 24th. We are prepared for the worst, but are relieved to see the Awu arrive on time. On the boat, our tickets are quickly upgraded, so after a while we sit in a private cabin, together with Kris and Paulien. It even has a toilet and shower with warm water!! It's a luxury we didn't have in a long time.

The trip to Sulawesi goes smooth. We sleep well during the night, and there are enough places to sit on deck during the day. At 1 PM the harbor is in sight, and a little later we squeeze ourselves off the ship. The heat overwhelms us directly so we look for a bemo to bring us to a hotel. After a short ride we arrive at the Legend, the backpacker hostel of Makassar.

The Legend has rooms with thin walls, no windows, and communal showers and toilets. But the friendly staff and other guests, both with good information about what to do in Sulawesi, make up for that. We meet a German guy who is travelling for 7 years, and a Dutchmen who is doing the opposite route from what we are doing. So there is a lot of information to be exchanged here.

Big City

Then we head for the city to explore. Makassar is a big city, with the facilities we had to live without for quite some time. First we find an Internet caf´┐Ż, so we can inform people at home where we are. Next stop is the bank, for some cash. And finally the supermarket, although that has not much more on offer, compared to the little shops elsewhere in Indonesia.

In the evening we search for a restaurant. The foodstalls at the boulevard we read about, are gone, and there are a few expensive restaurants. But we find a small one, where the menu is limited, and the beer needs to be cooled with ice (a trick we learned: pour some beer over the ice, and drink immediately, so it doesn't get diluted. Also make sure the ice is made from boiled water). The food is a lot better than at the KFCs and McDonalds Makassar also has to offer.

After dinner we walk on the boulevard. We get a lot of attention, but everybody is friendly. On the street, boys are showing some bike acrobatics and we watch it, together with the locals.

Fort Rotterdam

We will not stay long in Makassar, but we have to pay a visit to Fort Rotterdam. It is a large walled terrain with monumental buildings from the Dutch era. Today is Sunday and the place is visited by a lot of locals as well. And everybody wants to talk with us. We are even invited to answer some questions for a class that is practising English. All very nice, but a little tiring after a while. So we decide not to visit the museum, which we heard is nothing much anyway. Instead, we walk on the old wall until we reach the exit.

Compounds of Fort Rotterdam seen from the wall

The rest of the afternoon we spend in the Internet Cafe to send our stories and digital pictures home. The speed of the connection is great, better than anywhere else in Southeast Asia. Makassar is just a big city, with little places of interest, apart from Fort Rotterdam. But it is a pleasant city because of the nice people and western facilities available.

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