#2 Sulawesi, Sept. 23, 2011

Well, no it didn’t!! My landlady (the expert on visas (!) forgot to get copies of my flights home, which are needed for a visa extension, apparently. She managed to send a message with a couple who had stayed at her hostel as they were coming to Pantai Bira, also. And they miraculously managed to find me in Pantai Bira sitting in the common room of my hotel, which overlooks the main street. (I suppose there aren’t that many white-haired single women about!)  They gave me her note, which called for my returning to Makassar the following day, or we would run into the weekend, which would delay getting the visa extension.

I had three (instead of four) very nice days at the beach town of Pantai Bira, a very small village. Getting there was hard work! I took a pete pete from my hotel in Makassar at 7:00 AM that got hopelessly traffic-jammed for 45 minutes. Finally we reached Mallengkari Terminal where I got a Kijang (an SUV) designed for eight people but which eventually, after trolling for passengers, accommodated eleven! The seat was very uncomfortable (broken down), we were squished, and the driver stopped a jillion times—to pick up passengers, to buy fruit, to try to buy a chicken, to have lunch, to buy a watermelon, to visit his family, etc. Finally at one town I was transferred to another SUV to be taken on to Bira, where I arrived at 3:45 PM.

Unfortunately, even the countryside was not so enjoyable to see as it was mostly built up along the road, which blocked my view and the road was terrible—at first traffic-clogged, then full of potholes or under construction. I did get a few glimpses of the countryside, though, and in one area saw active salt production from the estuaries.

I looked at several hotels and guesthouses at various prices and they all shared one thing in common, that I’ve never seen before. None of the bathrooms or rooms had sinks. You had to wash your hands or brush your teeth in the shower, spitting into the shower drain! The good news was that they all had large, pretty, open-air dining/common rooms at the front of the building, where one eats the breakfast that is included with the room, and can hang out at odd times during the day.

The beach sand is powdery white—the whitest and powderyist I think I’ve ever seen—and there are small boats lying offshore at the ready for the tourists. I did a little wading and the water was bathtub warm.

I’ve eaten a couple of meals at a warung, having fish along with fried bananas, and also Indonesian food. This lady is a good cook! That and a huge Bintang beer does it for my main meal of the day. I finally found the number of ml on the beer bottles—620, which is about 20+ oz!

One day I took a pete pete to Tanah Beru to tour the boat construction site. They make these huge boats by hand. I saw men pounding in the calking by hand, sawing wood by hand, etc. They are beautiful as they stand on the wonderful white beach. What a lot of effort goes into these boats.

I had gotten a motorscooter young man to take me to the site. He waited for me and took me back. I got a pete pete back to Bira that had chirping baby chicks, oodles of green bananas and coconuts, many people, and one man loaded on his whole food stand with sandwiches already in the glass compartment!

I had a wonderful lunch that day at the Salassar Hotel, which also has internet, the only service in town, although they warned me it was slow and expensive—not surprising way out here. I kind of wished that I had stayed there, but I just wasn’t up to the Eastern communal toilets, truth to tell. The ambience was great, though, as was the food and the price.

Since last night was turning out to be my last night in Pantai Bira, I watched the sun go down. And this morning I got an early start (6:45) to make sure that I arrived in time for Rina to get those papers to Immigration!

On Saturday morning (hopefully, visa/passport in hand) I will leave for Pare Pare, which is a small city north of Makassar. Until later—

Carol
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