Tomohon’s Macabre Market (Manado,Minahasa Highlands)

The people of North Sulawesi are renowned for their extreme cuisine, and the Tomohon Market sets it all on stage. Food items such as roasted bat (we encountered this at the grocery store deli section in Manado, actually), sauteed rat (middle photo) and stewed dog (called RW, pronounced “air-whey” — silver bowl in bottom photo)…

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The Legend of Toar and Lumimuut

Toar and Lumimuut are the ancestors of the Minahasa people of north Sulawesi’s (formerly referred to as Celebes) highlands. From what I gather, the story goes like this:* In the beginning, the region was sparsely populated, but one day, a rock in the hills began to sweat from the heat and produced a beautiful woman…

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Manado: Touring the Minahasa Highlands

The Minahasa Highlands begin about one hour’s drive inland from North Sulawesi’s capital city of Manado. And while most visitors fly into Manado for its world-class diving venues, the Minahasa Highlands offer something completely different: volcano trekking, white-water rafting, extreme cuisine, moss-covered jungle hikes and glorious waterfalls are just some of the choices. And if you’ve got…

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Cycling through Kalimantan’s Rubber Tree Plantations

Cycling around Balikpapan is all kinds of fun, but perhaps the best part of it is the random field trip encountered during these rides, like riding through rambutan plantations, watching mussels gleaned at low tide and then smoked, visiting a farmer harvesting seaweed for sale to cosmetic industries, or, as was the case this Sunday, cycling…

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Snorkeling Bunaken Island

Bunaken Island, just one hour by boat off the coast of Indonesia’s North Sulawesi city of Manado, is touted as one of the world’s top-ten dive spots. I also discovered while researching our weekend getaway destination, that, with some exceptions, most “resorts” on Bunaken cater solely to divers (as opposed to land-lubbers or even snorkelers) and as…

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Cycling the Appian Way

My earlier post about the holy month where we currently live got me thinking of my own favorite time of year: Christmas! And though I am not Catholic, I especially love the way Catholics celebrate Christmas until Epiphany, January 6. Because otherwise, it’s kind of a bummer, right? There’s all this to-do leading up to…

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Seven Ways to Embarrass Yourself in Bahasa Indonesia

After living in a foreign place for a while, perhaps one tends to forget how many painful exchanges have been inflicted upon the ever-patient native speaker, all for the sake of acquiring whole wheat flour or topping up one’s mobile phone credit. And for whatever reason, no matter what language you are trying to speak in…

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Ramadan, Balikpapan-style

Balikpapan, the city in Indonesian Borneo, where Sam and I currently live, lies just 88 miles south of the equator. And today, June 21, marks the Winter Solstice for us and the Summer Solstice for those living north of the equator. It also happens to be a few days into the Muslim holy month of Ramadan…

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A day at Manggar Beach, Kalimantan Indonesia (East Borneo)

Manggar Beach lies about 21 kilometers east of downtown Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, and though it isn’t even close to the white sand and crystal blue waters of one’s dreams, it’s got something else to offer that’s completely unique. Try visiting on a Sunday afternoon when bizarro homemade, self-propelled paragliders weave treacherously between picnicking families, girls…

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Kuala Lumpur on a budget: tips, side trips and street food

Kuala Lumpur (“KL” to most) is Malaysia’s shiny, cosmopolitan capital, probably most known for the Petronas Towers (the world’s tallest twin towers) that shoot 451 meters into the sky. This town has about everything a visitor could want: history, activities, universities, museums, a bustling economy, a vibrant nightlife, good public transportation, tons of hospitals (should you…

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