Patience is key in Indonesia! Waking before the sun to catch our taxi to Ampana was only the beginning of a very long journey. The taxi arrived approximately two hours after it was supposed to and we soon discovered that the taxi service was also a mail service! What we thought would be an eight-hour stroll through the mountain turned into a thirteen-hour expedition due to the hundreds of drop-offs we made along the way. Not to mention, high ways are nonexistent so taking the back roads was our only option. With a suspension-less van driving on narrow roads full of pot holes and loose gravel; forget napping, head propped against the window; thud, thud, thud. Being a motion sickness prone person, not vomiting was my main focus therefore enjoying the scenery was practically impossible. Luckily, after that treacherous experience, we finally approached our destination, Marina Cottages, fingers crossed that a room was available for us. After receiving great news, we immediately hit the hay Zzz Zzz Zzz.
But trust me, the journey was worth what we encountered next! This last minute, unexpected, and unplanned adventure was our greatest idea yet! The phrase “everything happens for a reason” certainly holds true. Our luck that week was quite shocking. We arrived at the island with no reservations at any of the resorts, knowing it was high season, we still took the risk. Luckily, we found a room at Poyalisa but could only stay one night. We quickly discovered that although Poyalisa was an island surrounded by spectacular snorkeling areas, the disorganization of the resort was more stressful than it was relaxing. So leaving Poyalisa was a must, but searching for an open resort was a struggle. Fortunately, we voyaged to Poki Poki, a small oasis nearly 15 minutes from our last resort which felt like home the moment we arrived. The manager, David, was overwhelming friendly and rather delightful, understanding our situation he did everything in his power to give us a place to stay. The next morning we awoke to a note delivered by boat in which was written the best news yet, he made room for us on his island!
At first glance, it seems as though living in a luxury such as this is extremely unaffordable but actually you get a long of bang for your buck! Each room begins at 200,000 Rp per person (approximately $15), but the cost for a superior room (one that can accommodate families) is only 50,000 Rp ($4) per person more! However, that price includes an unlimited amount of drinking water, tea, and coffee as well as breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Extra expenses not included are sailing to and from islands, snorkeling equipment, dive courses, alcohol, soda pop, and snacks. Although the three course meals vary slightly, here is a basic outline of what is served:
- Breakfast – fresh papaya, delicious bananas, delectable crepes or pancakes, flavorful eggs, moist bread with your choice of strawberry jam or chocolate spread.
- Lunch – all you can eat white rice, a variety of vegetables including but not limited to green beans, pumpkin, cabbage, potatoes, and spinach, fluffy scrambled eggs, and barbecued, smoky, fresh fish.
- Dinner – delightful noodles usually served with fresh tomato sauce, warm pumpkin soup, large lobsters are available for a small additional cost, an array of flavorful vegetables, and of course, the ever so delicious fresh fish.
Since internet is not available and signal is nonexistent, the dinners are intimate and focused on togetherness. Sitting around the same dinner table, asking acquaintances to pass the rice, is a comforting way to make new friends, learn new languages, and be inspired by the lives of others.
A guided trek through the jungle was a great way to end our Togean Island journey. Crawling through bat filled caves, learning how palm sugar is made and how delicious it tastes, and touching a chocolate tree for the first time was the cherry on top of it all!
Such a worthwhile side trip after several weeks of volunteering at the eco-tree house in Masamba!
Much love and happy travels,