Makassar

Makassar is the capital of South Sulawesi. It was established in the 14th century and by the 16th century was a the main trading centre in Eastern Indonesia, trading largely in spices.

The island of Sulawesi is renowned as being one of the most scenic islands of Indonesia and is the gateway to many other remote islands in Eastern Indonesia such as Raja Ampat.

Pete had some work meetings to attend so we took the opportunity to tag along.

We had a 5.20am flight and even though we were only travelling domestically, you can never predict traffic or the crowd at the airport. We were up at 2.30am and in an Uber at 3am. I tried to pick up the sleeping baby as carefully as possible so he would stay asleep, however as soon as my hands touched him, those big brown eyes sprung open. Luckily he sat quietly in the car and fell back asleep along the way.

We flew out from the brand new terminal which is dedicated to Garuda Airlines. It was a lovely change from the other terminals. There were no crowds, plenty of food and drink options (even at 4am) and everything was fresh and new.

Were headed through security and onto our departure gate. Once we were called to board I prepared myself for the ensuing bus trip to our plane which was no doubt parked back at Terminal 1. I was very pleasantly surprised when we walked straight down the airbridge and onto the plane. A nice change for Jakarta.

Lachie went back to sleep just as we were preparing to take off. He is awake for longer periods of time now so I was hoping he would stay alseep for as long as possible to minimise the time I would need to keep him quiet. He ended up sleeping for about an hour which left another hour or so before we landed. He takes a great interest in the tv at the moment so that kept him entertained for a while.

Turns out Makassar is quite a busy airport. We did 3 laps of a holding pattern before we finally landed. The city and its surrounds are beautiful. Clear blue skies and lots of small islands with coral reefs that were easy to see from the plane. The airport itself was bustling, like most other domestic airports in Indonesia. It was well set out though which was a nice surprise.

We had a hotel transfer so we didn’t have to haggle for a taxi. It took us about 30 minutes to get to the hotel, the Aston. It is a lovely 4 star hotel that overlooks both the city and the ocean. We checked into our room then head out for some sightseeing.

We headed off on to Fort Rotterdam which was only a 10 minute walk from the hotel.

Originally settled by the Portugese, it was early in the 17th century that the Dutch arrived with the intention of gaining control over the spice trade. Their first move was to conquer Fort Makassar which they did in 1667 and rebuilt and renamed Fort Rotterdam.

We signed in and paid a donation fee to enter. As we walked through the front gate we had a local man approach us and in fairly good english offered to ‘show us around’. We declined as it was very hot and we just wanted to have a look around at our own pace. As it turns out we only spent about 30 minutes looking around the entire site. Most of the information was in Bahasa Indonesia and to be honest, there was very little that took our interest. We may have been better off paying for the guide to get a more detailed tour.

As we left, a man approached us and made general conversation with us. He told us as that we should visit the fish markets and the harbour where the traditional Bugis boats come in. He explained that it was the right time to go to the fish markets as the morning catch would be arriving back and offered to take us in his Becak. Both Pete and I thought he was having us on but decided it was something we wanted to do anyway and the price he offered to take us was reasonable. So Pete took Lachie and jumped in with our new friend, while I went with his son. It was quite an experience travelling in the Becak. I give it to the riders, it was hot and we aren’t light people!

15 minutes later we arrived at the fish markets. Wow! I’m so glad we decided to come along. There was a boat that had just arrived back so we went to see what they caught. It’s amazing how many beautiful fish are in the surrounding waters. They had a successful morning and were proud to show off their catch. We walked through the markets and saw all kinds of fish, stingray and squid. Most of the locals were more interested in the ‘bule baby’ and kept touching him!

We jumped back into our rides and headed a few more minutes up the road to the harbour. There were plenty of Bugis boats, most of which were already loaded with flour ready to go. After a quick look around here we headed back to the hotel. The streets of Makassar are so lively. We turned heads the whole way back and had hundreds of greetings by the time we arrived.

The hotel has a sky lounge which we headed up to for drinks and dinner. The view was incredible. It overlooked the port and we had clear skies to witness the sunset. The steak dinner was quite good and the dessert was amazing! We retired early (like we have much of a choice these days ;)) ready for the following day.

The next day started earlier than I would have liked (thanks Lachie). We headed to the restaurant for our included breakfast which was average at best. Plenty of options but most things were cold or tasted ‘old’. After breakfast Pete headed off to a few meetings and Lachie and I headed up to the pool which is on level 19. An indoor pool, spa and sauna with great views. The pool was a little cold ¬†for Lachie but we had a quick dip then headed back down to get ready for our day trip. Pete had to do a reconnaissance about 100kms south of Makassar and so we all jumped in a car at lunchtime. Like most other places in Indonesia, the roads were busy and the average speed is 60km/hr. 100kms took us almost 3 hours.

Along the way, on the side of the road there are mats laid out covered with rice which is left to dry in the sun. I have seen this in many places throughout Indonesia but its always a site to see. The other thing that caught my eye on this trip was the colours. From yellows and greens to purples and reds – houses, fences and mosques were all kinds of colours.

With Lachie in arms or strapped to my chest (yes it’s legal, no we don’t have a car seat here (no regular driver) and yes it is dangerous, no we don’t have any other options) and the rocking motion of the car, he slept for most of the trip down which was great. We managed to locate the 3 sites easily and after a few photos at each, we were back on the road to Makassar. It was late afternoon and seeing as though we had been told about a nice seafood restaurant on the way home, we decided to stop and have an early dinner. The restaurant is set on the beachfront so we sat outside to enjoy the view. We fumbled our way through ordering using the little bit of Indonesian I know and after a short wait dinner arrived. I had the chicken nasi goreng and Pete had sweet and sour chicken and calamari. We both had a fresh lime juice. The food was absolutely delicious. So fresh and the flavours were incredible. One of these days I’ll rebel and try something a little ‘exotic’.

We arrived home about 9pm and headed straight to bed. The following morning Pete had some more meetings so Lachie and I had a quiet morning in the hotel. Breakfast was no better…

I really enjoyed Makassar and would really like to go back and spend more time there and on the surrounding islands.