Manado, Monkeys and Moonshine

Posted by - January 23, 2012 | Category: Asia, Escapes, Indonesia

Manado, Indonesia

“There’s nothing to do here if you don’t dive.”

Manado Indonesa TRAVEX ASEAN Tourism Forum ATF2012  Giant stuffed tarsier

That seemed to be the main complaint about Indonesia’s choice of the North Sulawesi port town of Manado as the site for the ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) 2012.

After the conference ended, many of the attendees skedaddled — and boarded one of the many Bali flights, or just headed on home.

That’s too bad. There’s a lot to do in and around Manado if you’re willing to seek it out. Those that stuck around were rewarded with the following…

Things to Do In Manado, Indonesia

Look to the Lord for Guidance

Things to do in Manado, Indonesia -- Monumen Yesus Memberkati -- Christ Blessing statue, Manado, Indonesia

Christened “one of the…ugliest statues of Jesus” by London’s Daily Mail when it was unveiled, the Christ Blessing monument may not be to everyone’s taste, but it’s definitely worth a look.

It may be the second largest statue of Jesus in Asia, and the fourth largest in the world, but it’s the only Lord a’-Leaping.

Hightail it to the High Seas

Snorkelling trip, Bunaken Island, Indonesia -- things to do in Manado

Even if you don’t dive, that doesn’t mean you should ignore the water.

The area around Manado is stunning for it’s scenery, both above and below the sea. Taking a day trip to Bunaken Island or Siladen Island to snorkel or just laze on the beach is definitely a must for any non-divers.

Wander Through Waruga

Waruga, Minahasan stone sarcophagi - Sawangan, Indonesia -- things to do in Manado

What’s a waruga you ask? They’re the stone sarcophagi that Minihasans used to house their dead. The odd thing is, they placed their dearly beloved in a squatting position.

In former times, these tombs would be out in the front yard among the weeds. That’s until upset neighbours objected to having stone tombs a stone’s throw away. So some years ago, they were rounded up by the local government and carted to the towns of Sawangan, near Manado, and Airmadidi, a bit further afield.

They still seem to be at home among the weeds though.

Fix Yourself a Drink

Making palm wine, Manado, Indonesia -- things to do in Manado

Check out a local delicacy of a different kind by getting a guide to take you to to see how Tuak, or palm wine is made. This “Manado Moonshine” is sweet and cheap, which makes for a very tasty brew.

Get to Know the Locals

Tarsier, Tangkoko Nature Reserve near Manado, Indonesia -- things to do in Manado

Tangkoko Nature Reserve is only a short haul from Manado, and for your effort you’re bound to see this little fella – the tarsier, the world’s smallest primate.

There’s more than monkeys in miniature to see here though: slinks, sloths, macaques, and babirusa (that’s a horned-pig) call Tangkoko home too.

Make no mistake about it, Manado is not Bali. While Bali has pretty, this town has gritty. And although you may need to do some extra legwork, there’s no shortage of things to do in Manado.

Which of these Things to Do In Manado appeals to you?

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56 comments - add one
  1. The Jesus statue has a LOT of movement in it, I quite like that. Meeting the ‘locals’ is sweet too, but as to the palm wine: I think I could give that a pass. But, you are so right, it’s very shortsighted to say: Oh there is nothing to do. Just look closely and you’ll soon find out otherwise.

  2. I’ve never heard of that. Of course I’ve only been to Jakarta and Bali on my multiole trips. I’d have to go for the island trip. The view and water look gorgeous. Spotty internet, yep Indonesia….lol. Enjoy your time. If you head to Bali I have friends who run a small organic farm in a tiny village in east Bali.

  3. Your last point is probably the most important. Albeit you were talking about the animals, but getting to know some local peeps will certainly give you better insight as to what the location has to offer (and probably some secrets too).

    That Jesus statue looks likes he is tripping and falling. Whoops!

    1. I know what you mean. By getting to know some local folks here I going on a rat hunt and I got to meet Miss Indonesia! That probably wouldn’t happen if i just did a tour…

      I think that Jesus is trippy!

  4. Seems we’ve both been lately wandering ’round Indonesia. And yes indeed, I had the same “moonshine” (palm wine) at Lake Toba in Sumatra just last month. The locals were drinking it whilst playing dominoes, and they were serving two versions: sweet and… bleh! Needless to say, I favored the sweet variety. I also have some pics of folks making it at the weekly market. I love to try local brews.

      1. Vietnam? 3 months here now and I swear, every blessed moment is a singular adventure. Just survived my first “Tet” and starting a 6 mo. teaching gig next Saturday (3 classes, just Sat. and Sun. meets) here in HCMC. Tune in to for the latest (like… my first Nibblin’ Fish foot massage!)

  5. Wow – some really interesting above sea level stuff here. That statue is just plain creepy. The dead in squatting position is also interesting – is there a reason for that?

    1. Excellent question! It’s meant to represent that the person would be returned to God in the same position they were delivered to earth — in the fetal position.

  6. It sort of look like Jesus is attached to a missile launcher. Maybe it’s just me.

    Anyway – the moonshine. I’m all over that. I would be there all day drinking and learning how the process is done and then I would forget everything by morning and have to come back and learn it all again – the hard way!

    Nice Post!

  7. I guess I’m a bit biased – since I’m a diver I don’t really mind places where most of the things to do involve diving. I do love the small things though that you can do on your downtime!

  8. Looks like there are plenty of things to do there. I guess you probably already know that I know Bali pretty well. I have also been to Jakarta and Jogjakarta but never any of the other islands or places like this (or the place where you went rat-hunting). Indonesia is so diverse and beautiful but kind of raw at the same time. That Jesus really is hideous.

  9. We loved Manado. Spent 200k rupiah for a room in a hotel with an infinity pool, but then we’d been in central Sulawesi a while. Did you get out to see the tarsiers and dolphins? And captikus is the work of the devil.

  10. OMG. I’m from Indonesia, i once visit Manado. i live in the other side of Indonesia. i’m so happy i could visit Bunaken. and Tondano Lake. but, i feel a little sad when i read the comments here about the statue. but it’s ok, everyone has their opinion


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