Travel Journal: Makassar Trip (Part 3)

Travel Journal: Makassar Trip (Part 3)

So here comes the day, that we have been waiting for, the day we finally head for Tanjung Bira. Woohoo! And it’s about time where we head out of Makassar, where the abundance of good food makes it seem impossible to have less than six meals in a day. Good God.

The road to Tanjung Bira (Cape Bira)

The road from Makassar to Bira has recently been repaved, so driving there should take about 4 to 6 hours, depending on the way your driver drive. Despite his one fake eye, our driver/guide/tour operator drove really well, so it took us roughly 4,5 hours.

Along the road, we passed Gowa, Janeponto, and Bantaeng. The prettiest scenery was when we passed  open pastures with grazing skinny horses in Janeponto, but unfortunately there were so many horses coto or soup restaurants in every meters or so too, pretty gruesome idea. 

First sight of the ocean, Bulukumba

After miles of rice paddies, cute houses (“quaint” said pade), and lots of cows, very cool terraces of corn fields, mountains, on our right side we finally had a sight of what seems to be the…SEA! We’re there!! Oh, wait. false alarm… 1 hour away from where you start to find sea, now there’s Tanjung Bira. When it hits 4th hour and you haven’t been to the sea in almost .. too long to remember, a ride to the coast can never be more excruciating.

An hour later, we finally arrived at Bulukumba, and finally, Bara Beach, at around 2. The Hotel that we stayed in, Bara Beach hotel and resort, was unfortunately not quite like the picture  in their website. The garden (if you want to call it) looked like it was once swept by a hurricane and never recovered. The room was spacious, and the bathroom was clean and pleasant. But as the hotel’s caretaker explained to us a few times, as electricity to the area was nothing but stable, the ac went on and off all the friggin time. Literally, every other 3 minutes or so.  It’s so  pointless to have it on that we mostly had it off, despite the scorching heat. In two out of three rooms that we had paid, the water stopped running before we even had a chance to rinse after a quick swim.

Frustrated, we emailed the owner, Stefan, a German who was coincidently was going back home for holiday (I think), about our sorrows. Fortunately his workers, receptionists/caretakers cum plumbers, were quick to asses the problem and we got water that night. Although the AC issue was helpless and so they finally lent us electric fans for our rooms. 
Despite the small woes, the actual Bara Beach, is probably one of the most idyllic and serene I have ever seen in so long, if not ever. The beach in front of our hotel, especially, is a coral-free beach, so you can swim for probably as far as you want (although I can’t really swim, so you can not take my words for how safe it would be), and the sand is unbelievably soft.

Probably the fact that there are not too many beach-front accommodation other than ours make the beach really clean. Other than Bara Beach Hotel, there’s the Mangga Lodge (our first option but were full. Also owned by a German), and a surf operator/hotel.  


The cleaner side of our Hotel, Bara Beach Hotel
Awesome beach-front view

Lunch at the Pier

After we got our stuff unloaded (mostly chips, and un-nourishing snacks, occasionally liquor) we braved our way  back out through the bumpy 30 minutes ride on Jl. Poros Bara for our long-delayed lunch at the Pier. At this weird time of day, there were not that many options for a meal. Our driver/guide, Andi, took us to a little hut by the Bulukumba Pier. Direction: Despite being the only restaurant there, go look for the BNI Bank ATM that is right next to it (which is also I think the only one in the village as well).
Mind you, this place isn’t the prettiest looking thing around, and service is really slow. But their Dabu-Dabu fish was one of the best I’ve had. The lady owner/chef of the place only cooked in on a Happy Call pan, so the texture of the fish was not the greatest but you just can’t go wrong ordering a fish in South Sulawesi. It’s all just really good.
Ikan Bakar Dabu – Dabu (Grilled Fish with Dabu – Dabu Salsa) Bulukumba Style
After our tummy full of food and out trunk full of supplies we bought from nearby store, we head to Tanah Beru which turned out to be not too far but again, because of the road or lack thereof, it felt like we were roller coasting our way to hell.

Tanah Beru, the Pinisi Making Village

On our way to Tanah Beru, we passed the Panrang Luhuk beach which seemed like used to be the center of tourist accommodation in Bulu Kumba, before it shifts to Bara. Today what’s left is almost abandoned beach front lodges, and some pinisi boats being made. 

Tanah Beru Village is where the seafaring locals have been making Pinisi ships for hundreds of years. Pinisi is a traditional double masthead type of shiporiginally and only made by Bulukumba people. It was originally used for transportation, cargo, fishing but now have been more frequently utilized for cruises or liveaboard trips. 

Due of the scarcity of the hardwood used in its construction,  Kayu Besi or Besi wood, price of one boat has gone up astronomically. From one of the boat traders we met, he mentioned one boat can go as much as 200.000 USD. Most of the owners now, he said, are the bule or westerners that also owns lodges or hotels in the area, as they also offer thousands dollar dive cruises to as far as Raja Ampat, Papua. 

Pinisi construction, Tanah Beru


Belly of a Pinisi Ship


These huge pinisi ships used to rely on sail for power, but now has been replaced with engines


Workers installing ship’s rotor blades


Bunga in front of the piles of wood from the ship making process


I see lots of goats


Some of the woods used for the pinisi ship construction

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