I've set a personal goal in this year to step on my foot in eastern part of Indonesia, deciding to finish my exploration in my own beloved country this year, before traveling to other countries. After almost three years exploration (I'm still in college so not the whole three years), I've been wandering to the highest volcano until the smallest island in Sumatera until Sulawesi. Only east part left which are Moluccas and Papua. I limited the destination or else I won't be able to go abroad (Indonesia is too huge), considering that I've finished my own-made quest for this year hence, I came up with a perfect idea but contrarily not executed well.
I planned an epic journey starting from Makassar-Manado then continued by pelni ship to Ternate-Sorong-Ambon. I bought a one way ticket flight from Makassar to Manado, which I got for only Rp 240,000 (AirAsia) and started my travel to the east in July, I was in Makassar at that time so I planned to travel before I went back to Jakarta. I did what other travelers also normally do which is researching about the destination. I surfed to google, read informations, until I realized, I made a huge mistake. July-August is absolutely not a good time to travel the east. Weather is unfriendly on July-August, wettest months, plus big waves. In a nutshell, I cancelled everything.
Lesson number 1. Check the weather before booking any trips!
I was pretty upset at that time. I kept thinking how could I go to the east from Jakarta without spending much money. I had limited budget, I've requested sponsorship to some companies but it seems my journey and what I offered is not appealing, maybe not too benefit for them. I racked one's brain and suddenly I remembered that I still had a promotion ticket which I bought a year ago for Rp 10,000 (AirAsia) Jakarta-Surabaya and Surabaya-Bali on 25th September. Quickly, I created a brand new plan. Again I was stuck in the middle of the plan. First plan was Makassar to Manado passing my on-list destinations such as Tentena, Togean, and Gorontalo, then continued by pelni ship to Ternate-Sorong (Raja Ampat)-Ambon (Ora Beach) then back to Makassar or Jakarta from Ambon. Apparently, I had to be in Raja Ampat on 12 October to join a trip. If I followed that plan, I wouldn't be able to reach Sorong on that particular date. Second plan was Bali to Ambon first (opposite of the first plan). I was so surprised looking at the flight price, so expensive! I had to choose either taking bus from Bali to Surabaya and catch direct flight to Ambon, or flying to Makassar then flying to Ambon. I was so frustrated, both flight cost me around Rp 1,000,000, almost the same price for a direct flight from Jakarta to Ambon! I picked the second option, bought a ticket to Makassar (Rp 400,000) by AirAsia, with a reason to meet my friends in Makassar. I didn't buy the ticket to Ambon at the same time, I postponed to buy the ticket few days later when I was surprised again, not because the price is insanely expensive but it's cheaper! Another Rp 400,000 to Ambon by Sriwijaya Air. Hurray, at least I saved some money!
Lesson number 2. Sometimes (not everytime) flight is cheaper when it comes approaching the date.
Problems kept coming during this trip. I guess I wasn't fully prepared. Pelni ship to Sorong only departed on 4th October (I just reached Ambon) and 18th October, which meant I'd miss the trip on 12th October. Why should I care about the trip? The reason was I helped the organizer to find people then I could join the trip for free. If I didn't join the trip, I got the cash, but I really felt guilty to some friends that I asked to join. I was so stressful. I checked the flight around Rp 700,000 to Sorong by Wings Air. I did the same thing as before, postponed to buy it until I got the cheaper price around Rp 500,000. Considering many things, in the end I bought the flight and never use pelni ship due to the unmatched schedule.
I joined the worst trip ever in my life by this irresponsible, dishonest, and disrespectful provider. Sadly, it's the trip to Raja Ampat, my dream destination! Not only me, but the rest of the members were also disappointed. I couldn't freely enjoy the trip to Raja Ampat. The price given with the facilities given were not worthy. In those 5 days, we ate instant noodle every morning and grilled chicken every night. One room was occupied by four people. The guide refused to reexplain when we asked about the destination, worse, he shouted at a guest when that guest complained about something.
Lesson number 4. Choose wisely which trip organizer/tour provider you go with.
I ran out my money, so I decided to fly back to Makassar. I didn't think my money is enough to travel Ternate then down to Makassar. I've spent around Rp 4 millions overall. Many lesson's I had learned during this trip. I should have prepared and search everything before I go, in fact I chose to "go show". What a complete mess. Still, I was very grateful looking at the amazing exotic eastern Indonesia. I can now relieve going abroad. Togean and NTT still my wishlist for next year, so wish me luck, and happy traveling! Problems make you better!
Travaled in 25 September-16 October 2013