The clock was just ticking past five o’clock in the morning, the sun did not even rise over the horizon yet, when the four of us – Ela, Ihsan Reza and I – got busy preparing ourselves, went out from our hotel rooms and gathered around at the pier in front of the Hotel Maulana, where we were staying. This morning the four of us, accompanied by Pak Anwar – our guide for this Banda trip – and his companion, will climb to the peak of Gunung Api, which is one of the landmarks of the Banda archipelago which consists of 11 islands. Even though it is not such a significantly tall one, the mountain still presented a big challenge for us – who rarely climb any mountain and with limited stamina – to reach its peak. But it was our intention from the beginning that we must reach the peak of Gunung Api when we visit Banda. So that was it, the spirit and passion had overcome any challenge..
Pulau Banda Besar, also known as Pulau Lonthor – named after the largest village on the island – is one of the three main islands in the Banda archipelago and is the largest of the three. Although it’s not as famous as its neighbour, Banda Neira, Banda Besar is actually a host of lots of interesting things and places to visit, with not less interesting history compared to the neighboring island. Today, the six of us – Ela, Hadi, Ehsan, Reza, Victor and I – accompanied by Pak Anwar our guide during this Banda trip. The hardcore diver group – Nia, Erika, Koh Aliong & Madon – elected to stick to their dive plan. Juergen & Kathy, our new friends from Germany that were also staying at Hotel Maulana, were also interested with our plan and eventually joined us, going across from Banda Neira to explore the Lonthoir island, home of about 2000 inhabitants..
The sun had just risen from the eastern horizon and we had just finished our breakfast onboard the KM Ciremai that departed from Ambon last night, when the Banda archipelago which was our destination on this trip was visible on the horizon. Half past seven in the morning, KM Ciremai already docked at Banda Neira. We’re here, we have reached Banda Neira..!
The activities onboard KM Ciremai soon increased. The porters were walking back and and forth – or rather running – in the corridors and the decks scrambling around offering service to carry the passenger’s luggage off board the ship. It didn’t take long, the passengers and porters filled the corridor along the exit lane and got off the ship. Suitcase? That’s nothing. Some of them brought along queen-sized spring bed, small cabinets, washing machine, even a two-door refrigerator 😀 Meanwhile, the ten of us also started conveying our luggage. Erika, Ihsan & Hadi were waiting at the dock, checking and counting the luggage that have been conveyed down to the dock by the porters. After all were counted, complete, and placed on the handwagon, we all walked to the hotel. Yes, we walked. Maulana hotel, where we would be staying in this trip, is only less than 5 minutes walk away from the harbor…