Bira: a quiet getaway (16-18.02.2012)

After visiting Tana Toraja, we had a couple of days before we had to take the flight from Makassar to Bali. Since Sulawesi is such a huge island (the 11th largest island in the world!) and Makassar is in the South, we didn’t even consider going North, even though we would have loved to go to the Togean Islands and further to Manado and Bunaken – one of the top diving spots in the world!

Big piece of advice here: going from A to B in Sulawesi takes time, the reasons being bad road conditions and the unpractical shape of the island. So if you want to visit all the touristic spots of Sulawesi including Tana Toraja, the Togeans and the area around Manado, we would recommend you to stay at least two weeks, three weeks being the perfect amount of time if you want to visit these places at a relaxed pace.

We asked other tourists for a nice place to visit not too far from Makassar, and a Danish guy whom we met in Rantepao recommended us to go to Bira. ”It is a quiet, unpretentious fishing town, but it has a nice beach and a very pleasant atmosphere”, he said Bira was only 4-5 hours from Makassar, so we decided to give it a try!

Bira: the village and the bay seen from our guesthouse

After a nightmare in the South bus station of Makassar because of the “bemo mafias” (we will tell it in another post), we could finally take a bus from Makassar to Bira around 11 a.m. The bus was a local bus, which stopped at every single village on the way (Bira was the last stop), so the trip seemed to take forever. When we finally arrived it was the early evening and we have time enough to check in in the guesthouse and go to the beach to have a refreshing swim there.

Colorful access to the beach

The transparent waters of Bira

Bira is a very quiet village with one main street and houses at each side. There are two beaches: one at each side of the main street. There was not so much going on in the village during the two days that our visit lasted. The “action” was mostly at the beach, where young people and families congregated to play by the water.

Bira beach

The beach closer at the end of the village was like a dream: a small bay with white sand and transparent, quiet water. A few souvenirs stalls on the sand – which were closed in rainy season- and a hotel with the shape of a boat at the far end of the beach.

Fishermen boats near the shore

The Indonesian teenagers were having a great time at the beach and they all bathed (Asian style, that is, with their clothes on) and took pictures of one another. We were the only tourists and it was a bit uncomfortable for us to be the total center of attention, especially that Sonso was the focus of attention of all the boy teenagers on the beach, who didn’t stop looking at her even though she kept her dress on. A group of boys asked if they could take a picture together with Sonso and we said ok, but we didn’t like the fact that many other boys were snapping pictures of her with their telephones or small cameras without even asking! We would say that this and the fact that the “banana boat” man didn’t allow us to swim too far from the shore because it was his domain were the only annoying events in an otherwise perfect setting.

Local Indonesians having fun in the water

On the beach at the other end of the village you could observe the main activity by which the area is famous for: the hand made manufacture of traditional wooden boats.

Boat manufacture in Bira

Following the recommendation of the Danish guy that we met in Rantepao, we stayed at Sunshine guesthouse and we can highly recommend it! The rooms are simple, but nice, and the bathrooms are shared, but the common balcony with chaise longs overlooking the sea makes up for it. The guesthouse is also located on a hill, so that you can benefit from fresh breeze.

The fantastic breezy terrace with chaise longs of Sunshine Guesthouse

The friendly owner of the guesthouse, recommended us two places to hang out and have some food: Salassa and a recently open café also by the road but closer to our guesthouse and the beach than Salassa. Sorry, we are not able to remember the name of this café, even though we loved it, but let’s call it “the goat café” (I’ll explain that later). The first night for dinner we tried Salassa, where we indeed had a really nice dinner consisting on delicious fish cocked in garlic sauce. There we met a friendly American called Ron who apparently loves Sulawesi and Indonesia and spend long periods here.

The second day the weather turned out to be rainy for most of the day and we just relaxed, read and used our time to organize different trips such as the trip to Borneo and the trip to Japan. It was good to once in a while get some time to organize our trip! We spent most of the day at “the goat café”, where the friendly owner let us use his internet connection and where his wife prepared really nice food for us. We also met a Portuguese surfer who gave us valuable advice on what to visit in Indonesia. We really enjoyed our time in “the goat café” and our chats with the owner. In fact, we liked him so much that Iván gave him his guitar (the one who bought in Burma) because it was becoming exhausting to travel with so much stuff and we thought he’d like it, as it happened!

By the way, this is the reason why we call it “the goat café”:

“The goat café” in Bira

No need for words…

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by nini on 11/09/2012 at 6:37 pm

    hi there,
    The goat cafe is warung bamboo but goat cafe sounds cool.

    Reply

    • Thanks a lot! We couldn’t remember the name or find it in the Internet, but now we know…even though we still like how the “goat café” sounds, hehehe

      Reply

  2. Posted by José Luis on 19/09/2012 at 5:22 am

    Yeah… the happiness face of the guesthouse owner is great!

    I´m eager to read about the “mafias”…

    Reply

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