The "Phinisi", the famous sailing boat of the Bugis was a landmark of Bulukumba. We would later be seeing many real Phinisi boats as we approached Bira, some under construction.
Apart from the Phinis, Acid captured this Balai Nikah, a prominent building in this town. I had not seen such buildings in my travels, both in Malaysia and also in other parts of Indonesia. Perhaps this was found only in Sulawesi. Anyway, I had NO INTEREST to find out !!
We left Bulukumba after several photo shoots but we still could not find a makan shop until we were at the outskirt of Bulukumba. The shop only had Mee Bakso. Funny enough, in my frequent tours in Indonesia, I had never tasted Mee Bakso. This time, I had no choice. Acid seemed to enjoy his. I somehow could not manage well. And I was not brave enough to improve my taste with the extras - kicaps and the sauces !
We passed the coastal areas at some spots and stopped to capture the brightly painted boats.
Heading for Bira, we took a wrong turning when we came to a fork in the junction. Further up, where we stopped for some mangoes, we were told that there was a shorter road to Bira. But since we were so far past the junction, we decided to proceed on. We would be longer by 10kms.
Acid took my picture, cycling amongst the vehicles. The red van up ahead is their taxi and there were plenty of these vans. One had to exercise caution because these taxis would stop at very short notice to pick or drop passengers. They pose no real danger as these taxis were not driven fast but they could be a nuisance in heavy traffic. Well, that puts the fun in cycling in this region.
THE STONE AGE
As we proceeded on, we came to a stretch of road-side activities that we just had to stop, to take pictures and to observe the activities.
On one side of the road, there were heaps and heaps of stones and mounds and mounds of earth. A group of workers were sieving the mounds of earth which contained tons of stones. These stones were later crushed to pieces, manually with hammers.
It was purely labor intensive. Adults, both men and women and children partake in this work. They did this day in and day out. Judging by the huge piles of stones, they could continue with this activity for a long time. Machines would have efficiently hasten the productivity. But what do you do with all the men and women that needed work to feed the family? How much would they take home at the end of this back-breaking day?
Is this a temporary shelter or the place this man called home? We didn't ask. And these are the kind of memories that often etched long within me, and forever thankful for what I have.
We moved on. Another "phinisi" model at a junction to pose for. We were about 15kms to Bira.
About 5 kms from Bira, there was roughly 1 km of great downhill and we could see the blue sea below, sometimes on the left and sometimes in front, as we free-wheeled down the curves and downhill. Nearing the end of the road, we could now see a real phinisi sailing boat in the calm sea.
Reaching the end of the road in Bira, we started looking for accomodation. We almost settled for a hotel overlooking the sea but Acid wanted more. We heard about a small "penginapan" in the fishing village which we passed 1 km earlier. While I was talking to Pak Arshad, the owner of Bira Beach Hotel while savoring my cold Coke, Acid went searching in the village Kg Pangrangluhu for the accomodation.
It was a great find. We occupied the front house for the next 2 days. The house behind was rented on a long term lease by a German couple. They had been in and out for the last 10 years!
For IR125,000 (RM45) a night, and the crystal clear water literally at the door step, we would be in danger of overstaying.
Welcome to Bira. We'll soak in the ambience tonight, dinner at the terrace and the sunrise of tomorrow.