Saturday 4 December: Today it's Christmas in Manado, well actually it's St Nikolas Day eve, but this is when local folk (Indonesia's a former Dutch colony) swap gifts and celebrate. So it's a public holiday with lots of carol singing and good will, cars decorated with merry spray-can slogans trailing ribbons of tinsel. Many people in the street say Hello Mister, shaking my hand and wishing me merry Christmas. This seems particularly strange in a Muslim country.
Monday 6: I'm told that there are no cabins on the ferry to Ternate, it's dormitory only. Okay, I can live with that. So, as I climb aboard the small KM Theodora, via three gangplanks and two other ships, I'm surprised to be offered a basic cabin on the upper deck. I take it, this may be a rough 16-hours, it's been stormy here for the last two days but I do need to get to Ternate to link myself in with onward monthly sailings of Pelni ships. Stranded for a month on a tropical island does have an appeal, but not if your visa has expired. The Theodora's a shallow-hulled rust tub with no litter bins - everything goes over the side. Worse still, there are no life-jackets - but I sleep soundly.
Tuesday 7: In the morning when I awake we can see the volcanic cones of both Ternate and the neighbouring island of Tidore. Together these two rival Sultanates were part of the original Spice Islands, growing, highly prized, nutmeg and other spices. The blue sea glistens in the morning sun like a Roman mosaic splashed with water, it's a slick of multicoloured plastic garbage swaying back and forth in the tide. Despite my guidebook's recommendation, apart from the impressive modern mosque jutting out into the sea and the views of Tidore, Ternate is a disappointment. My hotel's rules clearly state "No illegal goods - drugs, drinking alcohol, firearms or explosives". Not a beer in sight.
Photos of Ternate with views of Tidore.