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They came again, for the 3rd time
Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) to Bangkok (Thailand), November 2012

Finally the moment was there; Edwin’s parents came for the third time to Asia to visit us. The first time was to Malaysia, the second time to the Philippines and this time our travel destination was Indonesia. We have thought a moment about going to the typical travel destinations in Indonesia like Java and Bali, but this thought didn’t hold long. We eventually decided that we wanted to give them a more authentic Indonesian experience, so we took them to the Moluccas, in our opinion one of the most rewarding travel destinations in the Indonesian Archipelago.

The holiday for Edwin’s parents started in the Malaysian capital city Kuala Lumpur, where we picked them up from the airport. Kuala Lumpur is a great city to start any visit to south eastern Asia. We took some days to rest from the long flight and to get used to the different climate and food. From Kuala Lumpur we flew in around three hours to Surabaya, one of Indonesia’s largest cities and a great alternative for Jakarta as a starting point to Indonesia. Surabaya has some great sights and is perfectly located in East Java, close to other sights such as the Bromo Volcano and cities as Solo and Yogyakarta. Our stay in Surabaya was only short, but long enough to get a good impression of the city. Especially China town and the Arabic quarter are nice to visit. From Surabaya we flew with Lion Air to Ambon, the main economic and political centre of the Moluccas. After arrival, we immediately took a taxi to the Tulehu harbour, from where we crossed to Seram, the biggest island of the Moluccas. We never visited Seram before, so this was a good moment to undo this mistake. Seram is beautiful and worth every minute of your visit. We spent three days on the very remote resort called Ora Beach. Don’t expect a three-star resort, but the setting is unrivalled. The resort can only be visited by boat and a stay in one of the on-stilts built bungalows over coral-loaded waters is an once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The perfect environment of Ora Beach Resort on Seram

After three days of rest, we travelled back to Ambon City where we initially spent one day in anticipation of our flight to the Banda Islands. Ambon City is often skirted around by many travellers because of its bad image. Ambon was the scene of heavy fighting in 1999-2002 when many parts of the Moluccas were hit by civil war. But the city is quiet again and for travellers not a threat anymore. To the contrary, the cosmopolitan city is friendly and tropical and while it may me absent of any interesting sights, we always find a stay in the city very worthwhile. The flight to the Banda Islands was spectacular. The small propeller plane brought us in 60 minutes to these great little islands and the views on the island from the air are spectacular. This was our third visit to the Banda Islands, and in our opinion these islands are one of the last ‘undiscovered’ top travel destinations in the country. The islands have a lot to offer. The history is interesting, the setting of the islands is picturesque and the snorkelling at some of the outlaying islands is world-class. This is the place where we saw the Manta Rays for the first time, just snorkelling in front of the beach on Hatta Island! We heard from several experienced snorkelers and divers, that the Banda Islands is still a much underrated snorkel and diving destination.

After spending a week on the Banda Islands, we took a Pelni ship to Tual on the Kei Islands. Travelling by Pelni boat is a must-do experience in Indonesia. It is a great way to experience how a significant part of the Indonesians travel to and from one of the many islands in their archipelago. The huge ships are fully loaded with people and goods, but as a traveller you can book one of the cabins to prevent being part of the chaos. Even if you are not travelling by Pelni boat, it is still a great experience to visit a harbour when one of the ships is due to arrive. In that case you will witness all the activities that are related to the arrival and departure of one of the life-lines of many small islands in Indonesia (see also the video impression about the Ciremai arriving in Banda). Our Pelni ship, the Ciremai, was exactly 12 hours late. The journey to the Kei Islands took eleven hours. Also the Kei Islands is a destination worthwhile a visit. Not many travellers make it this far, and if you decide to come, you probably have one of the best white sand beaches in Indonesia completely for yourself. You sometimes have to share the place with some locals, who come to the beach in the weekend to enjoy themselves with Karaoke or making pictures of themselves and of you of course. And if you are lucky, the islands might treat you on one of the best sunsets you have ever seen.

Posing in front of Fort Amsterdam on Ambon
After enjoying the beautiful beaches for a couple of days, we flew back to Ambon, where we spent another four days. We had dinner at some local friends and we rented a car to explore Ambon Island with them. Fort Amsterdam and Natsepa beach were our main destinations for that day. In our opinion, every visit to Ambon should be concluded with a Rujak at Natsepa Beach. Rujak is a tremendous local spicy fruit salad with a delicious peanut sauce. Our visit to the Moluccas was a great success and completely satisfied we took the flight back to Java. This time we headed for Jakarta. Jakarta is big, chaotic and polluted, but for those with a strong will, it is still possible to find some interesting areas in this metropolis. Especially the area around Kota Station is worth a visit.

In less than four hours we flew to Thailand’s capital city Bangkok. This was the final destination before Edwin’s parents flew back home. Bangkok is one of the most enjoyable big cities in Asia and has a lot to offer. If you are looking for history, food, great sights or even women, everything can be found in this typical Asian city. We dipped in this city for five days after which we said goodbye to Edwin’s parents. It was hard to see them leaving again. From that moment on, normal life returned for us. And that life will be different soon. After spending several years now in South East Asia, we are heading in a new direction. The Gulf States are our next destination, begiing with a visit to Kuwait. How different will it be!

So romantic .....
Arrival with NBA Airlines on Banda
Friendly market guys in Surabaya
Playing with the children on Banda Besar
A white beach on Kei Islands
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