“In Indonesia, the east side sparkles brighter.” When my sister told me that, I did not believe it. Not at all. I needed more than five years to see it with my own eyes. That happened when my father ordered me to accompany my nephew back to Ambon, Maluku Province. This is my quick note about that journey.
We took the flight from Surabaya, and transit in Makassar, South Sulawesi. It took 1.5 hours. So did the flight from Makassar to Ambon.
My sister-in-law had waited us by the time we arrived at the Pattimura Airport in Ambon. She was our host during the stay. She lives in Masohi City. We needed about two hours car trip from the airport to the harbor. Then the journey continued by ferry. Actually, we can also take the fast ship, but there would be no room for the car. So, we just chose the slow ferry.
After the ferry, we carried on the landtrip for three hours around the Seram Island. Fortunately, the island’s view saved us from the boredom. Along the island, I saw the mountain in my left and the sea in my right.
Sometimes I saw the houses, schools and small shops, the typical sights in Indonesia. The wild dogs, goats and cows were also everywhere. I think there were more of them than the trucks and the motorcycles.
Masohi City is quiet busy. There is no mall, though. The most prestigious shoping center here is Binaya Market, a traditional market that sells daily needs, such as vegetables, fruits, foods, beverages, shoes, clothes, accessories, cellphones, talk time vouchers, etc. The funny thing is, if we buy the eggs, we don’t buy per kilogrammes, but per egg. Then to buy chilis, we buy it per bundle. I mean, don’t they have a scale?
Smoked tuna in the Kuako Beach
Masohi has at least three popular beaches: Rutah, Kuako and Natsepa. Kuako Beach can be reached 20 minutes from my sister’s house. Because we came there in the weekdays, this beach was deserted. Wonderful. I felt like playing in my private beach.
Unfortunately, the waves were high, discouraging me to go further to the sea. According to the local people, from June to August, the waves and rainfall are always dangerous. Not to mention that the water was a bit muddy. I prefer Natsepa Beach in Ambon. Natsepa is the most gorgeous beach I have ever seen.
My sister brought us a special culinary. It is called ikan asar or smoked tuna. We ate it with ketupat santan (ketupat cooked with coconut milk) and pickles salad (mix of bamboo shoot, legumes and cucumber, with the sauce made from peanut, turmeric, vinegar and salt).
Don’t ask me the taste. Since I was born, I never liked any fishes nor vegetables. But this! I just could not stop eating this.
Culinary tour on Masohi hills
My sister-in-law then brought me to the hill where the Masohi letters stands like the Hollywood letter in California hill. From up here, I can see the view of the sea and mountain at once. It made the decision to go home harder than I thought.
There is Sombahyang Hill where the Christians can pray. And about 50 meters away, there is a unique, yet simple temple for the Hindus.
Again, I was served with special culinary of Masohi. This time papeda bumbu kuning (yellow dressing papeda). Papeda is a culinary from East Indonesia, made from sagu fluor cooked with water, salt and sugar. The dressing is fresh, but since I am not a fan of fish, I just ate papeda and the dressing. It was quiet delicious!
The next dish was roasted fish with colo-colo sauce (mix of union, tomatoes with the shape like small squash, chili slices, oil, water, and soy sauce) that is sour, hot, and sweet. So freshy! Not like another fish meal in Indonesia that is eaten with rice, this roasted fish is eaten with boiled cassava. The cassava is well-cooked and soft, so I really enjoyed eating it.
Another menu is sup sodara (brother soup). It contains meat with the dressing like coto makassar, but clearer, fresher, and softer.
While for snack, I tried lontar cookie (from Dutch term “rontart” means round). This cookie is like milk pie, just bigger and thicker.
I also have tried srikaya cookie (steamed cookie made from coconut milk and egg), salted mud cookie (cookie made from coconut milk and steamed potato) with topping fish shredded, muddy banana (fried banana smeared with sugar and cinnamon powder, and topping milk chocolate and cheese), ashida cookie (a kind of taffy from wheat, brown sugar and cinnamon powder), roasted lemper (steamed sticky rice) filled with fish shredded, lemang (glutinpus rice roasted in bamboo tubes) served with fish shredded, and caramel molen.
Which one is delicious? Well, the fact is, I love them all!
Time to back to Ambon
We went home on Saturday morning at 6.00 WIT (East Indonesia Time). From Masohi to Ambon, still, we had to circle the beautiful Seram Island. Because we left early in the morning, the view was more beautiful.
I could see the silhouette of the mountains through the Seram Island’s thick clouds. After that, the misty covered a half area of the mountains. Holy God, it was even more wonderful! It looks like an ancient Chinese painting.
Getting through the landtrip for three hours, we finally arrived at the harbor. We crossed again by the ferry for 1.5 hours. We decided then to have a breakfast first in Amplas (Ambon Plaza) area. There, while my mother and my aunt hunted for the souvenirs, I took a walk around the shops and The Great Mosque of Ambon.
It was the most wonderful trip I have ever done so far. And I really want to come back to Maluku one day. [Text and photos by Astrid Ayu Septaviani]