I’ll probably have a number of Indonesian blog entries. I spend a bit of time there, and the cuisine and attitude towards dietary issues differs depending on where in the country you are.
I’ve previously posted about travelling in Bali here.
This entry is about my travel to Sulawesi. I have been to Sulawesi a few times. Once for work and twice on diving holidays.
Since for the work trip I was staying at a minesite and therefore not ever actually eating out, I won’t comment on that much. The company who runs the site is Australian, and I was travelling with a company executive. I notified the executive in advance that I had dietary restrictions, because minesites normally have set menus that are scheduled way in advance so that they can buy the appropriate amount of food. They knew I was coming and made arrangements for me. Honestly, I think the chef on site was just happy to have some flexibility, and was happy to come and give me my “special food” during meal times. Or maybe he just wanted to be seen chatting with the pretty blonde woman by all the locals who worked on site? 😉 Yes, I get hit on a lot when I travel for work. I’m young, female, blonde and white – and visiting minesites where pretty much everyone is male. And not everywhere has the same laws regarding sexual harassment as Australia does. It’s fine, you just need a sense of humour – and occasionally a thick skin.
My travel to Sulawesi has always been on Singapore Airlines and their regional subsidiary SilkAir. Basically you fly Singapore Airlines from Australia to Singapore, then get a SilkAir flight from Singapore to Manado (the main airport for North Sulawesi). From there I get driven to wherever I need to go. Bunaken. Lembeh. Minesite.
As I’ve already briefly mentioned the catering on the minesite, I’ll spend the rest of this entry talking about the food at Bunaken and Lembeh.
At both Bunaken and Lembeh, my sole reason for travel is to go scuba diving. While there, I stay at all inclusive dive resorts. Of course there is the option to skip out on meals at the resorts and head into town to do something different, I just don’t normally bother. After a full day of diving, I’m usually too tired to do much other than drag myself to the resort restaurant. In Bunaken, I stayed at a placed called Two Fish Divers Bunaken and in Lembeh at a place called Kungkungan Bay Resort (KBR). The food in Sulawesi is unsurprisingly dominated by fruit, salad and seafood. It’s basically a fishing area (which sucks for the diving, but I digress…), and the climate is ripe for growing tropical fruits.
Two Fish Resort in Bunaken was really limited in terms of the food offerings. They’d been informed of my dietary restrictions in advance and I was told it was fine, that they could cater for it. I don’t think the message got passed on from the reservations office to the kitchen though, because they had no idea when I arrived. I ended up sitting down with the chef at one point and had them tell me what was in the kitchen, and we came up with some meal ideas together since I was going to be there for a week. Not what I expected, but it was actually kind of fun! Still, even though I worked out some suitable meals with the chef, we didn’t really have a lot to work with.
At KBR in Lembeh, it was a bit different. They too were notified in advance of my dietary restrictions, but they’ve got a more extensive menu at KBR as it’s a slightly bigger resort. KBR works on a more a la carte dining method. However they knew I was coming! Which turned out to be a good thing, because most of the regular menu options had egg, meat or seafood. It’s a very “American” style menu actually, so I suspect they get a lot of American divers staying there. There are a couple of vegan options on the menu, and there are a couple of gluten free options on the menu. However I don’t recall there being anything that was both vegan and gluten free (except for the fruit plate at breakfast). But since I had notified them in advance, I didn’t have to eat off the menu. There was one night where they did a bbq buffet thing which was a little more problematic as there was no “special meal” forthcoming that night. I managed to get some grilled vegetables though, so it’s not like I starved.
So my ability to eat vegan and gluten free in Sulawesi was actually pretty good! It needs to be noted that the only reason I think I managed it is because I notified them well in advance. Although at Two Fish in Bunaken that message didn’t seem to have been passed along, the kitchen staff there were clued in enough to be able to sort something out at short notice once I sat down with them and told them what I could and couldn’t eat. Plus, being Indonesia, there’s always fruit…
Breakfast at KBR!