Ternate is a small town on an island of the same name, which was created entirely by the Gamalama volcano. Ternate town used to be the capital of North Maluku, but they moved the capital to Sofifi, a bigger but less developed town on the island of Halmahera. Even though Sofifi is now the capital, most government workers still live in Ternate and many of Sofifi’s government offices are empty. The government provides a speedboat for the government workers, which takes 45 minutes to travel each way, yet the government workers are mostly still too lazy to go to Sofifi. I went to the Govenor’s office and it was almost empty. I talked to one guy who works there and he said that since he moved to Sofifi, he has never seen some of his co-workers.
In Indonesia right now, gem stones have become trendy. North Maluku is famous for this stone, called “Bacan” after Bacan Island, where it was originally found. Everyone in North Maluku talks about this stone, which can cost around 230 USD for a small one. In my opinion, this stone became famous in Indonesia when our last president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, gave Barak Obama one of these gems as a souvenir. Since then, everyone has been hunting for them. For me, it is just a rock and the price is crazy, so I am not really interested. But it was funny and interesting to see this phenomenon in Indonesia. I heard from locals that in Bacan Island, it is compulsory for government workers to wear this gem stone to work. Huh?
Before crossing to Sofifi, I drove around Ternate. Ternate is a small island, very pretty, and so easy to drive around. The island’s main attractions are its plentiful historical relics from the past. When I drove around the Island, I could smell clove everywhere. The volcanic soil is very fertile and easily grows clove, nutmeg, cinnamon and other spices. I stopped at a few places along the way: Fort Kalamata, Fort Gamlamo (Kastela), Batu Angus (Scorched Rocks) and Sulamadha Beach, to name a few. Batu Angus was formed from molten flowing lava when the volcano erupted in 1673.
I only spent half day travelling around Tenate because I heard that, the next day, there would be a ferry from Weda, on Halmahera Island, to Sorong, Papua, which is my next destination. The ferry only runs once a week so I didn’t want to miss it. To leave Ternate Island, I took a ferry to Sofifi, which took about two hours. I then went to a Police office to get my logbook updated and, at 9 pm in the evening, set off for Weda.
From Sofifi to Weda took around two hours. It was dark and there was very little street lightning and so many corners. Also, every time I entered a village, there were so many goats and cows wandering across the road. Sometimes, there were even people sitting in the middle of the road. It was hard to see them from a distance so I had to drive slowly and carefully.
When I finally arrived in Weda, I found that there was no ferry to Sorong until the week after. I was so disappointed. I looked all over Weda for a cheap place to stay, only to find that there had been no water supply in the village for a week because the mains pipe was broken. As there was not much point paying for a hotel if I could not shower, I stayed at the police station instead. At this point I hadn’t showered for two days and I was grumpy because I was so smelly. I hate being smelly. The police in Weda let me stay in one of their jail cells because it was empty. It was my first time staying in a jail and it was an interesting experience.
The next morning, I drove back to Sofifi, found a cheap motel and finally showered.
I spent another four nights in Sofifi, waiting for the ferry to Sorong to arrive in Weda. There was not much happening in Sofifi, so I kept myself amused by driving around different parts of the island every day.
On my last day on Halmahera, I woke up in Sofifi and drove back to Weda. As usual, I stopped at the police station to get my logbook updated. One of the policemen invited me to come to his house while I waited for the ferry to arrive in Weda. I sat in their kitchen, watching their kids playing with the fire. I find watching children playing is amusing. It must be nice to be a child, because you have fewer things to worry about.