Extreme Market, Tomohon, Sulawesi, Indonesia

Warning: Post Contains Graphic Images

Tomohon, located in the mountains above Manado in northeastern Sulawesi, is the locals’ respite from the heat. It is also touted as a pretty area where they grow flowers and other garden plants. While there are more flowers and plants in general in Tomohon, it is still somewhat chaotic and not that attractive of a town.

Tomohon is known for their flower festival held the second week of August; the hiking to the nearby volcanoes, lakes and waterfalls and the extreme market where they sell a-typical kinds of meat including dog, bat, rat and snake.

I was planning on staying 2 nights with one full day to explore the area but because of flight issues had to cut my visit short and didn’t get to hike. It was just as well as there were heavy rains in the afternoon.

The temperature is cooler than in Manado and certainly cooler than it was on Siladen Island but with the high humidity I still thought it was stifling and sticky. The Gardenia Country Inn had no air conditioning or even a fan in the room. It was OK for sleeping but during the day it was too warm in the room.

Extreme Market

The Extreme Market looks like a regular Indonesian food and dry goods market with the addition of some specialty meat products such as dog, bats, rats and snakes. I had been warned that it can be difficult for visitors because of the display of live animals and animal cruelty. I saw no live animals at all. The display of cooked dog could be disturbing, charred dog carcasses stiff in rigor mortis stacked on the counter. The display of bats (wings and bodies sold separately) and rats were similar. They use a blow torch to char the carcasses and various cuts of meat right at the market.

The rest of the market is reasonably interesting, though I didn’t see that much unusual. The vendors are friendly and happy, even encouraging, to have you take pictures.

Gardenia Country Inn

Gardenia Country Inn located on a side street a 10-minute drive to the center of town, has pretty manicured grounds with large plantings of various flowers and ponds. The open air restaurant has views of the gardens with the volcano in the background. The chalets ring a green lawn with various flower plantings and have a view of the same volcano.

The simple chalets are comprised of one spacious room with one large bed and one twin, a desk, wardrobe and a tea and instant coffee service with a water boiler and a fridge. You can request milk at the restaurant. The room has a couple of outlets for charging electronics and the Wi-Fi connection was reasonably good. The fastest connection is supposed to be in the library of the complex.

The bathroom is also spacious with plenty of counter space. No soap is provided but there were packets of shampoo.

As I mentioned before there was no air conditioning or a fan in the room. Leslie, the manager, had mentioned a fan for preventing mosquitos, so ask if you want one.

The chalets also have a large front porch that face the lawn and have volcano views. With a soft breeze it is far more pleasant on the porch that in the room.

Gardenia Restaurant

The open air Gardenia Restaurant is a pleasant place to sit and enjoy the garden and mountain views, however, the food isn’t very good. The menu offers both Western and local dishes.  I tried the chicken curry for lunch, boney chicken in a very oily curry sauce. For dinner I ordered a local pork dish. The dish was barely warm, the meat had lots of bones and I found the large cooked leaves in the dish too herbaceous and bitter. The restaurant kitchen is in another building on the property and it can take 45 minutes to an hour to get an order. Dinner is preordered by 5 p.m. for the same evening.

I had a Western breakfast with a fried egg, fruit and white toast with butter and jam. I’m not sure what else was available as I was not shown a menu and they had a very limited buffet. We arrived at 9 a.m. and they first told us breakfast was finished even though the information in the room says breakfast is from 8-10. They then seated us. There were a few buffet items available – white bread, cut fruit and juice with an offer of made to order eggs. Coffee, tea and milk were also available.

Gardenia is a somewhat haphazard operation and doesn’t run a smoothly as it could. The credit card machine wasn’t working and I had to pay in cash, they ran out of beer and my driver to the airport was late. Despite the inconveniences Leslie, the manager, does make an effort to be accommodating and arranged a last minute request, 4 hours’ notice, to go to the airport.

Overall Gardenia Country Inn has a very pleasant setting despite some minor inconveniences.

October 20-21, 2023

2 thoughts

  1. I’ll have a kilo of snake, 2 charred bats and a couple of hog faces! I’ll just need a couple of new recipes – OMG!

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