A Journey to the Edge of Indonesia: Miangas!

Here we are getting to the first post since last one and half year. I would like to share you –my blog readers– about Indonesia’s northest island, Miangas. We might heard a TV ad jingle couple  years ago said, “Dari Sabang sampai Merauke, dari Miangas sampai Pulau Rote,” and bla bla bla. Those four locations, in fact, are the edge symbol of this nation. Sabang at the west, Merakue at the east, Miangas at the north, and Rote at the south. Minister of Youth and Sport (to be called Menpora) was in a roadshow to visit those four, plus Samarinda added later as the central point of Indonesia. The first one, is Miangas which visited in Hari Kebangkitan Nasional. The other four plan to be visit at the next historical national holidays.


It was Friday evening when I was getting ready to go back to Bandung. Then my department head call me at sudden stated I must get to Manado tomorrow. Not a minute later, he called me again, “There you will go to Miangas, just standby, and Tuesday you must go back to work in Jakarta.” Well, (sigh) I looked for a chair and googling it, and my phone displayed this.



When you search a place and google maps gives you this, what will you do? Of course, zoom out or enlarge the map view. Thus, I got a shock.



A tiny island out of nothing, nowhere else nearby, the north of the north. How on earth I could get there. My supervisors said, “Just go to Manado first, let’s see what you can do from there.” I (and installation team already in Manado) was assigned for keeping the one and only Telkomsel site there alive, so that Menpora and other government officials can communicate easily.


At the night I told my parents, I told my fiancee (well, now she is my wife), and straightly prepare a suitcase. I went out after shalat shubuh and arrived too early at Soekarno-Hatta airport. I was too excited as this is my first solo flight and first flight in 10 years. I didn’t know how to get in to the plane. All I have just a transfer receipt of the ticket payment. I saw a counter and ask to exchange for ticket, and I was right. I saw security check and put my case to the box, and I was right. Then what else to do? I remember ‘check-in’. Oh, there is a display written ‘check-in’ with a queue in front of it and I followed to queue there, and I was right again. Finally, I got to the gate but this time it went wrong, “Sorry, your flight is still three hours away, please wait outside.” A moment before boarding, my team called they will join army ship plan to depart in an hour and ask me to stay in Jakarta. But, that was already boarding and the show must go on.




I arrived at 3.30 pm in Manado and still not know where to go, the team called again.


2:“Where are you?”

1:“Manado, just landing.”

2:“We still in Bitung, we will go at 5. If you want to join, you’d better come here fast.”



I ran out of Sam Ratulangi airport plan to pick a taxi driver came first, ask him to get to Bitung in 1 hour, and pay him as he asked for. Then 150.000 rupiah was deserved to spend as I arrived in Bitung at 4.50. Not a minute I step on the ship, actually a warship, the anchor is released. Many people join the ship, employee of TVRI, Telkom, MetroTV, and local government. After 22 hours of ocean travel time, here I give you Miangas island.







We arrived at 3 pm in Sunday and every person directly rushing to their own job. Including me and my team prepare for establishing a new site to cover increasing traffic there. However, due to poor old VSAT antenna we cannot expand the capacity. There is existing site using solar panel as the supply, but the battery is broken. So, as you expected, the signal come as the sun rises and go as the sunset. It is an advantage that the site located in the backyard of Marinir house. We decided to cover the night blackout by borrow the Marinir house electricity. In a result, civilians thank us as we go back to our camp. They said, “Now the signal come at night, thank you!”


Menpora rides around Miangas

Menpora rides around Miangas

I felt it is the hottest Sunday night since I was sweating until midnight. Yeah, it is only a 3 kilometer island that you can walk around the coastline in hours. It is only 3 hours sleeping time until I come out to the beach and saw Menpora’s ship, bigger warship, has already come. Thus, the event started at Monday morning until afternoon closed by a teleconference between Menpora and other minister (I don’t know who it was). The Menpora was also ride around the island with an army officer. It is 2 pm and all visitor are packed their belongings and ready to go home. While Menpora’s group took a Talaud island route, our small group took a straight route back to Bitung. Menpora himself takes flight from Talaud island to Manado and Jakarta faster than anyone else in both group.




Tuesday noon I arrived in Bitung. Because there is no taxi neither someone will pick me up, I join the secretary of Menpora’s car shamelessly. Not only join their car, I also join their lunch in Ananas Restaurant Manado until 3 pm. I asked for leave as they will go to hotel. I order a taxi by phone to drive me to airport and arrive at 4.30.


I was looking for a counter as soon as I arrived at airport (Go Show).


1:“Hi, I am looking for a flight to Jakarta.”


1:“Yes, today.”

2:“Hmm.. The last flight to Jakarta today is boarding now.”


2:“Let me call the operator…”


After a while, I permitted to board to the last flight. Problem solved? No! I didn’t have cash to buy the ticket for 2,748 million rupiah. Swipe machine also error, it cannot read my bank card. I forced to do cash withdrawal (which my daily withdrawal limit was 2 million rupiah). I have 749 thousand and something hundred in my wallet. Thus, I have the ticket with no cash left in the wallet.


I ran like crazy in Sam Ratulangi airport. I looked at the ticket, apparently the flight schedule is 4.10 but the officer told me it was delayed for 30 minutes until 4.40. I was the last passenger to board. The door is closed just after I step in to the plane. It also moves backward even I didn’t sit steadily yet.




The plane landed at 7 pm and the journey is end. I also went to work on Tuesday as my manager told me to. The only souvenir I got, besides the photos, is a burned skin on my face.


Surabaya, August 31st 2014

Rama Permana

One response to “A Journey to the Edge of Indonesia: Miangas!

  1. Halo, Rama!
    Thanks for sharing! Anyway, saya udah baca ceritanya n jadi penasaran ama pulau ini yg letaknya ternyata lebih dekat k Philippines daripada ke Menado.
    Ada artikel lainnya kah about pulau ini?
    Soalnya ga ada penjelasan mengenai ada apa aja di pulau ini.

    Lalu utk mencapai ke sana sendiri, adakah boat komersil khusus penumpang warga yg ingin PP Sulawesi-Miangas?

    Tidak pasti juga ya kalo harus nunggu ikut kapal pelni gitu ya…

    “It’s not just about the destination, but the journey”


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