Monday, November 17, 2008

Travel Story from Rambunan Village

by Charles Roring

My tour in Sonder villages was considered complete if I had traveled to Rambunan village. Many travel agency haven't provided tour package to this region. It is around one hour traveling by car from Manado, the capital city of North Sulawesi Province of Indonesia. After two days staying in Sonder, I continued my trip to that village. It is a special village that produce sugar from palm trees. Palm sugar is an important ingredients in South East Asian cuisines. Palm sugar is made by heating the sweet sap that has been taken from Aren palm trees usually in early the morning and at around 5.00 p.m. in the afternoon.

Aren palm tree (pohon seho) in Rambunan village of Minahasa

If you plan to travel Rambunan village, ask your tour and travel agency to arrange for a special trip to that village. The best time to visit it is during full moon period. At the time the Aren trees produce a lot of sap. The sap is sometimes fermented and distilled by farmers to make CapTikus. Cap Tikus or Sopi contains high percentage of alcohol. So, if you travel by riding motorcycle or driving a rented car, don't drink too much or you won't be able to return to your hotel.

Palm sugar from Rambunan is sold to local traditional markets in Minahasan towns such as Sonder, Kawangkoan and Tomohon. Some inter-island traders export it to West Papua, Maluku and even Eas Kalimantan. The quality of palm sugar from Rambunan village is the best in the world. The Minahasan people living in Rambunan have been making palm sugar from generations to generations. Although the process is done manually, the sugar they produce is always consistent with it taste. In addition, palm sugar from Rambunan village contains pure brown crystal. I recommend any travelers to buy some so that they use it later when drinking coffee or tea with dodol cake whose main ingredients are rice and palm sugar.

Dodol cake from Sonder Minahasa. Photo by Charles Roring

Similar to many other Minahasan villages, Rambunan village depends on agricultural commodities such as rice, clove, fruits, vanilla and corn. I like traveling to the villagers gardens and have parties with them there. Budget travelers can even arrange two or three days staying in such village to experience more about the village life and customs of the local people.

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