‘Selamat Datang’ ! Welcome !
To the island of Sulawesi and host of our International Writers’ festival.
Imagine clear blue skies, fluffy white clouds, tall majestic palm trees, belting afternoon sunrays, lively city life and men in colourful batik shirts and women in elegant kebayas and head scarves!
Upon arrival we are greeted by the gigantic, towering statue of the former Sultan of Gowa, Hasanuddin.
Life is more leisurely here and traffic much tamer than in Jakarta, the becak – small cycle driven carriages stand around every street corners to cycle passengers to local destinations.
All writers are housed in the same hotel and duly assigned individual liaison officers: mine –‘Pen’ becomes my wonderful shadow! My translator and editor join me in the hotel we are fast working on the design of my new novel- ‘ Revolt’ – ‘Perlawanan’ in Bahasa Indonesia.
First place I visit is the famous Losari Beach – and relish the warmish cool evening breeze from the Sulawesi sea and the jovial family atmosphere.
The sound of ‘Adhan’ beckons us in to the beautiful modern mosque, perched on the seafront– to offer our evening prayers. In the prayer hall I am introduced as the famous author of ‘Perempuan Suci’ to a giggling and excited family group of women eager to pose for photos with me.
This photo of Losari Beach is courtesy of TripAdvisor
A top restaurant over a sumptuous dinner becomes the meeting place for all the fellow writers local (from many Indonesian islands) and international – from Malaysia, UK, Hungary, Australia, Singapore and Greece. In particular I am delighted to meet Prof. Dr. Sapardi Djoko Damono, one of the leading poets of Indonesia and his lovely wife. Our next destination – Fort Rotterdam- for the opening ceremony!