Designer clothing, handbags, pumps, jewelries, all those wallet-thinning ornaments, that’s the definition of beauty people use nowadays. In time, they had forgotten the small beauty the world’s got to offer. But there are things most people might not realize. It doesn’t need to be expensive nor fancy. Some beauty comes in simpler, much smaller form that one must try hard enough to truly recognize. Find it and you’ll see the world as fascinating as it can be.
And for me, that thing is Bunaken, a small unnoticeable island where beauty knows no boundaries. Reigned at Sulawesi, part of Manado, Indonesia, Bunaken was one of the place where time didn’t seem to tick. Where I felt like the sky wasn’t the limit, that this life was worth living for. From the minute an inch of my flip-flop touched the smooth white sand of Bunaken, all the way to my last, it was an experience I would live twice for.
My breathtaking journey began all the way in the summer of 2011, where my family decided to spend our vacation in Bunaken. When I first heard that name, my hopes of a fantastic trip that I could brag to my friends immediately fell. It must be one of those unknown island of boredom, I thought. But time proved me wrong. It was amazing how 30 minutes in a small open cap speed boat, dancing across the ocean that took me from the gigantic 174,600 km² island of Sulawesi to the tiny 8 km² island of Bunaken could shift my paradigm completely. The boat sped up all the way through the ocean, giving me a full adrenaline ride with an angelic view of the open sea where my mind noticed things I never did before; like how blue the sea was and how the enormous Sulawesi could fit my palm from far away.
With the wind howling all around me, my hair slapping loosely across my face, and the raging of the wave that took the ride to a whole new level with its ongoing bumps, it was a magnificent way to appetite myself for the beauty to come. Up till this moment, I can’t seem to find a word suitable of describing what laid in front of me that day. Everything, starting from the smoking hot sun that made my black hair seemed brown, the symmetrical triangular roof of the wooden bungalows that was covered in hays of caramel brown, the tower-like coconut trees that made me feel like an ant beneath its shadows, as well as the crystal clear blue water that is the color of the sky made me felt like Alice in Wonderland. But unlike Alice’s story, it ain’t fantasy. And yet after all the beauties I had captured, only beneath the salty blue water of Bunaken, in an hour of snorkeling that felt like a blink of an eye, was I able to feel the luckiest.
Like winning a jackpot was seeing the colorful fishes from the size up my pinky up to the size of a child had been. It was as if Leonardo Da Vinci was being drowned there and decided to draw a masterpiece in a canvas of water. All sorts of color mentionable, all shapes one could possibly draw, everything was integrated around me. The fishes swam near me, flipping their tiny fins, making me feel like one of them.
But there are more to Bunaken than meets the eye. Electricity barely ran there. Available, yet not enough for air conditioners, TVs, computers, and all modern technologies people would die not having. Mention everything the city you live in has, Bunaken won’t even make half of your list. So at night, I had a once in a life time experience of sleeping in the midst of the hot dry air of Indonesia. It may sound like a nightmare, but it made me realized things I never took for granted. Like the full-flowing 24/7 electricity I had back home, schools that were so near I could just walk, malls, markets, everything available right beside me.
Bunaken may seem like an old fashioned island, unknown and left behind, yet not a soul could deny its beauty. Sum up beauty in one word, and it was Bunaken. Simple, yet downright beautiful. Two nights surrounded by the breathtaking simplicity of Bunaken wasn’t nearly enough, as I even lost count of time. But that was life, it waited for no man. So as I sailed back to Sulawesi, I watched as the flattering island of Bunaken became smaller and smaller, until just the size of a bead, consuming the beauty it just spread my mind, vanishing beneath the horizon, too distanced for my eyesight to catch. And it’s still sitting there waiting for another soul to bind with.
About the Author: I’m Winona Maria Muliadi, a proud 14 years old Indonesian with an obsession of reading who spends her spare time drowned in words and writing to her heart’s content. Thank you for reading and commenting. Please enter our next Travel Writing competition and tell your story.