by Charles Roring
Travelers like to visit Bukit Kasih when they are in Minahasa. Many tours and travel agencies in Indonesia provide tour package to this region. Bukit Kasih literally means Hill of Love. Local government built the Bukit Kasih as a tourist destination to promote peace and religious tolerance in the regency. It is actually a small but active volcano. Hot steam and hotspring accompanied with sulfurous gas come out of the ground. Food vendors boil eggs, corn directly from the hot water. At the foot of the hill, traveler can see a tall monument erected in the middle of the parking lot. It is not difficult to climb the hill to the top as the government has constructed concrete stairs for the travelers.
Bukit Kasih (Hill of Love) in Minahasa, North Sulawesi. Photograph Charles Roring
On certain heights of the hills there are houses of worships for Christians, Moslems, Hindus and Budhists. Along the way to the top, there are stations of the way of the cross for the Catholics. Travelers like to walk to these houses of prayer. Here they can take a rest for a while before continuing their travel to the top of the hill. There a giant cross stands overlooking the beautiful scenery of Minahasan mountainous region. It takes twenty to thirty minutes walking from the foot to the top of the hill. So, don't forget to bring some snacks when you want to travel to the Bukit Kasih. Standing on the top of the hill, I can see Tondano lake, the nearby village and two or three Minahasan volcanoes slightly covered with fog in a distant. I was very exhausted after reaching the top but the magnificent view and the fresh air that I inhaled swept away all the tiredness.
Minahasan villages viewed from the top of Bukit Kasih (Love Hill) Photograph Charles Roring
Not far from the Bukit Kasih, there is a place called Watu Pinabetengan. Hundreds of years ago, Minahasan tribal chiefs met in this place to settle problems and differences among them. There are inscriptions that no one has ever known their meanings. Travelers can go there after going down from the hill. Along the way to the Watu Pinabetengan, travelers can enjoy the beautiful scenery of vegetables and rice fields as well as horses. The farmland are producing crops that are important for the economy of the Minahasan people.
The cost of traveling to Bukit Kasih and Watu Pinabetengan is not expensive. It can be ten to fifteen US dollars/ person from Manado, the capital city of the province of North Sulawesi. You should travel in a group of five to eight so that you can share to cost of rent a car.
When I was there I took a picture of birds resting on telephone cable. They were not aware of the human crowds walking under them climbing the hill. Some of them flew down to eat leftovers thrown by the tourists or travelers. You may not see them while you travel to Bukit Kasih because of the weather or disturbances caused by tourists. If you are able to visit the love hill and see birds resting on electrical or telephone wire like the above one, please don't try to get closer to them or they might fly away. The best and the safest way to capture this kind of picture is to use zooming feature in your digital camera or video recorder.