The Manado Man with the Manado Magic
Up Close and Personnel with Rico Taramen
One of the great things about staying at Murex Dive Resort in Manado is that we not only have access to dive sites at both Bunaken and along the mainland coast line but we are ideally positioned for a number of land based tours. In this Blog we catch up with Rico Taramen, In-House Tour Guide and Guest Relations Officer at Murex to find out more…..
Blogger: Hi Rico, how long have you been working as a Tour Guide at Murex here in Manado?
Rico: Now, I have been here (at Murex) for 9 months but I have been a tour guide and travel agent in Manado for over 16 years already.
Blogger: Wow! That’s a lot of tours and a lot of experience then! You must really like what you do to have been doing it for so long.
Rico: Oh yes, I really love working in travel and tourism and I am so happy to be finally working at Murex – I already have a longer history with the company going back for more than 20 years. It is such great thing for me to be working here full time now. I get to meet so many people, the rest of the Murex Team are really nice and the working environment is the best I have experienced. I love entertaining people – that’s the key to being a good guide I think. I love to share my knowledge of Sulawesi and show everyone my home city and the many other beautiful areas that we have in North Sulawesi. It’s still a lot of fun for me.
Blogger: So do you yourself live in Manado?
Rico: No, we live in Tondano, a smaller city in the highlands. I live there with my wife and our 19 year old daughter. I have a son too who is already 25! He is married now and lives with his wife. I am actually from Manado, I was born here and grew up here. This is my beautiful city and I really love it here (looking very proud).
Blogger: Have your children ever joined you on any of the tours?
Rico: Yes, my daughter has joined 3 or 4 times on the Highland tour – this is my favourite tour and one that the guests really love. We visit a traditional market and drive up through the highlands – it’s beautiful up there – fresh air, beautiful flowers and trees and wildlife, there are also hot springs and the Bukit Kasih which means “Hill of Love”.
Blogger: The Hill of Love?
Rico: Oh yes, this is a very special place – it is a hill overlooking the highlands with stunning views. There are over 2,000 steps to get to the top but it is really worthwhile. There is an open area there where people from different religions can gather and worship their own faith symbol in peaceful harmony. There are five houses of worship; a Catholic Church, a Christian church, a temple, a mosque and also a Hindu temple – it’s a beautiful place in many ways.
Blogger: It sounds like an amazing tour!
Rico: Yes, and recently I have changed it to include something else too which I think is very special (Rico is looking embarrassed).
Blogger: Really, what’s that?
Rico: My own house! I always thought that something was missing from the tour – you know, because people want to see the nature and culture of the real people of Sulawesi. They want to know about our “real life” too. So I talked with Murex and we introduced this to the tour. People come with me to visit my house and see how a family lives here. My wife makes tea and coffee and the guests sit together with us and I show them around my house and explain about our life here. It’s great because it involves my wife too and the guests are always really interested. We didn’t change anything, it is just my house and family as we have always been.
Blogger: Rico that’s amazing – I’m sure guests from all over the world will be talking about this – you’ll be famous!
Rico: (Laughing). Actually I get really good feedback from the guests about it and I have also been mentioned on TripAdvisor! But you know – I am from North Sulawesi and we love to entertain and share things with people, we are very warm-hearted and I think that’s what people like most. And I love to make people happy, that is very special to me.
Blogger: So is this the main tour that you recommend people to take?
Rico: Tangkoko is also a tour that I really love – the nature there is incredible. Trekking in the jungle and seeing the black macaques and tarsier monkeys in their natural habitat is very special. We can also tailor make tours if people have certain things they want to see or do.
Blogger: Do you think the combination of land and diving activities is why people choose to visit Murex in Manado?
Rico: Yes, but not just that. For the diving you can dive Bunaken and the mainland and there are many tours but also it’s about the resort itself. We are not in the middle of the city we are in Kallasey which is a small village outside of the city. This means guests can go to the city or not. The resort has beautiful gardens with really special trees, flowers, tropical fruits and birds which gives me a feeling of harmony and it’s so easy for the guests to relax and enjoy nature. Also the organisation at Murex is really good for guests – everything is done for them and taken care of – better than I have seen anywhere else. Almost 20 years ago I used to be a tour guide taking people on Manado City Tours and actually at that time we even introduced Murex Manado to our city tour – it’s easy to get to Murex from town and the resort is the nicest and most beautiful place for people to come. There is the beach and the ocean right in front and wonderful nature all around. We would bring guests for coffee on the beach and to admire the surroundings. That’s why I say I have a history with the company – I have always seen Murex as the best in Manado and have hoped to work here.
Blogger: And as guest relations officer at Murex what else does your role involve?
Rico: I am always available to help the guests with any problems that they have or if they need any extra help. If there is something they want changed about their room or about their stay in general, including any food or special diet requirements I also help with this – even if they just want an extra pillow or something simple it is my job to make sure that the guests are happy and satisfied. I’m good at keeping guests happy and it’s what I enjoy!
Blogger: That’s great Rico – it sounds like everything is working out really well for you here at Murex. What do you do when you are not working?
Rico: I read. I love to read. I have made myself a small library at my house which has many English books in it – that’s also how I continued learning my English after school.
Blogger: Well, I can certainly say that your English is excellent. Do you read stories or fact?
Rico: Oh almost all fact – mainly I read about the flora and fauna of North Sulawesi and the eco-system here, the environment. The most amazing book I have is called The Ecology of Sulawesi – it is a big book but really interesting. I have learnt a lot from it. This is my passion. And I really love birds – now I can identify all birds we have around North Sulawesi just by their calls – this is something I also share with guests, it’s my hobby, my passion, my job. That’s why I don’t get bored you know. If you are still passionate about your job you see something new every day.
Blogger: Can you speak any other languages?
Rico: Yes, I can also speak Dutch. I worked for a Dutch boss one time so I learned decided to learn the Dutch language – this is also very good for my Dutch guests too – they are always very surprised by it!
Blogger: And what other skills do you have Rico – you have many talents!
Rico: I dive too. I spent 6 months training as a dive guide when I was younger, now I don’t dive because I am busy with the tours but I have made time to make a few dives since I have been here – I still love it and I really like the small interesting creatures but I am not so good at finding them! (pauses) and cooking, I love to cook – especially Manado food. It must be spicy and fresh and full of flavour like Babi Bulu – that is one of my favourites. It’s a pork dish cooked in bamboo, it’s delicious and we eat it a lot at Christmas and New Year.
Blogger: Rico, it has been a real pleasure talking to you. Thank you so much for your time – what are you doing next?
Rico: Right now? I need to be a good husband and go home and see my wife!!
I have learned so much about Rico in this interview and I hope you have gained a sense of what an accomplished individual he is. There is so much more that could be added to this blog; the fact that Rico would love to visit the United States, that he has visited several European countries including Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands (for which he feels sentimentality), that he once flew to Taiwan for 2 weeks to give Eco-tour presentations for television and radio and that he plays guitar and the traditional Sulawesi xylophone – these things you will need to ask him about yourself! Rico really has such a good sense of humour, a passion for life, nature and his homelands that I have definitely added making a tour with him as one of my “things to do”. If you are diving with Murex be sure to look out for him and why not take a land tour on your “dry day” before you fly? Something tells me you will be in for a treat!