Sulawesi – Indonesia

Warning! The following pictures may be shocking to some people. It involves pictures of slaughtering of animals and the remains of human beings. The slaughtering is part of Sulawesi burial rituals and the graves are open for public. It is a deep part of their culture so please don’t judge to easy.

I see dead people! The sentence from a famous movie but when I visited Sulawesi in Indonesia with my sister I saw allot of dead people as well. The same thing is true for dead buffalo’s and pigs.

The last week (for now) in Indonesia my sister and I decided to go to the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia. We booked a flight and said goodbye to Martijn and Maud (they were going back to the Netherlands in a few days). We flew to the south-east Sulawesi city called “Ujungpandang” where we immediately got onto a 9 hour bus ride to visit the people of Toraja.


The word toraja comes from the Bugis language’s to riaja, meaning “people of the uplands”. The Dutch colonial government named the people Toraja in 1909. Torajans are renowned for their elaborate funeral rites, burial sites carved into rocky cliffs, massive peaked-roof traditional houses known as tongkonan, and colorful wood carvings. Toraja funeral rites are important social events, usually attended by hundreds of people and lasting for several days.

The whole trip from the plane to the bus was an experience on its own. Everybody on the street is trying to help you and actually guiding you to where we needed to go. My sister and I even had a little band perform in the minibus we were traveling with.

In Toraja we stayed at a traditional Sulawesi house. They represent boats and they look amazing. We arranged a guide to go to a funeral the next day and took our rented motorbike up into the surrounding hills. Toraja itself is like the size of my hometown village and the surrounding settlements really small but it was so much fun. Everywhere people were waving and shouting “HELLO MISTER” and my sister look like the Dutch queen waving to everyone on the back of the motorbike. At one time her arm started to hurt and she thought that is was enough, haha.

 

The people here are amazing, do. When you stop the whole community comes at you and wants to talk to you. They even made us drink some local wine. It was a really nice experience. After we headed back all the local children were playing in the rice field and when we took pictures they were dancing and shooting around us.

[youtube FSolfDmPT9A]

The next day we drove for a few hours to a massive funeral. The man was obviously a very well connected person because there were allot of people there….. And allot of animals ready to be sacrificed…..

It was an amazing sight. Large groups of people are singing and trough a large loudspeaker someone is shouting the next families that are walking by and bringing their sacrifices. The whole thing is neatly organised but with all the slaughtering going on it sometimes looks like a battlefield.

My sister was talking to an really old man with white pants (black is the dress code) and it turned out to be the mayor. We were invited to their hut to sit, relax, drink some thee and have some biscuits.

It turned out he could speak fluent Dutch. It was real “high” Dutch but it was amazing. He learned it during the occupation. The whole day was an cultural experience I will never forget.

The following few days we checked out all the famous sites on our scooter. Most of them are graves of families that are open for tourists. They even hang the graves on the selling (know as hanging graves) .  The whole thing is pretty shocking to some people but it is an amazing site.

When we got back we took the bus back to Ujungpandang. It was a really tough ride and we were bouncing in our seat all 9 hours…We took a flight to Manado where we got on a boat to the island “Bunaken”. Here we did some diving and it was a little paradise. The diving reminded me of diving in Sipendan (Malaysia) and we decided that after a few days of relaxing we would go to the Tangkoko nature park on the other side of north Sulawesi. We got into a taxi and drove along time to reach a path where we had to travel on foot (the road literately ended). On my slippers I nearly slipped and my sister started laughing hard. It was almost dark so when she slipt and fell she couldn’t complain when I was laughing.

After a short jungle trek we arrived in a remote beach paradise (http://www.pulisanresort-sulawesi.com ). The whole place was really cool but very basic as well. In basic I mean that there is no electricity (expect a few hours in the evening) and no running water (so you shower with a bucket). My sister and I did some diving and snorkelling and this area is known for its small animals like snails and seahorses. We saw allot during diving and it was great but the snorkelling was amazing as well. Just off the boat you would see amazing coloured coral and fish. The best thing was still the national park that was close by. We got onto a boat that took us for a half hour cruise to the national park. Here we literately walked with an huge ape colony of Black Macaque monkeys and at dusk really tiny Tarsiers come out of the tree tops. These animals where fantastic, especially the Black Macaque monkeys. They just went about their daily business and we were allowed to watch them close up. I really don’t like monkeys normally (they just steal and destroy) but these guys changed my perspective.

[youtube 7wxN_QepqZw]

[youtube G_Zv83Qh9uE]

They were really curious as well because they see their own reflection in the lens of my camera. So they kept coming up and checking out the camera. I had so much fun that evening with these guys.

As the evening came so did the tarsiers. They hide the trees but you get really close (10 cm) and they must be the cutest little fur balls on the planet!

At the resort we had one of the monkeys in a cage. It was expelled from the group and was a permanent guest of the resort now. When you sit next to it he would start going through your hair looking for flees like your one of the group. I guess we were his group now….

All and all this is the best part of Indonesia so far… But I have to leave because my visa is about to expire. I’m going to Singapore for a few days to renew my visa for Indonesia and I’m getting a visa for China as well.

Cheers,

René