It was one of those free flow traveling where I just grabbed my backpack, sunglasses, sandals and head out to Makassar, South Sulawesi and explore.
Nope, we didn’t have any itinerary, all we know is that we wanted to visit Tana Toraja and Tanjung Bira. With little knowledge (as we like it)
Off we go…
Like any other blinded traveling that I do, the trip to South Sulawesi was fulfilling and full of surprises.
Upon our arrival in Hassanudin Airport, we headed directly to one of my top traveling wishlist : Tana Toraja. A land so fertile and rich in culture is indeed a super combination for an adventure buff.
We took a chartered car for Rp 100,000 / person and rode with 3 other passengers heading similarly; a guy from Colombia who’ve been practically around the world, a girl from Makassar who was a little shy and a native Torajan heading back to his village from Jakarta.
We spoke along the way on different topics, the native Torajan was an interesting person and knows Sulawesi very well… he asked us where will we be staying in Tana Toraja. I spaced out for a few seconds and naively answered “Hmm.. I have no idea, we didn’t plan anything” he then replied “Well you know what, come and stay at our place”
Deeply excited I couldn’t resist his offer, so we decided to stay at his traditional wooden house in a Torajan compound. How cool!
It was an 8 hours ride but a beautiful one, the roads were green all the way just the way I like it. We even stopped at a restaurant overlooking these hills!
We reached his house late at night greeted by his wife, his mother, his 2 very cute little boys who love taking pictures and eat crackers (I want a kid like that!).
We were warmly served with traditional foods and Torajan coffee, how can I resist! Coffee produced in Toraja are consistently stable and rich in flavour; the acidic taste is lower than those from western part of Indonesia. It was just perfect, one of the best coffee origins out there!
What surprises me was Torajan are such an aficionado for coffee to a point where they even let their little boys drink it and they loved it! I was quite surprised but the little boy wanted more and he drank a full cup. Amazing.
It was a night of Chrstmas Eve on the December 24th 2013. The night was dark and calm it feels serene to be in a village area listening to the sounds of crickets, gazing at the stars, soft breezes of air, moon shined bright, twas a peaceful moment.
We woke up in the morning feeling fresh and ready to explore. We took a small walk around the compound and saw traditional houses, bull sacrificing area, family burial sites, green over green rice terraces, ate breakfast and drank more coffee 🙂
The guy then offered his nephew to give us a ride around Toraja with his motor bike, I was like seriously? They are too kind.
So we jumped in and went around Tana Toraja for a whole day.
Cruising along burial sites to lush green terraces up the hills to view Tana Toaraja from high above, suddenly I remembered Food Security issues
Despite the diverse and rich amount of food resources to live by, Torajan have strong beliefs in death.There were burial sites everywhere in the area, some are even hangging by the cliff. The higher the remains are buried, the higher social status they have in the society. Usually Kings and Queens are buried on top of the cliff to symbolize their divinity.
We strolled from one burial sites to another, each have its own uniqueness with different types of coffins and houses. We also went inside one cliff with a small cave just to stride along next to bones and remains of the past. Many caskets fell down the cliff over time due to natural forces, although broken caskets, no one but the family are allowed to remove the remains.
It was not at all horror, although I know those bones ARE real, and this is a real burial ground, but no rather it feels silenced.
Noon passed as dawn approaches, after our super ride around Tana Toraja we went back to the house to say good bye.
I can’t feel more blessed to have a nice family hosting us so kindly, as they were too excited to have us in their beautiful Christmas.
Too bad we only spent one day so we can reach Tanjung Bira, if only we could spend one more day we would’ve witnessed their traditional burial ceremony.
Lesson learned: Get to know the people we stumble upon the way and they may surprise you with their warmth and hospitality 🙂
Much love from Indonesia.