#4 Sulawesi, Oct. 3, 2011

In Tana Toraja they are on an old six-day calandar, so the market (Pasar Bolu) occurs once every six days. I took a bemo a couple of km out of town to a completely congested huge area—the biggest market that I’ve ever seen with the possible exception of the one in Kashgar, China.




Everything imaginable was for sale—vegetables, prepared food, clothing, shoes, household implements, local coffee, eggs (some were blue—they are duck eggs, I’m told!)—if you can think of it, it was there!







The most interesting, though, was the animal market. There were any number of men walking around with roosters—beautiful birds they were! Then there were the pigs—hundreds of them, all confined by bamboo poles and palm fronds, poor things. Every now and then somebody would buy one and load it onto his motorbike to take home. They screeched horribly, but I assume they wouldn’t permanently damage them or they would loose their value!


But the most interesting was the sale of water buffalo (they just call them buffalo) which my guide book said sell for as much as $8,000 American.

The prized ones are albino, and there are some ‘partly albino,’ too. Their handlers were SONY DSCpouring water on them as it was pretty hot in the sun, and would occasionally feed them some grass.SONY DSC


They were mostly full-grown males but there were some young females there, too.


The only other animals that I saw were three SONY DSCponies—I’m not sure if they were for sale or not.  What an extravaganza! It was very clean although it had rained the night before (first time since I arrived in Sulawesi) which did leave some puddles to dodge.

The evening before I finally met up with a British couple who had contacted me through the Lonely Planet and so we had a beer together. Another evening we had dinner together. It’s always fun to compare travel notes.



One day I got a bemo to go to Batutumonga, a village way up in the mountains. The ‘paved’ road was terrible, but the view was worth it. I had a nice chat with a young German couple and their guide in the bemo.

I stopped for a cup of tea at a pretty hotel/restaurant and checked out the rooms, too, in case I want to come back and stay there.



There was a three-inch beetle on the floor waving its ‘arms,’ while a shy little boy peeked at me.



I walked along the road for awhile, enjoying the scenery and the quiet. After awhile I decided to get a bemo back to Rantepao, and came upon a little stand with a couple of young girls. I asked one of them if a bemo would come here to go to Rantepao, and she nodded, ‘yes.’ She indicated she was going to Rantepao, too. We waited for over an hour until the girls apparently gave up, and went on their way. Pretty soon I was tired of waiting, too, and waved down a motorbike man and asked if he would take me to Rantepao. We negotiated the price and we were off, over the bad, curvy road, but he seemed to be a skillful driver, and so eventually we made it back to Rantepao and to my hotel, in spite of great trepidation on my part.

Yesterday I hired a guide to tour me on his motorbike. He drove so conservatively that I finally relaxed and enjoyed it! First we went to Lemo, a village with amazing TauTau (effigies of important


dead persons buried there) and cliff gravesites. SONY DSC

So many of the tiny villages have these ‘tongkonan,’ traditional places where important funerals are held. In between, as always, Tana Toraja offers so many beautiful rural scenes that can really be appreciated on a motorbike, especially on a quiet Sunday morning as this was.



The second site was called Londo, which had a SONY DSChuge burial cave, as well as TauTau guarding it and coffins suspended on the cliff face. I did not choose to tour the cave (with locals carrying Coleman lanterns) as there was more than enough to interest me just at the cave entrance.

SONY DSCSome coffins had come apart and disgorged their inhabitants, but the bones and skulls were honored just where they were with cigarettes (!) and other offerings.SONY DSC

-Ke’te Kesu was the third site, and my favorite. It had a dozen, or more, rice barns built the traditional way with all bamboo materials. They were so beautiful and well preserved.





Some had many buffalo horns denoting supreme status (the more buffalo horns, the more buffalos slaughtered, the higher the status).






Ke’te Kesu is also a woodcarvers’ village and we stopped to view a coffin in process, with elaborate carving. I think they paint them all red, when finished.

The final site was the village of Karasik, very near Rantepao, that had a forest of megaliths. I had seen a few at the tongkonan of the funeral that I attended several days ago, but this tongkonan had about 15! These each denote a noble funeral that was held here in times past. Nobody seems to know how old the oldest are.

Today I took a bemo to Mikale, the administrative town in Tana Toraja. It was their market day, and it rivaled Rantepao’s in size. However, there were no buffalo for sale, and I was referred to Rantepao when I asked. The pigs and chickens were there, as well as lots of eels and fish. I suppose I’ll have to try the eels before I leave Sulawesi. I think I draw the line at bats, though, although how much meat could there be on a bat anyway?!

-I did see a number of older women chewing betal nut. Rather than put the packet into their cheek as I’ve seen elsewhere, here they simply place this large wad of green and betal nut part way into their mouths, leaving it protruding. Ugh!

Before leaving Mikale, I walked to the center of town where there is a small artificial lake surrounded by flowers and centered with a statue of a fierce warrior. One can certainly see that the Dutch missionaries followed up on the Dutch conquest of the area in the late 1600s, as there is a Christian church here on every corner and atop every hill!




Tana Toraja has certainly been a wonderful place to visit. Now I have bought my onward bus ticket to Tentena and will leave in a couple of days.


This entry was posted in 2011, Indonesia. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to #4 Sulawesi, Oct. 3, 2011

  1. panggawa says:

    looks like a very nice place to visit … i like toraja.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s