Friday, February 6, 2009


Tuesday 13th Jan 2009

When one arrives in Makale, a town in Tana Toraja, one cannot miss this impressive statue of Tana Toraja's warrior, PONGTIKU. He was regarded a hero for fighting against the Dutch in defense of Tana Toraja. An airport in Makale servicing local flights is also named after him.

We woke up to a fresh morning. Up on this highland, the weather was cool and fresh. Our hotel was situated on high ground, thus offering some views of the mountain range. It would be a relaxed day of sight-seeing. But first, to the market to buy the famous Toraja Coffee and Beras Toraja. Hatim is a coffee drinker and has acquired the taste for freshly brewed local coffee. I am happy with the 3-in-one Nescafe.

The rice is locally grown in the valleys of Tana Toraja and its cultivation contributed most to the economic activity of the locals.

There were various varieties and came in various colors. The red type looked similar to the beras nasi dagang of Kelantan.

Then there were the usual arrays of local kueh and all the usual stuff one would find in a local market.

It is quite an irony that when one is on such a holiday trip, one would make efforts to visit the local market. Back home, you drive your wife to the market and wait in the car!

Having purchased some "buah-tangan", we moved on to look for what Tana Toraja is famous for - the ancestral burial site of the locals. Again, there are numerous articles in the internet about this local belief and practise. One good reading is from this site

There were many such sites in Tana Toraja and we visited this one in Kg Londa, about 8kms after Makale.

A local tour guide was on hand for a small fee. He was handy as the short guided tour got us going into a cave and the guide had a gasoline lamp with him.

Before we entered the cave, we took this picture of these life-size effigies of the dead, up above on the cliff-face. They represented the dead, and in their life what they were in social standing is reflected in the clothes that now adorned the effigies.

Here I am, posing with one set of effigies found at a tourist outlet.

Inside the cave, we saw coffins and skeletons of the dead.

Outside the cave, there was a contingent of the local police with the press on hand. They were re-enacting the scene of three skeleton thieves. The thieves were also there, showing the police of their actual act.

After this tour, we decided it was time to move on and say good-bye to Tana Toraja. Our next destination would be to Pare-Pare, a town by the sea. As I said in my earlier posting, we had reached the furthest end of our journey and we would head back towards Makassar.
We were fortunate once again to witness another wedding. This was a local Torajan Christian wedding. It shares similarity with the Bugis wedding we saw in Sengkang 3 days earlier.
These ladies are the usherers, seated in a row waiting for the VIP guests to usher them to their seating.
The relatives however, were grouped in a bamboo shed, built specifically for the occassion.
The bridal vehicle also attracted our attention. The decoration is certainly much more elaborate than the bridal cars in Malaysia.

On the dais, I noticed the bride also carried a kris. I did not research it's significance but one can be left to wonder why. Perhaps a warning to the husband-to-be that she yields as much authority as the husband, so "dont play play"!

We arrived Pare-Pare late noon and visited the port. At this time of our visit, Pare-Pare was in the news about the ferry tragedi that killed hundreds of passengers. The ship started its journey from Pare-Pare and the rescue operations was also here.

A ferry probably quite similar to the ill-fated ferry.

Pare-Pare boasts of a deep-water berth and there were several mid-size ships at berth loading bales of sugar.

The shot below was taken by Acid, a view from an unusual angle.

Later, we had tea at one of the many stalls that were found along sea-front. Pare-Pare again can boast to have one of the longest water-fronts in Indonesia.

We tried "pisang penyet", a local delicacy. Basically it was compressed barbecued bananas in syrup. It was too sweet for us but we nevertheless cleaned the plate.

Later at night, we came for dinner at this water-front and karaokayed ourself in the open air arena, much to the delight of the locals. They had high respect for Hatim's emotional rendition of several Broery Marantika's oldies. Well done, future cycling tourer!


Father Sez said...


Just 2 days ago, I read about the effigies and the burial ceremonies of the story you have written. It was in Air Asia's inflight magazine. But your story is far far better.

Thanks for sharing lah.

ARZ said...

Thanks for the compliment. Time to be a regular contributor to AirAsia in-flight magazine in return for sponsorship eh!