Tana Toraja (Sulawesi) - December 2009

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The first time I traveled to Sulawesi was in the summer 1972. I had been attracted by the strange shape of the island and the fact that at that time it sounded very remote to me. During that trip I trekked from Mamasa (located North of the small coastal town of Polewali) to Rantepao, around Rantepao, and finally from Rantepao to Palopo on the Bone Bay. I returned to Sulawesi 22 years later in June 1994, following a trip to Irian Jaya (now Papua). During this second trip, I first flew to Palu on the central West coast of Sulawesi, where I took a bus to Gimpu. From Gimpu, I trekked to the Bada valley (famous for its megaliths) and from there to the main road near Masamba. I returned again to Sulawesi in December 2009. This was a shorter trip during which I spent a week trekking North of Rantepao.

 

Trek itinerary (red dots):

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For this trek I had hired a local guide in Rantepao, named Luther. The green stars mark the places where we camped. The black dots indicate villages.

 

I arrived in Rantepao around 7am after a full night spent in the bus from Makassar. As is rather usual in Tana Toraja, I was immediately taken to a funeral ritual where a dozen buffalos were killed. In the summer 1972, I had seen a much bigger funeral. Nevertheless, it was quite a cultural change from the tamed atmosphere of Singapore that I had left less than 24 hours earlier.

 

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Stone-carved burial site of Lemo. The statues (called Tau Tau) are the effigies of the deceased.

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Burial site of Londa

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Start of the trek near Rantepao

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View of mountains surrounding Rantepao

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Water pipe

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Beautiful rice fields in the highlands

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The village where we spent our first night. We reached the village just when it started raining.

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Early next morning

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Woman collecting insects and eating them

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Salu Sangpiak

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One of the many stone-carved burial sites along the way

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In the last village before we entered the dense forest (about three hours before our camp #3). Few houses still have the kind of traditional roof seen on this picture.

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Small noisy windmills made by children

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View of the forest

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A monkey skull

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Hiking in the forest

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mushrooms

 

The hut in which we spent our 4th night

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Village of Parada

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Man near Parada

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Houses near Kalo

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Sunrise seen from Batutumonga

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Rice fields below Batutumonga. Rantepao lies below the clouds.

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Megaliths in a village between Butumonga and Rantepao

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Rock formation a few kilometers North of Rantepao

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