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Call us +1-888-978-4070 or contact your travel agent
Day 4 |
May 27, 2014

Tana Toraja  

By Andrew Marshall, Science Communicator
Coordinates:
S 2º58'77", E 119º53'93"
|
Air Temperature:
29°C
|
Pressure:
1004 hPa

Weather: Sunny with some isolated showers
 Wind: 5 knots

We were off the Silver Discoverer after a pre-dawn breakfast, to board the buses alongside Palopo harbour, and begin our voyage up into the highlands of Tana Toraja. We had received the exciting news that a funeral was taking place that we would be allowed to visit/attend.

Along the winding and twisting roads, we stopped at Puncak Paredan for some coffee susu (black Arabica coffee with sweet condensed milk) –the local Café Latte so to speak- and interesting toilet facilities. Our first stop was at Lemo village, famous for its cliff graves with wooden effigies, the Tau Tau, displayed in the wall of the rock. This was also our first chance to rid ourselves of some Rupiah at the stalls selling miniature Tau Tau and an eclectic collection of additional souvenirs and artefacts.

We visited Kabira Village, to see the baby tree graves. A hole is cut into the tree and the small body placed inside. Over time the tree will grow around the corpse, essentially the baby becomes part of the tree itself. One old tree was said to contain anywhere from fifty to two hundred children.

It was then time to head for the funeral. As guests at the funeral, and as we have come from far away, we are said to be helping to body on its way to Puya –the land of the souls. We followed our offering of a pig into the ceremonial area, and were invited to sit down, men and women separated. Welcome offerings of clove cigarettes, coffee and cake were then made. It was excellent timing as we entered the shelter just as a heavy tropical downpour exploded around us. We debated whether to stay and observe a ritual buffalo sacrifice, but we could have been waiting a long time, so decided to leave with a very memorable experience on which to reflect.

We headed to the Toraja Heritage Hotel to check-in to our rooms and enjoy a buffet lunch before beginning the afternoon tour. We headed to Pallawa village to view the traditional Tongkonan houses, Sa’dan village to see the women weaving Ikat and for some purchase some textiles. We observed work in progress, preparing for a funeral that was to take place there in two months time. Then it was onto Bori’ village, famous for its megalith stones. Here we observed chipping laboriously away into a monolith at the beginning of the process to shape a megalith.

We enjoyed a dinner and a show at the Hotel in the evening and gained some well earned rest to prepare for the next mornings adventures. In the morning we headed to the market at Rantepao to see a diverse range of produce, as well as pigs and buffalo, on offer. We then made a stop at Ketekesu village to take in more Tongkonan and grave sites, before starting our way down from the highlands. We had a coffee break at Puncak Lakawan Enrekang, to view Bamba Kabobong, the female part of the erotic mountains Bamba Puang – The Gateway to the Gods.

We made it back to the Silver Discoverer, exhausted but incredibly thankful, delighted and grateful for having had the opportunity to experience this exotic land with its unique traditions.

 

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