Showing posts from May, 2010

Sulawesi Surprise!: All Quiet at the Hotel

It was all dark and quiet at the Hotel Toraja Prince the night we reached there. We had had a long journey and after checking in, it was off to our room and to bed. I woke up rather fresh the next morning and had had a look around. It was a countryside scene outside and there was much greenery. There was no big mountains like the erotic mountains around as would be expected for a mountain scene. But then of course, we were in the highlands. The air was cold and crisp and it was just perfect to take a stroll. I didn't see anyone around and no wonder - we were the only guests in the hotel! Hotel Toraja Prince purportedly had seen better times. There used to be Western visitors or so I heard but that was before the Bali bombing by terrorists ...In 2002, some 152 foreigners were killed when there was an attack in the tourist district of Kuta and in 2005, bombs exploded again in Kuta and in Jimbaran too. Didn't know for sure which bombing chase away the tourists though...17

All quie…

Sulawesi Surprise!: Destination Rantepao

When in Sulawesi Island, visit Rantepao. You would pass Kabupaten Sidrap and Kabupaten Enrekang if you start your journey from Makassar. Kabupaten is a regency and Rantepao, being the heartland of the Toraja people is in the Tana Toraja Regency. The place has been named as the second tourist destination in Indonesia since 1984 and since then, hundreds of thousands of foreign visitors including Western anthropologists have come over. We reached Rantepao at dusk and had had dinner at not such a cool eating place before checking in at at Hotel Toraja Prince. The hotel was said to be set on the highland and promised an amazing view of the mountain scenery. Since it was dusk, there was really nothing much to be seen...16

Care to have dinner?

Traveling Tip: Thanks the Lord for dinner!

Sulawesi Surprise!: A Romantic Tale

Our guide told a rather vague story of the erotic mountains but somehow it reminded me of the Chinese folktale of the cowherd and the weaver girl. While in the Sulawesi tale, a deva married a girl from the human race, in the Chinese tale, it was the other way round - it was a fairy from heaven who married a man from earth. In the former, the lovers were both turned to mountains that looked like human genitals and both were separated forever by a river but in the latter, the lovers stayed in the sky as stars only to be separated by the Milky way. They could however meet once a year on the seventh day of the seventh month when magpies fly to form a bridge so that the lovers could cross to meet each other. Now, if you are waiting to catch a glimpse of the Most Sacred Holy Penis of the Celebes Highland in this post, you'd be dissapointed. It is not that the mountain is not there in the highlands. It was raining when we were traveling to Tana Toraja and just when we were passing the s…

Sulawesi Surprise!: Erotic Mountains

Traveling to Rantepao, the heartland of Toraja country, you'd get to travel the Celebes Highlands. Besides stopping for lunch in Pare-Pare, do make it a point to take a break for tea especially at Buntu Kabobong or the erotic mountain. That would be 20 km from Enrekang and you would be delighted just to sit and drink some Toraja coffee and eat some banana fritters as you drink in the view before you. There should be a few eating places along the way where you could take a break but the one we went to offered a vintage view of Gunung Nona, the erotic mountain which the locals dubbed, the Most Sacred Vagina. Of course, there is another erotic mountain, the Most Sacred Holy Penis tucked somewhere nearby. Could you imagine a highland with a vagina and no penis? The two enormous geological landmarks that resemble human genitals inspired a tale and our guide told a story, a myth about a deva who incurred the wrath of the Gods when he married a human female and both were thus turned into…

Sulawesi Surprise!: Welcome to the Highlands!

Traveling 310 km from Makassar to Tana Toraja, sometimes I would think there would be an isolated motel ala Bates Motel featured in Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 thriller, Psycho. You'd not want to meet Norman Bates aka Anthony Perkins of course and would not want to end up like Marion Crane aka Janet Leigh but then worry not, I didn't see any hotel or motel along the way. There was much greenery as well as solitude and at a little eating place where we stopped, I was more preoccupied with the scenery rather than the drap man-made structure that we took a respite in. At Enrekang, you woud be delighted, too what with Gunung Nona presented to you in all its splendour... By the way, you are now at the Highlands, babe. Welcome!    13

What would you probably eat at this drab eating place in the middle of nowhere?

Traveling Tip: Take interest in Nowhere!

Sulawesi Surprise!: Things We Did Behind Trees and Bushes

I remember making many long journeys by bus during my pilgrimage to India. In December, the weather in North India was rather cold and since we did not sweat much, most of us made that up by going to the loo very often. Of course, there was no toilet in our bus and quite often, someone in the bus would made a request to the driver to stop so that we could do our business by the roadside. We had to urinate behind trees and bushes as there was no public toilet along the way, not even a single shop or house which we could take refuge in. The road from Makassar to Toraja was long and we did stop like we did in India to do the things we did behind the trees and bushes. Here of course, where the weather was hot and humid,we did not urinate much and when nature called, we were fortunate to be able to stop at the few eating shops along the way. You'd not expect places like MacDonald or Kentucky Fried Chicken here but you'd be thrilled just as well at some of the snacks they offered.. …