Showing posts from June, 2010

Sulawesi Surprise!: A School in Tana Toraja

Traveling on, we had come across a little school. Although looking a bit drab, most of the things there look rather familiar - there were single storey buildings with classrooms and a big field with children playing in it and at the entrance, there was even a signboard which proclaimed to the world the school's grand mission and vision. I suppose many schools nowadays, whether in the East or the West, have their own visions and missions but it still came as a surprise to see a little school like that in Tana Toraja with its own mission and vision. That there was a signboard to proclaim them seems so much like having The Ten Commandments cut out in stones. That serves to impress, don't you think?  21

A school in Tana Toraja... Can you decipher the school's mission and vision?

Traveling Tip: Visit a school!

Sulawesi Surprise!: A House Built in Heaven

The little village we had stepped into must be the much hyped model Toraja settlement. It is said that a few minutes from Rantepao, there is this place called Kete Kesu where one can view Toraja architecture and experience the local lifestyle. Over here, it is said artisans produce bamboo carvings and other traditional handicrafts- all these I did not see, but there were several well-maintained Tongkonan and rice barns. A Tongkonan is a traditonal ancestral house or rumah adat of the Toraja people and it has the distinguished boat-shaped and oversized-saddle back roof.The interior is meant only for sleeping, storage or meeting and is cramped and dark.The roof is shaped like a boat because the ancestor sailed all the way here to Sulawesi on a boat from South China and a legend had it that the boats which were damaged in a storm were used as roofs for the new houses. There is a myth too about the first tongkanan being build in by Puang Matua,the creator. The first Torajan ancestor who d…

Take Five!

Traveling in the Celebes or elsewhere in the world could be taxing. Sometimes, especially if you are following an organized tour group, you would have to wake up very early in the morning and make long arduous journey to a place of attraction. I remember many many years ago, while on a train journey up north to Chiengmai, Thailand, a friend commented that my skin dried up so much so that there were lines on my face. Those days, I did not use moisturiser. These days, people have it all so good. Nowadays, there are even anti aging products like the one produced by I bet, one of the hottest penny stocks around - OXIS International, Inc . Their products contain L-­Ergothioneine or ERGO which serve to conserve and maintain the levels of antioxidants including Vitamin E, Vitamin C and glutathione which are required to combat free radicals in our body. Take five, travellers! Take a break and see if you need to bring along a cache of such anti aging products!

Sulawesi Surprise: A village in Tanah Toraja.

Leaving the buffalo with its master behind, we walked along a small path into a village. It looked like an old dilapidated place, quiet too and you'd wonder if there were any living souls there if not for some children and old men who sat quietly under the rice barns. People in Tana Toraja feed on rice. Almost everywhere, you could see paddy fields and the harvested paddy are kept in a rather special rice barn which you would have to climb up to using a ladder. I suppose the people probably eat their rice with pork. We walked along a narrow lane and it was rather smelly.There was a pig sty nearby and inside it, there were black pigs! That was the first time I laid my eyes on black pigs. Most of the pigs I came across were like the one featured in the 1995 family film Babe that tells the story of a pig which want to be a sheepdog. Once, while visiting Taj Mahal in Agra, India, I saw some pigs with dirty white hairs and black spots on the body . The pigs here in Tanah Toraja are rel…

Sulawesi Surprise! : Holy Cow!

After breakfast, a full day would be spent exploring Toraja Land. There were promises of spectacular views of blue mountains, green rice terraces and valleys but holy cow! On the roadside, there was a strange animal. It looked like a seladang, a sort of buffalo and a man was giving it a good scrub.Our bus chugged to a stop and we got down excitedly. We had a field day taking photographs of the animal...  18

Is this a buffalo or a tapir?

Traveling Tip: Take delights in the local animals!