Bomber wreck, kite runners and sea gypsies of Togian Islands

Tropical island Malenge

Tropical island Malenge

Apparently it takes some determination to get to the Togian Islands, an archipelago made of 56 islands and islets, settled in the Gulf of Tomini, off the Central Sulawesi coast. Well, it took us exactly 3 days to reach the Togians along with 2 buses, 2 boats and few swear words (when the road suddenly disappears and slips into a ravine or when the winding roads make our stomachs go upside down).

So here are these 3 days in 4 sentences.

We left on a bus from Rantepao at 9am on Friday morning and 15 hours later we got dropped off in a random but cheap hotel in Poso. The following morning a mini bus, organised by a hotel, took us for a 6 hours picturesque journey to Ampana. We then spent a sleepless night in Oasis hotel, woken up by a disco karaoke, mosque and roosters and at 9am boarded a car ferry (outside of Ampana) to Wakai, one of the biggest islands in the Gulf of Tomini. From Wakai it was only 45 minutes cruise on a small boat to Kadidiri, our first destination. Continue reading

Rice paddies, buffaloes and the dead. Welcome to Tana Toraja!

Burial caves in Tana Toraja

Burial caves in Tana Toraja

I was excited about our arrival in Tana Toraja for some time. After reading countless papers on this part of Sulawesi, my old love for anthropology had heated up again. It were the green rice paddies, beautifully craved houses and rice barns, ceremonies of life and death had brought us here to discover what the land of Tana Toraja has got to offer.

As soon as we found accommodation in Rantepao (major city in the area), filled our empty stomachs with coconut porridge and refreshed with hot showers, we started to enquire about a funeral, one of the main reasons for our visit in Toraja. With good timing, and turning up just after the rain season ended we were spoilt for choice. Funerals in Toraja, being seasonal events, start late May lasting throughout the summer months and the day before we arrived a celebrations had begun in a nearby village. So just after 2 hours we arrived in Rantapao, at 9am we were on our way to the funeral. Together with Johnny, a local guide and with a german couple, Oliver and Jojo (met in our guesthouse), we were taken for a journey into very unfamiliar but yet exciting local traditions and customs. Continue reading