Tana Toraja

Hey there folks,

So since I last wrote I went on a pretty stellar adventure to the northern part of Sulawesi in the Tana Toraja region. I had a wicked time, and it being my very first entirely independent adventure abroad, was a pretty monumental trip in my travels. Here’s a brief timeline outlining my trek:

  • Got on the night bus to Rantepao which lasted 10 hours. As part of that bus ride, I met a chick from Makale (a city south of Rantepao) going to university in Makassar who was such a big help in my journey north, and just to throw this in here for a venting factor, met a bizarre fellow who would continuously shake my hand as if I was the resurrection of some monumental figure and kept on calling me “Miranda”. My name is Amira, thanks.
  • Travelled around Toraja via ojek, which is essentially a motorcycle taxi. The sites I visited include Ketekesu, Londa, Lemo, Suaya, Palawa, Saddang Village, Batu Tumonga, and Lokkamata. Me and Pak Denny (the lad who took me around on his bike) took a stop at this one place: Tinimbayo Cafe, which if you’re ever on an excursion here, I recommend to stop at. Not only does it have a spectacular view over the endless rice paddies with mountains in the backdrop, but the nicest staff as well. We chilled there for an hour and watched some TV with the folks there.
  • Got drenched from Monsoon rain. Stinky apparel for the remainder of my stay – boo yah!
  • Had dinner 2 nights in a row at Mart’s Cafe. This place is so bomb for meeting up with other backpackers, but unfortunately, I didn’t have the balls to approach anyone. That’ll change though, I swear. Nonetheless, the aura of this place is somewhat… intoxicating? A bunch of hustlers hang out at this joint, trying to offer you a traditional Torajanese experience (ie: the elaborate, expensive and very spiritual funerals), but quit harassing you as soon as you tell them you have your own set itinerary.
  • As part of my dinners here, I got to enjoy free live music courtesy of drunk hustlers. One man on the guitar, another slappin’ the spoons, and a whole bunch belting out tunes from the east to the west – Indonesian folklores, La Cucaracha, Simon and Garfunkel, you name it. When I told one of them that my mama is from Medan, he would give shout outs in between songs: “salaam sama orang Batak!”, “selemat makan, Batak!”. I then talked with the same dude, who goes by the name of Yakit, about religion, Torajan culture, and beer.
  • Had some chicken pa’piong, which is essentially a slow-cooked rice burrito wrapped in either banana leaves or cabbage in bamboo. An authentic Torajanese meal.
  • On the sweaty bus ride home, I was known as either “the German” or “bulek”.

Well that just about scratches the surface of my trip to Tana Toraja. Here are some photos to illustrate what my writing lacked:



ImageSaddang Weaving Village.

ImageSaddang Weaving Village.

ImageLove child of monsoon rain and ojek cruising.


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