Tanah Toraja is simply stunning with the myths and legends. It is located a solid 8 – 10 hours drive away from Makassar. Your eyes will be indulged with amazing views of paddy fields and mountains. Being located in the highlands, chilly can be a selling point for Toraja. Rantepao is the best base to explore Toraja, as everything is drive-able from there on. To understand the culture, there are a lot of storytelling needs to be done. So, it is best to recruit an experienced guide to translate the story beautifully. Do not forget to get the permission from the local to go inside their humble home (Tongkonan). If gruesome has never been in your dictionary, attending the funeral is a must (Warning: it can get very bloody!). Normally it is scheduled during the weekdays of a dry season (July to September).
The uniqueness of Toraja culture lies heavily on the funeral of a deceased. After a death of family member, the body is kept in their home until they have enough money to celebrate the funeral in style. The funeral ceremony can last from days to weeks depending on the social status. Buffaloes and pigs are slaughtered to accompany the life after death of the deceased. And the horns of the buffaloes will be kept in front of their home to symbolize the status. The cost of a buffalo is not cheap; it can hit a price of a minivan or sedan (Geez!). The coffins of the deceased will be left inside a decorated caves or hang on the hills. To represent the deceased, a doll miniature (Tau-Tau) will be carved and put in front of the cave.
Below rating will be useful for your future scheduling purpose:
Kete Kesu (A must!): Kete Kesu is a landmark for the nicely placed Tongkonan. And be prepared to get amazed by the speed of the wood-carving technique.
Londa (A must!): Not for claustrophobia, as you need to bring yourselves into the caves where all the skulls, bones and coffins are placed strategically for viewing purposes. You might need to get a lantern boy to guide you in.
Lemo (A must!): Lemo is a cliff burial site with a lot of doll miniature (Tau-Tau) on the facade. It is one of the most photographed spots in Toraja. Sometimes, I felt like all them were looking at me, eerie?
Suaya (Only if you have time): Suaya is the tomb for the royal family. Once you have visited Lemo, Suaya is secondary.
Kambira (Only if you have time): Kambira is a burial spot for new born babies inside the tree. (Yes, you heard it right; it will grow together with the tree to the paradise!)
Salu (A must must must!): I still couldn’t get over the cascading paddy fields from the top to toes of the mountains. Warning: Seriously, don’t drive in! Bike in! We almost had our daylight suicide there!
Batutumonga (A must): It offers the life of countryside by going around the hill.
Lempo (Only if you have time!): After Kete Kesu, there is no more WOW factor left!
Bori (A must!): It’s a grave for the blue blood only; with one huge megalithic stone represent a soul!
Where should you stay? Luta resort, traditionally designed facade and comfortably furnished interior.
What to have for my pampered tummy?
Papiong – Fish, pork or chicken + coconut + vegetables inserted into bamboo.
Pamarassan – Beef, pork or chicken cooked in Toraja black sauce.
Baloks – A traditional palm wine from Toraja, worth a sip or maybe more at night!
Coffee – It’s another famous brew aside Baloks (too bad, I don’t like to be caffeinated)
Tamarella – Not to forget the evergreen Tamarella juice! (Sometimes it is called “tamarillo” or locally well known as “terong belanda”)
Toraja Chili – Be very careful, it can be deep throat spicy and not for weak tummy.
Overall, I must rate this Indiana Jones + Tomb Raider adventure is a thumb up!
Remember to stop by Enrekang to view the “Erotic Mountain”. To get the better idea, please look at the picture and you be the judge!
Tanah Toraja is in South Sulawesi and not North Sumatera!
Lastly, enjoy the pictures!