Impression of Southern Sulawesi
Two hours before my flight home. Try to make one more post of the trip to Tana Toraja. I decided to use some candid shots to accompany this post as it doesn’t related to anything specific.
“No matter what happens, it is for our own benefit.” I used this axiom to survive and to enjoy most trips.
After resting one night at Makassar, we took the morning bus ride to Tana Toraja. The hotel staff helped me to check on available bus on 9AM. When we arrived at the main terminal at 7AM, there was only 2 seats left at the rear seats.
The 10 hours journey on a ‘not so new’ (positive phrase for ‘old’) bus, plus the winding uphill country road was not the most enjoyable ride. I suspected the fish we eaten at the lunch stop was ‘not hygiene’ (positive word for ‘dirty’), and I have diarrhoea for subsequent days. The two ladies on by left and right keep vomiting throughout the trip, and I am running out plastic bag.
Then it started raining. The driver felt cold and decided to turn off the air-conditioning. We were almost run out of oxygen on for 2 hours. We finally arrived at Rantepao by 8pm and most of the shops were closed.
There was no taxi. The only form of transportation was ‘sitor’. The 3 wheels motorbike taxi which you can barely fit in 2 fat persons. We took two sitors and headed to the guesthouse I paid via Agoda.
After some searching, we found the guesthouse with closed door. After some knocking and yelling, the owner finally come out and greeted us, “Sorry all rooms were full. We don’t recognize Agoda’s transaction.”
What? I have been doing a bit of traveling and made most of the accommodation bookings online. This was the first time someone rejected my payment receipt.
Without hitting the owner, I am saving my energy to resolve where were we going to sleep on a raining night. One of our sitor driver had abandoned us, so we have to share 2 luggage 2 bags and 2 not-so-thin persons into one motorbike sitor. The driver drove us around town to ask hotel by hotel.
It is the 100 years anniversary of gospel entering into Toraja, so the town has the largest celebration ever. All hotels were fully occupied. After one last attempt, we found this good looking house called Wisma Mokina, and they happened to have one room left. No aircond, no TV, but that was god sent on a desperate situation we were in. Then I relialized that I forgotted to bring extra cash (normally I travel with backup USD), and only brought a MasterCard. They only take VISA, no MASTER CARD. What?????
After some negotiation with our broken Bahasa Indonesia, the owner Mr Marltoyo was kind enough to accommodate our situation with a bid of discount. Finally, we can shower and sleep.
Remember the axiom “whatever happens is for your benefits”?
1) it turns out that condition of Wisma Monika is much better than the original homestay I paid online. It was strategically located, 1 minutes from the bus station and main road, and near to almost any essential stuff.
I would highly recommend Wisma Monika if you are going to Rantepao. It was a hidden gem as it was not listed online.
2) the second rewards waiting for us was the most interesting day of the “100 Tahun Injil Masuk Toraja (IMT)’. Because we were exhausted on the previous night, we slept in. when we woke up by 8am, the parade was passing right through the hotel. If we were to stay elsewhere, we won’t totally missed the opportunity to meet the Papua.
I purposely planned for the trip on dry season but we ended up soaking wet for 3 full days. I have still having fever and cold. So, anything good turned out for a vacations where it rained for 72 hours?
The rain slowed me down. Instead of the usual 16 hours walk in a day, we only manage to visit for 3 hours a day. The rest of the time just slept, ate and drank lots of Tameralla juice (damn good mixing with passion fruit).
There was no Internet in the hotel but we discovered a clean restaurant next door, Mambo Restaurant. The owner Andi is a friendly guy and we ended up eating and surfing there every night.
The Internet speed at both Rantepao and Makassar are relatively slow. In many places, 150+Kbps was shared by 10+ users and made it almost not usable.
Tana Toraja is in the waiting list to be listed on UNESCO World Heritage site. An International airport will be built soon. UNESCO status + airport, that would turn Toraja to be same popularity like Bali or Jogya.
Why won’t anyone be interested with funeral ceremony and burial sites? Knowing how you want to die is a way to learn how to liive.
If you plan to visit this mystical land, here are some travel tips:
- almost 99% of the toilets (WC) without toilet paper. One uses water and left hand for the clean up. If you are Malaysian, take note they the locals do not call toilet ‘tandas’.
- if you are are unsure how the previous users use the towel, you can bring your own towel.
- bring a rain jacket if you are going to Toraja. We travelled in the dry season but yet it has been raining cats and dogs for days.
- if you take bus from Makassar to Rantepao, you can take one morning ride and one night ride to have experience of different timing. We travel in the morning from Makassar to Rantepao. Choose the front seats (to avoid motion sickness) and left side (enjoy the sea view). Bring along plastic bag in case you or your neighbours need it. The night bus is more comfortable and takes 8 hours instead of 10 hours.
- Day break around 6am+ and sunset around 6pm. Better to start your day early.
- The internet access at Rantepao is crawling. I have been trying at some good hotels and cafes, the average speed is 150Kbps on downlink (shared with other surfers). So be prepared to disappear from social media for a while.
- I always bring a power extension cord and adaptor, so that I can share limited power outlet with other users. Use the newer type of extension cord with USB ports, very useful to charge your gadgets without bring many chargers.
- It is always a good idea to bring a pair of slipper when traveling in tropical country. Very convenient wearing inside the hotel or getting your feet wet outdoor.
- If you are coffee lover, you can try the Torajan coffee. Javanese Arabica coffee – best drink black without milk. Notice that Indonesia like to drink coffee with a bit of coffee grains.