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Trip Report Toraja

We have recently spent a month on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, partly in Manado in the north and partly in Makassar in the south, but the most interesting part was Toraja in the centre.

Manado is deeply Christian, Makassar is deeply Islamic, Toraja is deeply Torajan, with unique society and customs that are a bit off the curve even for Indonesia, where lots of things are off the dial.

Toraja is a 9hr drive north from Makassar, in beautiful mountainous territory, and best known for keeping dead people in the house until they can be planted in a cliff grave after much ritual slaughtering of dongbunga (albino buffalo to you), at huge expense to the family, which is why granny usually stays with the family for months after she has died.

Tourists attend these funerals for the photo opps, but it's not a good idea as they end up paying for most of the cost, which is substantial. The funerals are lucrative enough as a tourist lure that an airport is being developed, soon to open with flights from Jakarta and Denpassar,,so the 9hr drive each way will soon be a memory.

Pity, really, but that's progress, hey?

Anyway, Sulawesi is interesting if you want a month off the tourist track.

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