We were already half way through our Trip of Wonders Culture Trip and were about to board flight number 6 from Makassar in South Sulawesi to Palopo in central Sulawesi. We spent the night at the airport hotel and had to be presentable at 7.00 am that morning because we were getting up close and personal with the walking dead of Toraja. After our adventures in Java and Sumatra I was really looking forward visiting the central highlands of Sulawesi and its ethnic groups.
From Makassar to Tana Toraja
From the plane window I could spot that South Sulawesi was totally flat. The rice field views were endless, however during the last stretch of our flight the landscape changed into a lush green jungle, not surprisingly as were heading into the highlands of Toraja. From Palopo airport it was still a 2-hour bus ride through the mountains to get to the Toraja Heritage Hotel. Click on the link to see this fabulous luxurious hotel completely in local Torajan style. Unfortunately our bus trip through the highlands of this lush green region was a misty one, but those moments when it cleared the mountain views were fantastic.
Looking for the best things to do in Tana Toraja? Read my full blog post about this amazing undiscovered region.
The walking dead of Toraja
When I discussed the itinerary of this Trip of Wonders Cultural trip with some people that extensively traveled through Indonesia they got particularly excited when they saw Londa, Toraja was on our schedule. This region is named after the ethnic group that lives here. The Toraja culture is world famous for its Toraja funeral ceremonies. I would have loved to experience this first hand, but unfortunately when we were around there was no funeral to witness.
It sounds weird, right? Why would you want to go to a Tana Toraja funeral ceremony? Well the lives of Torajan people evolve around this life event and their main goal in live is to have an amazing funeral, which according to their believes helps them in their afterlife. Our local guide explained us all about the Toraja culture. We all listened very carefully as this is something unique. Their rituals and their views on life are in such contrast with what I preach that it is hard to believe that they live such a life.
Toraja death ritual
The Toraja death ritual is something you should definitely read about. When someone dies they will not be buried straight away. The family will organize a funeral, which is something like a multi day festival and will cost a lot of money. The main event is sacrificing a buffalo and such an animal is expensive as hell. As long as the family is saving up for the funeral the dead body will be kept at home. Yes you read that well! So now and then the corpse will be dusted off and balmed to preserve it. This can take up to a couple years as long as the family is saving money for a proper funeral.
After learning all of this about the Toraja culture we went to Londa, one of the most famous tourist attractions in Toraja, but a creepy one. The Londa caves are the most famous place were people get buried after the funeral has take place. But hold on this is not like anywhere else in the world where they burry people under the ground. Torajans put the coffins in a cave, yes above the ground. We visited the cave and damn this was amazing! For the first time in my life I saw human bones! I have seen skulls before, but wow I literally saw piles of bones, open gaskets and many many coffins. It was kind of creepy to see and felt a bit awkward taking photos here, but as the Toraja culture is all about funerals and death they are really proud to show you this.
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I know it sounds a bit crazy but one of the best things to do in Toraja is to experience one of the Tana Toraja funeral ceremonies. This is also where the walking dead of Toraja comes from as Torajans take care of the death bodies and take it for a walk in special occasions. No joke!
Final destination Trip of Wonders: Bali
After three amazingly interesting but unfortunately grey and rainy days we left Toraja again and headed to Bali. To me this felt a little bit like coming home as this was my 6th visit to Bali and if you have been keeping up with my adventures of the last months you know that I resided on and traveled around this magical island. Click here to read how I celebrated my honeymoon in Bali, or how to explore Nusa Penida on a motorbike and wrote about my Mount Rinjani Trekking adventure. This time though Indonesia.travel took me to Bali to discover a different side of this island. Bali obviously has an amazingly rich culture and is known to have more ceremonies than days in a year. For the next 3 days we were staying in the really nice and luxurious Sofitel Nusa Dua. Nusa Dua is not my favorite area to stay in Bali, but damn this hotel was nice, click on the link to see more awesome pictures. If I had to advice you were to stay in Bali then I would probalyl send you to either Canggu or Ubud.
Visit the king of Bali
We were invited to visit the king of Bali who is residing up in Ubud. As we arrived at his palace we had no clue yet what to expect, at least I did not. I thought we were just visiting another temple like there are tons of them in Bali, dressing up in traditional Balinese clothing and admiring the beauty of this place and shooting cool photos. But then we were suddenly invited to come to the palace and meet the King of Bali. Wow this came as a great surprise but how spiritual was that meeting. Of course we all had to take photos and make funny boomerangs for our Instagram stories. LOL
Firedance at the Uluwatu Temple in Bali
We ended our Trip of Wonders tour with a visit to the Uluwatu Temple, one of the most spectacular temples in Bali. This holy place sits on top of the majestic cliffs in the South of Bali and houses a little stadium. This is the place where every day a traditional dance is preformed around sunset. The Kecak Dance is one of my favorite traditional dances to look at as it stay entertaining for the whole 50 minutes. Honestly normally I am done with a traditional dance after about 15 minutes, but in this performance there is always something happening with upsweeping sounds, fights and a real fire war. The fact that there is built a complete stadium is a sign that this Firedance at the Uluwatu Temple is extremely touristy, but the amazing location high up on the Uluwatu cliffs makes up for it big time. Lately I stayed in the Chedi Club in Ubud and witness a private Kecak performance, which was way more authentic.
Thanks for keeping up with Traveltomtom and my Trip of Wonders with Indoensia Tourism Board. Next week you can read more about my adventures exploring North Bali before I head back to Holland for a quick family and friends visit and some Dutch festivals!