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By this Author: alexchan

Hallelujah! We can eat dogs!

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large_5550_12562225732730.jpgTautau (statues) and graves in the cliff face.
Our guide Yosep along with driver Nasan picked us up at 9am. We were running late due to the long day yesterday.

We started our day visiting Lemo where graves are made in the face of rocky cliffs, known as as cave burials. Society in the early days was stratified much like a frequent flyer programme ... Gold, Silver ... etc. People with Gold status are also allowed a tautau or statue on the cliff face.

Cave burials may be made into natural crevasses but since metal implements were introduced, holes have been made into cliff faces for this purpose as well.

We then went to a funeral near Ulusalu (see separate item).

After a bit lunch, we went to a hanging grave at Kete Kesu ... where coffins are placed on beams that had been stuck in to cliff surfaces.large_5550_12562225737962.jpgTautau (statues) and graves in the cliff face.These were used mainly prior to metal implements being available to dig into rock faces.

Driving through the towns and countryside our guide and pointed out shops which sold dog meat. These are indicated rather discreetly by way of cryptic signs and codes ... something I found strange as this was a Christian area and it seems like a god-given right that Christians should be able to eat dogs unlike their Muslim counterparts.

Our guide thought that the indications are all cryptic to avoid offending the Muslim minority and visiting Muslims from the rest of the country. As there's plenty of signage openly promoting the sale of pork, I didn't quite buy his explanation ... I thought it was more to avoid offending foreigners.

Anyway, there appears to be some perks to being a Christian:

1. You can eat dog.
2. You can embalm your relatives and leave them in your home for a few years ... no need to rush to bury them ASAP (or even same day) as required by other religions. Oh what luxury.
3. You don't need to have the tip of your willy chopped off!


Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Attending a Toraja Funeral

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large_5550_12562236098777.jpgOne of the first sights at the funeral is the tax counter ... for the government and church. Tax and Death are the two certainties in life.

Tana Toraja (or Toraja Land) is famous for the traditional burial ceremonies amongst its Christian population.

When people die, they're preserved (formerly using balsam but now with formalin) then kept at home for up to a few years while funds are accumulated for an elaborate ceremony or while relatives are brought together for the ceremony. Organs are not removed but fluids are left to run out. Our guide does say that it stinks a bit having the departed around in the home.

It can take a while to save up for a big event as it involves the sacrifice and sharing of dozens of buffaloes. Each can cost the equivalent of thousands of US dollars.

While the funeral season is truly over, we were lucky enough to have organised an invitation (tour) in advance to attend the funeral of a deceased couple near Ulusalu.large_5550_12562236095313.jpgWalking down to the funeral village.He died 4 years ago while she a year later.

Their bodies were kept high on an elaborate platform while most of the activities occurred at ground level.

Our Hands-On Experience

At the ceremony itself, guests comprising family members, neighbours, fellow villagers and villagers from surrounding areas are herded into numbered sheds. They await their turn to present their gifts of buffaloes to their hosts, the family of the deceased.

In return, guests receive chunks of pig slaughtered in the background. But guests like us bring a gift of cigarettes and get coffee/tea and biscuits. Phew!

We were there on Day 1 of a ceremony that takes days. The most colourful part (literally) is probably the slaughtering of the buffaloes! One had been sacrificed before we arrived and some more will be sacrificed on Day 3 (as I was told).large_5550_12562236122949.jpgThe bodies are kept on this platform.It was a mix of disappointment and relief that I didn't have (or get) to witness something so uniquely gory that will make a real man of me.

Once slaughtered, animals are cut up on a high platform ... apparently its the tradition. And the buffaloes presented by guests are not sacrificed but kept for future occasions. I guess its like not giving away the awkward presents you've received this Xmas ... you keep it for someone's birthday next month.

At the end of the several days of ceremony, the bodies will be taken for burial at a cliff face, rock hole (natural or artificial), in the ground or in small concrete building.

Two Certainties in Life

It was interesting that the two certainties in life (death and taxes) were present at the ceremony.large_5550_12562236097258.jpgPigs as gifts.There was a counter where taxes on food and donation were being collected, in addition to levies by the church.

More about buffaloes

By the way, more about buffaloes:

1. Buffaloes are no longer used for ploughing the ricefields ... they have been replaced by mechanised handheld tractors. So buffaloes have a pretty good life as ceremonial gifts ... until they get sacrificed.

2. However, since cockfighting has been outlawed, they are increasingly used for fighting. Fighting buffaloes get fed Guiness Stout and egg yolks! Lallang grass also makes them more aggressive.

3. While buffaloes are highly prized, Torajans do not use male buffaloes as studs ... they quite happily allow mating as community favours. In contrast, male stud pigs are offered on a commercial basis.


Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Tedious bus ride to Tana Toraja

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After a leisurely morning we departed Makassar on a bus journey to Rantepao [Rantepao-travel-guide-1310691]. The scheduled departure was 1pm and the supposed journey time 8 hours.

After a small delay due to air-con failure and a few other mechanical problems we arrived 11h15 later ... at 1230am. It was not so nice for our guide Yosep who had been waiting for a few hours despite me having kept in touch with him over the phone with constant revisions of our arrival time.

While the air-conditioning was running, it wasn't exactly cool inside ... but it was quite pleasant after sundown except for the windy bits into the highland. Shouldn't complain ... it was an older bus with Executive Class and so had plenty of legroom.


Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Let's sponsor a mass circumcision!

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large_5550_12557907467127.jpgPictures taken fom the internet of crew playing with the crash axe.
Today we flew Lionair (not Ryanair) from the somewhat Christian city of Manado [Manado-travel-guide-866704] to the more Muslim city of Makassar [Makassar-travel-guide-1318796] (or Ujung Pandang) arriving at the beautiful new Sultan Hasanuddin airport.

Now for some amusing facts, factoids or urban myths about Lionair:

1. Photos were found on the internet showing a bunch of Lionair cabin crew playing with the crash axe (an axe carried on board for hacking one's way out in a crash, standard equipment on aircraft but naturally hidden from passenger view). They were amusing pictures, with some being rather suggestive!

2. Lionair was speculated to be starting an Australian domestic airline when some of the Australian public thought they need to brush-up on their cultural awareness with doing promotions. They had organised a mass-circumcision for young boys as one of its community-and-promotional events ... while appropriate for Indonesia it is rather awkward for Australians to even think about it.


Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Oh, for a freshwater shower!

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After our two dives today, we transferred to Novotel Grand Kawanua on the mainland. Kim's work gets a large discount on its corporate plan ... a beautiful room in a new gorgeous hotel with a big pool was NZD45 (about EUR22).

It didn't take long before we were in the rain shower washing off two days of accumulated salt! Yes, freshwater in a shower ... unlike the hotel shower in Bunaken [Bunaken-travel-guide-862175] which was slightly salty. And air-conditioning too!


Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

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