Difference between revisions of "Sulawesi"
Revision as of 14:24, 6 June 2011
Sulawesi (formerly Celebes) is one of the main islands of Indonesia. With four spindly arms spinning outward, Sulawesi's spidery shape is easily recognizable.
Sulawesi's tough terrain and massive size (174,600 km²) have meant that the island has a wildly divergent set of peoples and cultures, speaking eight major languages and professing Christian, Muslim, Hindu and animist beliefs (not to mention various mixes thereof).
Sulawesi's main ports of entry is Makassar, which has frequent flights throughout the archipelago. Manado acts as a secondary hub, with some interesting connections eastward to Halmahera and Papua. Both airports are international airports with visitor-on-arrival facilities, with international flights to Kuala Lumpur from Makassar, and to Singapore from both airports.
The Trans-Sulawesi Highway winds for over 1900 km from Makassar to Manado. Despite the grand name, the road is narrow, twisty, spottily paved and dangerous.
Bus travel is very good from Makassar to Tana Toraja, however the quality diminishes considerably if you intend venturing on to the Togean Islands.
The area around Tana Toraja is a fascinating one and well worth a visit. The Torajans are Christians but still maintain strong connections to their Indigenous culture and religion. Locals welcome visitors to take part in their elaborate funeral ceremonies which are interesting but involve animal sacrifices and are not for the squeamish.
Ikat weaving is Sulawesi's best-known craft, with different styles all around the island.
Sulawesi cuisine is quite varied, but the best-known is Manadonese cuisine from the north, an interesting mix of Dutch influences, incredibly spicy chillies and unorthodox ingredients like bat and dog.
Central Sulawesi continues to be wracked by sporadic ethnic violence, with bombings and violent riots in Poso, Palu and Tentena as militant Christian and Muslim factions battle. South Sulawesi and Southeast Sulawesi have also experienced some unrest. North Sulawesi is generally calm.