Difference between revisions of "Tana Toraja"
Revision as of 23:58, 31 October 2011
Tana Toraja has unique culture set in stunning scenery. Globalisation and tourism may have impact, but if you venture away from the tarmac roads you will find soon a way of life that has not changed much in the last 100 years.
Traditional Tongkonan houses stand proudly in this setting. These intricately decorated houses with upward-sloping roofs are the center of all Aluktodolo ( Torajan religion before the coming of missionaries; the ancestors belief ) rites; from storing the harvest in the carved rice barns, "alang", to slaughtering sacred water buffaloes at a week or more-funeral ceremonies. Tana Toraja's beauty is also reflected in its people. Although they are devoutly Christian ( there are small number of Moslems especially in the southern area), they combine this religious belief with magic and mysticism, and welcome visitors to witness their ceremonies.
Tana toraja is a sleepy rural region cultivating rice, cacao, coffee, and clove most of the year. Toraja's arabica coffee carries a high reputation and is something that visitors may be interested in trying. These all change during the dry season,, from June until September, when Children are home from school, the rice is harvested and it's time for a "rambu solo' ", a complex funeral ceremony of the ancestors. During the time, Rantepao is transformed into a major tourist resort for national and international visitors.
At 300 to 2,880 metres above sea level, Tana Toraja combines tropical lushness with alpine freshness, with daily temperatures between 16 degrees Celsius to 28 degrees celcius.
Bright green rice terraces, tall limestone outcrops and bamboo graves are set against a backdrop of blue misty mountains.
Electricity is supplied at 220V 50Hz. Outlets are the European standard CEE-7/7 "Schukostecker" or "Schuko" or the compatible, but non-grounded, CEE-7/16 "Europlug" types. American and Canadian travellers should pack a voltage-changing adapter for these outlets if they plan to use North American electrical equipment (although a lot of electronics with power adapters will work on 220 volts, check your equipment first).
Prime funeral season is after the harvest in July to October.
By planeMakassar, one can fly to Tana Toraja or vise versa. The name of the airline is SMAC ( Sabang Merauke Air Charter ). The flight schedule is Tuesday and Friday, leaving for Tana Toraja at 10AM and back to Makassar at 11:30AM. The flight takes about 55 minutes. The ticket price is Rp 204,000 (excluding airport tax). The flight uses CASSA type airplanes. For the time being, the flight is being stopped.
Tana Toraja is a solid 300-km, 8-10 hour drive from Makassar. The cost is 80,000 Rupiah on an air-conditioned bus from Makassar to Rantepao. There is usually a morning or an overnight bus. Frequent mikrolets/bemos leave from Makassar to the bus terminal and take about 40 minutes. The bus from Makassar to Tana Torajo is very clean and comfortable. Please note however, that if you intend continuing further north, the buses are generally slower, in poorer condition and far less comfortable.
By taxi or charted vehicle
A chartered car usually costs about 850,000 - 1.200.000 Rupiah one-way from Makassar. It is possible to find one for a few hundred thousand less if you can coordinate with someone who is driving in that direction. If you plan on staying for a few days and would like the return trip as well, a driver with car should cost about 550,000 Rupiah per day.
Bemo/mikrolet rides run from 2,000Rp for short rides of a few kilometers up to 10,000 Rp. A guide is useful for some of the more distant villages.
Most hotels will put pressure to hire a local guide for 150,000+ Rp a day. Although it can be expensive if you are on a budget, a guide can provide a lot of insight into the local practices and customs.
It is still possible to visit most of the famous sites and funerals on your own, although information can be hard to find from most hotel operators. Tora Tora Primitive Art Gallery has a very friendly English-speaking owner who provides free maps of the area. It is on the main street in Rantepao.
There are many walks (1-3hrs) that pass by many different types of gravesites, including the most popular sites. Most can be reached by short bemo rides from Rantepao and do not require guides.
There are some restaurants in Rantepao and Makale. They serve menus of Indonesian, Chinese and western food. Torajan specialties, such as pa'piong (chicken/pork or fish cooked with vegetables in bamboo tubes) is also available and usually must be ordered in advance. Local Torajan palm wine, ballo', is also easily found.
Some restaurants in Rantepao and Makale :
Ballok. Buy it on the street. The darker, the stronger but be warned, it can be very strong.
The Tana Toraja region is famed for its coffee. In your local coffee house it will cost a small fortune. Drink the real thing here for a fraction of the cost.
Besides Makassar, Tana Toraja is the only area in the Province of South Sulawesi which owns several star hotels. Some widely known star hotels in Tana Toraja are Toraja Heritage Hotel , Toraja Misiliana Hotel , Toraja Prince Hotel and Toraja Sahid Hotel and Tongkonan Layuk Lion [http://www.layuklion.webs.com/
There are also a number of non-star hotels, home-stays and local residences available for accommodation.
Most of the hotels provide standard facilities such as single and double bed, hot and cold water, telephone line, entertainment, meals while some provide additional ones like sports facility, spa and massage, laundry and others.
International phone operators: 101. International Direct Dialing prefix: 001, 007, or 008.
The hospital is fairly serviceable by developing world standards, however, for serious problems you should return to Makassar.