Rice fields in Batutumonga. Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2007.

The beautiful rice fields of Batutumonga

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  Indonesia: Sulawesi - July 2007

I continue the story of my journey to Sulawesi, trip dating from July 2007. I will take you back to the Toraja country, for a motorcycle ride through the splendid rice paddies around the village of Batutumonga, north of Rantepao.

Motorcycle ride in the rice fields of Batutumonga

Rantepao, Friday, July 13, 2007. Another fantastic day! In the company of my new Spanish friends, Joseba and Ana, I go to explore the villages and rice fields of the North.

They also rented a motorbike and we drive together to Batutumonga, with our little photocopied card provided by the hotel.

The road climbs. It rises gradually in a mountainous setting, with rice terraces, breathtaking beauty.

Rice fields in Batutumonga. Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2007.

The weather is a little gray and as we gain altitude, it is definitely cooler. We are quick to put on our jackets and rain gear.

Rice fields in Batutumonga. Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2007.

After having lunch and admired the view from a big tourist restaurant in Batutumonga itself, we take the road a little by chance and we stray in small stony paths, which pass between the rice fields and connect villages whose name we do not know.

Traditional villages of Toraja country

Everywhere, people are extremely hospitable. Big smiles and hand gestures to greet us. Our visit always fascinates the children.

The villages are cute, with their roofs tongkonan curved, and we stop from time to time, to photograph houses and granaries with rice particularly beautiful, finely carved and painted.

On some, the black and red decoration, with bull motifs, evokes Spain.

We stop at a moment in a place whose name I do not know, but whose beauty scotche us on site. A small valley between two mountains, with rice paddies.

Shades of soft green, strewn with large black rocks, as in a Zen garden. The place is absolutely serene.

A few meters further, we discover that the largest of these rocks also serve as tombs.

Funeral Ceremony

In a small village high up in the mountain, we come upon the procession of a small funeral ceremony. It is less sumptuous than that of Rembon which I attended two days earlier.

There, I feel more "voyeur", more embarrassed to take pictures than Rembon, despite the insistence of many guests who are absolutely determined to pose with us. For there are women in the procession who cry and groan.

Strange, because in the rest of the group, other people are singing, laughing and shouting, with the festive gaiety I had observed at Rembon, typical of these Toraja funerary ceremonies. The deceased from here is probably dead for less time than that of Rembon, which would explain the openly displayed sadness of these women.

We are not eternal. You have to come back before dark. She falls early in these latitudes. And we do not know where we are. But people kindly tell us the road. Anyway, the moment we go down, we are in the right direction!

Our presence amuses the children, who lend themselves willingly to the souvenir photo.
Our presence amuses the children, who lend themselves willingly to the souvenir photo.

On the way, we meet peasants and children, a bit shy, who carry the barbaque of the buffalo sacrificed at this ceremony. Other children, less timid, met in a village a little lower, we confirm that we are on the right road to return to Rantepao.

Back to Rantepao

The air is warming, we can finally take off our little wool. I am thinking of buying before leaving a sarong as the mountaineers wear here. The piece of cloth is sewn at the ends, and forms like a wide tube, transformable at will in dress, skirt, scarf, cap, or shawl to be wrapped.

We return to finish on the main road below. A happiness, this trip in the North. The most fun of all my walks in Toraja country. Once back in Rantepao, we celebrate this beautiful day around a San Miguel and a solid meal Mambo.

The next day I leave for Lake Poso with the Dutch. Johan found us and negotiated a big 4 × 4 car adapted to the rotten roads that await us, with a nice driver, Ynus. The trip must last a whole day.

The Spaniards, they will play backpackers, with the local bus, which is the link. They took their tickets the day before. We went to examine the bus, parked in front of the agency, in the main street of Rantepao. No air conditioning, the vehicle looks tired, the seats are narrow. It promises ! We joke about the horrors of the long journey that awaits them. I admit that I am very happy to benefit from a more comfortable transport.

  Indonesia: Sulawesi - July 2007

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