Des gamins filent à scooter sur la route devant moi. (Pays Toraja, Sulawesi, Indonésie, juillet 2010)
Kids scooter on the road in front of me. (Toraja Country, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2010)

Scooter in the rice fields

#Sulawesi # Indonesia

  Indonesia: Sulawesi - July 2010

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic Google translation from a post originally written in French. My apologies for the weird sentences and the funny mistakes that could have been generated during the process. If you can read French, the original and correct version can be found here:

Batutumonga. This strange and beautiful name is synonymous for me, a fantastic scooter ride in the heart of Toraja country, in central Sulawesi. Rice fields sublime ... but rotten roads! I almost stayed in the mountains sleeping because of a flat tire.

The rice fields of Batutumonga

The Batutumonga region is a mountainous area covered with rice paddies. Each turn of the road offers a stunning new panorama. If there is a corner not to be missed, in the Toraja Country, it is this one!

During my previous stay in Sulawesi, three years agoI had already offered the ride. I wanted to do it again last July.

Easy. In my bag, before riding the rental bike, I slip maps of the region, recovered from my previous trip.

Finally ... "cards" is a big word: simple A4 sheets photocopied and distributed to tourists. Between a continuous line and a dotted line, it is difficult to know which path is really practicable for a two-wheeler.

Un femme et un jeune garçon s'apprêtent à aller vanner le riz. (Pays Toraja, Sulawesi, Indonésie, juillet 2010)
A woman and a young boy are about to bask rice. (Toraja Country, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2010)
Je m'arrête toutes les 5 minutes pour prendre de nouvelles photos... (Pays Toraja, Sulawesi, Indonésie, juillet 2010)
I stop every 5 minutes to take new photos ... (Toraja Country, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2010)
Une tête de buffle orne cette autre tombe creusée dans un rocher volcanique. (Pays Toraja, Sulawesi, Indonésie, juillet 2010)
A buffalo head adorns this other grave dug into a volcanic rock. (Toraja Country, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2010)

The pen-ball pen

Suddenly, I meet with my motorcycle rental: which is the best way to make a loop and return to Rantepao without galley? Three years agothe return route had been difficult. Not want to redo this long and tortuous journey by broken roads.

On one of the cards that I give him, he shows me the "good" road with a blue line of ballpoint pen. He also scribbles me the name of a village, if I have to ask my way. With his fingertip, he also shows me the dotted lines of the "bad" road ... Very bad roadhe says.

Perfect. Thank you so much, terima kasih baniak

Je ne me lasse pas de ce paysage de rizières étagées à flanc de colline. (Pays Toraja, Sulawesi, Indonésie, juillet 2010)
I do not get tired of this landscape of rice fields staggered on a hillside. (Toraja Country, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2010)
Une insolite contrefaçon Gucci sèche au soleil le long de la route, avec la récolte... (Pays Toraja, Sulawesi, Indonésie, juillet 2010)
An unusual counterfeit Gucci dries in the sun along the road, with the harvest ... (Toraja Country, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2010)

The good road

I go on the road to Bori. A small paved road, with some potholes and tarpaulins spread where the rice dries in the sun. A pretty picturesque road, borrowed the day before to go to the funeral ceremony. Moreover, the party continues in Bori. On site, we continue to cut the buffaloes.

This time, I cross the village without stopping and continue north. From time to time, I stop to photograph the work of the fields.

Regard amusé de cette dame qui travaille en plein soleil au milieu de la rizière. (Pays Toraja, Sulawesi, Indonésie, juillet 2010)
Fun look at this lady working in the sun in the middle of the rice field. (Toraja Country, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2010)

It climbs little by little. But the road is always a real road. It's the right road, no problem. Besides, I recognize everything.

I find this fabulous point of view, where everyone stops for the photo-souvenir, where the eyes are far away on the rice terraces and tiny villages, with their graceful roofs tongkonan curved. I still stop, a little further, in this beautiful valley, which I am so happy to see again ... Rice fields, still strewn with big black and round rocks encased in the tender green of the cultures. Superb!

On ne sait si les fameux toits incurvés "tongkonan" symbolisent la coque d'un bateau ou les cornes d'un buffle. (Pays Toraja, Sulawesi, Indonésie, juillet 2010)
We do not know if the famous "tongkonan" roofs symbolize the hull of a boat or the horns of a buffalo. (Toraja Country, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2010)
Des rizières à perte de vue... (Pays Toraja, Sulawesi, Indonésie, juillet 2010)
Rice fields as far as the eye can see ... (Toraja Country, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2010)
Je retrouve le paysage qui m'était resté gravé dans la mémoire : les rizières en terrasses, les gros rochers noirs... (Pays Toraja, Sulawesi, Indonésie, juillet 2010)
I found the landscape that had remained engraved in my memory: rice terraces, big black rocks ... (Toraja Country, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2010)

I have lunch up there, in Batutumonga itself, at the panoramic restaurant where all the tourists land. The ride is a classic circuit around Rantepao. But there are not many in the huge hall. A young couple came to scooter, like me. And two other young people with a local guide.

The wrong road

Now, I still have the choice: go back where I came from. Or return to Rantepao following the blue line of the ballpoint pen.

Of course, this is the second option that tempts me. Of course, to spin my nose in the wind, from village to village, to stop everywhere for new photos, to leave without calculating too much distances, I miss the junction where I should have turned.

I see that the road is less and less a road and more and more full of stones, holes, muddy puddles. I can see the big gray cloud in my back, which is swelling and getting closer. I even recognize very well two-three villages and all these landscapes that had subjugated me, three years earlier, on this rotten road that I had sworn not to resume.

La vue porte loin, en contrebas dans la vallée, au fur et à mesure qu'on prend de la hauteur. (Pays Toraja, Sulawesi, Indonésie, juillet 2010)
The view is far below, in the valley, as one gains height. (Toraja Country, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2010)
Le gris du ciel qui annonce l'averse fait encore plus ressortir le vert fluo des jeunes pousses de riz. (Pays Toraja, Sulawesi, Indonésie, juillet 2010)
The gray of the sky which announces the downpour makes even more the fluorescent green of the young shoots of rice. (Toraja Country, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2010)
L'averse me tombera dessus quelques minutes après cette photo... (Pays Toraja, Sulawesi, Indonésie, juillet 2010)
The shower will fall on me a few minutes after this photo ... (Toraja Country, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2010)

The downpour

When I see a new handful of houses come up, I finally decide to ask my way to a young girl, who comes home hastily.

It tells me vaguely the direction in which I go. She speaks very poor English and my skinny Bahasa is not enough. Of course, I left the guesthouse my little conversation book.

Suddenly, it is dark and it rains dru. She invites me to come and take shelter under the veranda. Beckons me to push my bike under the eaves. It's the deluge.

A smiling lady, whom I suppose to be her mother, has already taken out a chair, invites me to sit down. Kopi? Well, a coffee, it's not a refusal, given what falls ... As much as it goes.

In the doorway, young children, two little boys and two little girls come to watch me, a little intimidated. As soon as I look at them, they take refuge inside and chuckle with laughter.

Le soleil brille encore sur le vert presque fluo des jeunes pousses de riz, mais les nuages gorgés de pluie ne demandent qu'à crever... (Pays Toraja, Sulawesi, Indonésie, juillet 2010)
The sun is still shining on the almost fluorescent green of the young rice shoots, but the rain-soaked clouds are just waiting to burst ... (Toraja Country, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2010)
Les gamines, d'abord timides, s'enhardissent peu à peu... (Pays Toraja, Sulawesi, Indonésie, juillet 2010)
The girls, initially shy, gradually grow bolder ... (Toraja Country, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2010)

My new friend, Omi

The girl is called Omi. An angel. I thought I could leave again after kopi, the short story of my life as a tourist in three words Bahasa, the photos with her nieces and her brother, the promise to become her friend on Facebook ...

I did 20 meters on the bike, with my rain poncho. And turn around immediately. The rear tire was completely flat.

After inspection of the tire, Omi's brother shakes his head. She turns to me, speaks to me, I catch a few words: tinggal, tidur, di sini... stay, sleep, here. Obviously, I did not take my landlord's phone number. Obviously, the phone of my guesthouse does not answer.

Not possible. I have to take my bus ticket to Rantepao in the evening, if I want to be able to get back to Makassar in time for my flight back to the North, to Manado. I want to repair.

L'adorable Omi prend la pose pour la photo souvenir. (Pays Toraja, Sulawesi, Indonésie, juillet 2010)
The adorable Omi poses for the souvenir photo. (Toraja Country, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2010)
Je suis accueillie par les sourires étonnés des enfants. (Pays Toraja, Sulawesi, Indonésie, juillet 2010)
I am greeted by the children's astonished smiles. (Toraja Country, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2010)
Me voici adoptée par les enfants de la famille. (Pays Toraja, Sulawesi, Indonésie, juillet 2010)
Here I am adopted by the children of the family. (Toraja Country, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2010)

Omi takes my bike, makes me sit behind her, and we drive, in the pebble and holes, despite the flat tire, at low speed, to the semblance of town I had passed, a few kilometers earlier. For nothing.

Tutup! Closed! The repairman of the corner is closed.

She is peeved. And transie.


Omi takes me home. It's raining again a little. All shivering, she parked the bike in front of the house. His mother is waiting for a hypothetical ojek, a guy who rides a motorcycle taxi, who could take me back to Rantepao. Of course, the few who pass are already taken.

The clock is ticking Almost 5 pm in the afternoon. I still have roughly two hours of day left. The night falls early here. As much as I know how to run at slow speed on a rotten road, I do not feel like doing it in the dark.

So I decide. If I have to move, it's now. I saw that we could roll, anyway, with this flat tire. Not fast, but it's moving forward.

I try to estimate the time needed to reach Rantepao. Omi does not know too much, maybe an hour, maybe two, maybe more ... In Indonesia, time is elastic, always.

Pelan, pelan! they tell me when I finally leave, with my rain poncho and flat tire. Slowly, yes, yes. This, yes…

L'énorme rocher noir au bout du chemin est la dernière demeure de nombreux défunts. (Pays Toraja, Sulawesi, Indonésie, juillet 2010)
The huge black rock at the end of the road is the last home of many dead. (Toraja Country, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2010)


Two o'clock. It took me a little over two hours to reach the outskirts of the city. I arrived at the renter's shop in Rantepao, in the pouring rain. Back and arms stiff, buttocks compote. I swapped my broken bike for a brand new scooter.

Up there, in the mountains, I lived great moments of solitude, under the shower, facing huge gurgling pools, to determine where to go: right, left, in the middle? I crossed them all, without accidental slip, without falling in the yellow mud.

I also made laugh lots of villagers, who went up to the heights, returning home. All began to greet me cheerfully, a little surprised to see a white hooded green astray on this little mountain road drowned in fog. All of them then uttered an exclamation pointing to my wheel.


Stoic, stubborn, I continued, worth it, ultra slow pace. By making me confirm the way, at each junction. What a relief, when I fell, finally, on a real good road hard not too bumpy, which descended in laces to the plain!

It made me a good story to tell the evening to Laurence and Eric, a couple of Lyonnais installed in the same guesthouse as me, with their son Maxence.

They too had rented scooters in the day and they too had burst! More lucky than me, they had unearthed a little repairer nearby, who gave them the wheel in condition ... My story also made fun Sebastian, the Norwegian with whom I had sympathized in the buswhen he returned the day after his trek in the rice fields.

Me, walking, that's not my thing ... I prefer to ride on these small bikes, the equivalent of our scooters, with which everyone moves in Asia. For independence, the freedom it provides. And then, with that we go everywhere. Even with a flat tire.

Des gamins filent à scooter sur la route devant moi. (Pays Toraja, Sulawesi, Indonésie, juillet 2010)
Kids scooter on the road in front of me. (Toraja Country, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2010)


  Indonesia: Sulawesi - July 2010

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  1. Hello Corinne,

    I just clicked on your blog.
    Beautiful photos!
    But me it is especially to confirm that there is nothing like to discover a region, that the scooter. I live in Thailand, but we move a lot. Retirement, so I have time!
    Great distances by bus-train, or rare times by plane.
    This freedom that we have, in a scooter ...

    Good continuation.

  2. Hi Corinne!

    Here is a nice ride on a scooter! The landscapes are very beautiful!
    I agree, the scooter for freedom is great! I see that you are in sandals on one of the photos, attention, me this summer, it cost me dives because of my accident ... 😉

  3. @Jeanmi: Sawatdi-kah! If you live in Thailand, you know exactly what I'm talking about ...

    @Pac ': Yes, Omi became my friend on FB !!! It's crazy, there, it has grown flat, with the explosion of mobile phones. I could not believe it, that in this very small village, in the depths of the mountains, people talk to me about Facebook !!!

    @auxBulles: Once again, Sulawesi has risen to the occasion, question impressions of travel and meetings. On land as under water, it is a corner of Indonesia that really deserves to be stopped.

    @Fabrice: That yes, sublime landscapes. As for scooters, I admit, it is probably not very clever, but I do it at the local: in flip flops, like everyone else ... But of course, I do not recommend anyone to do like me especially when you are not used to driving a two-wheeler. In case of fall, we have no protection. It is therefore forbidden to fall, to have the slightest accident. I always drive very very slowly, at a really reduced speed, even when it's not on a flat tire. So far, it has succeeded me ... I will make sure that continues.

  4. Another beautiful journey that we live with our globetrotteuse.
    Thank you for this information that can be put in the category "don'ts" 😉

    PS: not bad the small inset in the the magazine 8)

  5. Hi, I love these landscapes !!
    that's it, after 2 stays in the Red Sea this year (well ... I think I'm getting hard ...) I go back to Asia, in April 2011 10 days on Malapascua and Dauin / Dumaguete.
    I hope I can also take a ride on a motorcycle ...
    continue to put pictures, we are waiting for your photos of slugs !!

  6. @Fabrice: Asia, yes, probably ... I love to go back! But for now, I still have no visibility on my next time slot or project stopped.

    @Bizut: Absolutely, my example is not necessarily to follow ...

    @Laurence: So like that, it becomes difficult! Hey, hey ... Good preparations for the next start. I will try to put my small slugs online this weekend.

    @Ysbilia: Yes, when I saw the Gucci towel hanging there, I could not resist. An image was needed!

  7. Hello Corinne,

    I have been running your blog for a few months, one of those that gave me the desire to visit Sulawesi. It's done, I went there 3 weeks in September.
    So, I just saw this last story, and I walked exactly the same road in the mountains with a picture of the boy in yellow in front of the pink house. Where I had to stop for lunch with the store's delicious noodle packs 🙂
    Congratulations on your blog.


  8. @David: Thank you very much for this nice little word! 🙂

    @Gucco: Nothing makes me more happy than to learn that I managed to give others the desire to travel !!! It's funny to think that we followed the same route on these little mountain roads ... The family of Omi indeed holds a shop next to the house. But at the moment, I did not care at all to buy noodles!

  9. Are scooters Honda 100 innova with big wheels and gearboxes?
    How many kilometers have you managed to drive with a flat tire?
    The tire was not crazy? It's extraordinary, with all these stones and holes it should have been cut between the rim and the road ...
    Omi at what age? If I followed correctly, she managed the feat of rolling while you were behind her! To two on a flat tire, when she is probably too poor to have her scooter? How did she do it?

  10. @Olivier S.: I do not know anything about brands of motorcycles, scooters, or mopeds ... It's one of those two-wheelers as we see everywhere in Asia, with gear changes in the left foot.

    I do not know how many miles separated me from my goal. I drove very slowly, about two hours in a row ... It seems long.

    The tire was surely stuck, but it remained fixed to the wheel. All right, but always on it. It has probably been cut from everywhere.

    I do not remember the age of Omi. I would have given it to him in 18 years. She was there with her family. I do not know if she lived there permanently where was only visiting her brother for a few days. In any case, his brother had a scooter. And everyone knows how to drive a scooter in Asia, from an early age ... I saw kids as high as three apples to maneuver! A lot of families have one, or have it loaned. It is the main vehicle and the most widespread. Especially on these mountain roads, this is the most convenient way to get around.

    Finally, to ride on a flat tire is something everyone in the villages had to do on these rotten roads. There are repairers of two-wheelers everywhere ... It's a very ordinary incident, actually.


  11. Nice travel story !! very beautiful pictures
    After 3 stays in Bali, I leave in November in Sulawesi and also plan to rent a scooter
    I have one concern: mosquitoes: are they as virulent as they say?

    1. @Pascale: thank you for this little word !!! 🙂 Bah, yes, the mosquitoes, there are some in Asia, but not so much in the heights: in Rantepao and Batutumunga, I do not have the memory of being embarrassed by that. Otherwise, a shot of repellent to pschitter on the arms and ankles, at dusk, and it's good!

    2. Thank you for your answer, I have allergies, so it worries me a little !!
      Otherwise, Bonsai !! lol
      I can not wait to be there