Page 5 of DavidandSara Travel Blog Posts

Asia » Indonesia » Sulawesi » Tana Toraja June 5th 2018

Today we are off to see some of the various burial sites used by the Toraja. Their belief system is complex. Most of them are Christian, and their Christianity seems to combine seamlessly with their ancient beliefs. They are not animists by and large; they are not into spirit worship. Christianity came to Toraja when the Dutch came to the area in 1906. Only about 15% of the population are Muslim, unlike the rest of south Sulawesi which is heavily Islamic. However, first we are going to see the twice weekly livestock market in Rantepao. This is where buffalo and pigs are traded. Buffalo are imported from elsewhere in Indonesia to satisfy the almost insatiable demand for buffalo for sacrifice, and the traders bring them here. There are hundreds of beasts in several rings, on the ... read more
Lady in blue
Look into my eyes....
Ploughing with the Japanese buffalo

Asia » Indonesia » Sulawesi » Tana Toraja June 4th 2018

It poured with rain all night, but miraculously it’s dry with a glimmer of sunshine in the morning. We meet up with our Toraja guide Enos who tells us he has found a funeral ceremony we can attend. He takes us to a small shop where we can buy a carton of cigarettes as a gift for the mourners, presumably to help them smoke their way to the next world a bit faster. As we drive along, Enos explains that the length of the funeral is dictated by status or, these days, wealth. A budget funeral lasts 2 days and requires the sacrifice of 5-6 buffalo, while a top end ‘complete funeral’ lasts a week and can involve up to 100 buffalo and numerous pigs being slaughtered. It’s a massive cost for families, even with help ... read more
This will end badly for piggy
Senior mourners
Immolating piggy with flamethrower

Asia » Indonesia » Sulawesi June 2nd 2018

The pouring rain has stopped and it’s a beautiful morning. We enjoy the luxury of a lie-in – to 6.40! The unexpected pleasures of Rumah Saweh continue, with a “Dutch” breakfast of homemade yogurt, smoked salmon, pastrami, cream cheese, fresh passion fruit and excellent coffee. We wish we could stay another night, but sadly we have to move on. Yusruf takes us on an easy walk through the countryside to a nearby village, with some 400 year old houses, and he points out different plants and their medicinal uses, which he learnt from his grandma. As we set off, the villagers shout at him, he tells us “Oi Yusruf, why are those foreigners walking with ski poles there is no snow here hahaha”. So rude. We see durian, cocoa and mangoes growing on trees which we ... read more
Lake Tempe
Fishing on Lake Tempe
Gutting tilapia

Asia » Indonesia » Sulawesi June 1st 2018

The alarm goes off at the unwelcome hour of 6.15 as it’s another early start today. The breakfast buffet offers much but delivers little, at least if you want a western breakfast. An omelette and some fruit suffices. The island of Sulawesi (formerly shown as Celebes on the maps people of a certain age studied at school) is an interesting and very diverse place. The capital, Makassar, where we stayed this first night, is a port town. The people of this area are either Makassar or Bugis, with separate languages and political agendas. We were struck as we flew over on the plane how virtually all the women on the plane were wearing hijabs, and quite a few of the men were wearing traditional Islamic dress. It is described in our guidebook as “staunchly Muslim” although ... read more
Maros farm scene
Along the river in Maros
Maros canoe ride

Asia » Indonesia » Java » Bromo Tengger Semeru May 30th 2018

After a pleasant overnight stay in a lovely hotel in Malang that was once a Dutch colonial building, we say goodbye to comfort and head off to visit Mount Bromo, one of the many hundreds of volcanoes in Indonesia. Our new driver Tommy offers us a quick visit to the Malang bird market, a street with hundreds of small and mostly colourful birds for sale. Owning caged birds are a symbol of prestige in Indonesia, and seeing them is OK, but we don’t like the sight of half a dozen rabbits squashed up in a small cage and are downright appalled at the sight of two tiny monkeys dressed in sweaters trying to escape their cage. Tommy takes the back routes to Tumpang, which finally afford us a sight of the real countryside. The villages are ... read more
Inside Mount Bromo
Approach to the sea of sand

Asia » Indonesia » Java » Yogyakarta May 28th 2018

One thing about Indonesia is the interesting calls of the toads and frogs that come out at night. We particularly enjoy one creature that, in a loud and rather deep tone, has a call that sounds like “ars......soooowl” repeated about half a dozen times. I do wish I knew what it was.... Today we have a full day in Jogjakarta, with a city tour in the morning and a culinary tour in the afternoon. Our guide arrives and we set off in two bekaks – bicycle rickshaws – with me in one and Sara and the lady guide Vita in the other. We ride for about 15 minutes to the kraton. The traffic to the first time visitor to Asia might seem chaotic but to us it is positively sedate. David’s driver/rider babbles away, obviously believing ... read more
Loyal retainer of the sultan of Yogya
Water palace, Yogyakarta
Making lotek

Asia » Indonesia » Java » Borobudur May 26th 2018

We decide to skip the 3am departure to watch the sun rise over Borobudur, and instead allow ourselves a lie in till 6am, which allows time for breakfast and a very brief glimpse of the volcano before it vanishes back into the mist. Borobudur is an hour’s drive away, and August takes us on the back routes which are far more scenic and rural and much quieter than the highway. All the guide books say it’s vital to get there before 7.30am when the tour parties arrive, as it gets appallingly crowded. We are nervous that our need for sleep may result in a dreadful visit fighting off the crowds, so are pleasantly surprised, not to say relieved, when we arrive to find a peaceful car park and nobody ahead of us in the ticket queue. ... read more
Volcanic Mount Merapi
The approach to Prambanan

Asia » Indonesia » Java » Magelang May 25th 2018

It’s time to say goodbye to Tanjung Puting. We get back on the boat for the last time, and make our way back to Kumai, where we transfer to a taxi. Susi has promised us a visit to a Dayak village, and we have high hopes of seeing shrunken heads and the like, and men in loin cloths and feathers in their head bands carrying blowpipes, or at least some authentic village scenes. But sadly all we see is an empty long house, which lacks character or interest. It’s a short flight from Kalimantan to Semerang in central Java, where our driver is waiting. Java is a huge culture shock after the unpopulated peace of the national park. It’s a 2 hour drive to our hotel, and the entire drive is through built up areas, at ... read more
Lunch on the hillside
Sara does her best not to fall into the rice paddy

Asia » Indonesia » Kalimantan May 24th 2018

5.30am and we are awake, groggy but unable to sleep further. We get up and splash welcome cold water over our faces and enjoy a most welcome cup of tea. The best to be said about the night is that the mosquito net worked. We smell even worse. After a breakfast of banana pancakes and scrambled eggs, we set off once more. We’re fortunate to see a second wild male orangutan, hanging nonchalantly in the branches. Our guide says that this morning we will go for a one hour trek to plant some trees, which she warns us will be extremely muddy and slippery after last night’s thunderstorm. We ask if we couldn’t go to a feeding station again, but she says it will be too late as feeding starts at 9am. At 9.05 we sail ... read more
Piggyback ride
Male proboscis monkey - what a nose!

Asia » Indonesia » Kalimantan May 23rd 2018

We are woken at 530am by the sound of the macaques leaping from tin roof to tin roof and screeching. No need for an alarm clock. By morning, Sara finds that as well as the damage to her shin, she has also bruised the inside of one knee, pulled the muscles in the other foot, and bruised her left hand, necessitating the painful removal of her rings in case the fingers swell any more. It will be painful for the rest of the holiday, but we are both hugely relieved she didn’t suffer a broken leg or knock herself out. There's not much in the way of medical attention around here. We’re up early so we can be on the boat in time to – hopefully – see some more apes from the boat. After a ... read more

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