Trouble in Sulawesi

Trouble in Sulawesi

April 3, 2018 0 By Viktor

Arriving at the land of Torajas. Rantepao, Sulawesi

For twenty years I kept diaries of all of our travels before I switched to using a computer. So now I have hundreds of pages full of experienced, good and not so good. I’ll randomly pick a day each time and add a photo or two. And I hope some of you guys will also find it interesting to read…

Wednesday 25th July 2001

It was a day we basically spent doing nothing but lazing. Well, OK, we took some breaks when it got really boring.

The bus pulls in at Rantepao at 5 am and we have the first bad sign even before arrival: it is pelting down with rain. Then it suddenly clears out so we walk to the hotel but it starts drizzling again once we get there. A huge, frightening beetle is eyeing us on the wall of our room, kind of warning us of what’s going to happen.

We lie down to have a nap and wake again only around 10. It’s still raining heavily so we go back to sleep. It then goes on like this until around 2 pm: I’m reading and Anita keeps sleeping. Then our hunger defeats our laziness and it gets clearer once again so we set off to find a rumah makan (restaurant). It would be nice to get over the hurdle of buying our bus tickets so we check one of the ticket offices. Our destination is Tentena, in the central part of Sulawesi.

The traditional ornament of a Toraja house near Rantepao in the southern part of Sulawesi

The traditional ornament of a Toraja house near Rantepao in the southern part of Sulawesi


They stare at as is we were completely mad and just shake their head. Then the woman in the 3rd office finally tells us nobody will take us there now. Christians and Muslims are busy killing each other in the central part of the funnily shaped island and the government has announced a state of emergency. But we already have our plane tickets from Manado (in the north) back to Jakarta! The only way by road is to take a huge detour via Palo. This way we’ll definitely have to forget about the Togeans (tropical paradise) and spend at least 3 days in some rickety bus – wonderful prospects.

We still have our appetite so we enter a friendly-looking restaurant. We try tamarillo juice and it’s worth every rupiah. Our lunch is gado-gado (a rich salad with boiled eggs and lots of peanuts on top). Then we head back to the hotel to find out what to do next.

The dollar takes a dive (we don’t)

In the meantime we find out that we only get 9,200 rupiahs foa a dollar in the town, which is around 15% less than what we would have got in Makassar. And we were stupid enough to forget to exchange there… So our new plan is to return to Makassar and from there we can still take a bus up to Palo. And perhap’s we’ll have a better chance to find a decent bus than here in the middle of nowhere.

Off we go and quickly buy the tickets (for Friday) and then we order a motorbike for tomorrow at one of the travel agencies for 60 thousand (6 dollars). Dinner is at another restaurant, where they surprise us with a fruit salad. It’s delicious but it’ll cause us problems tomorrow… It rains again in the night.