They said you come to Toraja for two main reasons, funeral ceremonies and the spectacular views. To me, Toraja is all about death and life. I have never met another culture where the whole existence of death and life are in such balance, harmony; albeit the economy, political, and religious turmoils surround it.
In ‘life’ I mean everything that lives; plants, animals and human being. Together with the dead, they become one congruous composition.
Bamboo forests are crucial for the Torajans. They are part of Torajan Traditional Settlement. They use bamboo almost in every aspects of their life. From their tongkonans, or bridges like this one I had to pass on my way into the first rante I visited:
This is one of Toraja's cuisine, Pa'piong Manuk, chicken cooked in bamboo with mayana leaves (painted nettle) or burak (young banana trunk), katokkon chili and other spices. Beside Pa' piong Manuk, there are also Pa' piong Bale (fish) and Pa' piong Bai (pork).
The locals also use mayana leaves to treat cough. They mix it with egg yolk and cook it inside a bamboo.
Another Toraja's cuisine is Pantollo Pammarasan, pork cooked with pangium edule (kluwak) and other spices. There are also pamarassan cooked with chicken or beef and bitter gourd (Pare Pammarasan)
We can see a lot of kluwak trees here. The seeds are taken out, crushed and dried in the sun. These seeds are what make the pammarasan black. My guide said, if eaten when it is not dried enough, it will make you drunk.
Our guide took us to Batutumonga the first afternoon we were there, a village in North Toraja, 22 km from Rantepao, lies on the slope of Mount Sesean. It really was a welcome scene after the animal slaughtering.
Paddies planting is a communal occasion as the harvesting and fish feasting after harvest season. Fish ponds are dug somewhere on the paddy field and surrounded with bamboo or deep rooted plants to keep it from crumbling. They are used to maintain a good ecosystem. Manure from farming animals acts as fertilizer. Such wise people.
We stopped by Mentirotiku Homestay for some coffee and enjoyed the exquisite nature painting. It feels like we were standing on a land above the clouds.
I read some bad reviews on this homestay but I found the locals working there were very friendly and let us explore the place. I might want to stay here if I were younger and more adventurous.
Preserved katokkon chili and tamarillo juice can be found in stores, or at the most wellknown and longest market there, Pasar Bolu.
Two other main crops are coffee and cacao.
Our guide is an experienced guide for mountain biking, rafting and trekking. If you like, there are many trekking choices around Batutumonga. He told me that sometimes on their trip, they suck the coffee beans to quench their thirst when water is not readily available.
My guide: Ucok Pasaka
Mobile number: +62 852-4308-7705
Kurre' Sumanga, Ucok!