The Indonesian archipelago stretches from the Asian mainland all the way to Australia. Our traveller, Shilpa Mehta explores just two contrasting islands of the thirteen thousand that makeup Indonesia – Bali and Sulawesi.
Starting in Bali, Shilpa arrives in Kuta. She meets an Australian who came to visit in 1974 and never went home. She then checks out Kuta’s beautiful beach, and has a go at surfing, before relaxing with a massage from Kutas’ world famous massage ladies.
From Kuta, Shilpa travels by bus to the artists’ village, Ubud, where she has a meal in a warung, an Indonesian café. She also visits the rice fields. Bali is renowned for it’s extraordinary rice terraces and the ones around Ubud are among its most spectacular. Shilpa tries her hand at mask making and learns how important masks are to Hindu sacred stories.
Not far from Ubud is the volcano of Gunung Batur. Shilpa climbs Gunung Batur with a guide, cooking breakfast in a volcanic geyser on the way. They catch an amazing sunrise. Heading ontoLovina on the North coast, Shilpa joins tourists hoping to catch a glimpse of dolphins swimming.
Before leaving Bali, Shilpa attends the New Year festival. She helps with preparations for the festival where the bad spirits from the old year are scared away, and good luck is ushered in with the new.
From Bali, Shilpa catches a cheap flight to the strangely shaped island of Sulawesi. She explores the southern province starting in the capital city of Ujung Pandang, which is thegateway to the Spice Islands. After the tranquillity of Bali, Sulawesi is rather different and there are many reminders that this is a Muslim country. At the port Shilpa works up an appetite shifting flour before hooking up with some local girls who guide her through the bewildering choice of food on offer at the sea front.
Shilpa takes a bus to Rantepao in the region ofTorajaland, following an inland route that reveals some spectacular scenery along the way. After a ten-hour journey, she finally arrives in Torajaland and heads for Rantepao’s noisy market where she is offered all manner of delicacies.
She discovers the traditional houses of the Torajans, which are shaped like a boat, a reminder to them of the craft that brought these people and their unique traditions from Vietnam centuries ago.
Shilpa then takes a two day trek in order to attend a Torajan funeral. The family of the deceased keep their dead at home for over a year until they have saved up enough for a big funeral which lasts for three or four days. Shilpa arrives just in time for the culmination of this amazing ceremony, which involves the killing of several water buffalo and the burying of the body in a cliff face.
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