Makassar Sulawesi, Parepare and Watampone (Bone)
Makassar Sulawesi, Parepare and Watampone (Bone) are some cities in south Sulawesi. Makassar is a big city, full of activity and it has been like this for many centuries. Parepare and Watampone (Bone) are small towns where life seems to have stand still.
Makassar (Ujung Pandang) is for many centuries the entrance to Sulawesi (Celebes as it was called by the Portuguese and the Dutch). The Dutch used Makassar as a port on their Spice routes. So it's not surprising that the industry of Makassar is still partly based on the sea.
Transport around the city (just over 1 million citizens) goes by pete-pete (in other parts of Indonesia called bemo) which is a minibus for local transport.
With prices around US $50 and up you have a western styled hotel. However, cheaper is possible. All over the city you can find cheap guesthouses for prices around US $5-10 but don't expect luxury or even very clean rooms. Check Tripadvisor or Agoda.com for more cheaper options
Sulawesi has it's own local cuisine and Makassar is a great place to explore. The most famous is Coto Makassar. It is a stew made from the mixture of nuts and spices with beef parts which include beef brain, tongue and intestine.
Another is the pisang epe, pressed bananas. This sweet dish is made of grilled bananas with palm sugar sauce. A good place to explore is the local foods is the boulevard.
Worth a visit is the museum Lagaligo in Fort Rotterdam (Penghibur Street). It has a good quality collection of Sulawesi's history, archaeological finds and other curiosa showing the rich past of Sulawesi.
The remains of the Fort are nowadays in the center of the museum area.
The only other place that might be worth a visit is the Tomb of Prince Diponegoro, a prince who lived in the 18th century.
There's not a lot to tell about Parepare. It's a sleepy town on the west coast and a nice overnight stop if you don't want to do the journey to Tana Toraja in one day.
In Parapare I changed my original and decided to go first to Watampone (Bone). I was told I would be able to see hundreds, if not thousands of bats hanging in the trees in the town center. I was intrigued enough to chance my plan.
When I arrived in Watampone, I saw the bats. several trees full of them. In the evening it was quite noisy as the bats were flying out on their hunt for food only to return in the early morning.
There's an interesting museum: Lapawaoi, located in the middle of town, with an extensive collection of local historic artifacts.
Around town there are some nice hikes to make to some minor local villages and a few km east of town there's a nice beach area.
Watampone or Bone is worth a visit but only if you have plenty of time.
After this short intermezzo, I continue traveling north passing Singkang with it's silk weaving industry.
I get a short view of Lake Tempe and then the mountains. The road is surprisingly good, despite all the horror stories I have heard.
The mountains on this road are quite wild. The road swindles through the mountains towards Makale but this is not were you want to stay.
You will pass Mount Latimojong, with just over 3200 meters one of the highest mountain in this area (Mt Rantemario is with just over 3400 meters a bit higher). The mountains are part of a huge national park. In Rantepao you can organize a tour into the national park.
And it is Rantepao where all the excitement is. And that is Tana Toraja
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Jungle trekking to Bada Valley
This was an amazing and not in advance organized part of my journey. But it was really great. And Bada valley had some amazing things to show me: the Megaliths
The most famous place to visit in Sulawesi is Tana Toraja. The spectacular cave burial areas and, if you are lucky, a memorable few days of a funeral which is an amazing experience.
Again a place most travelers skip. Lake Poso is an amazingly beautiful lake where time seems to have stand still. The area is not easy to travel so facilities are sparse but it is all made up by the beautiful people who, if you are in for it put you on a jungle trekking to Bada Valley
Map of Sulawesi