Travel Inspirations: The Great "K" Island

gibic
Gin Seladipura @gibicMay 2018 · 6 min read

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I was playing with Google trends to see which Indonesia's travel destinations have better performance in the term of googling. I didn't put Bali, Lombok, Komodo or Jogja intentionally. Instead, I have 4 candidates for this; Sulawesi, Bromo, Mentawai, and Papua (as you can see on my profile, my slogan is: Travel Deeper :P)

I was so sure that Bromo and Papua will have the better performance in the chart. But to my surprise, it was Sulawesi instead of Papua that made the chart!

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Sulawesi. What about it. What to do in Sulawesi?

The Big K Shaped Island

While I was still in elementary school, we learn about the globe, we learn to know how big Indonesia is, all those kind of things. It was not an easy lessons. We are the biggest archipelago on the planet. There are too many names to learn!

According to the Indonesian Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs, of 17,504 officially listed islands within the territory of the Republic of Indonesia, 16,056 island names have been verified by the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names (UNGEGN) (source)

In those 17,504 islands, there are 5 big islands spotted on the map. One of those big 5 has a really distinctive figure. It looks like the letter "K". That is Sulawesi.

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The unique shape of the island was so fascinating for me as a child. I was compare it to Italy, which looks like a foot kicking a football (which resemblance their hihgly popular Lega Calcio). Or the bird shaped Manokwari at the top of New Guinea (which resemblance the bird of paradise, the endemic fauna). I was only a little kids, easy to beat with those kinds of resemblances.

During my Junior high I started to learn about Wallacea. It's an imaginary line on map, drawn by naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace. It's the transitional zone between Asia and Australia. This phenomenon has formed Sulawesi's biodiversity so unique.

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"In this Archipelago there are two distinct faunas rigidly circumscribed, which differ as much as those of South America and Africa, and more than those of Europe and North America: yet there is nothing on the map or on the face of the islands to mark their limits. The boundary line often passes between islands closer than others in the same group. I believe the western part to be a separated portion of continental Asia, the eastern the fragmentary prolongation of a former Pacific continent. In mammalia and birds the distinction is marked by genera, families, and even orders confined to one region; in insects by a number of genera and little groups of peculiar species, the families of insects having generally a universal distribution"

The Sea Pride & History

If you're a traveller that fell more into 'naturalist' adventure, Sulawesi would be on your bucket list. But wait, there are still many things to explore in this great K shaped island.

You see, the shape of Sulawesi made it to have a lot of coastal lines. There are tons of diving spots. I bet you've heard about Bunaken National Park in North Sulawesi. Or maybe you've heard about Togean, Wakatobi, Buton, Taka Bonerate, Tanjung Bira, Donggala Bay or Gorontalo? What about Banggai?

Banggai is situated at the eastern part of Central Sulawesi. It has many unexplored hiking spots (with waterfalls too). (Source)

Sulawesi also rich in it's history. Sulawesi were known on maps thanks to their great Sailors. There was a theory that the term "Boogeyman" is supposed to refer to Bugis pirates, ruthless seafarers of southern Sulawesi. These pirates often plagued early English and Dutch trading ships. It is popularly believed that this resulted in the European sailors bringing their fear of the "bugi men" back to their home countries. However, etymologists disagree with this, because words relating to bogeyman were in common use centuries before European colonization of Southeast Asia. (source)

We could see how marine culture is developed well in the coastal lines of Sulawesi. I'll take Phinisi boat as one sample. UNESCO designated South Sulawesi's Pinisi boat-building art as the world's intangible cultural heritage. In Tanjung Bira, you could see how the Pinisi Boat are made. It's really cool to see how the boat-building artist works.

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The boats in the making at Bonerate, South Sulawesi. (source)

The Ancient Culture

I have wrote about The Mysterious Megaliths of Lore Lindu, Central Sulawesi. To sum it up, In Central Sulawesi, there are over 400 granite megaliths, which various archaeological studies have dated to be from 3000 BC to AD 1300. They vary in size from a few centimetres to around 4.5 metres (15 ft). Until today, we know nothing about who made these stones, their function, and the exact age of this megalith civilization.

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In addition to this ancient heritage, people in Lore Lindu area are still producing bark cloth. Only a few other areas in Indonesia conserve the manufacturing and use of bark. You'll see maestro of bark cloth makers here. They even let you learn how to make one.

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Or how about visiting Toraja, where the funeral ritual is the most elaborate and expensive event. In Toraja, there is a ritual called Ma'Nene. This one ritual is beyond my imagination. You may find it very peculiar. Here, they exhume their deceased loved ones, groom them, and dress them with a new clothes. But have no worry, it's actually their way to celebrate life.

If this is not the kind of attractions you want to see, i bet You will still be able to enjoy Toraja. Toraja has an amazing mountainous scenery, and their traditional houses were beautiful.

Vice has made an exceptional video on how massive is the funeral ceremony in Toraja. See it here.

Other remarkable spot about ancient civilization would be the famous Hand stencils in Pettakere Cave in Maros. The cave hand painting had been dated as being about 40,000 years old.

"The minimum age for (the outline of the hand) is 39,900 years old, which makes it the oldest hand stencil in the world"

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(image source)

Wow. There are so many more amazing thing I want to share about Sulawesi. I’m lost of words. I do want to share about the most amazing divers, the sea gypsy, the Bajo People. But maybe I will keep it for later post.

I guess that's it. See you, and let's travel to the amazing big letter "K" shaped island.


All uncredited images are owned by spektakel.id


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We spent New Year's 2015 in Sulawesi. Interesting, I didn't know it was K-shaped. Unfortunately, we didn't have time for Toraja and spent most of the time in the Selayar area. Beautiful beaches!


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Good for you @wanderlass . Yes, selayar has really beautiful beaches! They have their traditional boat maker attractions too.

I hope you could visit Toraja next. Or Bada Valley in Lore Lindu national park. :D


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I will check out the Bada Valley too. Thanks for these tips :)


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Wow! I wasn't expecting this at all. I'm really grateful. Thank you @travelfeed, you guys are really awesome!


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