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Indonesia

04

Nov
2014

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In Indonesia
Travel

By kanannie

Where to Buy Buffalo and Cock in Torajaland

On 04, Nov 2014 | No Comments | In Indonesia, Travel | By kanannie

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A great guide leaves you smiling after a long day of touring Torajaland. You can find Amos at Hotel Pison in Rantepao.

Our guide, Arru, dumped us on another guide for our second day of touring Torajaland. This worked out perfectly fine for us because we clicked with our new guide, Amos, immediately. Amos was very knowledgeable, patient, and spoke great English. He and the driver picked us up at 9am and we headed to the buffalo market.

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I spy with my little eye a creepy looking buffalo eye.

The market is very close to town and I’m sure you could explore it on your own, but it helps to have a guide point out the best black and white buffalo to spend your money on. Speaking of black and white buffalo, this is the first time I’ve seen these majestic beasts. We saw many a fine buffalo in Vietnam, but they were all a dull blackish-brown color. I know I’d pay an extra 50,000,000 Rp for a fine blue-eyed, black and white, beast of burden. The buffalo handlers were all standing around waiting for buyers and I was impressed by how caring they were with their beasts. They sprayed water on the gentle creatures to keep them cool and caressed their faces to ease their anxiety. I guess it makes sense to take good care of such valuable assets. We did our best to avoid the massive cow patties as we walked through the buffalo market towards the pig market.

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The most expensive buffalo at the market that day went for a whopping $5000 USD. If only I had $4999 more dollars.

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This buffalo is too white. It would be worth more if it had a better balance of black and white. That’s my expert opinion on buffalo buying.

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Buffalo handlers showing off for potential buyers.

Unlike the majority of Indonesia, the people of Torajaland are not Muslim so pork is a big part of their diet. You wouldn’t see this swine market in Java or Sumatra, or even in other parts of Sulawesi. There were squirming piglets in sacks and larger pigs hog-tied to bamboo gurneys. The more desirable specimens were allowed to strut their stuff in pens to show that they were in good health. It’s too bad that all of the pigs couldn’t just be put into pens rather than tied up. I’m no animal rights activist and I’d be the first person to steal a strip of crispy bacon from a baby, but I’m not keen on seeing the poor creatures strapped down unnecessarily. Then again, I bet their treatment here is immensely better than that of pigs at factory farms back in the States.

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Pigs in a blanket. Mmmm. Pigs in a blanket.

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I was sad to see these poor piggies all tied up like this. Poor piggies.

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Piggies in a bamboo pen with a guy sleeping in a hammock.

On the way out of the market we saw guys gathered around showing off their beautiful cocks. Get your mind out of the gutter! I’m talking about people selling roosters for fighting. Some tourists ask their guides to take them to cockfights where the roosters have razor blades attached to their talons so they can inflict lethal injuries on their opponents. We had no interest in seeing such a thing and I was happy to find out that our guide felt the same way about this barbaric form of entertainment. We continued to our car and headed up to see the monoliths.

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A couple of young guys showing off their colorful cocks.

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This cock does not look like a winner.

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The King of Cocks!

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Lovely ladies selling tobacco at the market.

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Herbal remedies for all that ails you.

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Finely ground coffee beans that the Indonesians use to make terrible coffee. Someone should learn them a thing or two about making a good cup of Java.

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Fresh betel nut. People wrap a bit of it in betel leaf, chew it and then spit out the red juices. It’s looks disgusting and leaves blood red stains everywhere. Narstay!

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Knives with carved handles. They’re quite heavy and better used to kill your enemies rather than slicing bread.

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Expensive traditional conical hats worn during ceremonies. These are heavy and not the same kind you see people wearing in the rice paddies.

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Fruits and veggies for sale at the market.

As you know from Kanako’s previous post, the Torajan people are very serious about their funeral ceremonies and rituals. In addition to the bloody sacrifices, elaborate festivities, and costly arrangements, they also erect markers to memorialize the dead. These monoliths are moved to designated sites using only manpower. If you saw the size of some of these stones you’d be impressed with the effort that had to go into moving them. Larger monoliths signify a person of greater status in the community. Sacrificial rituals are performed before, during and after setting up the monoliths. Wealthier families have megalith sites that are open to public viewing for a small entrance fee. The proceeds are shared between the family and the local government and help maintain the sites.

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Monoliths belonging to a wealthy family in this village.

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Is that a big monolith on your land or are you just happy to see me?

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Preparing a monolith for another funeral ceremony.

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Stone graves on the family burial grounds.

Before heading to lunch we made a stop at what the guides call the “Spectacular Panorama.” I can assure you that it’s not that spectacular. It’s aiite. If you’ve been to Vietnam or other parts of Indonesia and have seen vibrant, terraced, rice paddy fields then you will probably be as unimpressed with the Spectacular Panorama was we were. We looked at it for about 45 seconds and then headed off to lunch. Lunch was even less spectacular than the Spectacular Panorama.

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The rather unspectacular Spectacular Panorama.

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The black stones scattered throughout the rice fields are prehistoric remnants of volcanic activity.

Amos asked us earlier in the day if we liked coffee since he saw me snorting coffee grinds at the market in the morning. We said we do appreciate a good cup of Java. So, before heading back to our hotel he took us to Warung KopiToraja, a coffee shop that is popular with tourists and locals alike. Toraja is known for their superior coffee beans and many of the best coffee companies buy their beans from this area. We ordered two cups of the house roasted organic coffees and sat down to chat with a trio of friendly American Ph.D. researchers. I forget how we started talking to the group, but we found out that two of them were doing research in Jakarta on nicotine addiction and growing rice in tougher climate conditions. Now that’s spectacular!

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Green coffee beans drying in the sun.

It's a Matter of Life or Death in Torajaland
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