From the moment you land at Toraja’s tiny airport, you feel like you have transported to another world. Even the view from the plane is enough to make you squirm in your seat with excitement.
I had no idea what to expect from this stop on our trip however, Toraja quickly became my new favourite destination in Indonesia.
If you haven’t already caught up, you can catch all of the epic vlogs I posted on my channel here.
Now, to be 100% honest, Toraja is not the easiest place to get to. But then again the best places never normally are. You have to go the long way around to get there and you end up landing in the tiniest airport you may ever see in your life.
However, you will not regret for one second your decision to put in the extra effort to make it out there. As you head away from the airport there is seriously nothing but tiny villages and luscious mountains everywhere you turn.
Of course, throw a few panoramic rice fields in there too just for good measure. You are in Indonesia after all.
Now, Toraja became a place close to my heart for a couple of reason. The first, I am a sucker for hidden gems and gorgeous untouched nature. Who isn’t? But the other, was the fact that we got the opportunity to witness Manene.
For those of you who saw the video I published about this day will already know why this story is so close to my heart (If you didn’t, you can watch it here).
Let’s start from the beginning though.
We all arrived down in reception to meet the team for what we thought would be an organised day of activities and beautiful sights. In which it was, but not until later. Our schedule had been pushed back as we were informed that the ancient ritual of Manene was being performed in a local village and that we were allowed to go and watch.
To simplify, Manene is a very ancient ritual whereby a family will exhume the bodies of their ancestors from their graves to clean the bodies. It happens every 3 years out of the upmost respect for their loved ones who had passed.
So, how was it?
It’s the only word I could use to describe how it made me feel. I had my camera packed away as I headed up the hill towards the ceremony. Locals had all come out to watch and help identify the bodies. Laid in front of us were multiple bodies. Skeletons being sorted through and the whole time I couldn’t help but notice, how everyone had their phones out, capturing the whole thing.
Locals. Some were going live on Instagram. Some were taking selfies. The array of bodies near my feet didn’t even draw my eye after I started to notice how people were acting.
For us, it’s strange. The idea of pulling your ancestors up from their graves and seeing their bodies every 3 years. But not for them. Even the children were poking around in the remains without even blinking.
It suddenly dawned on me; they don’t see death as we do. It was, fascinating to observe and I feel so blessed that I got to have this once in a lifetime experience.
There are very few places that I travel to that offer so much diversity, beauty and vivid memories. Toraja offered all of those and more.
Don’t let the extra few hours of travel put you off visiting such a unique location because it may just be the best day you have on your travels!
A huge thank you to the Ministry of Tourism, Indonesia for taking us all on this once in a lifetime trip across your beautiful country. This post is part of a paid campaign but of course all opinions and thoughts remain 100% honest and my own!