The Sulawesi trip (17-26 Nov 2017) was filled with more challenges than I’d expected, but on hind-sight perhaps it was better to be surprised. Otherwise I might not gone.

Travel was long and tough especially on the first leg to Taka-bonerate Marine Park. Flight to Jakarta came in around 2 am so hung out in airport till next flight at 8 am to Makassar, after which it was a short flight to Selayar, a big island, and then directly onto a boat for a 5 hr open sea ride the marine park. The night was spent in a room so hot it was impossible to sleep. But the sheer wonder of Taka-bonerate’s pristine beaches, coral reefs and rustic villages more than made up for previous travails.

The return journey involved hours of ear-numbing engine roar, storm-tossed sea, a ferry ride and then a night in run-down hotel. That sandwich of bliss between 2 layers of hardship was for me something to really think about.

Toraja was beautiful for its serene green padi-fields and mist-clad mountains that surround them. All sorts of surprises awaited : a boat-ride on a lake to visit a fisherman, a quiet hotel which insisted on blacking out at dinner times, world-class coffee and of course death rituals that involve commerce, animal violence and community celebration and more.

It was a trip of amazing proportions for me. It stretched my coping mechanisms where the travel was concerned, and it enriched my perceptions of culture, nature and people. I don’t think of such a trip as a holiday, or vacation. It was an experience, and like I said, the less prepared one is the better it’d be. Kinda an irony, but life is like that.

I love Tracy for her enthusiastic desire to share her country with us, and for always giving us the best she can find in terms of travel and accommodation in situations where standards can be vastly different from what we’re normally used to. Where there were challenges they were good for my soul. And my travel companions were exceptionally like-minded, and that made all the difference!

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