Diving in Bira, Graveyard Visits in Toraja

As an acute backpacker, my heart aches whenever I’m stuck in a city for too long. Jakarta is very fun, but I had enough of the traffic and work. That was when I decided to fly to Sulawesi for a week of solo backpacking.

Truth be told, my first obsession was the infamous Tana Toraja. If you didn’t know, Toraja is famous for its culture and traditional, open-for-public, graveyards. My other obsession was to dive in Tanjung Bira, South Sulawesi. After a few researches and bookings, I finally made it to Makassar, Sulawesi!

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Pulau Kambing, one of the dive sites in Bira.

After taking a few buses and public transportation, I finally got to Tanjung Bira. Indeed, it was a beautiful place. I stayed at Bira Dive Camp, one of the best dive site in Tanjung Bira. Accompanied by friendly dive camp managers and staffs, my stay was more than satisfactory.

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Bira Dive Camp’s bar and diner.

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My room for 2 nights.

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Resting place.

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Sunset view from the beach.

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Backyard view of the camp site.

What was also satisfying was the dives! Tanjung Bira is a great diving site for every dive levels. The current was strong, but as an open water diver, I could still manage to enjoy every minute. The visibility range was far, the view was pleasant.

A few of the animals I spotted during the dives were sharks, mola-mola, turtles, and many more. I was trying to count the sharks I bumped into, but I gave up trying. There were too many of them!

Aside from the dive sites, Tanjung Bira is nearby to Tanaberu, a famous ship production site. After all the dives, tourists would spend some time visiting the site to kill time. Truthfully, it was such a cool site to visit! Who knew that some of these ships produced in Indonesia could worth more than a mansion!

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Dive mates and instructor.

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Under the sea.

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A little underwater selfie with my SJCAM5000+.

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On top of an unfinished boat in Tanaberu.

After spending 2 days in Tanjung Bira, I moved on to Tana Toraja. It took me another ride back to Makassar before catching a bus to Tana Toraja. The whole trip from Makassar to Toraja would take 8 hours. The bus to Toraja will depart from Daya bus station.

While Bira is a warm area, Toraja is the opposite. Luckily, I packed some warm clothes even without knowing how cold Toraja is in the morning. I still remember walking out of the bus shivering because of the temperature!

The day finally came when I had the chance to tour around the graveyards in Toraja. These graveyards are a part of their culture. People of Toraja believe that a death ceremonial should be grand and majestic as it is a part of transporting the soul of the dead to heaven.

One of the graveyard I visited was the Bori Graveyard that was filled with lots of menhirs. Menhirs are rocks you can find in the story of Obelix and Asterix. They are put in the village to represent the preceding ancestors. The height of the menhir shows the status of the ancestor represented. Therefore the higher the status, the taller the menhir.

Other than the graveyards, Toraja is also well known for its bull fighting. These bull fights take place in different occasions or ceremonies. I was lucky enough to attend one. The hype was incredible. Gamblers were in the zone, whether it was hundreds of thousands rupiah stakes or even millions of rupiahs stakes. The locals sit around the arena, while the VIP guests with high status and money sits on top of a viewing tower set up just for them.

 

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Posing with the menhirs.

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Just buffalo’s jaw bone as decorations.

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Bull fight arena. Look at the crowd!

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Buffaloes on sale!

After 6 days of traveling solo, I was actually missing familiar faces. Even though I met a lot of new people, made new friends and acquired experiences, I was quite homesick to be honest. Maybe I’m not that much of an introvert after all!

Through all those 6 days, the experiences were priceless! I am looking forward for more solo backpacking days as I embark on new journeys that will be covered on my travel blog. Until then, see you on the other side!

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Thanks Sulawesi for the memorable experience!

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