Toraja is indeed Melo II – Death, Funerals and Graves

Continued from Toraja is indeed Melo I – Batutumonga and the Bamboo Forest

This is the second of a three-part account of a recent short trip to Tana Toraja. Situated in the highlands of central Sulawesi, it is a land of breathtaking beauty, rugged landscapes and and a unique culture that embraces death, bloody sacrifices and all the things about life than that sanitised urbanites have lost touch with. The title of this post comes from the phrase Toraja Melo, which in Torajanese means Toraja the Beautiful.

What makes Toraja so alive in the minds of many tourists is Death.

Toraja has always been known for its mummies, the ease in which the living live with the dead and its elaborate and bloody funerals. Its death rites are so well known that Toraja was featured in a recent  Netflix documentary on destinations with a touch of the macabre, Dark Tourist. In an episode focusing on Southeast Asia the documentary featured the cleansing of a mummy as well as funeral rites of Toraja, the latter of which we got to witness first hand.

We were a group of 8 adults and a 6-year old. Our first encounter with the Trojanese attitude toward Death took place during a seemingly innocuous walk after we arrived at our host’s house at Batutumonga, in the heart of Tana Toraja.

Our host was Dinny Jusuf. She was born in Pekalongan but she fell in love with Toraja and a Torajanese, Danny, who’s clan was from the Batutumonga area. They eventually got married and these days Dinny runs Toraja Melo, a social enterprise that aims to help and empower the weavers and villagers of Toraja.

After we had arrived and rested, we took a walk around Dinny and Danny’s home, a beautiful three-roomed concrete and timber house in Batutumonga, deep in the Toraja highlands.

FB_IMG_1533996194666.jpg
Dinny and Danny’s house at Batutumonga, our base for the four days we were in Toraja – photo credit Ong Gaik Hong

During the walk, Dinny told us about the re-burial of her father-in-law. Her father-in-law had married into a family from the valley from a kingdom called Sa’ Dan. He was buried there when he died some years ago. Dinny, however, kept having dreams where her father-in-law told her that he wanted to be buried at Batutumonga among his family and clan.

After some negotiations (lots of that go on in Toraja as consensus building is a major part of how the society works), the Sa’Dan family consented to the family moving his remains. A Rock Whisperer was called in. These are shaman-like figures who are able to “ask” the selected rock if it is willing to be opened to accommodate a crypt.

The rock consented, but it named a price. It wanted a dog sacrificed before they could start chiseling out the entrance to the grave. Once they had opened up the entrance there would be another consultation with the rock and another sacrifice demanded. And on an on it went. That grave cost six dogs their lives.

FB_IMG_1533996220195.jpg
The grave of Dinny’s father-in-law at Batutumonga

When the grave was completed they transferred the remains of her father-in-law there. Several years later, his daughter died and was also interred in the same grave. Torajanese graves can be quite large.

The next morning we walked to the Suloara village where we saw several Tongkonan and Alang belonging to the clan. We were allowed to go into one of the Tongkonan.

DSCF6036.jpg
The Tongkonan at Saloara village. Families can sleep with a mummy in the back room for up to 40 years

Inside, there was a central area with a fireplace. Then there were two rooms, one to the front and the other to the back. These are where the family slept. Our guide told us that often the embalmed bodies of their relatives were kept in the back room.

As funerals in Toraja can be very expensive, families have been known to keep these bodies for years until they can afford to hold one. Some families, our guide told us, have kept a body in the back room for as long as 40 years.

In the meantime, the family carry on their lives normally, including sleeping in the same room as the mummified body. The Torajanese believe that the body, when embalmed by experts, would not decay or smell. There must be a huge amount of truth to this if they can sleep with the bodies for 40 years.

We did not get to see the mummies that they apparently bring out each year for a bit of spring cleaning, before wrapping them up again, putting them back in their coffins and into the graves for another year. Apparently this year that ritual takes place on August 20. There is footage of this in Netflix’s Dark Tourist.

Funeral at Palawa

It’s macabre, but tourists virtually live for Death to come calling in Toraja.

That’s because of the elaborate and sanguine funerals of the Torajanese.

When someone dies, and the family can afford it, they throw a huge funeral party of hundreds from neighbouring clans. Makeshift bamboo shelters are put up to house the neighbouring clans.

In the funeral we went to, at Palawa, it looked like an organised affair. On the way to the common area of the village we saw men with blowtorches burning the bristles off the skins of slaughtered pigs. They then proceeded to carved them into small pieces to be distributed to the visiting clans.

DSCF6280.jpg
Slaughtered pigs being cut up to be shared among the clans attending the funeral

Then there were the buffalo tethered in the central area. Most of the buffalo were black. The black ones were the hoi polloi of buffalo but still fetched something like Rp 5 mio each. Then there are the albino ones that usually have black spots or patches. These are the, if you’ll excuse the pun, Brahmin of buffalo. They are prestigious because of their relative rarity allows them to command a price of over Rp250 million per animal.

DSCF6253.jpg
Pink is the new black. The albino buffalo with patches of black are prized over the ordinarily black buffalo and gives the donor a higher status in Torajanese society.

The buffalo and pigs are donated by visiting clans as a sign of respect to the family. These animals, after slaughter, are supposed to carry the deceased to the afterlife. The gifting of buffaloes are all tallied up by the families, who never forget a debt.

When the donor’s clan leader dies the receiving clan is expected to reciprocate by donating the same amount of buffalo or pigs to redeem their debt. In this way, the society is bound together in a web of obligations. It also locks them into a cycle of poverty trying to square their debts as clans may have to donate up to 24 buffalo each.

The visiting clans were allocated their own areas, all numbered, in makeshift shelters. It was ironical to see the decorative pennants and numbers of the shelters being sponsored by a purveyor of death, the cigarette brand, LA Bold.

DSCF6251.jpg
Clans get an allocated space in makeshift shelters. Notice the LA Bold branding in the funeral decorations.

The more socially established clans got spaces under the Alang or Tonkonan. All over the compound you can see traces of animal parts or blood.

When we arrived there were a group of about 30 men gathered in a circle chanting. Apparently this is a rite after the body has been put into the coffin, which is shaped like a tear-shaped cylinder.

DSCF6279.jpg
Torajanese coffin

Each of the men received a cigarette each for their participation.

Then there was a troupe of dancing girls who performed in front of guests seated at a makeshift cluster of platforms in the centre of the compound. When they finished the audience would drop money into a basket that is covered by a cloth to hide the amount donated.

DSCF6264.jpg
The singing troupe at the funeral

There was activity everywhere. Buffalo were being led here and there. Pigs were trussed and left to lie in the hot sun until their time came when men with spray cans would mark them up and they, squealing, were taken to slaughter by a group of workers.

DSCF6261.jpg
Pigs are trussed and left in the sun until their time is up
DSCF6262.jpg
Marked pigs are then taken away for slaughter.

I did not see it, but one of our group, who was in the best of times was queasy with the sight of blood, had to pick her way through a wasteland of remains and blood on her way to the toilet. Being accompanied by a local she found it difficult to say she would not go and had to run the gauntlet of gore.

We felt uncomfortable with the treatment of the animals but we were also aware that city slickers like ourselves were so sanitised from the taking of life for food; and so removed from Torajan culture that it would be unfair for us to impose our values on them.

One of our group remarked that the killing was part and parcel of Torajan culture and you cannot separate it from the other more appealing cultural aspects. We left the funeral wondering if we should turn vegetarian.

The Graves of Loko’Mata

One of the most well-known grave sites in Tana Toraja is Loko’Mata, which is a gigantic granite boulder riddled with more than 20 grave chambers, spread roughly over five levels. The higher the level the higher the status of the departed when they were alive.

DSCF6064 6.jpg
The graves at Loko’Mata

At the base of the rock are miniature Tongkonan that were used to carry the coffins to the area. Each of the graves had a carved door decorated with traditional Torjanese motifs. Photos and portraits of the departed were hung on them. You can also see bottles of water, Sprite and other foodstuff put on the entrance of the graves as offerings to the dead.

DSCF6063.jpg
Graves have carved wooden doors with a portrait of the deceased.

All the graves belong to a single clan. The rock has apparently been used for two to three hundred years but at the side of the boulder away from the road, another grave was being opened on the rock.

The graves at Loko’Mata also had some Tau Tau, effigies of the dead. One had a buffalo head carved into the rock.

DSCF6054.jpg

DSCF6058.jpg
The Tau Tau at Loko’Mata

Lemo

The gravesite, however, that is most well-known for its Tau Tau is Lemo.

The graves there date back to the 16th century and are dug into a limestone cliff. There you can see rows of Tau Tau looking down at you and the valley.

IMG20180803143035.jpg
Graves and Tau Tau dating back to the 16th century stare at you at Lemo

The Tau Tau are life-like and are carved by the artisans in that village who have been plying their trade for hundreds of years. There is a shop near the base of the cliff whose owner carves Tau Tau. At the back of the shop I saw with the corner of my eye two women, one young and another old, sitting on a bench, seemingly holding hands.

It was when I looked more carefully that I realise that the old woman was a Tau Tau. The young woman seemed at ease sitting together with her. I was spooked.

IMG20180803143615.jpg
The shopkeeper’s assistant and her Tau Tau companion

Ke’te’ Kesu’

We also visited Ke’te’ Kesu’. The village was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site that is known for its well -reserved Tongkonan, as well as its hanging coffins.

Unlike recently built ones, the roofs of the Tongkonan at at Ke’te’ Kesu’ were made from bamboo, the original material for their distinctive roofs. These days Tongkonan are built with corrugated zinc roofs.

DSCF6109.JPG
Ke’te’Kesu’s Tongkonan have roofs made of bamboo, unlike more modern constructions that use corrugated zinc roofs.
DSCF6110.JPG
Decoration at one of the Tomngkonan – buffalo jawbones. Must have been a lot of sacrificed buffalo

What was even more fascinating about Ke’te’ Kesu’, however, were the hanging coffins on the limestone cliffs behind the village.

FB_IMG_1533996246177.jpg
The hanging coffins – photo credit Ong Gaik Hong

Walk up a flight of stairs and you will see finely carved coffins hundreds of years old in various states of decay. Some are propped up on timber poles high up in the cliff.

Others are clustered at the base of the cliff. They might have fallen down when their supports decayed. Some of these coffins are split open, others had gaping holes. Inside and on top of these coffins are stacked human skulls and bones.

DSCF6113.JPG

A particularly beautiful coffin was carved in the shape of a buffalo head.

DSCF6118.JPG
A coffin carved as a buffalo head, with a skull perched on top, greet visitors to Ke’te’ Kesu’

As they are just beside the cemented path that visitors use, and are unguarded, they are vulnerable to vandalism and theft. Apparently, a few days before there was much hue and cry from the locals when some Indonesians from out of town, to satisfy their Instagram urges, began to take photographs with their legs on skulls.

Tourists, in my experience, will do anything. Some tourists must have taken the skulls and bones home as souvenirs. The problem is such that on the noticeboards along the visitors path are warnings to visitors against taking the bones or skulls. “Please show respect,” said the notice, and then the clincher warning: “We receive reports of the taker being haunted by the spirits.”

IMG20180803151707.jpg

That about sums up our experience with deaths, funerals and graves for this trip. Coming up next – Toraja is indeed Melo III: Buffalo Market and a night of Torajanese culture, food and the local fire water – balloc.

Toraja is indeed Melo I – Batutumonga and the Bamboo Forest

This is the first of a three-part account of our group’s travel to Tana Toraja. There were eight of us with a 6-year old in tow and we had a fabulous time. There is so much to share about Toraja, the Torajanese’s relationship with Death and their strange rituals and the culture there that I’ve split the account into three posts: the first is on the Batutumonga area and Toraja Melo that organised the trip for us. The second post will deal with death, funerals and crypts but into solid rock. The final post will be about the Bolu Market at Rantepao village that boasts a Buffalo market, a pig market and almost everything else. Enjoy.

—————————

Toraja is one of those places you put on your bucket list. There are tales and myths about the mysticism, the breath-taking scenery in a land above the mists and the elaborate — some would all it bizarre — death rituals.

It’s been on mine for many years but the closest I got to the area was Soroako for a media training assignment and to the Togian Islands for a diving trip.

This time, however, the opportunity cropped up. Through one of those meetings where we realise that the world is smaller than we think in terms of overlapping circles of friends and interests, my wife and I met Dinny Jusuf , the founder of Toraja Melo (melo = beautiful in Torajanese) , when she was invited to speak at a Pecha Kucha session hosted by Maverick.

Toraja Melo is a social enterprise started by Dinny in 2008 that aims to alleviate poverty among rural women by organizing the community into a weavers’ cooperative, teaching them to make quality hand-woven products and by designing and marketing community-based travel.

With 10 years of effort behind it, Toraja Melo was ready to move onto marketing its community-based travel concept, and by serendipitous happenstance our group of 8 adults and a six-year old became the third group to experience it.

We were not disappointed.

Getting to Tana Toraja is now relatively easy. A few years back you had to fly to the Sulawesi capital of Makassar and then take an 8-hour car ride into Rantepao or Makale, the  main towns deep in the central highlands of the island.

These days all you have to do to get there is take a short flight from Makassar to Bua Airport near Palopo and from there it’s a mere 2.5-hour car ride into the Toraja heartland.

The ride, as expected, is spectacular as the car whisks you through winding roads into the mountains that rise up to 2,800 meters above sea level and carpeted by paddy fields.

DSCF5962.jpg
The Toraja countryside is carpeted with paddy fields

You start to see buffalos that constitute a vital part of the economic and cultural life in Toraja

DSCF5947.jpg
The buffalo plays a central role in the economy and culture of Toraja

From Rantepao onwards you start to see the traditional buildings of the Torajanese – the Tongkonan and their accompaniments, the Alang.

DSCF5960.jpg
Seeing a Tonkonan when you first get to Toraja is like seeing a cathedral in Europe. You are captivated but by the fifth or sixth Tongkonan, you are OD-ed out.

The former are the distinctive saddleback-roofed  ancestral houses where the family stay, the latter are smaller and are used to store rice after it is harvested. Tongkonan are male, Alang are female. They face each other. There was too be a lot of this male-female dichotomy one the next few days.

Tongkonan are also decorated with a rooster and buffalo carving in the front. There is also a pole in which buffalo horns from the animals slaughtered are hung. Obviously the more horns there are the more prestigious the family is.

DSCF5942.jpg
Buffalo horns adorn the post in front of a Tongkonan, indicating the prestige of the family. The hornier they are the more up the social ladder the inhabitants are

Our starting point and base for the next three days was the Batutumonga area. This is where Dinny and her Torajanese husband Danny have built their house, a modern, minimalistic concrete and hardwood two-storey structure with  balcony that has a view to die for.IMG20180803055622.jpg

The view from Dinny and Danny’s house balcony

 

 

We stayed with them for our trip and was plied with an endless supply of snacks and local dishes in between our forays into the Torajanese countryside. Our first day was just chilling and drinking win on the balcony as we rested from our trip there.

Dinny explained that the name of the area came from a sacred rock that, like its name (Batu = stone Tumonga = upward looking) suggests, seems to be looking upwards . It was the male counterpart, and the locals believe that the rock emanates great power. The female counterpart was about a hundred meters away.

DSCF6032.jpg
The sacred Batu Tumonga, the “upward-looking” rock from which the area got its name

Nearby, we saw some  Alang being reconstructed as they were blown off during strong winds a few months ago.

The Tongkonan are built on pillars but not all touched the ground. Only the corner pillars and those every 3 meters apart did. The others were suspended, propped up by cleverly constructed cross beams. This was apparently to allow the buildings to survive earthquakes.

DSCF6041.jpg
Workers rebuild  Alang that were destroyed by a strong wind several months ago

We got to go into one of the Tongkonan. Narrow stairs lead into a common area where there was a fireplace and an area that served as the kitchen. On the back was a room where the family slept and corpses were kept. Our guide told us that some families have been known to have kept a corpse for 40 years as they saved up enough money for a funeral. In the meantime, the family shared the room with the corpse, who was embalmed in a mystical process so it never decomposed. That was our first exposure to the strange rites surrounding death in Toraja. There is more in the next instalment of our trip to Toraja.

We then walked a small distance to the Suloara’ Tourism Village. Dinny and the Toraja Melo Foundation are working with the local tourism body comprising 65 members and 20 homesteads from four villages in the area in a community based tourism project that they have called the Toraja Mountain Valley Tour.

Under this project, Dinny through Toraja Melo designs and markets the tours. The villagers become tour guides and hosts and agree to maintain cleanliness and sustainable practices in their villages. In return they get a large chunk of the revenues paid by the tourists.

At Suloara’ we were taken to a hut that was the Tourist Information Center. There Simon, the village secretary, who had been trained by Swiss Contact to speak English, explained the sights we would see in the area.

DSCF6044.jpg
The Suloara’ Village’s Tourist Information Center

Swiss Contact had also helped the villagers prepare brochures and a map of the area’s attractions. Simon’s English was halting but he made himself understood.

DSCF6045
Guide and village secretary Simon explaining the attractions in the area

After that we were off to the Bamboo Forest.

Bamboo Forest

We arrived at a village with the prerequisite collection of Tongkonan and Alang and walked along a path into the Bamboo Forest.

DSCF6088.jpg
Tongkonan roofs at the village next to the bamboo forest

There were at least three types of bamboo that the Torajanese use for different purposes growing in the forest. There was a bamboo for building and one for preparing food in and a third that I forgot the use of.

IMG20180803110503.jpg
Different species of bamboo have different uses in the Bamboo Forest

At the end of the walk we were offered some local snacks – corn and fried cassava and yam — accompanied by the most mouth-watering and tongue burning sambal made from the local pepper, the katokkon. They look  like Habanero  peppers but they are way more potent. Five alarm fire and sit in the toilet the next morning kinda strength.

DSCF6231.jpg
Pretty but deadly. The katokkon is HOT! But ever so delicious when made into a sambal to go with cassava and yam fritters by the villagers

Some of us got to practice our dexterity by getting to colour small pieces of wood carvings with the Toraja traditional method of using bamboo liners as brushes.

IMG20180803103934.jpg
Coloring the traditional motifs of the Torajanese the traditional way by using slivers of bamboo as brushes

Toraja Melo also works with about 250 weavers in the Sa’dan Matallo area, where Dinny’s mother-in-law grew up in. The weavers live in the hills and bring their handiwork to stalls set up beside the Tongkonan of Sa’dan village. The village takes its name from the Sa’dan river that flows from the mountains.

We had time to get our feet wet in its cold clear waters before having home-cooked lunch  of chicken and coconut, vegetables, corn fritters and steamed fish under an Alang.

Our next destination after lunch and a little shopping at the stalls, was what many tourists hope to see when they came to Toraja – a funeral, elaborate, grand and featuring hundreds of guests and clans.

If you are interested in the Community-Based Travel that Toraja Melo organises you can contact them here.

Up next — Toraja is indeed Melo II: Death, Funerals and Graves

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Petungkriyono

Petungkriyono is a forest reserve about three hours drive south of Pekalongan in Central Java. The distance is not that great but like many other places the road there is narrow and potholed, prolonging the journey that would take about a third of the time if it was serviced by good roads.

It’s actually adjacent to the better known Dieng Plateau, so the vegetation there is thick, the weather when we were there in July wet and fairly cool. The area is about 7,000 hectares and houses several villages.

Petungkriyono-3Petungkriyono-4

The Pekalongan government is trying to turn this area into a tourist destination. This means that if you love nature, go there before things get spoilt.

The main attraction, apart from the flora and fauna seems to be the Welo River where you can go river tubing. The concept sounds more attractive and fun than it actually is.

A group of us tried it and we were taken to a part of the river where we were to begin our journey. We were given helmets, arm pads and knee pads that looked like arm pads. We then got on rubber tubes and off we went shooting the rapids – for about 20 meters.

Then we had to disembark, get off and walk to the next stretch where we would get a 10 or 15 meter ride down the tube. It was a bit dangerous. We had to walk and jump from one section to another barefoot and the tubes are anything but stable so overturning in tricky sections were inevitable.

Unknown-1

The organisers were all well meaning and caring but their idea of safety isn’t the highest by international standards so you could imagine if someone overturned and, in a panic, kept holding on to the tube. They would have been dragged by the strong current. Once when I overturned I hit my head against a rock. Luckily I had a helmet, and a hard head.

Unknown-2

Still, it ended well and it was fun although I’d not recommend it for the less intrepid.

Unknown

 

Other than that the best part of the trip was to wind down the car windows and enjoy the scenery as we passed by rice terraces cut into the hills, rivers swollen and angry from the recent rains.

Petungkriyono-2

 

The other attractions included watching the power of the river expressing itself as a raging waterfall at Curug Bajing (Squirrel’s Waterfall).

Petungkriyono

Leaving Petungkriyono you get to pass through small towns with their market days.

Petungkriyono-5

And when you leave Pekalongan for Jakarta you are always treated with views of fields of paddy and other crops

Petungkriyono-6

 

 

Dachau

Had a spare day after a business trip to Munich in July so took the train to Dachau, the Nazi’s first concentration camp located about 10km outside of the city.

It was opened in 1933 by Heinrich Himmler and meant to house political prisoners but quickly became a catch all for everyone the Nazis couldn’t tolerate – Jews, monosexuals, foreigners,  even German and Austrian criminals.

There must have been so much sorrow and sadness played out there but when I visited I found the place impeccably restored but clinical, like so much of Bavaria.

It did not help that it was a beautiful day. The sun was shining, it was cool and cottony clouds floated across the blue sky. I could not help wondering what the inmates must have thought, the irony they savoured, on such a beautiful day when imprisoned in Dachau, a place specially designed to strip them of their dignity.

Dachau
Entrance to Dachau. A railway ended near here to unload the prisoners
Dachau-13
The iron gate into Dachau with the slogan “Work Will Set You Free”. The Nazis excelled in mocking and insulting their prisoners.
Dachau-3
Inside Dachau are pictorial and text displays of the rise of the Nazis and their programme to establish Concentration and Extermination camps after Dachau
Dachau-4
Another irony. While stripping the wall of paint, the restorers found the original paintwork where a “no smoking sign” was prominently painted on the wall. Many of the prisoners would be killed within a short time so this admonition seemed pointless and mocking.
Dachau-5
This is where the prisoners were brought en masse to shower.
Dachau-6
A scale model of Dachau, outside the window is a sculpture that is part of the International Monument
Dachau-8
A sculpture in the Dachau Museum
Dachau-9
A view of the barracks at Dachau
Dachau-10
Another view of the barracks
Dachau-12
The Jewish Monument at Dachau

Office trip to Belitung

Our office recently went on an outing to Belitung, an island off the east coast of South Sumatra made famous by the film Laska Pelangi.

Our first stop was Tanjung Pandang Beach, a recreational stretch that had nothing remarkable except that it faced west and therefore was a place to watch the sunset.

So we did what all good Indonesian groups do, which is to take lots of group photos and selfies.

Boss-3

There was also the “it’s good to be Boss photo” designed to show me up as a beacon of collected calm in a sea of jumping staff members.

Boss

Others ventured to become amateur photographers and models for their portfolios and Instagram accounts.

Boss-2

The next day was games day where we went on boats to the surrounding islands, mainly Pulau Lengkuas. They all had the characteristic of having huge rocks sitting on white sand or clear sea.

Belitung-2

 

Some of them even came complete with their own spume of cloud to crown what, to the creatively minded, must be a lingam of Belitung

Belitung

The island was, however, beautiful.

Belitung-4

And studded with a lighthouse from Dutch days

Belitung-3

In between the games and activities we had we managed to see a bit of Belitung, which is on the surface a rather dull town with unremarkable modern buildings  that belie its rich tin-mining past.

But there are glimpses such as this old Dutch house

Boss-6

Or this colonial building that the neighbours couldn’t tell what it was built for.

Boss-8

There was also a temple, the Hock Tek Che temple near the market that hinted on the Chinese ethnic groups that coalesced around mining towns in Indonesia and Malaysia. Apparently the largest groups are the Hakkas, the Haines and the Hokkiens.

Boss-7

There were also a few shops, again near the market, that echoes traditional trades of the Straits Chinese like this rattan shop.

Boss-13

There was also little recreation in the town. No cinemas or Karaokes that we should see, a small shopping mall that you covered in 10 minutes. Much of the entertainment seemed to centre around drinking coffee at the beach and at coffee shops.

Among the coffee shops Kong Djie stands out as the  top hang out spot. There are three outlets, one by the beach, a relatively hip one near a restaurant and ole-olen complex and the original one in town.

When we were there Isyak, the sen of the founder was minding the till and occasionally making the coffee.

Boss-5

He’s a sport though and allowed one of our colleagues to play barista for the afternoon.

Boss-9

Back at our hotel, called the Bahamas Resort (why do they name one exotic tropical beach destination with another) it was time to chill out and bond as an office. We were treated to the great sunsets Belitung offers.

Boss-11

Boss-10

The scene changed with the tide went out.

Belitung-5

Two other attractions that Belitung has is the Blue Lake, so called because the kaolin mined in the depleted time mine has given the water a bluish tint.

Boss-14

And of course, there was the famous beach (I forgot the name) where Laskar Pelangi was shot, still. clear waters punctuated by time rounded boulders.

Boss-12

Jakarta second from last in location branding survey of Asian cities

How well does Jakarta do when it comes to location branding (a fancy modern word to substitute for reputation of a place)?

According to a study by Public Affairs Asia and Ogilvy PR called Location Branding 2012, not that well at all. Out of 16 cities Jakarta came 14, just above Manila.

Another dubious distinction for this city. perhaps it is time for its residents to sport more checked shirts to get the city going.

20120910-143200.jpg