With a fascinating polytheistic mix of animist aluk traditions and western religion, the Torajan ceremonial rites are some of the most unique in the world. This is particularly true when it comes to funerals, which take weeks, months, even years to plan, and often last for an entire week. From lavish spectacles of dance and music, to the placing of the coffin into the sides of cliffs or hanging from trees, it’s truly a transformative experience. I had the privilege of attending a funeral on the third day, which featured possibly the most notorious of rituals — the buffalo slaughter.
With impeccable beaches and some of the best diving in Southeast Asia, it's fair to say that the Togean Islands have a lot going for them. But what really draws and keeps visitors here is the incredible sea culture. Located just offshore on stilt houses, the nomadic Bajo people — known to mainlanders as ‘sea gypsies’ — are so isolated from the land that an NGO recently came in to build a footbridge connecting the village to the main island just so the children didn't have to swim to school every morning. The Bajo are quickly modernising, exporting their fish and clams in exchange for satellite dishes and televisions. But the soul of their seaborne nature remains, down to the simple pleasure of swimming freely in the open sea.