The embassy opens again tomorrow after the long holiday weekend. We arrive at the embassy at 10:45 AM and get our numbers, 7072 and 7073 to just turn in our application materials. They are on 7015. I do not bring anything to read so I pass the time by eavesdropping on people‘s visa issues. 1:00 PM is lunch time. They are at number 7048 at the break. The three workers are each averaging less than four visa applications per hour. I have plenty of time to figure this out. We return precisely at 2:00 PM to resume our waiting. At 3:30 PM our numbers are finally called. We give them the application and pay the fee. Lately, we have been hearing and reading that getting a 60 day tourist visa to Indonesia is a bit iffy, so we ask the people at the window what are our chances. They tell us that they do not know. It is up to their boss, and it changes from day to day. It depends on his mood. So essentially the government of Indonesia’s visa granting process boils down to the personal feelings of the guy with his hand on the stamp. I hope he is having a good day. Our moment in the spotlight is just six minutes. I feel jilted and want to spend more time at the window.
|Ronald McDonald is happy Ramadan is over and to get his lunch crowd back.|
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We arrive in Tana Toraja - the Highlands of Southern Sulawesi around 7 AM. The majority of Torajans are Christians, but they have traditional architecture and extremely unique burial rituals and ceremonies that predate the arrival of missionaries and continue today. Also, (and what is important for us) everything is open for foreigners to visit.
|Traditional Tongkonan style|
|A rice field|
|Piong Ikan (Fish in bamboo). A Torajan dish that is fish, (koi, carp) chicken or pork wrapped in a banana leaf with a spinach like vegetable and then inserted into a bamboo tube and roasted on a fire.|
People make their base around the large town of Rantepao and spend the days in Tana Toraja exploring the numerous villages and visiting the funeral ceremonies. And like other tourist locals in Indonesia there is a plethora of guides who will gladly show you the sites and take you to ceremonies for a tidy sum. In Rentapao the guides hang around the lobbies of hotels. The first guide we speak with, before even checking in, says, "you cannot visit the ceremonies by yourself", with shifty eyes, we know he is full of crap and the first thing we will try to do is visit places by ourselves.
|A little girl that should be in class and not posing for photos|