Thursday, 29 April 2010

Back to Toraja

And so I returned to Sulawesi, to Tana Toraja. Last time, I was alone, in the middle of my liminal phase, that Campbellian journey into my own mythical past and present. As I discovered the beauty of the land, and of the unique Toraja culture with its extravagant funeral rites and burial sites, I learned about my own ancestors - and, perhaps, the roots of my own fascination with Asia. This time, everything was different, as I wrote in my last story: I am a married man, now, hard-working, a member of society, albeit not the society I grew up in. I went with my wife, this time, just after our wedding. It was not a honeymoon proper, however, as we were joined by my family.

Why did I want to go back to Tana Toraja? What was it that appealed to me? Not the traces of a sixty years old past, not only, not primarily. Sure, I wanted to show my mother her place of birth, and I realised that for my parents, a trip to faraway Vietnam could relatively easily be combined with a visit to Sulawesi. And of course, our decision to travel with my family in stead of going to a cliche romantic tropical beach together was based on the fact that we had not seen them for eight months or so, and wanted to spend some more time together before they left. There will be another chance for a belated honeymoon, later this year, God willing.

We simply wanted to get out of Vietnam for a while. But then, there are many beautiful neighbouring countries we could have visited. Why Tana Toraja? Was it the mesmerising beauty of the landscapes that appealed to me most, the mountains, the smells of rice paddies and tropical flowers? Or was there something about the culture and people that made me want to go back and learn more? The houses with the ship-shaped roofs, the handsome buffaloes, the statues of the dead, the peculiar mix of old customs and devout Protestantism? Or just the friendly faces and fresh food?

Maybe it was just because of all the places I visited on my trip, Tana Toraja was the only place where I really felt at home - and I felt the desire to share that beautiful place with my dear wife and family, even though I knew that when you visit a place for the second time, it always loses some of its other-worldly magic.

That said, Tana Toraja is tremendously beautiful, no matter how many times you visit it. Unlike last time, this time I did not feel the strong desire to study - so for social anthropological or historical background information, please consult the story I wrote last time. I am sorry it is in Dutch. I may translate it, one day. (I probably won't, though, as I am generally too impatient for translating things. I tried translating the story about our wedding into Dutch, then quit after the first paragraph as I could not get rid of the feeling that I was wasting my time.)

Anyway, we had a wonderful time. We went trekking, we went around by motorbike, we went sightseeing, we relaxed, we played klaverjassen, we ate mangosteens and fish in banana leaf and chicken in bamboo with black rice, we drank tamerella juice and bintang beer, and we enjoyed.

Some pictures of this trip.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Wedding pictures (2)

As promised: some more pictures of our wedding. In contrast to the pictures I posted a couple of weeks ago, these were taken in Hoi An, at the actual wedding.

Frankly, I have no idea what happened to the pictures taken by the professional photographer for which we were posing all the time - I am not sure we'll actually get them in digital format - but fortunately we have these pictures, taken by Jinko, Hien and Dung. Thanks!

Meanwhile, we are eagerly looking forward to seeing the pictures taken by some of the other wedding guests...

In the hotel, in the early morning: the groom, his parents, and the cake

With 'reverend' Fred

The ceremony

In front of Nhung's house: Annekyra, Anoek and Jinko

Sisters, nephews and nieces

Four friends: Jan, Hien, Dung and Katsuo

At the restaurant


The bride

The 'stage'

The couple and their parents

Wim's speech

This dress is nice, too!

The happy couple

Chuc suc khoe!


The evening party

Sister and brother

Nhung with three friends: Huong, Ly Na, Hanny

Three sisters, two nephews, one brother-in-law


Pretty women


The next day, at My Son