• Home Exchange
  • Vacation Rentals
  • B&B

Choose from over 15 000 listings worldwide! Join our worldwide network today!

 

Bada Valley, Indonesia

An article by Mark Moxon, travel writer All rights reserved.


By the afternoon Peter and I had arrived in Tentena, a small village in Central Sulawesi that took a bus journey from hell to reach, not just because of the normal problems of awful music and cramped seats, but also because the roads in Sulawesi are shocking. We settled in for a relaxing evening in a good but pricey losmen, and made our plans for the morrow. Our mission: to discover the megaliths of the Bada Valley.

The beauty of the Bada Valley

The Megaliths of Bada

Crossing the Sungai Leriang at Bomba

Nobody really knows how old the Bada megaliths are, or who made them, or even why they're there. They probably date from the first millennium AD, but this figure is fairly debatable, depending on which scientist you consult. The locals don't have a clue 'They've always been here,' is the most common response if you ask someone where the statues came from and all this adds to a wonderful sense of mystery. Even more interestingly, all the objects in the area are made from a type of grey stone of which there are no deposits in the near vicinity, so work that one out; these megaliths are huge, heavy, and in the middle of nowhere, a long way from where they should be.

Our somewhat primitive map

Our guides showing us the stone cisterns known as Kalamba

Oba

Maturu

Palindo


The megaliths we saw were among the best of the bunch, and trekking round the whole valley to find them all is a long and difficult process, only suited to those who live, breathe and eat megalith mythology. We got to see the following:

  • Palindo ('The Entertainer'), 4.5m. The largest statue in the area and the most celebrated, it is situated south of the tiny village of Sepe. It is perhaps a representation of Sepe's first mythological inhabitant, Tosaloge. A local legend tells of the Raja of Luwu, who once ordered 1800 of his subjects to move the statue from Sepe to Palopo (a very long way to the south) to prove his dominance over Bada, but the effort failed. The statue was said to originally face Luwu in the south, but the Bada people turned it to face the west as a snub to the Raja, and when the Raja's followers tried to turn it back, it fell onto its side, killing 200 of them. In the past, offerings were brought to this figure before embarking on any new enterprise, such as opening up a new garden. Whatever the legends, it's a wonderfully atmospheric sight.

  • Maturu ('Sleeping'), 3.5m. This statue lies on its back, and has good features, like a reclining Palindo. As with its bigger brother, it's a male; the erect genitals on both are a bit of a giveaway.

  • Mesinga ('Wearing a Scarf'). Actually, this looked more like a little penis and I didn't even waste a photograph on it. The features are very faded and if it wasn't in the Bada Valley, you'd think it was just a rock. It's only just up the path from the Kalamba, which are far more interesting.

  • Kalamba. Vast stone cisterns, dotted all over the place, which may have been used as baths, or burial chambers for aristocrats. Some are better than others.

  • Oba ('Monkey'). This was the one that the old man took us to, and it's a real cutie. Only as high as a squatting man, its features are amusingly monkey-like and cheeky. It's right in the middle of a paddy field.

We could have seen more, but the rest of the walk beckoned, and after this many megaliths, we'd seen plenty. To be honest, it was a thrill just to find them, especially under our own steam.

Leaving the Valley

The rice paddies of Bada

The second day of our walk was fairly uneventful. The path cut through tropical forest, following the huge Lariang River north towards the town of Moa. The Lariang is Sulawesi's longest river (it's 225km long), and it's an impressively powerful beast, strewn with rocks and the detritus of rainforest. The walking was easy enough, which was lucky as we our map didn't stretch beyond the valley of the megaliths, and soon after lunch we arrived in the small riverside village of Moa.

Washing off the rainforest

Problems, Problems

A local Bada man

I thought it was all over, but it was not to be. A couple of hours after retiring at the ridiculously early hour of 6pm, I was back up again, rushing to the toilet for my first bout of Indonesian food poisoning. I threw up every couple of hours until about 6am, and I won't debase this travelogue by talking about my other orifices. There was no way I was going anywhere when Friday finally arrived; not only was I suffering from the intestinal equivalent of the levee breaking, but I had the associated total lack of energy and interest. I wasn't going anywhere.

There are lots of rivers in Bada

My last meal before getting ill I have a sneaking suspicion it was the prawns

Testimonials

Hi there from sunny Brunswick Heads, Australia

Have had a successful change to Alaska in '09 through your site and have another arranged for Nova Scotia later this year. Plus I am hosting someone from Reunion Island in April - all through your free site. Excellent!

More testimonials

new members