We took a day tour to Bau Bau, the original capital of the region of Buton on the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia. The new capital of Buton is Pasar Wajo, where our yachts are anchored. We were sent to Bau Bau in a caravan of 16 government cars, up and over the mountain for an hour and a half, flashers going all the way. There aren't many vehicles here other than motorcycles, so we were quite a site to see and trying to park the vans (Toyota Avanzas) was next to impossible. They just pulled over to the side of the road and other traffic just had to go around us. After all, we were all VIPs!
As we started climbing out of the town of Pasar Wajo, I realized I'd left my camera on the boat, so these photos are from other kindly cruisers who gave me theirs to share, especially Zdenka from Kite and Jake from Hokule'a.
The view of Bau Bau and its harbor from the fort.
Some of the dignitaries in front of the Keraton Mosque. At the side of the mosque was a rock, the Stone of Inauguration, where the sultan places his foot in the hollow in the stone, representing female genetalia and the fact that the sultan came from his mother's womb. It is roughly the size of the sole of a foot and each sultan put his/her foot into the hole to swear an oath of allegiance during inauguration
One of the bastions of the Fort Keraton. It was built starting in 1591, and took until 1645 to complete it. Along the way, they gathered European cannons from Dutch and Portuguese ships that were sunk around the coastal areas here. You can see part of one of the many cannons in the lower right corner. This one is nearly buried in coral rocks. The fort is now in the Guinness Book of Records as the longest/largest/most extensive fortress in the world, depending on who tells the story. It's 2700 meters around and covers 22.4 hectares of land, with walls 2-8 meters high and 1-2 meters thick. You'll have to do your own conversion if you don't get the metric measurements, but it is big.Ceremonial knife fighting as part of our welcome.
We had a local guide accompany us on a walk around the fort. We saw the old Sultans graves. Our guide was from one of the old royal families and many of his relatives live inside the fort all around. We stopped in for juice and cookies at one of his aunts' home and then to have pictures with some of his uncles and cousins. He took us to an uncle and grandfather's silver smith shops/homes and we saw the wax molds used to make ceremonial plates, spittoons for the betel nut juice, the keris daggers and such.
We were sent to a hotel to rest and freshen up, but they didn't let us spend the night, as the Regent was waiting for us back in Pasar Wajo. We were driven to a spot overlooking the harbor to watch the sunset before dinner. Our guide Erick bought us some fried bananas and breadfruit to nibble and treated us to 'soraba', a warm ginger drink very popular in the evenings here.
The dinner was delayed while they tried to get lighting for the tables set up for us along the cliffside. Lights never happened and they finally let us eat, the guided shining flashlights on the food trays to let us see what we were getting. Then the local gov't officials gave their speeches and we had more ceremonial dancing and we were all given a goody bag with treats to eat and another ceremonial sash or sarong.
The drivers were told to drive fast to get us back to Pasar Wajo as the Regent was waiting for us with drinks and dancing. There had been no alcohol available on this tour--not even a place to buy a beer unless you specifically directed the driver to find a place to purchase it. It was nearly 11pm when our procession of vehicles arrived back at the jetty in Pasar Wajo, but the Regent and about 100 people were waiting for us with another full dinner laid out! We all groaned as we were stuffed to the gills from all the food we'd been given 2 hours earlier, but put a few pieces of fruit on plates to be polite.
Then the Regent announced he had beer, vodka and whiskey and the cardboard boxes of pint bottles were emptied in a rush as the cruisers snapped up the booze to mix with the warm Coke, Sprite or juice. The beer was warm too, but we still drank it. It was so thoughtful of the Regent to provide alcohol at all as it is forbidden in their religion to consume it. He had some singers sing for us and then the dancing with the locals started. We were all dragged out onto the crushed coral rock field and we boogied and tried to match some of the steps of their local dances. The Regent pushed aside the gentleman who'd pulled me onto the dance floor and we danced for quite a while. At least until I was sweating profusely and had to sit down. That leader loves to dance! He's quite a good looking guy and flashes more diamonds on his hands than I've seen in a long while.
We're all certainly having a grand old time at his expense as he tries to woo tourism with our good words passed along about his region. Buton is certainly my favorite place so far!! He's done it up right and spared no expense for us. He has provided brand new moorings, free traditional costumes for each of us, welcome sarongs hand woven from local kapok cotton, all the food and drink we can handle, free water, free laundry, free tours in air-conditioned, new government vehicles, and all the festivities we can tolerate. Plus, we have all been given our own personal guide/interpreter. We love Buton, and Pasar Wajo in particular.
The Regent arranged for the sensational 12,500-person Takawa dance to be performed here, as well as having us driven to the ceremonies featuring him and the king. He brought over 100 women together to show us the weaving of the sarongs and held the annual dole-dole ritual here where 1000 babies (up to 5 yrs old) were given the traditional immunization by having old ladies rub them with oils. The Pekakande-Kandea feast was under another tented area, providing dozens of trays of food offered by charming girls wearing the beautiful traditional attire. Their custom is to feed guests by hand, but I chose to use my own hands to eat the things that looked good. There has been no shortage of traditional foods for us to eat anywhere we've been so far.