Tempe Lake, Sengkang – South Sulawesi , Sengkang is the capital of a former Bugis kingdom, this historic and bustling market town overlooking Lake Tempe retains its traditional character, as well as many old cultural traditions, silk weaving, colorful Bugis weddings-celebration, Ancient customs based, dance, and a traditional orchestra.
Tempe Lake is a name of the second biggest lake in Sulawesi Island. There’s no information yet about the original name ‘tempe’ for this lake and it has nothing to do with the name of one of the traditional foods in Indonesia. With wide around 13,000 hectares, Tempe Lake becomes the 8th of 10 biggest lakes in Indonesia. Tempe Lake is located in South Sulawesi, and surrounded by three districts: Sidrap, Wajo and Soppeng. The lake which becomes one of travel site in South Sulawesi is included into Ancient Tectonic Lake. Visitors will have an opportunity to observe the diverse nature of birds and explore indigenous life in an old floating village of Indonesia.
Another thing that makes Tempe Lake unique and interesting to visit is a village known as Salotangah Village, it is in the middle of the lake, and houses are floating! Generally, people who stay there are fishermen who catch fish in Tempe Lake as their main livelihood. To build a floating house they need about 15 days to finish the construction.
How I got there
Departing from the city of Makassar – the capital of Sulawesi Island, our group took a seven-seat car directly to the town of Sengkang. Makassar distance is not too long, but steep slopes keep the midnight car longer. In addition to the large daily bus service, visitors can pick up local night buses to save more, but wait until the car is filled to the new departure.
At present, there are no public boat tours for visitors. But you will easily find a boat of indigenous people to carry out your exploration. The price for a visit to the village about 200,000 rupiahs (16$) for a boat with a capacity of 3-4 people depending on the boat owner. You can also bargain if you go alone.
Impressive Tempe lake
The strong boat quickly took me deep into the lake. Head to the shore, you will see the floor, mosque or many women washing and children bathing on bamboo rafts. As it enters the deep, space gradually opens with green vegetation, white herons flying over the grass, many birds with colorful plots sheltering in the riverbank.
What urged me to go to this place is the village deep inside with the roof made of bamboo. In 1985, the first three houses were built and numbers of houses gradually expanded to 30. The area is part of the Bugis tribe, one of the tribes with great cultural traditions in Indonesia.
The specialty of this village is the location of the house is always changing in direction depends on wind direction. When the wind blows, the houses will begin to move, as if the whole village floats on the water from one place to another.
Today, in order to maintain stability and avoid collisions between homes, locals know how to fix the floor from the bottom. Due to the waves and movement, rope fixing the floor will gradually be destroyed so the whole floor has to be changed every two years.
According to Umi – one of the first fishermen of the village, every week her family left the fixed part at the bottom to “float”. When asked why she laughed crisply and said: “It’s like a habit when the light that came out in front of eyes if the landscape is the same as the day before we will feel uncomfortable.”
The people living in the village mainly rely on fishing and fishing. Men are the main labor force, women send their children to school each morning and stay in the market to sell. Their lives do not have many modern facilities, most of the daily life is based on the lake.
Three stories from the boatman and Umi’s family gave me a new perspective on Indonesian life. I was there just in the morning just to watch the clouds, enjoy the peace that in the city I don’t have. Back to the town of Sengkang under the scorching sun but I still can not forget the sound of pedal boats and local radio echoing in the midst of the vast sky.
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