Whilst enjoying the cool air blowing out from the car’s air conditioning system, (so much so since experiencing the sweltering heat only an hour before at the karsts of Rammang Rammang) we drove past a most peculiar sight. With the large, titanic karsts still looming in the horizon, we were encompassed by large stretches of dry, grassy paddy fields, all yellow and thirsty for a drop of rain. But in one particular area, randomly situated by the side of the dirt road upon which we were driving, stood a rock garden.
I do not use the word ‘random’ flippantly (as the profuse usage of it tends to mean anything but random these days) – this was a truly random sight. In the expanse of land and grass and soil and earth, a congregation of rocks had decided to make this relatively small area their home. Like miniature karsts, the rocks here stood alone and independently from one another, protruding from the earth and sporadically positioned over an area that I guesstimate to span around four hundred metres. A substantially sized area on its own, but when compared to the acres upon acres of earth that surrounded it, it seemed to be a most random composition. Why here of all places?
The rocks themselves were extensively varied; some small enough to use as stepping stones to traverse the tall grass, and some large and close enough together to climb upon. A dream for any geologist, monkey, or overexcitedly curious tourist, I thought.
Overcome with this excitement and curiosity, we gambolled through the rice field; clusters of crickets springing spritefully out from the dry, spikey tufts of grass with each step we took. All four of us climbed and scrambled upon the rocks, connecting with our inner ape that was urging to burst out and beat its chest. Tukimin and I explored the rocky crags and crannies as Layla – finely in tune with her inner simian – climbed up to the highest point of one of the proudly standing rocks.
(There is something extremely liberating and triumphant about standing upon a large rock. Speaking for myself at least, I find that even if it’s the tiniest, lowliest rock, there is something in my brain that tells me, I must stand upon this rock! I must behold the view before me, for I am king of the castle! Huzzaaaahhh!)
Whilst standing upon one of the larger rocks and practicing my royal duties as king of the castle, Jack who was not too far ahead was looking at a clearing before us. There was an open area of tall grass, guarded but not obstructed by the rock formations. Jack pointed.
‘What?’ I said.
‘Monkeys,’ he said.
And sure enough, there were monkeys a few hundred metres ahead. Huge, black monkeys with cheery red bottoms. We looked a little closer at the view in front of us – there was actually quite a fair troop of monkeys. Some walking upon their fists in the grass, some huddled in the crevices of the rocks. ‘I knew this would be the perfect place for a monkey,’ I said to Jack.
I sadly do not possess any photographs of these monkeys to display in this blog that are not overly pixelated or worthy of your viewing pleasure . The ones I do have are way too distant and blurry as I did not wish to get too close and cosy with these particular monkeys. I refuse to trust anything with a cheery red bottom.
After sufficient climbing to satisfy our simian souls, we went on to satisfy our breakfast deprived bellies by wolfing down large quantities of fish, rice and other indecipherable yet tasty elements that make up Padang cuisine. Our stomachs now content, we climbed back into the car, and our trusty Sulawesian driver, Munir, drove us on to our next destination.
*Tune in next time for some 30,000 year old caveman hands and butterflies…
Go Go Go!
Where: Maros, South Sulawesi in Indonesia. Around half an hour away from Makassar.
Why: Rock gardens! Only ten minutes outside of the Rammang Rammang karst (which you can read about here) gambol and climb upon these rocks till your hearts’ content – as it’s all completely free!