i asked before how tour guides/tour operators can approach us tourists without making us feel like we’re getting conned. Here’s my story of how I met probably one of the best tourguides one can have, Erwin from Rantepao.
After one day of seeing graves with a local who spoke zero English, I wanted to pay for a local who can explain things to me. More than just seeing the Toraja’s dead, I also wanted to have a bit of understanding of why they do it, or the very least, what makes one grave site different from another.
I tried going to the information but (fortunately) they were closed when I went. I was just hanging out at the lobby of Pia’s Poppies when an official looking tourguide, Ari, approached me, complete with calling card and maps.
I entertained him mainly because I had nothing else to do. He looked pleasant enough, but for some reason he was just off. If I were gonna spend a whole day 1 on 1 with someone, it better be with someone I enjoyed hanging out with.
After showing the route he would take me (with 4 stops), I gave him a non-commital “let’s see, I’ll see you tomorrow.” When he left, I saw someone just sitting at the bench, leg up. I sat next to him and I asked him if it was a fair price given the things that we were gonna do.
I didn’t know he was a tourguide. I mean, he was just sitting there smoking. He didn’t look like he was looking for clients. Erwin didn’t outright say that he can do the tour himself. Maybe because he didn’t want to encroach on Ari’s space. But I said “I think I’m more comfortable with you.” He added in another place to visit the next day and lowered the price for me a bit. He also coached me that if I see Ari tomorrow to tell him I just wanna walk around, and I’ll meet Erwin down the street.
And so a great day with Erwin happened. I had fun, and he seemed to enjoy spending time with me too. He treated me to a local snack afterwards (pressed bananas with syrup), and we also had dinner and drinks with other locals. On my last day he saw me off and talked to the bus driver to make sure he dropped me at Makassar airport.
Here’s his contact number when you are looking for a tourguide in Rantepao. He learned English by listening to tourists, so messaging him may not be a good idea. Call him instead. Otherwise he can be found at Pia’s Poppies in the morning or afternoon/early dinner
Erwin‘s Phone/Whatsapp: +62-811-4208743
Travel Dates: 2015.10.16
Tour Costs: IDR300,00
Gift to Funeral: IDR98,000
Tour Includes: Depends how big the group is. For solo travelers, it’s tandem biking (watch your lower back though. Mine was sore the next day