Katingting Race

Katingting Race

November 24, 2014

KATINGTING RACE – A Tribute to a Maritime Tradition The deepest lake in Indonesia, Matano Lake, lies in Soroako, East Luwu Regency in South Sulawesi. Covering an area of more than 8,000 hectares, its depth goes all the way to almost 600 meters below the surface. And its natural beauty has been attracting visitors from all over the world, and even more so during the occasion of Katingting Race.   Soroako is a small beautiful mining town famed for its immense deposit of iron. Vale Inco, the Canadian mining company operating here has been active in helping the locals preserve the generous environment. As a result, the three lakes surrounding the town, including Matano, have become favorite destinations for tourists wanting to explore the biodiversity and breathtaking views of Soroako.   Crystal-clear waters, unpolluted air, calm atmosphere and the view of Veerbek Mountains over Matano Lake charm whoever visits the area. And as the day of the Katingting Race approached, I joined the locals and visitors alike in an exciting celebration unlike any other.   Practical means of transportation Katingting is a 10-meter long wooden boat with outriggers on both sides of its body. This traditional, boat is used by the locals as one of their primary means of the transportation. East Luwu Regency is indeed one of the Indonesian regions that unfortunately suffers from poor land transportation infrastructure.   Luckily though, Sulawesi is an island where the people have a strong maritime tradition. Many ethnic groups living there originated from coastal and riverine kingdoms that reigned in the past. In many ways, the common usage of water transportation shows the age old maritime inventions and skills.   In the 1970s, the region was introduced to machineries. The name katingting came forth during that period, referring to a boat with machine. Until today katingting is a part of the ordinary lives in several sub-regencies in the area, sailing here and there along with another larger and more modern type of boat called raft.   With a small engine attached at the stern, each boat can carry up to 12 people. It is a very popular vehicle not only to go places, but also to enjoy the surroundings. On weekends, for example, it is the favorite choice of tourists who want to spend leisure time on the lake.   Thrills on the lake That morning Ide Beach presented a memorable view of the lake beneath the gorgeous blue sky. The small beach is only 3 kilometers away from the center of Soroako and has long been the main site for recreational activities. But this one particular morning, crowds gathered not only to take in the scenery. Katingting Race as an annual agenda of the town was about to start.   Katingting Race was only initiated several years ago. Realizing their rich tourism potential, the local government introduced the race in order to promote the region. Indeed, it was a smart move as visitors now get to marvel at the view of the surroundings and find an unexpected sanctuary in a little town of central Sulawesi.   The race is on The race participants from Soroako and other neighboring towns assembled near the shore at 7 in the morning. I could feel the tension as well as great excitement building up, promising not only a tribute to Sulawesi’s maritime tradition.   Small colorful flags that decorated the boats fluttered in the wind as the katingting men got themselves ready. The day before, bright-colored buoy markers and small Indonesian national flags had also been installed by the organizing committee. Like dots from afar, they added up the merriment by the lake throughout the 500-meter course.   As in every other race, every participant must comply with some rules. The boat’s shape and specification were subject to strict inspections. The katingting had to have a 24-horsepower engine and be manned by three people. There were three rounds going on from morning to afternoon in which each katingting must show off its performance in the elimination, semifinal and final rounds.    As soon as the committee announced the beginning of the first round, chers and applause filled the air. Right on cue, two first katingting dashed away. Each time a katingting maneuvered, I joined the on-lookers cheering and applauding enthusiastically, yelling out support and slogans. Definitely a brilliant show of traditional ingenuity, I highly recommend this race to be on your next travel agenda.   How to get Soroako   From the capital city of South Sulawesi, Makassar, Soroako can be reached by a public bus; a journey that can take up to 12 hours. A much more comfortable trip is a one-and-a-half-hour domestic flight from Makassar.     Source: Journey Indonesia magazine - www.thejourneymagz.com