Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Mission to Makassar

I'll be hopping on a plane to Makassar on the island of Sulawesi. Formerly called Ujong Pandang, Makassar is the gateway to Eastern Indonesia, famed for its spice islands. Besides the Makassarese, Sulawesi is also hom to the Bugis, the Minahasans and the Torajans. The Bugis are reknowned as great seafarers and they have settled all over the Malay archipelago - you can find their settlements even in Selangor and Johor, Malaysia. Of course, Singaporeans would know about Bugis Street and the Bugis Junction shopping mall, the location of their settlement there.

I hope to take this one day business trip of mine to gain a better insight into the history and culture of Indonesia. I have visions of swarthy pirates, Portuguese galleons and armoured Dutch soldiers manning forts; the colour and romance of a time when spice was worth its weight in gold. Nathaniel's Nutmeg by Giles Milton is the book to read about the intrigues and adventures during the golden age of the spice trade in the Malay archipelago.

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