In this documentary we travel to Indonesia, the Sulawesi island, there we know the Toraja and Bajau, two ethnic groups who have a very particular culture and traditions. There, we attended a Toraja funeral, an event that they have become an amazing ritual of several days. We dive into the wonderful world that lies behind the coral reef that runs through large part of the Indonesian archipelago. And finally we boarded on the Bajau (sea gypsies) houseboats who live in even closer contact with the sea. In fact, they could not conceive of life without it.
The inhabitants of Sulawesi have always had a very close relationship with the sea.
These men belong to the Bugui ethnic group, considered the best boat builders and sailors in the Indian Ocean. But there is another ethnic group which lives in even closer contact with the sea. In fact, they could not conceive of life without it. That group is the Bajau.
At the other end of the island, in the calm waters of the Gulf of Tomini, these nomads have for centuries conquered the sea. They live out their lives on these small, fragile boats called leppas, where they are born, marry, reproduce and die. In them they move along the coast, propelled by the winds and the currents, and rarely set foot on dry land.
Their origins remain unknown, though some anthropologists believe they come from the south of the Malaysian peninsula.
Since then, innumerable legends have surrounded these the Sea Gypsies
They rarely venture far from the coast. Their lives are spent fishing close by the mangrove swamps and the coral reefs. Here, they find almost everything they need.
The Bajau know many different fishing methods, but perhaps the most curious of all is this one, fishing with kites.
The technique they use is simple but very effective. It consists of attaching a hook to the kite, which is made from fern leaves, and with the help of a pole, the fisherman can move the hook as far out as he wants.
The swaying of the kite keeps the bait in constant movement, attracting above all the flying fish.
The government tried to house the first families along the coast, but they were unable to adapt to dry land, and soon returned to their boats. Then, the Bajau suggesting building the village over the sea, and so Torosiaji was born.
Though the greatest number of Bajaus live in Sulawesi, there are also groups of them in Myanmar, where they are called Moken, or ‘the people drowned by the sea’; in Thailand, they are known as the Chao Nam, or ‘water people’, and they can also be found along the coasts of the Philippines and Vietnam. 16:50:00 The mosque and the school are the only buildings in Torosiaji standing on dry land. Well, not exactly dry land, because they have been build on foundations made of coral.
At midday, the waters are very shallow, and this is when the Bajau comb the sea bottom in search of food.
Their basic diet is fish and rice. The rice they buy in the markets on the coast, where once a week the women go to sell the fish they have caught, and buy basic necessities such as fresh water.
The Bajau are also magnificent divers, and can remain underwater for over five minutes, and dive down up to 15 metres.