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Arak, Tuak and a Torajan Elder ~ Balifornian Tours and Travel Blog

This happy gentleman is an elder from Tana Toraja.  We had a brief chat with him over a few glasses of tuak. Tuak is similar to arak (Balinese arak made with coconut palm flower, not the Turkish and Iranian national drink).  It can be a powerful alcoholic beverage made of fermented rice, sugar and yeast. Quality or well brewed tuak can be 50% alcohol.  It is commonly shared and drank at Torajan funerals, festivals, weddings, hosting of guests and other special occasions.  Both tuak and arak are more than just recreational or celebratory drinks.  They are also used as a base for medicine Balians (Balinese healers) will commonly use the arak base and add roots, herbs, and other organic materials and use it both internally and externally to cure a variety of maladies. It is said to provide more than simple intoxication and can lead to visions, messages in dreams and even hallucinations.  Authentic high quality tuak and arak are hard to find and are sometimes completely fake and can even be poisonous.  Unfortunately, reports of death from fake arak are not uncommon.  Perhaps illogically the real arak and tuak can be found at warungs (small roadside stands where you can see them making it) vs. liquor stores where the product can be very weak or even cut with harmful chemicals and liquids.

Please note: Beware when purchasing any arak, tuak or any 'homemade liquors' while traveling.  Balifornian Tours can help you source real arak and tuak.  We do not make, manufacture or gain profit from this, we just want you to travel safely.

Copyright © 2010 Balifornian Tours and Travel Blog ~ Michael Doliveck


For more on tuak, arak and Toraja, Sulawesi and its incredible funerary practices, keep an eye out for the upcoming Balifornian Films documentary.

Our Adventure Photo Safaris ~ Are you a photographer or just love to take pictures?  Contact us to find out about our special tours for photographers.  Take a look at the images in the gallery, as they are good examples of the types of images you will be able to create on our tours.  The tours are led by Michael, a professor of art and photography as well as some very special guest teachers and pro photographers.  Contact us today for more information.

Do you have some great images from your Indonesian travels you would like to share? Want to submit your fantastic photo for the Balifornian Tour and Travel Blog Photo of the Day?  Please send your JPEG, location and description to  Files must be under 500 kb.

Happy travels! Salamat Jalan!

Michael and Maryam ~

Balifornian Tours and Travel Blog ~ The best website for news and information on Bali and Indonesia.

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