Nickle Town On My Mind

Somewhere in the north-east of South Sulawesi province, there’s a small mining town named Soroako (also spelled Sorowako).

A small mining town where nickel was its main source of life to the people surrounds the area, including my father for a little over 13 years.

It’s one of the places that feel like home.

I was only 3 or 4 months old when my mother wrapped me up and moved from Makassar, the city where I was born and where most of my families resided.

I still vividly remember the small details my first house was. That light grey wooden house with those red leaves plants surrounding front of our house into the graveled driveway. The sounds of our running  feet against the wooden floor in the hallways. The huge backyard with mangoes trees, cassava trees, green thick Japanese grass where I did so many cartwheels and other crazy gymnastic stunts, a backyard patio where we would be playing if it’s too hot outside. Unfortunately I have no picture of the house.

From the trees in my neighbors’ houses where I spent a lot of my childhood times climbing and became one of my hiding spot away from my angry mother. I wasn’t exactly a very good little girl growing up. A total tomboy, I hated wearing those puffy ballooned dresses with their laces that made me itch. My hair was cut short, like a boy.

That precious little yellow bicycle that I used to peddled hard up a hill just to get the thrill of riding it down the hill super fast.  Wasn’t exactly the sweet girl that played tea with her imaginary friends, outdoorsy, I would rather climbed trees, fights with the boys, and came home with bruises and scars on my legs.

For a town surrounded by three lakes, swimming pool was so not popular growing up. Kids would be thrown into the lakes, well OK maybe not literally! And I was one of those many kids of Soroako who learned to swim and yes, swallowed some of the water.

Yellow school bus like they had back in the States? Hello, we got them too! Unfortunately, if you are in the 4th grade and you happened to live nearby the school you can’t ride the yellow school bus no more. So , I remember the walks to and from school with my classmates who all lived not far from me. Mind you we wouldn’t be walking nicely by the side of the graveled road. We took short cuts, to and through someone’s houses and when someone shout we’d scram out little behinds off. A little adventure each and every day. Sometimes we would stop and picked up these fruits typical of the area, they are sour and honestly I can’t remember why we would even try suckling on it – I have never seen them anywhere since I left Soroako.

Buah Dengen

After school we often stopped by for a 10 cent frozen-square-looking-sweet- ice-tea popsicle on tooth picks that quench thirsty little heads.

Small town charm, everyone knows everyone because well, frankly everyone works for the same company.  Childhood freedom was there like no other place.

A little far from the main lake…there’s a smaller lake nearby from my house. The road was bad, it was empty mostly. Big tall grass prairie surrounded the area. We little children were scared out of our mind from the tales that there’s a ghost in one of the big tree there.  Some said there’s an unmarked Dutch soldier’s cemetery there. Looking back now, maybe it’s just to stop us kiddos from playing alone and get drown in the lake. Maybe. Can’t remember when exactly I dared myself to wonder there with my friends.

One of the distinct ‘tourists’ – and by tourists I meant the visiting relatives and families from out of town are the display of slag dump.

Yeah, I remember my father borrowing company’s car, loaded up all of us and our guests to checked out the slag dump from a safe distance of course. It’s beautiful from a far at night time.

One more spot that to me felt like a hidden treasure was this small creek not far from my house. Tucked just right next to a quiet golf course, it was a pure small heaven. My friends or sometimes I would wondered there and just put our dirty little feet in the cold fresh running stream. Sadly, I don’t have pictures of it but the memories of relaxing under the shades of many tall trees there shall remain with me forever. Maybe it look like this, only smaller – it look similar but I’m not sure.

My family moved away when I got to 5th grade so I was around 11 years old yet the memories will last forever.  One of these days I need to come ‘home’ and captured the beauty of this small town through my lenses.

 Special thanks to Ricky Riyanto Lamberth for allowing me to post his amazing pictures here.


  1. January 5, 2012 / 1:36 am

    These pictures are amazing. There’s so much color. I loved how you used them as reference to describe the house and neighborhood you grew up in. It really gave me the big picture. And hooray for Tom Boys! I wish I could say I was one but I’ve never climbed a tree.

    • January 5, 2012 / 11:27 am

      Thanks Nami. We lost our house in a fire a long time ago and sadly we doesn’t have much old pictures from when we were kiddos left. Hahahaha your boys can teach you how? 😉

    • January 5, 2012 / 11:35 am

      Thanks for tagging me. 🙂

  2. January 5, 2012 / 8:11 pm

    What a wonderful stroll down memory lane. It sounds as if you had an enchanted, normal childhood. I adore the photos, too!

  3. January 6, 2012 / 1:52 am

    What an amazing place to grow up!

  4. January 6, 2012 / 11:43 am

    What a nice reflection on your home town…so nice to have good memories!

  5. January 6, 2012 / 1:50 pm

    What a place! BEAUTIFUL! I do hope you get back one day. It’s funny the school bus here won’t take kids that live too close and too close is within 5 miles. Crazy!

  6. Saundra Rohn
    January 8, 2012 / 8:45 am

    Thanks for sharing this part of your childhood and yes you should go back there and take pictures of all the places you experienced. I enjoyed reading the memories. ♥ u

    • Ricky Ritanyo L
      February 29, 2012 / 2:06 pm

      nice maureen.. 🙂 sorry for late to read this.. i like..

  7. January 12, 2015 / 10:21 pm

    Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an really long comment but after
    I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr…
    well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyhow, just wanted to say excellent blog!

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