Sengkang is a small city in the middle of South Sulawesi. It makes a convenient stop-over between two of the island's tourist centres, cultural Toraja and beachside Bira.
But Sengkang itself has a couple of interesting things to see. Immediately next to it is a lake with a floating village. It's far less touristy than the floating communities I saw on Lake Titicaca - there are no smiling women in traditional clothing offering souvenir-buying opportunities here. In fact it seemed nearly deserted.
The people are mainly fishermen, with the men laying nets in the evening and collecting in the morning, with half the fish being taken to the market shortly later. There's less pretense about where people spend their time too - my guide showed me the small house he rented in town, even though he was apparently born in the floating house. And the children went to a school which, while not floating, was on stilts above the water. They apparently boarded in nearby houses, only returning to their floating family homes once a week for their Sunday off (Indonesian schools seem to operate six days a week by standard). The lake changes in size throughout the year - some parts of it are used for rice growing between January and April, after which the water rises - our boat crossed right over the rice fields.
There's also a local silk industry - with spinning and weaving being done locally. It was fascinating to see the cocoons of the silk-worms being boiled and then spun into silk. Very much a cottage industry, the woman in the house we visited was adept at finding the cocoons with remaining material, stretching out a thin line of silk and combining it with other thin lines emerging from a basin of cocoons in water, while she spun on the simple machine. Similarly she picked out the leftover caterpillars, depositing them in another basin - some still twitched. Apparently they were then used as chicken feed.
Perhaps even more fascinating was the weaving process. A small factory had three weavers working a largely manual process. The warp, which always seemed to be a single colour, was carefully mounted, thread by thread, on the loom, a set-up process which I can imagine was quite time-consuming. The weft used was pre-dyed in a particular repeating sequence of colours, specially designed so as to give the resulting cloth a particular pattern. The shuttle flew across a few times before it needed to be re-threaded, to realign the threads or to use a new colour thread according to the place in the pattern. The time this took meant a weaver working full-time would make only 2-3 metres of cloth every day. The resultant cloth features repeating patterns, typically wave-like, which appear regular but on closer inspection are clearly hand-produced.