Indonesia is among the best touring spots in Asia, and nature has blessed this country with almost all types of naturally beautiful sites. From high mountains to the pleasing beach waters, the country seems to have it all. In the eastern part, Flores appears to be the perfect place to fill your soul with cultures, colours and beautiful people. Titled from the word “Flowers” by a Portuguese colonist in the 16th century, this island has made it to the list of the best places to visit in Asia, and a-few-days trip is perfect to set your mind in the pristine natural setting.
A place of simplicity, warmth and authenticity always come along with beautiful creatures. And, in this case, Flores offers their visitors with the incredible Komodo Dragons, the biggest reptiles in the world which cannot be found anywhere else. These impressive creatures are part of the Komodo National Park that is designed to protect and prevent this rare species. In this part of the island, you can enjoy the mixture of the ocean, the nature and the sun while seeing up-close the Komodo Dragons feeling the rich land under their feet or fighting for leadership. However, please be advised to keep your distance from these prehistoric animals due to their deadly infectious bites can be fatal.
The next adventure awaits from underwater world. As a quote saying “The world’s finest wilderness lies beneath the waves”, diving or snorkelling in Labuhan Bajo provides great access to a huge amount of different and colourful fishes. You can easily find mantas swimming around the surface or sometimes haunting sharks circling around the reef, making your underwater experience even more exciting and worth trying. Note that there is no fancy boat available to take you to the diving spots. Normally, you will be on some locally-built-simple-wooden-ships with mats to sit on.
The enthralling view of the island keeps taking your breath away when you hike Mount Kelimutu. As the wind nipping at your face on the top of the mountain, you will notice one of the most spectacular wonders that nature has to offer. This mountain is a volcano that brings out a rare wonder in the craters of the mountain. Three lakes with different fascinating colours that are the result from the discoloration by the sunlight, the dissolution of chemicals and the water microorganisms. But it also seems to be affected by the reflection from the colours of the bottom and walls of the lake. However, Kelimutu lakes are unpredictable as to when and what colour they will change into. The local people believe that those lakes are the spiritual resting place of their ancestors and the colours changing are according to the mood of the spirits.
For those enjoying daredevil activities, cliff jumping at Cunca Wulang Waterfall can be an option. In order to respect the local customs, you need to conduct a traditional ritual at the entrance gate or ticketing. It doesn’t take more than 5 minutes. To reach the site, you need to trek through the dense forest for an hour before arriving at the waterfall. Then you can challenge yourself to jump off the cliff from 3 to 12 meters. If you are not into this adrenaline activity, you can opt for swimming or snorkelling in the fresh water.
Anyone with interest in archaeology or evolution of life, checking out Liang Bua Cave will take you back to the ancient time. Located in Manggarai district, this cave is very old and a natural cave-made of limestone. It was once used as a holy place of worship, but now becoming an educational centre since the discovery of ‘Hobbit’ fossils in 2003. Definitely a historical site with plenty of information attached!
Although the landscape is beautiful, learning the lifestyle and discovering the ancient history of the traditional villages can also be a life changing experience. The indigenous people of Flores are tribesmen who still lead their life in a very traditional way and primarily dependent on the rural agriculture. These people do not have any access to the enhanced local autonomy and other technological advances. A maximum number of families in Flores are still not able to give their children quality education because of lack of means. Also, the access to healthcare is marginal. What’s more, the access to water, transportation, communication, electricity is also at a very marginal level.
As you walk into the Flores’ tribal villages, you will notice straight away how the anthropological values are still a fundamental pillar for the tribes. Villages in Ngada are an emblematic example of how communities can be so isolated but still survived to keep their native traditions despite the globalising forces of the twenty-first century. They live under the shadows of Inerie and Deru Volcano, where they built their houses made of bamboos, rocks and thatched roofs.
Flores’ astounding cultural diversity can be moderately defined by its geological characteristics, somewhat also because of external influences. However, Florinese societies still share a broad range of widespread cultural and linguistic attributes within and beyond their island.
The tribes of Flores honour their tradition very well. Caci Dance is one of the ancient traditions from Manggarai tribe. This spectacular Manggaraian martial art performance is mixing dancing and singing with an incredible skilful fighting. The Caci Dance performance involves a synchronisation between an attacker and a defender to create a marvellous act, while at the same time the ladies humming along the traditional song.
When it comes to food, Flores has Jawada, a traditional sweet dessert made from thin pasta. It is composed of rice flour, palm sugar, coconut milk, and salt. The dough is pushed through small holes-made on a coconut shell to make the thin capillary designs. It is subsequently deep-fried, so it can keep up its crispiness.
Another sweetness is Ubi Nuabosi or sweet potato. This famous dish among the locals is treated for cooking in a number of distinctive ways, ranging from boiling, frying, or roasting. The locals normally serve this together with dried out salted fish or other dishes. Ubi Noubosi is a rich source of carbohydrate and is used largely as a substitute for rice.
As for the meat gourmets, Se’i is just the ticket. It is a smoked meat that is prepared using the conventional procedures. Se’i entails the use of beef or pork, albeit, at times, fish can also be used. To make Se’i, the meat is roasted over an open fire keeping a fine distance from the fire. This is basically done to ensure that the smoke that cooks the meat and not the flames of open fire. As a result, undoubtedly, the cooking takes a long time. The locals typically cut the newly smoke meat and consume it at once or re-cook it amalgamating it together with a range of vegetables.
Flores is a fascinating island that offers you a life changing experience and an unforgettable trip to learn about culture and tribes. It is an alternative universe where the ancient and the modern do coexist. Sharing this information to fellow adventurers will multiply the joy of the journey manifolds.