Beyond Bali


    The Land Of Flowers

      1-9-2016
     

    The Land Of Flowers

    Stunning view of Lake Kelimutu

    The Land Of Flowers

    The Land Of Flowers

    Mount Inerie

    The Land Of Flowers

    Bena Village in Bajawa

    The Land Of Flowers

    One foggy day with the kids of Waerebo Village.

    The Land Of Flowers

    Drinking local coffee on the top of Waerebo village.

    The Land Of Flowers

    The Land Of Flowers
    Stunning view of Lake Kelimutu

    The Land Of Flowers

    The Land Of Flowers
    Mount Inerie

    The Land Of Flowers
    Bena Village in Bajawa

    The Land Of Flowers
    One foggy day with the kids of Waerebo Village.

    The Land Of Flowers
    Drinking local coffee on the top of Waerebo village.

    The Land Of Flowers

    A road trip around the western side of East Nusa Tenggara...

    Located at the far western edge of East Nusa Tenggara, Flores Island is Indonesia’s next paradise after Bali; at least it is for me personally. Even before I landed on this island, I could already see how beautiful it was from the plane’s window. From up in the sky a couple of minutes before landing, I was in awe as I saw the main island surrounded by dozens of little islands, like crumbs around bread.

    Flores means ‘flowers’ in Portuguese, and this part of Indonesia is known the world over for its Komodo and Rinca Islands – Komodo being a popular destination to see Komodo Dragons, Indonesia’s endangered giant lizard. Beautiful beaches and a crystal clear ocean are the gems of the island, but Flores has many other marvelous natural spots and a unique traditional culture that I think are best explored by land.

    That’s why I decided to take a road trip around the island together with a friend, accompanied by a local resident who became our cheerful driver as well our helpful guide. Our overland trip started from Labuan Bajo and got more interesting each day as we headed eastward towards Maumere City.

    Labuan Bajo
    Our flight from Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport landed at Labuan Bajo’s international airport. Despite the fact that Labuan Bajo is the main gateway to Flores, we thought that our trip should begin with a visit to Komodo National Park. Afterwards, we continued by having a sunset session at the port – the sunset view is truly remarkable with the sun’s reflection on the ocean and its light sparkling over the anchoring sea vessels.

    When the day turned to night we had a simple dinner at a local café, and then continued to admire the natural beauty of Labuan Bajo and to absorb its positive vibe. I could feel my energy recharging as we strolled around the town and visited a number of small-scale touristy areas. We could spend more time in Labuan Bajo and use a live-on-board to hop from one island to another, but Flores is not just about Labuan Bajo and Komodo Island. Other cities and villages were waiting for us.

    Waerebo Village
    After exploring Labuan Bajo we headed to Waerebo, another destination that is becoming more popular among local and international tourists, especially after it received the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Award for Cultural Heritage back in 2012. Getting to Waerebo is quite tricky because the village is nestled in a ‘hidden’ valley in the Manggarai Regency. One needs to reach Denge Village first and then continue on foot to Waerebo, which takes at least three hours.

    Some people claim that this is the most beautiful village in Indonesia. Its beauty also lies in the heart of the people because, although the location is isolated, the villagers will welcome visitors warmly and offer decent accommodations. The best way to experience Waerebo is to live like a local in the village; so lucky visitors may be able to stay overnight at one of the seven coneshaped traditional houses with a local family.

    Bajawa
    The trip to Waerebo Village was a bit exhausting, but Flores is vast so going from one town to another takes awhile, which gave us time to rest in the car while on the way to Bajawa, the capital of the Ngada Regency. It takes at least two days to explore Bajawa from corner to corner. This area is certainly interesting for coffee lovers because Bajawa is the producer of the popular Flores coffee – and Bajawa coffee is found in almost every culinary place in Flores. Aside from the coffee, Bajawa is known for its marvelous natural scenery, from the mountains to the sea. The town is also blessed with fresh air as it is on higher ground.

    In the mountain area, visitors can visit traditional villages and witness the local way of living. Mount Inerie for instance, is home to eight villages: Bena, Nio, Nage, Vajo, Gurusina, Tololela, Be’a and Luba. Tourists can also buy traditional woven fabrics or have a conversation with the locals to find out more about their customs. But for those who prefer going to the beach, Riung 17 Islands has pristine beaches surrounded by crystal clear water, making it the next tropical attraction in Flores after the islands around Labuan Bajo.

    Ende
    From Bajawa we went directly to Mony Village to see the three-colored Lake Kelimutu in Ende, which is another gem of Flores. Located at Mount Kelimutu, Lake Kelimutu is more like a compound with three different lakes in one area, each one believed to be the symbol of the human soul. The three lakes are known as Tiwu Ata Mbupu (lake of the ancestor’s souls, representing old people), Tiwu Nuwa Muri Koo Fai (lake of the youngsters, representing young men and maidens) and Tiwu Ata Polo (lake of evil spirits, or the haunted lake). These lakes are must-visits as they are known for their natural phenomenon where their colors keep on changing, depending on the sediment in the lakes.

    Maumere
    Maumere was our last stop before we left Flores. Just like the other part of Flores, this city is home to beautiful pristine beaches but it has so much more. Maumere offers a wonderful underwater experience for divers although finding diving operators here may not be an easy task. But true divers should not give up finding a dive operator, especially knowing that there is a chance to see beautiful table coral deep in the ocean.

    At the end of our journey my group noted that we spent a total of six days and five nights and traveled about 550 kilometers on this overland Flores trip, from Labuan Bajo to Maumere using a van on the well-developed asphalt roads. One more tip; don’t forget to get a beautiful tan while exploring the beaches.

     
    Edna Tarigan

       Contributor : Edna Tarigan


      Magazine issue > Beyond Bali
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