Difference between revisions of "Flores (Indonesia)"
Revision as of 23:51, 10 May 2012
Flores is located east of Sumbawa and west of Lembata and the Alor Archipelago. To the southeast is Timor. To the south, across the Sumba strait, is Sumba and to the north, beyond the Flores Sea, is Sulawesi.
The largest town is Maumere.
Flores is almost all Catholic and represents one of the "religious borders" created by the Catholic expansion in the Pacific and the spread of Islam from the west across Indonesia. In other places in Indonesia, such as in Maluku and Sulawesi, the divide is more rigid and has been the source of bloody sectarian clashes.
There are many languages spoken on the island of Flores, all of them belonging to the Austronesian family. In the centre of the island in the districts of Ngada and Ende there is what is variously called the Central Flores Dialect Chain or the Central Flores Linkage. Within this area there are slight linguistic differences in almost every village. At least six separate languages are identifiable. These are from west to east: Ngadha, Nage, Keo, Ende, Lio and Palu'e, which is spoken on the island with the same name of the north coast of Flores. Locals would probably also add So'a and Bajawa to this list, which anthropologists have labeled dialects of Ngadha.
Portuguese traders and missionaries came to Flores in the 16th century, mainly to Larantuka and Sikka. Their influence is still discernible in Sikka's language and culture.
Pelni ships call at Labuanbajo, Maumere, Larantuka and Ende and link the island with other parts of Indonesia. Numerous other ships also serve Flores, including the ASDP ferry from Labuanbajo to Sape (Sumbawa) and the wooden ferries from Larantuka to the islands of Adonara and Lembata in the Solor archipelago. Check the Indonesian Pelni website but check with offices to be sure (the arrival and departure times are flexible).
A number of companies organise 4 day sailing trips between Lombok or Bali and Flores which take in Komodo and Rinca. These cost around Rp1 million. Passengers should be aware that these trips can cross open waters and are on boats with no navigation or safety equipment other than some lifejackets (i.e. no radio, flares or life rafts).
Overland travel is a possibility as well, although it is a long haul from most places. From Mataram (Lombok), a combined ticket including all buses and ferries costs Rp 225,000. The journey takes over 24 hours and has a buffet meal included in the price on Sumbawa. To Bima (Sumbawa), the bus is 'executive class', while the 2 hours from Bima to Sape are done in a crammed minibus. When bought separately and traveling by local transport, the journey will probably be cheaper, but it requires several interchanges and you should consider whether it's worth the extra time and hassle.
Bemos, small vans with seats facing each other, operate linking all the main towns. It is an incredible way to see the island and the driving ensures it is an exhilarating ride if you don't mind the heat, dust, and being squashed next to an old dear with a chicken. A distance that looks short on the map can still take hours in reality, so be patient and enjoy the ride.
The most famous tourist attraction in Flores island itself is the crater lakes at Mount Kelimutu usually reach from Ende. The colours change on a regular basis with aqua/turquoise, green, red and chocolate brown reported. This amazing natural phenomenon is thought to be caused by changed by chemical reactions of minerals in the lake triggered by volcano gas activity.
Flores has good snorkeling and scuba diving in several locations along the north coast, most notably Komodo and Riung. However, owing to the destructive practice of local fishermen using dynamite, and locals selling shells to tourists, however, the coral reefs are slowly being destroyed in Riung. The Komodo National Park is held up as a role model for other parks throughout the world and the reefs and marine life are in nearly pristine condition.
If you come to the city Ende, be sure to try their kind of Indonesian coffee 'Kopi Ende'. It is coffee beans and ginger toasted together and brewed like normal coffee.
There are different hospitals (called "Rumah Sakit") and health stations (called "Puskesmas") on the island. The best hospitals are in Cancar  (near Ruteng) in the western part and in Lela  (near Maumere) in the eastern part of the island.