Difference between revisions of "Flores (Indonesia)"
Revision as of 15:24, 13 August 2017
Flores is located east of Sumbawa and west of the Solor Archipelago (which includes Adonara, Lembata and Solor) 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.
There are several airports in Flores, and the main one is at Maumere, (Fransiskus Xaverius Seda Airport), IATA: MOF. There are also daily flights between Labuanbajo, IATA: LBJ and Bali (IATA: DPS), Lombok International Airport, (Bandara Internasional Lombok), (IATA: LOP) and Kupang/Timor's El Tari Airport (IATA: KOE).
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 Rp 1,3 to 1,8 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).
There is a slow (daily) or fast (three times a week) boat to Labuan Bajo from Sape on Sumbawa. The fast boat also goes to Sumba twice a week. Call Kapal Cepat Express Bahari 0823 592 87 257 in Sape, 0822 373 68 767 in LB or 0812 3743 6447 in Waikelo (Sumba).
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 trans-Flores highway is around 700 km long and the average speed on it is 30 km/h. The main towns (west to east) are Labuanbajo-Ruteng-Bajawa-Ende-Maumere-Larantuka and are somewhat evenly distributed along the road. Travelling between any adjacent pair of those takes 4 to 6 hours and costs around 50000 rp in a normal bus (van). These buses are usually cramped, very loud (bring earplugs) and old, but most people find them OK for a 5-hour trip. They are also a good way to meet friendly locals. Between some towns there are also more modern vans as well as "travels" (big Toyota cars that take 5 passengers). These are of course more expensive but not faster. It is possible to find direct buses Labuanbajo-Bajawa, Bajawa-Maumere and possibly Ende-Larantuka. These take at least 10 hours (one whole day). Travelling at night is not recommended due to road conditions.
Some travelers choose to buy their own motorbike or rent one in Bali and travel through Nusa Tenggara. It is possible to find boats that take motorbikes between the islands the way to Alor but from there it is not possible to go further east on a direct boat. You have the option of going back or taking a boat to Kupang or possibly Makassar. In most of the towns in Flores, it is possible to rent a motorbike for the day. Prices and availability vary.
If you are in Flores and want to travel between Maumere - Endeh - Ruteng - Labuan bajo the best option is Gunung Mas, very reliable Transport company with actual real schedules, prices are not too different from locals offering rides along the road, the difference is that their buses are pretty new, comfortables, not overbooked, with A/C, and actually they travel on schedule and they speak English most locals don't, Flores is a beautiful island with great landscape but can become quite uncomfortable getting around in the wrong way, most locals don't even know that there is actually a real bus company in Flores (Labuan bajo office in front of SMAK Loyola, Tel. 0385-42899)
The most famous tourist attraction in Flores island itself is the crater lakes at Mount Kelimutu, usually reached from Ende. The colors change on a regular basis with aqua/turquoise, green, red and chocolate brown reported. This amazing natural phenomenon is thought to be caused 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, 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 Indonesia, and the reefs and marine life are in good condition despite continuing illegal fishing with explosives.
Flores also has a growing Eco-tourism industry, where you can visit traditional villages, stay with local families and join in Eco-friendly activities such as bird watching, trekking and participate in dances.
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. Do NOT drink the water; you might get TYPHOID! WARNING! Beware of a ticks (deer tick, dog tick) - detected as minimum as in Labuan Badjo, in one cheap hotel. The tick is black-colored. It's unknown if they are infected with Lime or so.
The islands to the east see very few tourists are very interesting. Adonara, Lembata, Solor and Alor can be reached by regular boats,Special in Lembata island to see the Whale hunting, people there hunt Whale by traditional way, with wooden boat(Pledang) and traditional spear made from iron with bamboo(Tempuling) and you can also explore the local life style. its really interesting more over there less tourist visiting.