Discovered by the Portuguese, this sparsely populated rural island is 75 per cent Christian. It is the gateway to visiting Komodo Island and the Komodo National Park. Spectacular coral gardens under coastal waters make it excellent for snorkeling and diving. Three volcanic lakes, each with a distinctive color caused by dissolved minerals, are found high in the mountainous interior at the summit of Mount Kelimutu. Locals make prized hand-woven textiles using natural dyes and hand-spun cotton. Resulting blankets, scarves, and tablecloths make good souvenirs, but formal clothing for locals is also made from the fabric.
Once a small fishing village, this town is the capital of the regency MangarraI Barat--the western most part of Flores. Originally filled with fisherman homes, this area now houses tourists. Among the options is a floating hotel, and construction is rampant. A rustic local market is well worth a visit. This tiny town is the launching point for trips to Komodo Island.
|Labuan Bajo on Flores Island in Indonesia|
|town market in Labuan Bajo on Flores Island in Indonesia|
|rooster at town market in Labuan Bajo on Flores Island in Indonesia|
|red peppers at town market in Labuan Bajo on Flores Island in Indonesia|
Batu Cermin Cave/Mirror Cave Existing under the sea long ago, this scenic cave area features dry coral and fossils. The limestone cave itself is pitch dark, so visitors must carry flashlights, and it also has low openings. Closed-toe shoes are advised.
|Mirror Cave on Flores Island in Indonesia|
Melo Village As my group approached this up-island village, we were welcomed first by smiling children running beside our van. Then, while we gathered with the village men, we heard the women singing and playing instrument as we were led us up the hill to a ceremonial hut.
There we were served homemade arak liquor. (Legal arak is made from coconut palms and is considered inferior to the homemade version made from ental or jaka palms or sometimes cashew fruit.)
|serving arak liquor at Melo Village on Flores Island in Indonesia|
First we observed the traditional Caci whip-fighting dance.
While watching, we sipped the coffee that the village produces.
|coffee service at Melo Village on Flores Island in Indonesia|
After the women performed the stick dance,
we were invited to join in. Arak is said to loosen you up for dancing, and indeed it did. Even though there had been a decent rain fall and the dirt had turned to mud, we all participated and had an enjoyable frolick. Later, as we departed, the children ran after our van to bid us adieu.
|children at Melo Village on Flores Island in Indonesia|
More things to do on Flores Island.
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images ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers