Tourist Spots in Flores Timur
Flores Timur (East Flores) with its capital, Larantuka, has since long been an important naval base for trade, a central point for colonialisation, as well as missionary activities in eastern Indonesia. Having a long Catholic history, Larantuka hosts the glorious Reinha Rosari Cathedral where pilgrims from all over the world gather during the Larantuka Easter procession. If ikat is your passion, then you cannot skip Lewokluok: a place where you can find the cloth uniquely inlaid with seashells. Leworahang features a heritage site with long-preserved, exquisitely carved traditional houses richly that will delight travellers with interest in art and culture.
Larantuka is the capital of Flores Timur. This coastal town used to be a naval base for trade and a central point for colonialization and clerical activities in Eastern Indonesia. Nowadays, Larantuka is still an important connecting port to the neighboring islands and the center of economic activities in the Flores Timur district, attracting many people from the neighboring villages to make a living in the town. Having a long Catholic history, Larantuka hosts the famous Katedral Reinha Rosari. This cathedral, together with the two well-known chapels Kapela Tua Ana and Kapela Tuan Ma, are centers of activity during the famous Larantuka Easter procession. During Easter, this laid-back city turns into a busy and lively place bursting with pilgrims from all over the world.
If you get infected with ‘ikat-passion’ during your Flores trip, Lewokluok is a place that will fill a collector’s heart with awe. Tiny Lamaholot Village is famed for its ikat, or kwatek kinge in the local language. What makes their ikat unique and therefore a sought-after handicraft, are the small, sewn-in seashells, which are collected by the villagers on a shore nearby the village.
Kwatek kinge is not an ordinary cloth that is worn every day. Used as part of marriage transactions, it has a ceremonial function, and is of special meaning and value to the Lewokluok people. Kwatek kinge is made out of natural, local ingredients – including the cotton and the dye. Even though there is a local association of weavers called Sanggar Uto Wata, there are not many women left who possess the extensive skill and knowledge that it takes to manufacture kwatek kinge. All these facts considered, the price tag for such an object of desire is accordingly high.
If you are in Larantuka or on the Transflores ‘highway’ between Maumere and Larantuka, don’t miss stopping at Leworahang. This hamlet of Ilepadung is situated near a nice stretch of beach in a luminous spot of land, where beautiful trees surrounding the village center invite you to take respite from the burning midday heat. The friendly Lamaholot people of Leworahang, who mainly work as farmers or fishermen, are the proud owners of three, well-maintained traditional houses.
As you enter the village, you will find the korke, Leworahang’s adat (ceremonial) house, standing on wooden piles behind the big stone-pile in the village center. Being the center of many traditional ceremonies, the korke is decorated with ornamental carvings. Prominent carvings are birds and fish, which symbolize the newcomers who arrived from land and sea to become the lords of the land of Leworahang.
Lango Bele, which means ‘big house’ in the Lamaholot language, is the house of the first man who lived in Leworahang – so people say. The entrance of this charming alang-alang (thatched) roofed bamboo house is furnished as a cozy resting pace. Inside the house, there is a sleeping area, as well as two small rooms elevated above the ground. Ornate baskets of different sizes hang on the wall, as well as bejowong – a traditional place to store food.
A little bit further inside the village you will find kebang. Built on massive wooden piles, kebang used to be places for storing corn and rice, rather like raised, open barns. The pig jaws attached to the corners of the kebang (you will also find them on the korke) symbolize the strength of the villagers and their devotion to maintain their ancestors’ customs.
Even though the traditional houses are Leworahang’s main attraction, the village has a lot more to offer. Ikat is the vital element to the ceremonial life of the Leworahang people, and you will most likely see some women working on these beautiful cloths. The production of moke, a local alcoholic beverage made out of the sap of the lontar palm, is another interesting activity. Besides being a source of income, the moke is also used at ceremonial occasions.
Last but not least, Ilepadung is also a center of cashew nut processing. This work requires skillful hands and caution: the sap of the nut’s peel is a skin irritant, and the nut itself is a very delicate product. The returns on cashew nuts, which are sold to Fair Trade organizations, adds an additional income source to subsistence farming.
Traditional ceremonies still play an important role for the people of Leworahang, above all Ahik Kokor, which is the annual ceremony for the renovation of the korke. Ahik Kokor is usually held around the end of March. It involves dancing and music, praying, communal meals, as well as the ritual sacrifice of many pigs, whose jaws are disposed at the korke and the kebang, as mentioned previously .