The Land of a Thousand Smiles: First Impressions of Flores Island
Arriving in Flores Island felt like I could take a big, deep breath of fresh air. It was perhaps one of the most contrasting places I could have gone to from Jakarta.
Flores Island is perhaps more globally known for the land that is rich in beauty and biodiversity. The marine environment surrounding the island is also of great importance and considered one of the richest habitats in the world.
Perhaps if you still haven’t heard of Flores Island before you might have heard of the only “dragon” still roaming out the planet. This dragon is the Komodo dragon and it’s the largest lizard species on Earth.
I couldn’t believe the sight of the volcano when I first landed in Bajawa town. Even before entering the villages, I felt this incredible sense of peace. It was like I took a clock and just little stepped on it until time started to move slower.
But it wasn’t only the land that contrasted like day and night from the bustling streets of Jakarta, but there were also differences between the people and culture.
Land of a Thousand Smiles
I felt a warmth from the people immediately when I arrived in the villages. I can only think of the word ‘genuine’ in these encounters. While almost no one spoke English and I relied on translation and hand gestures, their smiles were not masked by a foreigner entering their village.
And as a bonus, as if you didn’t feel warm enough from a full-hearted smile, the people usually offered a fresh cup of coffee right away. As the coffee beans are harvested in abundance in Flores, it was very common to see coffee served more often than tea.
Entering the First Village
My first impressions of the villages was a sense of respect for the people’s efforts to keep their heritage. Seeing the home standing and intact as they once were long ago, made me feel grateful for the chance to see their culture.
Over the next several blog posts, I will walk you through my “No Service” experience in the villages of Flores Island. I didn’t get to meet the infamous Large Lizard, but I did get to meet some of the most kind-hearted and hard-working people who are discovering opportunities to improve their lives through tourism initiatives.