The Jakarta Post
The Tour de Flores is expected to boost tourism in East Nusa Tenggara, which is already famous for Komodo Island (pictured), Kelimutu and the heritage village of Wae Rebo. (Shutterstock/-)
Nestled at the tip of Flores Island in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), Labuan Bajo and Larantuka are both conveniently surrounded by a spectacularly hilly landscape that comes right up to the sea. Of the two towns, Larantuka is the much quieter one.
Larantuka only sees crowds during the religious festivals of Semana Santa and Easter, as there is a strong Catholic influence there, that came when the Portuguese occupied this far eastern end of Flores in the 17th century.
But, on Wednesday night, the town hosted a spectacular celebration to mark the start of the Tour de Flores 2016, a historical sports-tourism event that is very much expected to boost tourism in East Nusa Tenggara, which is already famous for Komodo Island, Kelimutu and the heritage village of Wae Rebo.
As an international cycling race, the Tour de Flores welcomes 160 participants from 16 countries and boasts a challenging route over 661 kilometers long. Those that succeed in conquering the race's climbs and winding narrow hilly roads will be awarded with spectacular views and a share of Rp 1 billion (US$73,600) in total prize money.
Several cultural performances were staged to entertain Larantuka’s special guests during the celebration, starting with a traditional music performance by villagers of Lewotanaole in Solor Barat district in East Flores regency, who played a welcome song called Laole.
This traditional bamboo dance from a ritual called Dopeng Kawerok is a cleansing ritual to protect the village from bad luck.(JP/Intan Tanjung)
A cultural performance by high school students from Adonara Barat district, also in East Flores, followed. They performed a traditional bamboo dance from a ritual called Dopeng Kawerok, a cleansing ritual to protect the village from bad luck. Usually held in January, the ritual is also performed to showcase gratitude and to mark the beginning of a year.
“Because of human greed and bad actions, the world becomes disharmonious; a battle between nature and humanity. We need to conduct this ritual to return it to its initial state,” the dance director Abraham Olah told The Jakarta Post.
Visitors to the celebration were also invited to dine together as many traditional seafood dishes were set up on tables that stretched up to 2 km long.
East Flores Tourism Agency head Andreas Ratu Kedang said that the food festival was usually held after Easter to show gratitude to God for their good catch. (JP/Intan Tanjung)
East Flores Tourism Agency head Andreas Ratu Kedang said the food festival was usually held after Easter to show gratitude for a good catch.
“East Flores is the biggest fish producer in East Nusa Tenggara. Dining together has long been our traditional way of showing our gratitude to God, and now, to celebrate the launch of the Tour de Flores,” he said. (kes)
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