Exploring Ende Posted by sasha on Jun 22, 2016 in Uncategorized
After hiking up for sunrise at Mt. Kelimutu, the next stop of our trans-Flores journey was Ende. Capital of the Ende regency, this town is different from much of Flores in that it’s home to a substantial Muslim population; most of the island’s inhabitants are Catholic. It’s not exactly the most scenic place – it’s a port town with a black sand beach – but it’s worth stopping for at least a night to break up the journey on the long and winding roads of Flores. Here’s a quick look at what you can do with a short stay in this sleepy town:
A Short, Scenic Drive
If coming from Moni and Mt. Kelimutu, it’s only about two hours to Ende. As I mentioned in previous posts about Flores, the best way to traverse the island is with a hired driver. Rather than cram into the slow-moving local busses packed with people, having your own car makes for a much more comfortable ride. Plus, the scenery along the way is breathtaking. With a driver, you’re free to stop as often as you want to take in the views, pick up snacks from local markets, and get out to stretch your legs and walk around.
Before pulling into Ende, we enjoyed a nice stroll around a village. Crossing a river via a rickety old bridge, our driver was having a great time rocking the bridge and taking photos of us. Villagers washed their clothes in the river below, and a woman and her daughter waved to us on their walk home. The friendly, cheerful people of Flores and their excitement at seeing bule was one of the best parts about traveling across the island.
On the way into Ende, we made a slight detour to visit the village of Wolotopo. It’s a beautiful, albeit slightly bumpy drive along the coast to get there. It’s known for its traditional adat houses, which visitors can tour by making a small donation to the village. Unfortunately for us, the clouds opened up as soon as we arrived. Such is life when traveling in Indonesia during the rainy season. Rather than wait it out, we decided to bail and head to town for lunch and to find a room.
As one of the major towns in Flores, Ende is home to quite a few hotels and guesthouses. The problem is Ende is far from a major tourist destination, so there’s not a whole lot of info out there about the various options. We consulted Trip Advisor and ended up going to the newer Dasi Guesthouse. They added an extra bed to make a triple room for us, had a nice common seating area, and included breakfast in the rate, so it was good enough for a one night stay.
One of Ende’s claims to fame is that the first president of Indonesia (Soekarno) lived here for a brief time while he was in exile. It’s believed that the “Pancasila” philosophy, which remains the official foundation of the Indonesian state, was thought up by Soekarno as he sat under a tree here. The house is now a museum, but it was already closed by the time we got there at 3. So far, our visit to Ende had been a bit of a fail.
With nothing else to do, we had our driver drop us off on the local beach to walk around. A group of kids were super excited to see us, as they continuously yelled the standard “Hello Mister!” at us. They also eagerly posed for photos, followed by calls of “dollar, dollar.” We didn’t have any dollars to give them, but we did show them the pictures which got some laughs. Out on the water, we saw plenty of fishing boats as well as the larger ferries that go in between islands.
The most interesting thing we saw on our walk was a group of goats digging through roadside garbage, and another hanging out on a basketball court. Apparently shooting hoops is not a popular pastime for the residents of Ende. We also walked past the town’s large church and noticed a little market area that we were told didn’t get busy until after dark.
We headed back to the guesthouse to relax and kill some time, and then went back to town a few hours later to hit the night market. Despite speaking Indonesian, we were given an absurd bill for our bowls of mie bakso from one vendor. One of his cooks even said out loud that the price he was giving us was double what it should be. Rather than get into a heated argument over a couple bucks, I just made sure to tell all the other diners that we had been ripped off because we were bule. Sadly, this happens all the time in Indonesia, whether you speak the language or not.
Out of Town
Leaving Ende, we had a long day of driving to our next destination of Bajawa. To break up the trip, we first stopped at the “blue stone beach.” Local kids were enjoying a swim, while fishing boats were out looking for the day’s catch.
The beach is indeed home to an abundance of blue stones, however it seemed as if most of them were being collected, bagged up, and taken away. Our driver said that the stones are popular in Japan, so locals are now packing them up and selling them. He then laid down on a towel and took a nap, so we just lounged in the shade for a while to let him rest before the big drive.
As we climbed higher and higher on our way out of town, we made a pitstop at a little shop which had an incredible view. Once again, we were happy to be cruising along in a car and being able to stop whenever we wanted.
There aren’t a whole lot of options for dining along the main road in Flores, so we just went ahead and stopped at the first open warung we saw. We filled up our plates with nasi campur and were happy to get the local price without any arguments. As we got ready to leave, I couldn’t help but laugh at the local bus that was decked out with a picture of Eminem and the words “I’m sick of you.” Back in the car, we headed to our next stop – the town of Bajawa and its traditional villages.