TIMOR

TIMOR

Timor (southeast of Flores) is the easternmost in Nusa Tenggara and almost the southernmost island in Indonesia. It doesn't really have that much to offer, except for the world's last remaining natural sandalwood forests, diving and some kind of interesting cultural sites. It is the most densely populated island in Nusa Tenggara, which includes Lombok and Flores. It cities are very congested and filled with traffic. Timor has direct flight to Darwin, Australia and used to be the last leg of the hippie trail from Europe to Australia. People in Timor are friendly. They love to laugh,

Timor island s covered mainly rugged terrain with spiky Palmyra palms, rocky soils, hills dotted with villages with sharp cone-shaped thatched huts and scenic coastlines. Topographically it differs from the rest of the East Nusa Tenggara islands. For the line of volcanoes that runs from Sumatra and Java to other Nusa Tenggara islands, skips over Timor and continues north to Maluku or the Moluccas. The reason for this is that unlike other Nusa Tenggara islands, Timor is in fact geologically related to Australia, which has no volcanoes. Timor Island., is one of the three largest islands in the East Nusa Tenggara n Archipelago (along with Sumba, and Flores). Timor island is now shared by two independent countries. The island’s eastern part is occupied by the newly independent East Timor (or Timor Leste), while the western part is part if Indonesia.

Fourteen language are spoken on Timor. They include ones of both Malay and Papuan origin. The Tetim are believed to be the first people to inhabit the island. Traditionally, people in Kupang and West Timor were distinguished by their social positions. The nobility here used to be called Amaf, the rulers Atupas, the commons Too, and slaves Ata. Today, ata no longer exist. Each of the social class had its own role to play in society. Yet, these classes share a mutual sentiment when it comes to tradition. The root of its heritage is so deep, making it difficult to trace. These deep rooted traditions even persisted through centuries of teachings of newer religions that were brought by traders or colonial rulers.

Look at the motives and patterns of their woven cloths called tenun ikat, and one can sense its age old heritage. Tenun ikat is the local craftsmanship in producing beautifully and sometimes mysteriously formed patterns on traditionally woven fabrics. Not only are the people proud of these cloths, but all Indonesians share the pride that these cloths are one of Indonesia’s most precious tangible national heritage.

Timor’s western part was colonized by the Dutch while the island’s eastern part was colonized by the Portuguese. This division originated from the time when these two powers fought for control over the lucrative spice trade. East Timor’s independence and the cancellation of the flights to Darwin was devastating to Timor’s tourism industry but Timor has bounced back as things have settled down in East Timor and Darwin flights have resumed. Kupang is the largest city. It is home to over 200,000 people. Outside the city attractions include unique lontar palms, villages with beehive-shaped huts. Many beehive-shaped huts. can ne seen around Soe The Boti Valley contains a “kingdom” pr 220 villagers presided over by a local rajah.

NUSA TENGGARA

Nusa Tenggara is a string of islands that extend to the east of Bali and continues in a southeast curve towards Australia. The main islands are (from west to east) Lombok, Sumbawa, Komodo, Flores, Sumba, and Timor. Also known as the Lesser Sundas or Lesser Sunda Islands, Nusa Tengarra is the driest part of Indonesia. Parts of the islands have been denuded by slash and burn agriculture and brush fires. As one travels eastwards the climate get drier and drier and some land areas are covered by open savannah. The 300-meter-deep channel that runs between Bali and Lombok extends northwards and divides Kalimantan and Sulawesi and marks the Wallace Line, with different species of animals living on each side.

The largest islands in Nusa Tengarra are Sumba, Flores and Timor. Bali and Nus Tenggara account for 4.6 percent of Indonesia’s land and 5.3 percent of its population. The region is poorer than other parts of Indonesia. Corn and taro are grown in the dryer areas rather than rice. Many ethic groups live in the region, particularly on Flores and Alor. Many of the people are Christians.

Travel in the region is much easier than it used be. There are numerous flights to many cities; the ferries are frequent and regular; and the roads and bus links are good. You can visit Nusa Tenggara by air. From Darwin, Australia, you can go to Kupang twice a week, joinly operated by Air North and Merpati Nusantara Airlines. Silk Air operates from Singapore and Merpati offers flights from Kuala Lumpur to Mataram. You can also visit Bali first, from this island it's easier to reach Nusa Tenggara. What about traveling by sea? Awu, Dobonsolo, Dorolonda, Kelimutu, Sirimau, Tatamailau, Pangrango and Tilongkabila ferries serve Nusa Tenggara. Slow ferries also connect the small islands.

Sea food is abundant and western style food can be found in many places. West Nusa Tenggara dishes, Lombok (Sasak) especially, can be spicy so you need to ask around if you can't stand it. Freshwater fish is also a favorite, try gurami asam manis (sweet and sour gouramy fish) while you're around. Ayam taliwang (roasted chicken with special sauce made of shallot, garlic, fish paste etc.) is a must, eaten with steamed rice and plecing kangkung (boiled greens, bean sprouts, peanuts coated with chili sauce) and sambal beberuk. They are very spicy though, especially sambal beberuk, made with lots of chili, tomatoes and eggplants. Tourism Office: Jl. Singosari 2, Mataram 83127, Tel. (62-370) 631730, 633886, 6358474, 6387828-9, fax: (62-370) 637233, 635274, Website: http://entebe.com, E mail: disbudpar@wasantara.net.id

Wallace Line and the History and People of Nusa Tenggara

Flores in Nusa Tengarra is the home of Homo floresiernsis, the Hobbit-like hominids that lived between 95,000 and 12,000 years ago. Otherwise, the history of Nusa Tenggara has not been has not been carefully studied. During 17th century, Dutch began to colonize this region. Many people these days stil live like their ancestors, fishing or farming. This area began to gain popularity when Komodo Island and surroundings became famous.Today this area is known mainly for the tourist spots of and Komodo island.

On Lombok island, the Sasak kingdom dominated this area until Balinese and Makasarrese attacked it. In the middle of 18th century, Balinese kingdom reigned over the island. Dutch occupied Lombok in the 19th century. After Indonesian independence, Lombok was dominated by Sasak elite, most are Muslim, and Balinese, most of whom are Hindus.

Sasak people and Balinese dominate Lombok, but Javanese also can be found in West Nusa Tenggara. Arab, Bugis and Chinese also live in this area. Most of Sasak people are Muslim and they value modesty, meaning visitors should respect their belief. You should cover yourself appropriately, meaning going nude or topless is deemed inappropriate. Public display of affection should be limited and consumption of alcohol must be done moderately.

The Wallace Line, named after 19th century naturalist, Alfred Russell Wallace, marks a point of transition between the flora and fauna of Western and Eastern Indonesia and acts as the western boundary of West Nusa Tenggara, which includes the island of Lombok and Sumbawa. The northern part of the island is mountainous and lush with tall trees and shrubs. The south, on the other hand is arid and covered by savannas. Large Asian mammals are absent and replaced instead by marsupials, lizards, cockatoos and parrots. The difference becomes more pronounced as one moves further east, where dry seasons are more prolonged and corn and sago are staple food, instead of rice.

Kupang

Kupang (on Timor) is the southern gateway to Indonesia and the largest city and the capital of East Nusa Tenggara Province. Situated on Kupang Bay at the tip of Timor Island, it was settled by the Dutch early in the 17th century and is now home to about 350,000 people. During World War II, the city of Kupang, formerly known as Koepang, was an important hub for refueling and landing for long-haul flights from Europe to Australia and some of the fieriest battles between the Japanese and the Allies in present-day Indonesia were fought around here.

Kupang perched on the southwestern part of Timor Its favorable position in the south-eastern most part of Indonesia. This position makes Kupang the first port of entry in Indonesian waters from Australia. Many Australians come to island, including yachtsmen participating in the annual Sail Indonesia event, when hundreds of yachts cross the open seas from Darwin, Australia, sailing to Kupang, and from there other Indonesian islands before finally docking in Singapore.

At the newer Walikota section, some six kilometers to the east of town, or 300 meters out from the Oebolo Bus Terminal is the provincial Museum of Nusa Tenggara. It has excellent collections of kain ikat, pottery, old currency, ritual equipment, pre-historical drawings, traditional houses, and ethnographic items of daily life. The Kupang harbor is best viewed when you stand on a promontory, 75 meters south of the bridge on the road leading to the harbor. There, you will see tens of old houses in the area. While the Dutch cemetery is where you can see old gravestones.

A few minutes walk from Tenau Seaport, going eastward is a monkey forest. Unlike monkeys in Ubud, Bali, here the monkeys wait for you to feed them. Kupang’s best night attractions are the night warongs at the central Terminal Kota. On Saturday nights, the angkot flock here to drop swarms of city’s migrants and locals. Bakso (beef ball) carts, worn out shops and flea market vendors are everywhere, providing authentic attractions.

Kupang has its own type of local transport called “Diskotik Berjalan”, or mobile discotheque. Superficially, it resembles a bemo (public minibus) but brightly painted and heavily decorated to attract passersby and potential passengers. Not only is it visually ‘loud’, but it is also audibly deafening in a safe and entertaining way sort of like Jeepneys in the Philippines. In smaller cities and rural area like those on Savu, trucks with two long benches, are often the primary means of transport. Some have roofs; some don’t. Buses and other forms of land transportation leave from Bolok Terminal and Noelbaki Terminal.

Accommodation in Kupang

Accommodation faclities here are much simpler than those in Lombok, Bali or Java, but the hospitality can equal if not better. For travelers who need to recharge themselves, one of the following accommodations offers a welcome rest: 1) Maya Hotel, Jl Sumatera 31,Solor,Kelapa Lima, KUPANG, Tel. +62 380 820302; 2) Susi Hotel, Jl Sumatra 37,Solor,Kelapa Lima, KUPANG, Tel. +62 380 822172; 3) Jolly Hotel, Jl Letjen R Suprapto 22,Oebobo,Oebobo, KUPANG, Tel. +62 380 821362; 4) Setia Hotel, Jl Kosasih 13,Bonipoi,Kelapa Lima, KUPANG, Tel. +62 380 831289; 5) Surya Hotel, Jl Tim-Tim,Oeba,Kelapa Lima, KUPANG, Tel. +62 380 822014; 6) Astiti Hotel, Jl Jend Sudirman 166,Kuanino,Oebobo, KUPANG, Tel. +62 380 821810; 7) Dewata Hotel, Jl Tompello 17,Merdeka,Kelapa Lima, KUPANG, Tel. +62 380 821409;

8) Laguna Hotel, Jl Gn Kelimutu 7-A,Merdeka,Kelapa Lima, KUPANG, Tel. +62 380 833559; 9) Marina Hotel, Jl Jend A Yani 79,Merdeka,Kelapa Lima, KUPANG, Tel. +62 380 822566; 10) Safari Hotel, Jl Dr Moh Hatta 36,Fontein,Oebobo, KUPANG, Tel. +62 380 821595; 11) Sylvia Hotel, Jl Jend Suharto 51-53,Naikoten I,Oebobo, KUPANG, Tel. +62 380 825191; 12) Anggrek Hotel, Jl Gn Fatuleu 2,Merdeka,Kelapa Lima, KUPANG, Tel. +62 380 83370; 13) Cendana Hotel, Jl El Tari 23,Oebobo,Oebobo, KUPANG, Tel. +62 380 821541; 14) Ina Boy Hotel, Jl HOS Cokroaminoto 1,Bonipoi,Kelapa Lima, KUPANG, Tel. +62 380 826228; 15 ) Kristal Hotel, Jl Timor Raya 59,Oeba,Kelapa Lima, KUPANG, Tel. +62 380 820300;

16) Maliana Hotel, Jl Sumatera 35,Solor,Kelapa Lima, KUPANG, Tel. +62 380 821879; 17) Nirwana Hotel, Jl Merpati 13,Bonipoi,Kelapa Lima, KUPANG, Tel. +62 380 82161; 18) Rachmat Hotel, Jl Gn Lakaan 9,Solor,Kelapa Lima, KUPANG, Tel. +62 380 822161; 19) Charvita Hotel, Jl WJ Lalamentik 30,Oebobo,Oebobo, KUPANG, Tel. +62 380 822676; 20) Flabamor Hotel, Jl Jend Sudirman 21,Kuanino,Oebobo, KUPANG, Tel. +62 380 832560; 21) I Nyoman Hotel, Jl Lontar 36,Oepura,Oebobo, KUPANG, Tel. +62 380 827340; ) Salungan Hotel, Jl Nuri 14-A,Bonipoi,Kelapa Lima, KUPANG, Tel. +62 380 831531;

22) Nusantara Hotel, Jl Tim-Tim 12,Oeba,Kelapa Lima, KUPANG, Tel. +62 380 832434; 23) Singosari Hotel, Jl Hati Murni 4,Oebobo,Oebobo, KUPANG, Tel. +62 380 832120; 24) Dewi Indah Hotel, Jl Anggur 3,Naikoten I,Oebobo, KUPANG, Tel. +62 380 831003; 25) Palm Beach Hotel, Jl Tim-Tim 5,Oeba,Kelapa Lima, KUPANG, Tel. +62 380 822942; 26 ) Tii Langga Hotel, Jl Yohanes,Kelapa Lima,Kelapa Lima, KUPANG, Tel. +62 380 881724; 27 ) Cahaya Bapa Hotel, Jl ER Herewila 20,Naikoten I,Oebobo, KUPANG, Tel. +62 380 821094

Restaurants in Kupang

Kupang is famous for seafood and with so many Australians running around the Timorese know how to make food that suits Western tastes. The 500-meter street called Jalan Garuda has a night food bazaar know for its delicious grilled fish. Part of Jalan Siliwangi is also a place with open air food bazaars. The food bazaar at Terminal Kota at night is also good.

If you wish to try something other than fish, try the local food called se’I, which is smoked pork or beef. Bambu Kuning Restaurant offers one of the best se’I in Kupang. Bintang Jaya is a Javanese restaurant with clean facilities and nice ambience. Silvia Steakhouse is also a recommended place to eat fish and chips. When it comes down to chips, jagung bose, a type of food that involves corn chips, is a treat you must not miss. Find it and taste a bite of Kupang.

Several places to discover the food that Kupang has to offer: 1) Teluk Restaurant, Jl Timor Raya kilometers 4,Oeba,Kelapa Lima, KUPANG, Tel. +62 380 833985; 2) Istana Restaurant, Jl Tim Tim 68, KUPANG, Tel. +62 380 832014; 3) Dea-Deo Restaurant, Jl WJ Lalamentik Mal Flobamora,Oebobo,Oebobo, KUPANG, Tel. +62 380 840310; 4) Nelayan Restaurant, Jl Tim Tim,Oeba,Kelapa Lima, KUPANG, Tel. +62 380 823000; 5) Phoenik Restaurant, Jl Timor Raya,Oeba,Kelapa Lima, KUPANG, Tel. +62 380 825688; 6) Tanjung Restaurant, Jl Tim Tim 126, KUPANG, Tel. +62 380 825014; 7) Oriental Restaurant, Jl Timur Raya kilometers 6,Oeba,Kelapa Lima, KUPANG, Tel. +62 380 832153; 8) Batu Sari Restaurant, Jl Ir Suharto 16,Fontein,Oebobo, KUPANG, Tel. +62 380 825836; 9) Prima Rasa Restaurant, Jl Tim-Tim 130-B,Oeba,Kelapa Lima, KUPANG, Tel. +62 380 824501; 10) Pantai Timor Restaurant, Jl Sumatera 34,Solor,Kelapa Lima, KUPANG, Tel. +62 380 825833,

Getting to Kupang

Kupang is accessible by plane or ferries. Its historical airport, El Tari was formerly known as Penfui airstrip, having first served an American pilot, Lamij Johnson, in 1928. Penfui literally means ‘bush of cornfields’, since the airstrip’s surroundings were heavily covered with cornfields. Tari connects western Timor Island with other large cities in Indonesia, which include:

International flights: Dili, East Timor; Darwin, Australia. Domestic flights:, Jakarta, Surabaya, East Java, Denpasar, Bali, Makassar, South Sulawesi, Maumere, East Nusa Tenggara, Waingapu, East Nusa Tenggara, Labuan Bajo, West Nusa Tenggara, Ende,East Nusa Tenggara,

Airlines serving the city of Kupang are: Garuda Indonesia, Merpati Nusantara, Sriwijaya Air, Lion Airlines, Batavia Air, Trigana Air, Riau Air, Pelita Air The Airport: Angkasa Pura I, El Tari Airport, Tel. +62 380 881 668 or 883 031, 882 032, 881 121, 881 395, fax: +62 380 881 263, E mail: pap1eltari@ntt.citramedia.net

An International seaport is found only in Kupang, called the Tenau Seaport. There are several ferries from PELNI (a national commercial shipping company). They are the Km Bukit Siguntang, kilometers Kelimutu, Km Sirimau, and Km Awu. Please refer to the website of PT PELNI for detailed schedules. For Sea transportation, the Kupang Regency has several Seaports including: Tenau Seaport in Kupang, Bolok I an II,and Biu Seaport in East Sabu, Raijua Seaport in Raijua, Hansisi Seaport in Semau Island, Tablolong Seaport in Tablolong, and Naikliu Seaport in Naikliu.

Near Kupang

Lasiana Beach (12 kilometers from Kupang) is 3.5 hectares flat shore covered with soft white sand. Hundreds of coconut and old fan palm line the beach. A unique feature of the area is the large number of lopo-lopo, the local term for their traditional cone-shaped houses, that are completely covered with thatch from the mast down to the floor with only a small opening to crawl in. These lopo-lopo are now mainly used to store foodstuff since inside of these structures is cool and pretty dark.

Tablolong Beach (25 kilometers from Kupang) is regarded as fishing paradise. Located at the tip of Timor Island on a strait facing the island of Rote, the waters are 16 kilometers away from the an area known as a crowded migration route for many species of fish. Marlins, tuna, barracudas, Layaran, Tenggiri, Wahui, Kuwe, and Lemadang are among the many types of fish found plentiful in these waters. Its abundance has made it the ideal site for an annual international fishing contest participated by fishing enthusiasts from around the globe.

About half an hour drive from Kupang, the Oenesu Waterfall offers the perfect place to relax and enjoy its refreshing atmosphere. As one of the few waterfalls found in West Timor, the site is a favorite for local and tourists to enjoy nature, the pleasant weather and fascinating scenery. Among the four levels waterfall, natural ponds are formed that are perfect to dive in for a cooling swim. The debit of the waterfall is quite stable, so one can still enjoy it even during the dry season.

The diversity of flora and fauna on Timor can also be observed at the Menipo Island Natural Park. Aside from its stunning white sand coast, the wildlife within the island is as colorful as its scenery. Timorese Deer (Cervus timorensis), Apes (Macaca fascicularis), Wild Boar (Sus vitatus), Giant Lizards (Varanus salvator), and Timorese Python Snake (Python timorensis), are among some of the animals that dwell on the island. Between August to November, the island is also visited by sea turtles that annually lay eggs on its shores. The 2.449,50 hectares island itself is located within the Amrasii county, Kupang Regency, about 118 kilometers east of Kupang.

About 46 Kilometers from the city of Kupang, near the town of Soe, lies an enchanting forest filled not only with wildlife but has also some beautiful landscape at the Camplong Forest Park. Located at the foot of Mount Fatuleu, the forest comes with a natural bathing place created by natural springs. The forest is decorated with colorful plants such as the red wood, pines, Palmyra palms, eucalyptus, and many others. The Camplong Forest area also accommodates a crocodile breeding facility. Timorese Deer and pythons, olive-shouldered parrots, and black-backed fruit-doves, are most likely the inhabitants that one will encounter as you make your way through the forest.

Semau Island (30 minutes by boat from Kupang) is an untainted island paradise is well worth a stopover. The surrounding crystal-clear waters offer exceptional snorkeling and swimming. Bamboo bungalows are available on the white sandy beach, and you can barbeque your freshly-caught dinner while enjoying a spectacular sunset.

Atoni

The Atoni live in the central mountainous part of western Timor and East Timorese (former Portuguese) enclave of Oe-cussi, . Also known as the Atoin Pah Meto, Atoin Meto, Timorese, Orange Timor Asli (in Indonesian), they are largest ethic group in western Timor, with around 750,000 members. Atoni means “man person’ and is short for “Atoin Pah Meto. Europeans called them Timorese. They number around 840,000, with 761,000 in West Timor and 80,000 in East Timor. [Source: Encyclopedia of World Cultures, East and Southeast Asia edited by Paul Hockings (G.K. Hall & Company, 1993) ~, Wikipedia]

Their language is Uab Meto is an Austronesian language. It had no written form until a Dutch linguist romanticized the script before World War II. Christianity is predominant religion. Some are Muslims. Folk beliefs are still alive. Traditional Atoni religion revolved around beliefs in ancestral rewards and punishments. Deities and spirits included Lords of the Sky and Warth, ghosts and spirits of places and things. The Atoni belief in the power of spirits and ancestors and their ability to meet out justice remains. Traditional life-cycle rituals have been incorporated into Christian rituals. Traditional healers are called upon to deal with sorcery, curses and illness and to communicate with spirits and the Lords of the Sky and Earth. ~

The Atoni are also primarily slash and burn agriculturalist who grow maize rice, raise chickens, pigs and cattle and collect forest products such as palm sugar and honey. The nuclear family is the primary farming unit, working its own plot with some help from other relatives. The rights to Atoni slash-and burn agricultural land has traditionally been controlled by clans and territorial groups. Orchards are held by families. As a rule land has traditionally not been treated as commodity.

Valued property among the Atoni includes orchards, livestock, money, gold and silver jewelry and family heirlooms. The Atoni have traditionally made fine woven cloth, baskets and ropes but didn’t work metal and thus imported tools that they needed and the gold and silver jewelry they prized. Woodworking was once an important skill but is no longer widely practiced.

Boti Village

Boti Village (40 kilometers from the town of Soe, 4 hours from Kupang) is known to be the last village in Timor where the people still strictly practice the tradition and way of life of the Timorese ancestors. The Boti are said to be direct descendants from the true ancestors of the Timorese called the Atoni Metu. Administratively, their territory is now recognized as the Boti Village, in the Kie County, within the vicinity of the South Central Timor Regency.

Staying with the locals and witnessing the authentic way of life of the Boti is certainly the ultimate experience one can have when visiting the Boti village. If hotels and inns are what visitors look for, they can only find these in the town of Soe. Here are some of the hotels in the town of Soe: 1) Hotel Mahkota Plaza, Jl. Suharto, Tel. +62 387 21168; 2) Hotel Bahagia I, Jl. Diponegoro, Tel. +62 387 21015; 3) Hotel Bahagia II, Jl. Gajah Mada, Tel. +62 387 21095; 4) Hotel Sejati, Jl. Gajah mada, Tel. +62 387 21101; 5) Hotel Cahaya TTS, Jl. Kartini, Tel. +62 387 21087; 6) Hotel Anda, Jl. Kartini, Tel. +62 387 21323; 7) Hotel Roda Pedati, Jl. Hayam Wuruk, Tel. +62 387 21570

Secluded in the mountains of Kie County, South Central Timor regency, the village of Boti can be reached from Kupang, with approximately 4 hours’ drive. From Soe, capital of South Central Timor, the village can be reached by a two hours’ drive. Roads are mainly bumpy with a lot of winding turns and steep cliffs on each side, but the scenery all the way to the village can surely make up for the rough tracks. If you choose to use a public transportation, then from Kupang you can take the Kupang-Soe bus for approximately IDR20,000. You would subsequently need to take Ojek or motorbike taxis to get to the village and would cost you somewhere around IDR50,000.

Boti Village and the Wisdom of the Ancient Timorese

Situated in the rugged mountains, Boti village is decorated with several umekububu, the traditional house of the Timorese. One umekububu is resided by the queen of Boti, while in the other houses are the royal members of the Boti kingdom. The king of Boti resided in the building that resembles the Timorese Lopo. Lopo is a round structure familiarly found within the island, without side walls and covered with thatch from the mast down to the floor with only a small opening to crawl in. Aside of functioning as sleeping chambers, the umekubu is also used as the kitchen. The upper part of the dome is usually used as storage for the farming goods since the smoke from the kitchen is known to cause the produce to last longer.

Located at the back of the king’s Lopo, there is a much more open lopo with floors made from unpolished marble which is used as the meeting hall. The structure is supported by four pillars representing the four clans of the Boti ethnic group. Here, the king of Boti and his people frequently meet to discuss important matters occurring within their village.

Unlike any other part of Timor Island, the village of Boti is not influenced by Christianity since any violation to the ethnic’s rules and tradition is punished by expulsion. Instead, the ethnic Boti practice an ancient belief called Halaika. Halaika is centered around two rulers of life namely Uis Pah or the mother who watches over and controls the universe and all its creatures including humans, and Uis Neno as the Father who rules the afterlife and determines those who will go to heaven or hell based on what they have done in the living world. If a member of Boti decides to convert to another religion then the person will be expelled from the tribe, which interestingly happened to the heir to the throne Laka Benu, who was expelled from the tribe for converting to Christianity.

There are approximately 77 families or about 350 people within the Boti ethnic group. In their daily life, there are clear distinctions between the tasks of men and women. The men are in charge of all the matters outside the house such as gardening and hunting, while domestic matters are the duty of women. Although the role division is common among tribal societies, the one thing that differentiates the Boti is that they are monogamous. If a Bothi’s man is married, then he will not be allowed to cut his hair, thus as their hair grows longer they will tie it up.

According to the Boti philosophy, humans will be given welfare and salvation if they take care and preserve their natural environment. In their daily life the Boti only utilize natural produce that they get from their surroundings, such as their clothes which they weave and dye from various plants growing near the village. For eating and drinking they still use coconut shell instead of plates, spoons, or glass, while all the food containers are made from palm leaves.

Rote Island

Rote Island (south of Timor) is the southernmost island in Indonesia. The economy is based on raising the lontar plam. The island is popular with surfers. At Rote’s Nemberala left-handers’ swells come in small and fun ones, and sometimes come triple the size with powerful straight from the Indian Ocean. This place is also called the T-Land.

The Rotinese are the indigenous people of Rote. Also known as the Atahori Rote, Hataholi Lote, they tend be small are and known for their characteristic sombrero-like hats and have a long traditional of education and working as civil servants. [Source: Encyclopedia of World Cultures, East and Southeast Asia edited by Paul Hockings (G.K. Hall & Company, 1993) ~]

The traditional Rotinese house is the focus of Rotinese life. It is divided into male and female halves and traditionally has had a thatched roof with gabled ends. The house is raised off the ground on posts that extend over a ground floor area with resting platforms, where guests are received. Because of a lack of wood on the island many of these have been replaced by cement or stone structures. ~

The staple of the Rotinese diet is syrup tapped from the lontar palm. It is mixed with water for everyday consumption and also processed into thin cakes and fermented into a dark beer, which in turn may be distilled to a sweet gin. Maize, millet, sorghum and a variety of tubers, fruits and vegetables are eaten. Rice is regarded as a luxury. Fishing is primarily a dry season activity and is done with offshore stone weirs. ~

Rotinese society is organized around domains which are made up if several clans and are led by a pair of male and female lords and their court, with everyone else being regarded as commoners. In the old days there was some warfare between domains and into the 1990s occasionally there were still some cross border raids. [Source: Encyclopedia of World Cultures, East and Southeast Asia edited by Paul Hockings (G.K. Hall & Company, 1993) ~]

Rotinese marriages are defined by the amount of bride wealth given, the amount of feasting that goes along with the wedding and the length of the bride service performed. Bride-wealth is usually paid in gold, old silver coins, water buffalo, sheep or goats. Polygyny is practiced by the wealthy. Divorces are easy to obtain. ~

Most Rotinese are Catholics but some traditional beliefs in ancestral spirits and their malevolent counterparts exists and you can still find some lontar-leaf representations of ancestors in some houses. Ceremonies are held to mark events like marriages and funerals. They are also held whenever human blood is shed and to mark ritual hair cuttings, baptisms and the seventh month of the first pregnancy. Ancestral clans hold an annual “feast of origin.” Funerals are elaborate affairs that are marked by feasts on the third, seventh, ninth and 40th day after death. They sometimes accompanied by dog sacrifices. ~

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: Indonesia Tourism website ( indonesia.travel ), Indonesia government websites, UNESCO, Wikipedia, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Japan News, Yomiuri Shimbun, Compton's Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Updated in August 2020

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