In this issue: ① LAT & the G20 in Bali ② TTG Incontri, Back to Work ③ Myanmar Backlisted ④ Flores, from Volcanos to Cave Dwellers ⑤ So Many Good Reasons to Work with LAT ⑥ Travelling Monkeys ⑦ Malaysia Elections ⑧ Singapore Cloud Forest: Avatar ⑨ Komodo New Entry Fees ⑩ Meet us at WTM
LAT & the G20 in Bali
We are honoured to have been selected as the official ground handler for the Italian delegation attending to the next G20 in Bali, 15/16 November 2022. This is a further recognition and validation of Lotus Asia Tours professionality, reliability and sophistication developed along three decades of operations.
We take it as a certificate of merit to a team of skilled, well prepared and accultured people relentlessly working beyond the modern consumeristic ways of vacationing around the world. We are proud of it!
LAT has participated to the TTG Incontri held in Italy at Rimini’s convention centre, the professionals only tourism event held once a year. It has been, from our point of view, one of the most successful ever, both in terms of large participation and desire to look forward. Indonesia has taken the lion share attracting most of the travel agents and operators interest. It is definitely in great demand in leisure and corporate travel as well as Singapore.
Covid though has attended to the show too gladly hanging about and leaving scores of casualties behind. Including two of us who are now recovering from the symptoms. Perhaps it is not yet the time to mask down in crowded places!
In this edition we go exploring Flores, another rising star in Indonesia just east of Komodo. Indonesia is slowly but surely revealing all its hidden gems, one after the other, turning the country into the new frontier of exploration and travel for the next ten years. LAT is on the frontline of research with continuous proposals which are never corny nor predictable. Keep following us and refer LAT to family and friends to discover ever more destinations of interest, rich in natural and cultural content.
Finally, and sadly, we have to report on the further decline of Myanmar with the latest horrific event of the army killing at least 50 civilians in air strikes against a concert-going crowd. The event was being held to celebrate the 62nd anniversary of the Kachin Independence Organization, a separatist group with an armed wing that has backed the broader-based uprising against Myanmar’s junta. Survivors said they saw three fighter jets drop bombs.
The position of the country among the international community is rapidly deteriorating: the military already minimal credibility, has brought the FATA, an international watchdog to place Myanmar on its blacklist for terrorism financing, alongside Iran and North Korea. The Financial Action Task Force was set up in 1989 by the Group of Seven advanced economies, initially to counter money laundering. It has since expanded its mandate to countering terrorist financing and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Flores, from volcanos to cave dwellers
Nusa Tenggara, or the Indonesian islands east of Bali, remain an offbeat territory for travellers in South-East Asia. Most just make a beeline for the UNESCO-protected dragons of Komodo island and the dive sites around it and Labuan Bajo, the westernmost town in Flores island — meaning “flowers” in the Portuguese language of its first European explorers, who arrived here in 1511.
Moving further east towards Timor, however, is a much less trawled and more rewarding itinerary. We have just been across Flores, which only sees a trickle of tourists after the reopening of Indonesia’s borders and have found five other excellent stops for a perfect eight-day to two-week itinerary.
The first sizeable town along the windy Trans Flores Highway that crosses the island is Ruteng, a collection of pretty single storey houses, large Catholic churches, and fresh, high plateau air. Ruteng hosts the ancestral cave dwellings of the Homo floresiensis, a species of pygmy archaic human, affectionately called “Flores Hobbit”, who inhabited the island about 50,000 years ago, before the arrival of modern humans. One skeleton was found in 2003 in the Liang Bua cave to the north of Ruteng. Back in the town proper, don’t miss Ruteng old market: covered by a metallic gable roof whose sustaining pillars are strewn in layers of cobwebs, this smoke-stained wooden structure shows the signs of heritage and age. Inside is a maze of stalls selling anything from pig’s meat, intestines and heads, to bundles of ikan kering (dry fish) that are creatively strung together with wooden rings, to poultry and traditional sarongs and ikat (local textiles).
Another four hours east along endless bends, crevices and green mountains is Bajawa, a blown-up village set on the slopes of dormant volcano Mt Inerie, Flores’ highest peak at 2245m. Prepare to spend at least two full days here, because Bajawa attractions all lie around the town.
To the north of town are the crater lakes of Wawomudha, reachable in a 40-minute hike. They are best seen in the wet season when their pools fill with ever-changing coloured water. About an hour’s drive away is the Soa Mengeruda hot springs, where a slightly tatty but welcoming public park hosts several open and smoking hot pools to ease the stress off your muscles. En route to the park, stop at the Ogi waterfall, and chill on the black volcanic sand beach at the base of its sheer vertical rock face. You can top it all off by driving all the way up to the Wolobobo viewpoint, a hill that directly faces Mt Inerie. On clear days, from here the sunrise or sunset views of the volcano are picture-perfect.
It’s only about 15km south of Bajawa towards the mighty volcano Inerie that one encounters a cluster of traditional villages of the Ngada peoples of Flores’ southern coast. The thatched roof circular houses here are topped by miniatures of gods, warriors, or little replicas of dwellings that symbolize the different clans who inhabit them. Bena is the most famous (and arguably best preserved) of the villages, organized in neat rows of traditional houses set around stone terraces dotted by ancestral tombs. The locals have taken to tourism for a living, so don’t be surprised to be offered all sorts of goods and pay a fixed entry fee of 30,000 rupiah per person — consider it a small price to still be able to marvel at these cultural artifacts.
Four hours east of Bajawa is the coastal port of Ende, the starting point of the 50km mountain road to the Kelimutu Lakes, possibly Flores’ most popular sight, and a UNESCO Global Geopark since 2021. Kelimutu is not just a sacred place to the locals, who believe it is a gateway to the afterlife, but also a natural marvel. The three volcanic lakes keep switching colours — from deep turquoise to copper, blue and deep black — depending on the season, weather patterns, and adjustments in the oxidation-reduction status of the fluid of each lake. For all those reasons, any visit to Kelimutu is never the same — try to come at sunrise and return with the same ticket (150,000 rupiah per person) later in the afternoon. You will be surprised at the different intensities of colours.
So Many Good Reasons to Work with LAT
Established in 1991
Independently owned and operated
Purely B2B with travel industry partners
Online booking engine with immediate
confirmation of hotels, tours and transfers
Skilful Contents Provider and Technology user
Knowledgeable and efficient reservations personnel
Long and proud association with the MICE industry in all Lotus destinations
Fully committed to Sustainability and CSR; ‘Travelife’ partner
Carbon Neutrality for all packages and services on offer
Extensive selection of scheduled group departures and innovative product lines
Direct access to a vast pool of local professional contributors
Owns small boutique island hotels strategically located
LAT Indochina subsidiary operating in Thailand and Vietnam
Multilingual guides in all destinations
Operations offices throughout its destinations
Centralised bookings and payments for multi destination tours
Assistance in language
Progress is impossible without change; and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything!
“One day the monkeys at the zoo decided to go on an educational trip.
Walk, walk, they stopped and one asked:
"What do you see?".
“The lion's cage, the seal tank and the giraffe's house”.
“How big is the world, and how instructive to travel”.
They resumed their journey and stopped only at noon.
"What do you see now?".
“The house of the giraffe, the tank of seals and the lion's cage”.
“How strange is the world and how instructive to travel”.
They set off again and stopped only at sunset.
"What is there to see?".
“The lion's cage, the giraffe's house and the seal tank”.
“How boring the world is: you always see the same things. And traveling is really useless ".
Of course: they travelled, travelled, but they had not come out of the cage and did nothing but go round and round like the horses of a carousel.”
By Gianni Rodari
Malaysians will be voting in the 15th general election on November 19 to determine which party is to be handed a fresh five-year mandate to govern the country. Young people voting for the first time will likely hold the key to the elections. About 21.2 million people are eligible to vote. This figure includes five million new voters aged 18 to 21. This demographic gained the right to vote through a constitutional amendment in 2019, which lowered the legal voting age from 21 to 18 years of age.
Singapore Cloud Forest: Avatar
Set at Gardens by the Bay's Cloud Forest with its iconic vision of waterfalls, spiralling walkways and a unique architectural glass greenhouse, "Avatar: The Experience" invites guests to connect with the alien world of Pandora, its bioluminescent environments, mystical creatures, flora, and the captivating culture of its indigenous people, the Na’vi.
Komodo New Entry Fees
The new tariff of Rp3. 75 million (approx. USD 250) will take effect on January 1, 2023. Contact us for further details here.
Meet us at WTM
Meet the LAT team at WTM 07-09 November London and discover the new world of LAT tours and hospitality services. Write to us here for appointments.