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Shopping
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In Flores you will experience a different but probably more exciting kind of shopping beyond your notions of malls and supermarkets. There are many small to large local markets where you can find fresh agricultural produce, fish, meat, and many other regional products. In the larger towns you can find all kinds of small shops that sell new as well as used clothes, household tools, electronic gadgets etc. The Florenese shopping malls are still very small and basically limited to Maumere and Ruteng.

 

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The hustle-bustle of Florenese markets will bring you closer to an important part of the Florenese people’s daily life. Not only will you see a range of familiar or unknown local products, you may also witness a barter transaction, which used to be the traditional way of doing business in Flores. It definitely pays off to wake up very early if you want to have a complete culinary and cultural experience of a Florenese market.

 

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Of all Florenese products, ikat cloth which is sold in locally different forms, colors, and styles, is definitely the most meaningful, valuable, and unique souvenir. Florenese ikat is mostly hand-woven, and some of the cloth is made out of all-natural local ingredients – from the cotton to the dyeing agents. Thus, it may take up to three years to produce such a magnificent piece of art.

 

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During your trip, you may use the versatile cloth as a blanket or dress. Back home, you may still enjoy the cloth as a nice interior decoration item.

 

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The Florenese people are skilled carvers, too. The most popular products are the Komodo dragons made out of wood which are frequently sold to tourists in Labuan Bajo.

 

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If you are lucky, you can still find one of the rarely produced baskets woven out of pandanus leafs at a traditional market. As it is quite complicated to produce them, the knowledge about how to make them is dying out.

 

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Traditional Florenese coffee  is another typical island product that you should not miss. Coffee is grown and produced in most parts of the Florenese highlands. Its great taste is well known throughout Indonesia.

 

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Learn how to bargain

Excepting largershopswhere the products are labeled with fixed prices, bargaining is an important part of the transaction between the seller and buyer. The final price depends on the price expectations of both sides and the skills of the buyer. You do well if you set yourself a maximum amount that you are willing to pay for a certain object before starting to bargain.

 

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Even though bargaining is something playful, it is important that no party feels cheated or humiliated in the end. The art of bargaining and the tactfulness needed to make both parties feel like winners is best learned by frequent practice, and carried out with a fair amount of joy and humor.

 

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Famous Florinese products which you should not miss:

  • Ikat: local markets for ‘mainstream’ cloth, or well-known weaving centers such as Watublapi, Ndona, Sikka Village, Nggela, or Lewokluo for more unique, high-quality products
  • Coffee: local markets, direct purchase at the houses of coffee-producing farmers, supermarkets, and some restaurants (Agape in Ruteng for example sells a specialty coffee brand from Flores).
  • Liquor: mostly produced using a most basic distilling process, and can be bought locally. Distillers can be found in many places; but be aware that bad quality liquor bears major health risks. Thus make sure first that the distiller has a good reputation among the locals. A popular spot to purchase lontar palm liquor is directly at the Transflores ‘highway’ that passes through the town of Aimere. You will find numerous liquor producers – many of them are migrants from the island of Rote – who will show you the production process and let you taste their product before purchasing it. Larantuka is also famed for its fine moke.
  • Cashew nuts: grown particularly in the eastern part of Flores. You can enjoy freshly proceesed cashew nuts in places such as Wolowaru and Ilepadung.
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