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Flores, Indonesia

These images were taken on the Island of Flores,East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia. This is a very remote part of Indonesia in comparison to the hustle and bustle of Bali, but is home to some of the most remarkable and unique wildlife and cultures I've ever encountered.

Dragons: Amongst these photos you'll find Komodo Dragons in their natural habitat of Komodo Island. The Komodo Dragons are the largest reptile in the world, and are considered sacred and protected by the people of Flores. Their existence is connected to the Animist religion of the Island as it is believed that their ancestry is interwoven with that of the Dragons.

Bats: Another reason we went to Flores was to witness a mass exodus of Flying Fox bats from a nearby island of mangroves which I admit was one of the best moments of my life.

People: We didn't just stick to the coast, as Flores is home to some really fascinating cultures we decided to take a painfully long bus ride (12 hours) from one side of the island to the other, through forest, up mountain roads and down again all in a tiny bus tightly stuffed with travel sick people and several irate chickens, all to visit the Ngada people of Bajawa Flores. I was intrigued by their Animist culture, that though diluted by Portuguese led christianity, is still intermingled with every day life. Sacrifices are made to bring luck, at the building of a house, to cleanse area's of evil spirits and even to be made in order to tell a fortune or even the result of a football match. 

The bones of offerings made upon the building of a house are used to adorn the outside, the more bones on display the more family came to make offerings. Since the Ngada people believe their ancestors are watching over them, it makes sense that they'd like to keep them close by, so the founders of the village and other villagers are buried in the centre of each community. You can see these lines of huts in each village, one style for men and another for women.

They are also known for their skilled weaving, cloth is woven into sari's with a variety of symbols, the most recognisable of which is the horse which is a symbol of the Ngada and is often used to warn off evil spirits.

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