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.
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 KL 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.
Not many are known about this general area in the past. During 17th century, Dutch began to colonize this place. 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 as an exotic spot for leisure, especially Lombok and Komodo island.
In Lombok island, Sasak kingdom dominated this area until Balinese and Makasarrese attacked it. In the middle of 18th century, Balinese kingdom reigned this place. Dutch occupied this place in 19th century.
After Indonesian independence, Lombok is dominated by Sasak elite, most are Muslim, and Balinese, most are Hindu.
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.
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.
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