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Jet Set to Indonesia's Sumba Island for the Pasola War Festival

Published by Vanessa Boiser, Writer

Country: Indonesia

The Experience

Trapped in between the Indian and Pacific oceans, the archipelagic country of Indonesia is a home to tropical rainforests, pristine beaches, and people with rich customs and colourful traditions. Indonesia is truly an ideal place for getaway trips and holiday vacations. It caters to travelers wanting to splurge on lush hotels or indulge in stunning beach resorts, and it’s also a great place for those who want to do it the “Lonely Planet” kind of way.

The best way to discover the soul of Indonesia is probably to visit one of its many islands shunned from urban development, such as Sumba Island, famed for its Pasola Festival (aka: Pasola War Festival). At Sumba Island’s Pasola Festival, war rituals from ancient times are celebrated. The festival got its name after the word “Sola,” which means “long wooden stick”. It is the weapon used during the Pasola Festival of Sumba Island, and the violent displays can sometimes shock certain tourists.

The Pasola Festival is an important tradition because Sumbanese people believe it symbolizes agricultural prosperity. It consists of Sumbanese men in two different groups that ride horses throwing wooden spears at each other. The group that has lesser injuries is the winning group. Their beliefs suggest that bloodshed is an important offering to Mother Nature, and they also believe that those who perished have not been true to their fasting month.

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When to Go to Pasola Festival

The Pasola Festival usually happens in the first weeks of February. The date varies from year to year, so keep watch on the official website of the Indonesian Government. If the date is set, book a flight to Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, then take a domestic flight to Tambolaka (West Sumba). If you prefer to travel in groups, the local tourism office or the hotel of your choice usually have special tour packages. Indonesian roads are known to be far from perfect, and tour packages will definitely spare you from all the troubles.

Odds n' Ends

Sumbanese people believe that the Pasola Festival teaches us all to break free from the material world. Locals and frequent tourists have said that the experience is not for the weak spirited. It is truly a different yet special way to connect with a certain belief. Tourists are given an experience unlike any other, and are privy to a deeper look beyond the notion of violence.

Aside from the Pasola Festival, Sumba Island will wake the inner boy scouts or girl scouts in you, since the terrain is perfect for hiking and camping. Just make sure to wear and pack the essentials. Tourists who frequented this island recommend taking flashlights, packed food and water, trekking shoes and mosquito repellant lotions. Do not forget to sample the authentic spicy cuisine of Sumba Island, and to relish the great beaches.

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Language Guides

Indonesian , Malay , Mandarin , Portugese are some of the languages spoken in Indonesia. If you know of a freely available phrase book or podcast for one of the missing languages, let us know!


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