140 Travel | Rote © Linda Puetter They are natural artisans, musicians and storytellers. In fact, one of Indonesia’s most unique traditional instruments, the sasando, was invented here. I am fortunate enough to meet with a Rote native and sasando expert in Lalukoen village, half an hour’s drive east from Nemberala. Hance Pah has lived on the island since he was born and has dedicated his life to preserving and promoting the art of sasando and traditional Rote handicrafts, such as the ti’i langga, a hat ornately fashioned from lontar palm leaves, vaguely resembling a sombrero. It was worn by Rotenese men for protection from the sun, but today it is more of a decorative headdress and is often worn by musicians while playing sasando, which is also made from the lontar palm. Local fishermen bring in a hefty catch of the day to be sold at the market. Children on the island smile from ear to ear when you approach them. After school they enjoy a little beach football, cooling their feet in the ocean between matches. Hance Pah begins to pluck the strings of his sasando, playing a folk song called ‘Flobamora’ (a portmanteau of Flores Sumba, Timor and Alor), written generations ago to remind the diaspora of these islands of their village home and island life. To see and hear the sasando being played in person, by an expert no less, is an enchanting experience. As each note is plucked and resonates outward from the lontar leaf construction of the instrument, I can hear the magic of Rote and the spirit of its peaceful people. This is paradise. According to local legend, a Rotenese boy was inspired by his own dream while resting under the shade of a lontar palm tree. In his dream he played an instrument that he had never seen or heard before. © Aditya Saputra A lazy afternoon wander around the beach or a nap under a palm is a great way to recharge after a morning of surfing. According to local legend, a Rotenese boy was inspired by his own dream while resting under the shade of a lontar palm tree. In his dream he played an instrument that he had never seen or heard before. Mesmerised by the sound he had heard in his fleeting dream, he created the sasando using the very tree he had slept under. The delicate, harp-like instrument produces dulcet tones that ineffably sum up what it means to visit Rote.