Contributed by Jan Lemortier - an ex-VSO in Ende, Flores. (Photos:Hammond)
The guide books say it is a grotty town leading down to a shitty beach, well that just about sums up most Indonesian towns so I don't think the writer ever went there as Ende is/was a pleasant enough town and the beaches to the east of the town are stunningly beautiful, empty and have views over the fantastic Gunung Meja and Ia (table mountain and another active volcano called Ia).
Situated on the south coast just about in the middle of the island from east to west , Ende has the sea in front and the mountains behind so wherever you look it is pretty dramatic scenery and the town is small enough to nestle in the valley.
Being a port there are ferries and passenger boats to most places notably Kupang, Sumba, Sumbawa, Bali, Maumere, Alor etc. Planes are/were frequent and much more reliable than in Ruteng or Bajawa - main destinations being Kupang or Sumbawa. Buses head off east and west and also up to the north coast - all dependant on the current state of the roads of course which could vary from fairly good to appalling to non-existant . Things improved considerably between '88 and '96 (the time I was there) but the inevitable lack of maintenance may well have caused deterioration again. Being a very volcanic island plus having a fairly high rainfall in places the roads tend to be at the mercy of nature more than in most islands. Transport around town by bemo is noisy and often long-winded but gets there in the end very cheaply.
Ende was/is endowed with a fair share of reasonable restaurants, lots of shops and an excellent market. Fruit and veg and tempe/tahu/fish were never in short supply. Shops stocked lots of things but were not particularly geared to western taste food-wise. Electricity and running water were pretty reliable all over town. There were several good simple places to stay but nothing really fancy.
A general hospital, private maternity hospital and several doctors surgeries. Better bet to go up to Lela hospital near Maumere.
Volley ball and badminton played all over the place and usually possible to get in on these by asking around. Excellent walking - beaches, mountains etc, good swimming if you like waves and also some interesting snorkelling - better still go up to Riung on the north coast for the weekend. One cinema with fairly basic facilities and lousy films.
Ende is perfectly placed for visits to other parts of the island, especially by motorbike. A trip up to the wonderful volcanic lakes of Kelimutu can take just a morning, or a visit to Maumere in the east or Bajawa in the west are easily worth it for an overnight stay, or as suggested the north coast.
I lived in Flores for nigh on 7 years and enjoyed it all just about. Ende I found to be an easy place to live (I was there for 3 years and in a village between Ende and Maumere for 3 years) and never really lacked for any creature comforts - any minus was more than compensated for by the plus of beautiful scenery, friendly folk and the relaxed way of life.