Sunday, May 15, 2011
I was curious about the development of a tourism trade around this tale so I googled "flores hobbit tours". I did see one company in particular that is trying to give the more scientifically-minded tourist a Liang Bua/Homo floresiensis tour that includes viewings of komodo dragons. Although this was more legit and not exactly the type of rif raf I was hoping to find. And then I came upon a travel story that was more what I was expecting: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35769713/ns/travel-active_travel/t/indonesian-villages-cashing-hobbit-craze/
Guards at the Liang Bua cave offered the tourist an opportunity to meet a "living hobbit" in exchange for a fee. Basically, the tourist is taken to meet a very small man (4 ft) who speaks of the Ebu gogo but when asked, confessed to having his growth stunted by poor nutrition as a child.
I had anticipated that given the popularity of the Tolkien trilogy, I would have found a more vibrant "hobbit tourist culture" thriving on Flores, maybe complete with some trinkets for sale, but it seems that this has not quite caught on at the level I had figured it would... yet.