ALL JOURNALS

INDEX SE ASIA

HOME

 

INDONESIA INDEX

PHOTOSPHOTOS

MAP

JOURNALS

TIMOR

  

Kupang

Welcome Party
Soe & Boti

ALOR

 

Kalabahi
Alor Besar
Cultural Xpo
Takpala

LEMBATA

Balerine & Lewoleba

FLORES

 

Sea World
Ruing

KOMODO & RINCA

Komodo Dragons

SUMBAWA

Wera
Satonda
Lubuan

Teluk Potopadou

LOMBOK

 

Gili Air and Lombok Tour

BALI

 

Lembongan
Marina & Around BALI
Tabanan

Bangli
Klungklung
Fire Dance
Balinese Dances

BORNEO

 

Bawean to Kumai
Orangutan River Trip
Kentar Equator Crossing

HOME

Search the website



FUN SHIRTS
 HATS & OTHER FUN
NAUTICAL THINGS

  TIMOR - INDONESIA                                    

The island of Timor is distinctive with its spiky palms, rocky soil and dry jagged central mountains dotted with villages with very uThe island of Timor is distinctive with its spiky palms, rocky soil and dry jagged central mountains dotted with villages with very unique houses. There are no tourist type beach spots and much of Timor retains its original strong animistic cultures with traditional ikat dress and betel nut still preferred.


KUPANG

July 25/06   It was early morning under bright sunny skies when we spotted the numerous boats already anchored in Kupang. By now the breeze had picked up and the chop was rather intense. The boats were looking most uncomfortable bobbing at anchor.


We initially tried to set the hook near Aliesha but our anchor just slid through the mud and would not dig in. So we moved further down the anchorage and tucked ourselves in directly in front of Teddy's Bar in a better holding of sand bottom. On shore, the music was blaring and the welcome flags were flapping and there was an overall lively atmosphere of hustle and bustle of cars, people and civilization.


The shoreline of Kupang looking like 3rd world bombed out condos.

Kupang is the largest major port of West Timor, a city of some 300,000 people, sprawling up the hillside from the waterfront where the yachts were anchored.

We were tired and the cabin was a wreck after our passage, but now the boat was hobby horsing, rolling and most uncomfortable. We were ready to pull up and push on! But we had to clear into Indonesia first in any case. Several custom boats were visiting each boat to do inspections and paper work and patience for our turn was the order of the day.

Checking In

Although we arrived in the anchorage about 7 am we waited all day for clearance. It was a SLOW process as the officials took 30-60 minutes per yacht and there were 100 yachts that needed to be checked in. We watched the rubber ducky circulating and overflowing with officials move from boat to boat, always missing us as they returned every hour to the beach for a break. It was reported that the officials were seasick, understandably as the boats were all rockin and rollin, so they needed to exchange crews regularly.

Finally at 4 pm, our turn came. In typical Indonesian style, there was no order to the process and the procedure involved an assembly of 11 officials clambering onto the boat, which included customs, immigration, quarantine, harbor control, navy, police and all their relatives! all curious about seeing the yachts. They all tended to linger and explore all the drawers and lockers of each boat, hinting at "presents," wanting whiskey (I only gave them juice), and eating chocolate cookies, which they devoured. I had to remember NOT to use my left hand because in Indonesia that is reserved for the toilet (which I will discuss later). The people were polite, did not speak English (except for Immigration) and were awed by all the amenities onboard.

It was very busy with locals out fishing in their Sampans, travelling to villages on outer islands, or just curious.

Their single cylinder diesel motors were deafening.

The Navy Gunboat anchored out presided over us constantly but we were not sure if this military presence, and all the “Polisi” boats motoring around, were to protect us or retain us!

When the social "officials" left, they all wanted their pictures taken. They waved good-bye as if we were long lost buddies!
After formalities, we headed to a dirty little beach decorated with SailAsia flags and packed with a large group of locals in blue shirts, ready and waiting to assist everyone with pulling their dinghies ashore, taking garbage and laundry (sometimes mixing them up!), giving directions, polishing your shoes and whatever else! for 20,000 rupiah (about $2 US) a day.

Teddy's Bar

We strolled to the colorful Teddy's Bar where we were given more handouts, T-shirts, hats, etc. and approached by friendly locals offering to arrange tours, fuel, transport and conversation. Teddy's, looking out over the water and the wide steps down onto the beach, is alone in its grandeur.

The buildings around are of the usual dilapidated and dirty standard, around a muddy, rubbish filled stream.

It was soon apparent to us that entrepreneurial Teddy had a monopoly on a very large stretch of beachfront and seemed to be a prominent feature of the town. Besides Teddy's Bar, there is Teddy’s Restaurant, Teddy's Hotel, Teddy's Laundry, Teddy's Taxi, Teddy's Internet and… you get the picture. It is a favorite spot for locals, although too expensive for the general very, very poor population of Kupang. The people were absolutely wonderful and the atmosphere really reminded us of Mexico.


We headed for the bar where you had a choice of beer, whiskey or rum only. The beer was 220,000 ($2.20 US) for an oversized 650 ml bottle of Bintang, the local beer, a definite bargain. But the rum was more expensive ($35,000 rupiah) for a tiny glass, mostly ice of questionable quality, but I took my chances anyway.

Kupang City

We spent a couple of hours visiting with fellow yachties and friendly locals before deciding to venture outside "Teddy's compound" into the noisy Eastern style culture-shock world of the noisy, buzzing, dirty, vibrant streets of  Kupang, a booming third world country metropolis.

A solid line of honking traffic in each direction, people crammed on the narrow streets, crowded hole-in-the-wall shops everywhere. For the first time we felt "different" as people really stared at us and many women and children tried to touch my white skin as we walked by.

The streets radiated an energy we had not experienced before, the city really coming alive at night. Most of the shops do not open until after 3 pm. We carefully picked our way along the narrow uneven cobblestone that suddenly would be elevated up 2 or 3 steps then drop back down to street level (no steps!) sometimes intersected with open drainage ditches, everywhere litter and garbage. The locals sat on the streets selling their wares, lots of candy, cigars, Rolex knockoffs, fabric, meatball soup, etc. under the light of candles.

The shops all contained just about every mix of goods, totally unrelated in type (auto supplies with eggs) and from the look of the displays in the windows the Indonesians definitely have an odd sense of fashion- the thrift store look from the 50's. Jeans and T's were the costume of the young people accessorized with the usual motorcycle helmet, as 99% of the vehicles were motorbikes. The streets were so packed and lined with parked bikes everywhere that it would have been absolutely impossible to find a parking spot, even for your bike. We wondered how such a high percentage of the poverty stricken population could afford bikes but were told that if you had 1,000,000 rupiah ($150) you could own a bike, as the rest would be on credit.


Boom Boom Bemos

 The main mode of transport are the "Bemos" similar to Le Truck in Tahiti, different only in they were smaller vans, all oldish and run-down, with benches in the back, but with the same colored lights blinking all over the outside, a decorated windshield so covered that I don't know how they could see to drive, the thunderous loud music blasting house or hip hop so loud that the beat of the bass synthesizes with your heart beat and whether you like it or not. Since there is fierce competition to attract patrons, there are some innovative decorations (one had a huge plane mounted on the top) and all are brightly colored, horns blaring and attendants waving and hooting.



Aside from bemos, no cars in sight, even the police ride motor bikes

We decided we needed to experience a ride in one of these Bemos so Liam (Gone with the Wind) negotiated a ride to the center of town. all 7 of us for $2. (The going rate is 2000 rupiah...about 20 Cents each but we didn't know that at the time). We squeezed into the Bemo, 6'7" Tony (Tactical Directions) having a little difficulty! There was a local woman and her teenage daughter already in the van and they looked at us with much apprehension and we laughed and carried on, with Gord joining the attendant by hanging from the open doorway, his hand slapping the roof and hooting to the crowds on the street. Sitting on our benches in the glow of the red "mood" light the tremor from the boom box shaking our seats at Richter scale max, we were amazed that the driver was able to negotiate the traffic and hoards of people without apparent incident.


(Fatality rate – 2/day!)

Eating Out

We were dumped out downtown, where rows of rumah makan, (Indonesian food stalls) formed a square around wooden tables set up at the Bemo (bus) depot. I had read that dog meat (RW) is something of a specialty around the Bemo terminal and the dishes all looked very foreign to us. Annie negotiated with a local and we all got Nasi Gorengi (rice, chicken, egg dish) for .50 each. Gord, Liam and Tony had a beer but in town it is served warm. Gord enticed Liam into eating one of the hot peppers in a bowl on the table and all got a laugh out of his transformation to a red faced, teary eyed, sweaty headed response. He took a considerable time to recover and the locals all laughed. I assume the peppers were habaneras, at least America, who is Mexican (Tactical Directions), confirmed that they were VERY hot, even by Mexican standards!

Our supper was delicious and we were joined by several locals who practiced their English and provided friendly information about the city. Finally it was time to make our way back toward the boats but despite numerous attempts, there was no way to penetrate the steady stream of traffic and get across the street! There are no intersections or lights, no one stops for pedestrians and there is never a break in the colorful blinking lights of the bemos and motorbikes. Finally Annie approached a policeman who stopped the traffic, long enough for us all to scurry across the street.

Partying in Kupang

We could hear music near the beach and headed toward several palm trees made of colorful blinking neon lights. Amidst the thousands of locals hanging out there, banners displaying Welcome Sail Indonesia Yachties were flapping in the wind everywhere. A stage was set up, surrounded by hundreds of Indonesians, young and old, watching a rock band playing all sorts of familiar American tunes from Reggae to 60's music from our generation. We decided to file our way through the crowds and dance to the beat. Soon others joined us, all white yachties, NO locals dancing but hundreds watching. Since none of us had been off our boats for 4 or 5 days we were ready to cut loose and soon our dancing became very energetic and lively as we were having the time of our lives.

The locals stared.... looking at us in reserved amazement. What were these wild people gyrating around, laughing and having such a good time... these white Falangs (Westerners) that blew in on strange white-sailed watercraft with modern conveniences that far surpassed those in their own modest homes. In SE Asia, men and women do not display public signs of affection toward each other. Men walk and congregate with men, women with women. They are very religious, although Kupang is mostly Christian with only a small percentage of Muslin. We attempted to get some locals to dance with us but they said it was forbidden unless at their social gatherings.

I am sure our culture is as much a shock to them and theirs to us! The band was in their glory though. They had an appreciative audience who really showed how much we loved their performance and they were really very good musicians. Although they played long past the scheduled time, we kept calling more, more and although their generator was about to expire they were delighted to keep playing for us. In the end some of our enthusiasm wore off on the spectators as I noticed more and more friendly and accepting smiles coming from the curious faces.

After another nightcap at Teddy's, we headed back to the beach where our watchful dinghy guards were still on faithful duty. I was astonished that they remembered exactly which dinghy was ours! 8 of them lifted the dinghy, not allowing Gord to help, and carried it to the waters edge, wading in waist deep with their clothes on. They would have put me in it and carried me too, had I let them, so I wouldn't get my feet wet! Back at the boat the seas had finally settled from its routine rocky-rolling afternoon state and we had a great night's sleep.

July 27  Day on GWTW, Partyboat

5 am!! We were awoken to the wailings of a thousand tortured cats from the mosques, distorted by bad amplification systems.

Since Gone with the Wind was having problems with their new spinnaker Liam invited us for a sail to an outer island to check it out. We had never sailed on a Catamaran before, let alone a 52 foot one so jumped at the chance. We also needed to practice sailing that boat as we are committed to crew on Gone with the Wind in the King’s Cup Race in Phuket the beginning of December!


Gone with the Wind
52 ft Cat with Annie & Liam

After numerous set ups and take downs and discussions, we circled a little island, surrounded by a reef, looking for a hole in through the rough waters. Unsuccessful, we had a wonderful sail as we headed back to the mainland of Timor.

Gord on his way to the dark side

We anchored amongst some fishing boats, locals standing waist deep fishing around us. (Unconcerned about the local info we got that there were crocodiles in the area). We relaxed as the fishing boats cruised by us.
We had a great BBQ of fish, sausages, meat patties, salad and veggies, and of course lots of beverages. We danced on the foredeck until Tony (Tactical Directions), worn out, fell asleep on the boom. Our party carried on until sharp ugly rocks began to immerge in the water around us as the tide dropped, so it was time to return to the anchorage. Tony remained sound asleep on the boom until after we had set the hook again!

We finally got ourselves organized to head to shore for dinner. We returned to our favorite hangout, where the food carts were set up around the bus depot. We had a noodle type dish called Sori, which was very good and great value at 5000 rupiah (60 cents).

On the way back we stopped at the stage where there was another band playing and more dancing. It was very late when we finally returned to the boats but we needed to stop and let Gone with the Wind know that we had a tour planned for 5am! Liam was in the process of hoisting his dinghy and it was evident that he had too many Bintangs on shore, so Gord gave him some assistance. The news of our tour beginning at 0:dark00 was not welcome information and he tried his best to decline participation in the reservation.


 Boti Village

July 28   5 am

After dragging a reluctant Liam and Annie from their slumber, we set off for what turned into a major adventure with Stardust, Tactical Directions, Gone with the Wind and ourselves. More.......

Cultural Show

We got back from Boti Village too late for a Gala Dinner scheduled for the Rally participants but not very well promoted. A parade of performers in the street, dancing to the beat of the bells in baskets on their feet, led the yachties to a welcome party with the Minister of Tourism and Culture and the Kupand/Roti traditional dance show.

Various groups in elaborate costumes performed for us. Front row seats were reserved for the Rally participants and it all ended with cruisers learning the traditional Balinese  dance, then proceeding to lively rock music.

July 29   Bright and early, the girls (America, Annie, Becky, Dee and myself) headed to the super market with Ferdie, young English student. After a 20 minute bemo ride, the boom box shuddering under our seats, we funneled into a large grocery store in a shopping complex, the usual music again blaring from the shops, each trying to outdo the other in volume.  Prices in the store were remarkably cheap with quite a good selection of dry goods but nothing in the way of dairy. No colored peppers (capsicums) or loaves of bread but I did find canned margarine and small cardboard cartons of coconut milk.


We also made a stop at the local outdoor market and stocked up on fresh produce. By now I felt I was getting pretty proficient at bargaining with the Indonesians however it was nice to have the help of our guide when the counter offers became too confusing. There were lots of items for sale in addition to fruits and veggies including ikats, weavings famous to Indonesia.

July 30

Kupang Welcoming Ceremonies and Gala Dinner

The rally participants were invited to attend the formal Gala Dinner and Welcome Party with the Mayor of Kupang More...

August 1

We needed to seek out a Chemist to get Gord some throat lozenges (he was coming down with a very bad cold) and a bakery for some bread. After wandering around, finding only bakeries with empty shelves and no pharmacy, we solicited the help of 2 local guides. The chemist was easily found but finding a loaf of bread necessitated a lengthily bemo ride.

We wandered around the busy streets of Kupang, down narrow streets, past all the interesting little shops
and marketplaces full of character and allure, selling everything under the sun from local fruits to bolts of
modern upholstery to clothing. Definitely a third world city, Kupang offers everything you can imagine with a little diligent looking.

On the way our boys pointed out the oldest church, the largest elementary school and the local university where they studies English. Talking to the local kids is always a delight and a great way to learn about the culture.

 

Our final night in Kupang was aboard our partyship.

 

Contact Ascension - COOL STUFF  - About Ascension - Who's Who - ALL JOURNALS

web counter
- Privacy Statement