Our first week in Indonesia – Kupang
Thursday 1st August we finally got checked into Indonesia. There were 70+ boats to check in over 3 days so it took a while but the Sail Indonesia people were brilliant. They organised for the customs to board each boat in turn to do the quarantine inspection, which entailed filling in forms and stamping them with our ships stamp that we had bought before leaving the UK. It hadn’t been used very much but when the Indonesians saw it they all wanted a stamp on their forms. We jumped in the dinghies to go ashore and complete the formalities. There were a fleet of boat boys on the beach ready to pull the dinghy up the beach as soon as we landed. The Sail Indonesia people had arranged for all the government officials to be in one room so it was just a matter of going from table to table to fill in and stamp yet more forms and hand over countless copies of our passports, C.A.I.T., ships papers, etc. Indonesia is very bureaucratic.
Once we checked in we went for a walk around the town. Kupang reminded us of Honiara in the Solomons. There were lots of shops but all selling the same thing, none of which we wanted to buy. Every thing seems very cheap. In the evening we went to look at the night market. There were lots of stalls selling food but we decided not to eat there. This fresh fish looked ok but the oil they were frying it in had seen better days.
Also the washing up didn’t look very hygienic! Some of the cruisers did eat there and sadly several of them were poorly the following day. We still have western stomachs.
Alongside the market were lots of sewing rooms with very old singer sewing machines making quite nice clothes. This is one of the workers. They were sewing into the night. The flash on my camera made it look quite light in there but it wasn’t.
The next day Friday 2nd August about 50 or 60 of us went ashore early and got into 3 buses. The air conditioning was the open windows! We were taken about 100 miles or so north into the Timor countryside. The driving was madness! Bill and I sat in the front seat behind the driver and Gary and Jackie of Inspiration Lady sat on the other side. We had ringside seats to the overtaking on bends, motorbikes overtaking, many without crash helmets on, and general chaos. How there aren’t more accidents I don’t know.
After 2 1/2 hours we arrived at our first destination. It appeared to be some sort of military square which had been prepared for our arrival. All the way along the route we had been greeted with waves and smiles and now, as we got out of the buses, cameras were clicking from all directions. It felt like we were celebrities. Everyone was shouting ‘Hello Mr, Hello Mrs’ and wanting to have their photo taken with us, it was bizarre. These children welcomed us with a dance and gradually moved backwards as we advanced forward. Note the military statue behind them.
There were speeches from these elders dressed in traditional costume and also from the formal looking gentlemen in uniform. We weren’t sure what was going on because it was all in Indonesian but finally we were presented with beautiful hand made scarves and invited to watch more dancing.
Afterwards the children came and asked us all to join in which we did.
This is Bill with one of the lovely scarves that was presented to us. His hat is from Australia and is made of real kangaroo skin.
We continued on our journey through rice paddy fields and started going uphill.
We turned down a dirt track and drove until we came to a traditional village. The first hut we came to was the midwife’s house. Babies are born here and don’t come out until they are 4 days old. I asked what the infant mortality rate was and they said none but I don’t believe that. It was very dark inside and the open fire had blackened the inside of the roof. It was very hot and oppressive. I don’t think I would like to have a baby in there.
These are the type of houses the government are encouraging them to build but the people said they were too hot inside and prefer to stick to their traditional houses.
This is the kitchen.
A young man was sent up to get coconuts; he made it look so easy.
We had a wonderful time looking around the village and seeing into their world. I don’t think they dress like this all the time but I certainly believe they live there permanately. They were such happy people. Time came for us to leave and the children as usual were laughing and singing.
We continued on our journey to the home of the regional royal family. They seem to have lots of local kings, queens, princes and princesses. We had a wonderful lunch in their grounds and were then invited to see inside their home. It seemed very grand compared to the village but compared to a western king their home was very modest.
Saturday 3rd August we had a relaxing day until we went ashore in the evening for the Gala dinner, the highlight of our visit to Kupang. As we arrived in the dinghies the throng of people were there to take our photos. I’m beginning to understand how the celebrities feel now. We were bused out to the outside of town to an open air venue. As we arrived they had Chinese dragons dancing. Wonderful food was served and then they had lots of local dancing, these young ladies had very interesting head dresses on.
Sunday we spent the day planning our trip through Indonesia and trying to decide which route to take.
During the evening I had a call to say that Mum had lost her fight for life and had sadly passed away. While we had been in Darwin I had flown home to see her in hospital and had hoped she would recover but sadly she hadn’t.