KUPANG WEST TIMOR
After a fairly painless clearing in, in Dili, we were in for a bit of a surprise with the complicated system used in Indonesia. Our arrival in Kupang coincided with the arrival of the huge fleet of 130 Sail Indonesia boats that left Darwin two weeks after us. The local officials from customs and quarantine visited each boat to start the complicated paper trail. Tempers got heated as cruising boats thought they were being missed or people were being seen out of turn. It got interesting when the official boat broke down and requested that cruisers fetch the officials in their own dinghies. Of course any order was lost as those with dinghies took the officials to their own and their friends’ boats first. Ah, cruising with large numbers of boats!
When our turn came SIX officials came on board. There were two doing the work but the others just came along for the ride. Multiple copies of ship’s documents and port clearances had to be produced. A friend who had cleared in before us gave us the heads up on having to have a list of all medications carried. I hurriedly hand wrote out the contents of our medical cupboard, but of course they needed two copies, so I pulled out the printer and copied out another. The quarantine person asked to look through the boat and said hello to the cat. Luckily we had a letter in Indonesian from the Consulate in Darwin requesting clear passage for her, so there was no trouble there. He looked at the toilet and noted “Clean toilet”, which seemed to be important for some reason. Surprising really when you see the condition of most of the toilets ashore. Each boat had a different story to tell depending on which official they got and what their requirements were. Some had to list the content and types of meat that they were carrying, others had to account for alcohol and some had every cupboard opened and searched by more than eight officials. We got off pretty lightly. All they asked for was beer, which we politely refused on the advice from Sail Indonesia. The checking in procedure would be even more long winded if everyone gave them beer!
|Working through the technology and communication maze.|
Once the officials left, we could drop our yellow quarantine flag and go ashore, only to do the whole thing again in an office set up with desks for the various departments. After a couple of hours we felt quite exhausted, but luckily nearby was a great open air bar which soon became the regular meeting place for our friends.
|The kids love having their photo taken|
Kupang is one wild city. Imagine a party where everyone is having a great time, the music is cranking and the noise level goes up and up as everyone tries to be heard above the cacophony. Kupang is like a party in overdrive. There are hundreds of scooters and motor bikes and every one of them is constantly sounding their horn. They beep to get people to move out of their way, they beep to let know that they are about to overtake on the inside, and they beep just because they can. Add to the bikes the mad Bimos that are small vans manned by a driver and a spruiker that arranges the passengers and fares (20c to anywhere). With Bimos there are only two speeds, stopped and full tilt. Forget about any road rules, they push their way through impossible gaps and overtake with gusto giving scant regard to oncoming traffic. Imagine San Francisco car chase, but in a rattly Bongo van with bench seats. Apart from enjoying the adrenaline pumping ride for your added enjoyment, under the bench seats there are huge boom box speakers fitted. These are often played full blast and with the bass set as low as it goes. The Hip Hop or whatever is not so much heard but felt as your diaphragm rocks in time. We are operating in overdrive here. As soon as we go ashore our senses are overloaded with noise and the crush of people and traffic and after any excursion we need to recover to the quietness of the boat.
|Learing traditional dance|
|Our cruising buddied from Tipperary Waters, Darwin|
There were two official functions hosted by the mayor and governor of Kupang, complete with speeches, traditional dancing that we took part in, and a feast. As is the Kupang way, the load speakers were on full volume. The noisier it is the more fun we must be having!
|Dinghy parking area|
Kupang Harbour wasn’t a great anchorage, being notable for the floating parade of plastic rubbish and also open to the afternoon sea breeze. We did have some great service put on for us though, with dinghy boys launching and taking care of our dinghies for $4 a day. They also took care of our rubbish, which I noticed they carefully went through looking for recyclables, and arranged for our laundry and fuel requirements. It’s great having the laundry done. It comes back beautifully washed, folded and ironed. Ironed clothes? Amazing.
|Night street market|
The highlight was the discovery of a night market that we often went to for dinner. A major street was blocked off at night and stalls were set up with their coal burning BBQs cooking fish, chicken and lots of other delicious foods, all for only for a few dollars. I think I am in heaven here. No cooking, great food, no laundry chores, dinghy boys, so no dragging the dinghy ashore. I can really get used to this.
|Monkey Cave tour|