Thursday, September 6, 2007

Kupang, West Timor

August 23, 2007
coordinates 10.09.600S,132.34.533E
Kupang, West Timor, Indonesia
Selamat Pagi,

We entered Indonesia last week through the port of Kupang in West Timor. It was a little sad to see the bread crumbs of litter that led us into the bay and to the anchorage. You can hear horns honking from shore to the boat, it is a form of communication that they have mastered. The city itself is crowded, dirty and extremely noisy but with all that buzz comes it's own excitement. At the boat we were greeted by a young man named On who was to be our guide the next day and help us navigate the
system. Let's just say he is worth his weight in gold. For starters, we had reset our clocks incorrectly to the new time zone and showed up an hour early, at 6:30 am on shore, and there he was. To kill the time before Immigration and Quarantine offices opened up, he helped us to learn how to navigate the buses (bemos) and hop an early morning ride on the back of his friends scooters to visit an abandoned money zoo of sorts. There is nothing like sitting 3 people deep, on tiny scooters, with the
wind in your hair, at 7am through the streets of Kupang to visit monkeys! An amazing experience while we sat there for a couple of hours and fed them corn kernels, some brave enough to take it from our hands.

Once we cleared customs, On continued to help us navigate no less that 9 of these buses, which by all purposes are interesting sized and shaped mini van, in which you sit sideways on a long bench, bent over if you are any taller than Lisa, with 10-12 of your closest Indonesian friends, all the while trying to keep your ears from bleeding due the techno beat that is shaking you to the core. Heaven forbid the bemo next to you is playing louder music, your bemo will only match the cacophony. We have
entered the land of smiles though and your neighbor sitting next to you is always eager to share a grin, maybe a "Halo Mister, halo misses", and for the boys a good pinch or stroke of the hair. They can't keep their hands off the boys fair bodies. Too make them feel better about it we made it a game that each time someone touches them they are giving off good luck. They are not really buying it but tolerating it still.

On took us to the market where we tried our hand at getting the hang of the new exchange rate. With an exchange rate of approx. 20,000 Indonesian Rupiahs to $1 Australian dollar, it is hard to wrap your brain around paying $15,000 for a plate of food. Even stranger to think that we have entered this country with billions of their dollars and yet everything is so inexpensive. We are quickly getting the hang of their language, which right off the back was a fun challenge when there are 5 or more
different ways to say hello depending on where the sun hangs in the sky at the time of your greeting. We thought we were really doing well when a man patted the boys and said "Bagus, Lucky". We understood him and in all our wisdom, we replied, Yes, we do have good boys and we are lucky. "Bagus" we knew to mean good but later while reviewing my book I found the word "Laki" pronounced "lucky" which actually means "son". Well, we were close.

A full day in town and our host made it known to us that the Customs agents were reportedly heading toward the anchorage and were told we should make haste out of there. There have been some boats stuck with expensive and unnecessary fines for checking into the country or else head back to Australia. Instead we were told to check into Bali when we arrive. Don't have to tell us twice and by sunset we were on our way to our next destination in the East Nusa Tenggara Islands Chain, Nembrala, Roti.
until next time
your crew on Ohana Kai

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