Thursday, August 13, 2015

Kota Kupang, Indonesia

Beach Road, Kupang

From our spot in the Kupang anchorage, town is not readily visible but you know it's there by the sound and smell.  This place is not like anywhere we have ever been.  The air smells of smoke from the thousands of wood fires used for cooking and the burning of brush on the hillsides.  The mosque loudspeakers announce the call to prayer 5 times daily with their rhythmic chanting and humming.  There is American Country Music blasting from some guys backyard on the hill right in front of us.  And the sound of scooters buzzing like a swarm of bees almost drowns out everything else.

Great market


Kupang is the largest town in East Nusa Tengarra Province.  Captain William Bligh (the same guy we kept crossing paths with in Australia) landed here in 1789 after being left in a lifeboat with his loyal crew members of the Bounty for 47 days.  His 3618 mile journey took him through Tonga, Fiji, Australia, and finally ended up here when this was the Dutch East Indies.

Being part of the Sail Indonesia Rally is having alot more benefits than we originally thought.  We have met up with 3 boats we crossed the Pacific with in 2013.  (ALUA, LUNA BLU, and SPRUCE)  We have met just about everybody else and are all having fun just trying to figure things out.  The Rally organizers have worked with the local tourism board to provide events for us.  Foreigners are a rarity in Kupang and the locals are so happy to be helpful.  The most amazing thing about the Indonesians are their smiles.  Everybody has a smiling mouth full of teeth and laugh at everything.

Muslim Mosque in Kupang
Prayer Rugs in the mosque
Another thing so out of the ordinary from other Third World countries we have visited, such as Latin America, is the absence of bars on the windows of their buildings.  All through Central America and Mexico, ordinary and ornate 'burglar' bars are ubiquitous.  We could not see any here even though Kupang had the feel of places like Managua, Nicaragua.  The sidewalks had holes in them.  They were not level and you always had to watch where you walked.  Vendors selling everything from sunglasses to chickens.  But, no bars on the windows.  There was not a big police presence either.  We usually saw a handful of police sitting at a table on the beachfront just talking.  Never saw a police car or even a cop on a scooter.  Our 'travel with caution' attitude was a little hard to shake but after a few hours in town, we felt like we could go anywhere without being bothered.  Crime seemed non-existent.  We went to a mosque and the oldest Christian Church in Indonesia.  Central Indonesia is 75-85 percent Christian but the Muslims sure have the loudest speaker systems and nicest buildings.

Inside the Christian Church

Christian Church in Kupang

Inside the Bemo
Transportation around town is obtained by flagging down a 'Bemo'.  These minivans have no headroom, fit about 12 passengers and have rows of booming speakers lining the underneath of the bench seats.  If you are lucky enough to have a window, the scooter fumes are a welcome relief from the 100 degree temperature inside.  The Bemo's drive fixed routes denoted by their paint jobs and a ride costs 25 cents but it may take 2 or 3 to get you to your destination.

Typical Bemo

The Chief of No'ne
We rented a small bus with the folks from ALUA, LUNA BLU, LAZY LADY, OSCELOT to take a day trip up to some villages in the mountains.  Turned out to be quite a long day but the Traditional Village of "No'ne" was interesting and a side trip to the waterfalls was nice.

Waterfalls.  (Indonesian Water Park)

The Rally had two dinners arranged for us.  The first one was put on by the Provincial and the second one was by the Local governments.  Both had traditional dancing exhibitions and super loud amplifier systems to the point of being uncomfortable.  We think Indonesians have an affinity for everything that is loud.  They even talk loud.

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